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Lecture 7

ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Poetic Justice, Farinata, Midlife Crisis

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Christopher Warley

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-Dante writes in italian
Why Italian?
1.Virgil dies in 19 BCE; Dante writing about 1310 CE
2.Christianity: 14-37 CE, Jesus of Nazareth; Paul's extension of Christianity to Gentiles (50s CE); 325 CE,
Constantine makes Christianity official religion of Roman Empire
3.Fall of the Roman Empire, circa 476 CE
4.500-1000, Early Middle Ages; gradual loss of the "high style"
5.Languages: Latin as written language vs vernacular languages
6.Dante as model for vernacular literature and the rebirth of a high style in vernacular
-jesus = from nazareth, lowborn, is messiah
-executed on cross
-Paul = upperclass, educated, believed all gentiles (non-jews) could become christians
-Christianity = now almost synonymous w/ Roman Empire
-cities begin to collapse later
-in early middle ages, very little happens in europe
-latin = not really spoken, is the main written language in roman empire
-vernacular = only spoken, not written
-Dante writes poem in language that everybody understands ->italian
-=high style of latin
-dante = father of modern literature in europe
-imitates virgil's style but does it in italian, and writes christian tale instead of pagan tale
Canto I
1.the opening lines: dante's mix: "in medias res" and Commedia, high style and low style, Aeneas and
2.Failure on the hill (1-54), midlife crisis of desire
3.Enter a "figure" II. 61-90 - virgil as a poet, dante's dedication to the "noble style" that will solve his
4.112-136: the structure of Comedy - Hell, Purgatory, Paradise; 33 cantos each (+1 intro = 100); terza
rime (3 line stanzas rhyming aba, bcb, cbc, etc.) = the divine order of the universe. Dante learns poetic
form from virgil (and Homer) - that form is the poem's argument - but uses it to realize Aquinas' (d.1274)
description of christianity.
-first line = in aeneid. - can pick almost any point and start the story anywhere (ie. In medias res =
midway along the journey of our life)
-odysseus and aeneas = heroes
-first line = "our life" = no longer just about heroes that are unlike us. = this story could be about
-dante gets story of "our life" from paratactic judeo-christian writing - Peter's denial
-has all the elevation of Aeneid but it is more elegantly simple
-called comedy instead of tragedy
-dante removes separation of styles by calling it a comedy
-(anybody can be in a comedy) -> incorporated into dante's very serious poem
-ends in happy ending = not a tragedy
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