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ENG150Y1 - Dante's The Inferno - Lecture Notes.docx

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William Robins

ENG150Y1 – LECTURE NOTES th January, 14 2013 Dante’s Inferno – Lecture 1 References: There are 2 Dante’s  Dante the Pilgrim o Universal everyman o Historical individual o First verses of canto 1 o Universal and personal experience o Personal experiences with reporcunctions of moral expectations  Dante the poet o The narrator o The author of the poem o Dante is also seen as being outside the poem ^ o Presents the journey as true ^  The poem is about how the pilgrim becomes the poet The poetics of conversion:  John freccero: the pilgrim’s view is lke our own view of history and of ourselves; confused, still in the making. The poet’s view is different, for it is global and comprehensive, the total view of a man who looks at the wprld, his neighbourhood, and indeed humself with all the detachment of a cultural anthropologist. The process of the poem, which is to say the progress of the pilgrim, is transformation of the problematic and humanistic into the certain and transcendent, from novelistic involvement to epic detachment  Transformation in the aeneid happens to a character; but in D’SI, it happens to the author; it is a poem about trying to understanding oneself and writing ones own story  Inferno canto 1 o Midway in our journey… dark wood (first lines) o Psychological landscape of being lost o Between both dantes, there are differences and similarities o Fear is renewed o Poet is going to overcome fear just like his alter ego will through the journey o Shows his memory and his ability to recover experiences o Two dantes are brought together by the mechanism of memory  Canto 4 o Seeing ancient philosophers o Poem has a logic that drives the poet on, like virgil’s logic drives pilgrim on o Therefore there seems to be 2 stories  An aspect of POC o Good is so attractive o Fundamental problem of human will; a situation that dante goes through o Dantes walks to the hill / sun; on the way, he meets the three beasts which represent sins of nature o She-wolf bugs him the most which represents appetite; inconstience o Limitations of intellectual ascent and the recognition of the will; archerious struggle o Dante shows daring when he says who his guide is; because he is a pagan  V is the poet of the transformation of characters; see above; that’s why he is mentioned perhaps  Intertextual relationship; poetic necessity dominating  Gains perspective and becomes a poet Dante and virgil:  D questions v like aeneas questions if venus is mortal or god  Virgilean allusions in canto 2  Canto 4 o In limbo o Meets poetics of antiquity o Dante’s suggests there are 6 greatest poets; includes himself; is bold o Italian is vernacular speech; texts at his time were written in latin; was radical; was the first in the middle ages to call himself a poet o Apprenticeship Third point of reference:  Divine justice; god gives just rewards and punishments  Mecry and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed (psalm 85:10)  Canto 3; verses of gateway to hell  Justice moved my maker …. Abandon all hope …  Justice is paired with mercy  Beatrice’s call to virgil to help dante is an act of mercy  Pilgrim receives mercy but thinks he doesn’t deserve it; just as virgil experiences hell not because of merits, but because of how he was born (pagan)  An understanding is that those in limbo are not punished or rewarded; but they are in hell; virgil explains that they live in eternal longing; they know that they cant have heaven  Deeper understanding of divine justice Three beasts:  Are allegories  Virgil might be an allegory; maybe Beatrice  Virgil is described as a specific individual who happens to be a shade  Virgil is a historical being  Dante distinguishes between two types of allegories: below Allegory of the poets  Fictive surface level meaning  Abstract truth content Allegory of the theologians  Historical sense  Typological sense  Moral sense  Anagogical sense (end of time)  Psalm 113.1-2  Dante ―letter to can grande‖ o If we look at it from the letter …. They are differen from the literal or the historical‖  Like bible – relationship between old and new testament  What d is doing seems to be using divine allegory like god does o Jonah and Christ stay underground for 3 days Allegory of comedy  Dnate ―letter …‖  The subject of the whole work ….. subject to the justice of being rewarded or punished‖  From the opening lines, Dante makes clear the allegorical intention of his poem: ―Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself / In dark woods, the right road lost‖ (I.1–2). By writing ―our life’s journey‖ (emphasis added) and with his generic phrase ―the right road,‖ Dante links his own personal experience to that of all humanity. The dark woods symbolize sinful life on Earth, and the ―right road‖ refers to the virtuous life that leads to God.  his characters can see beyond their time on Earth because in death they exist outside of time th January 16 , 2013 Lecture #2  People in Florence would walk up to Dante, smell him, touch him, because they believed he went to Hell and came back  The vivid descriptions are what makes the poem a memorable force  Medieval culture relies on memory MORAL AND PHSYCIAL TYPOGRAPHY: Vivid descritptions:  Dante and Virgil encounter Minos judging the dead (cantos 5) o Exposition after description o Dante is a master of similes; probably learned from virgil  Descriptions of individuals o Like dogbeast cerebus o Virgil mentions this same beast in the aeneid  Movement is aligned with the passing of time  Cantos 7 o Attention to landscape is accompanied with the time; makes it more believable  Cantos 11 o Deferral of moving with time o Oral descriptions Moral topography of hell:  Dark wood o 3 beats river styx  Virgil phlegyas o Gate  Neutrals o River Acheron o Charon  Limbo o Descent o Minos  Lustful o Dante fiaints o Cerebrus  Gluttonous o Descent o Plutus  Avaricious and prodigal o Descent  Wrathful Moral components:  Fraud and violence are worse sins; deals with malice; deals with their own evil dispositions; people do these things on their own free will, even though they know its wrong  Incontinence is a lesser sin o Is when your own nature is not in control o Will is weak o Angry and react right away o Nurse their wounds o Will is not as corrupted  The more corrupted the will, the greater the punishment  The gates are thresholds o First gate, dante needs virgil’s help o Second date, they both need an angel’s help to let them in (virgil helps dante though with medusa) o More grace is needed to get into the next level List of sinners:  The first person he meets in hell is someone from his florence time, paolo and Francesca in canto 5 o The sins of the lustful o Dido is also here o Cleopatra is here o Ancient heros are here, but dante talks to people of recent time, p & f o ―we desire to hear …. Plight…‖  continual repetition; is the sin of incontence; is the logic of romance genre o ―thank you for showing pity on us‖ o F speaks in 3 verses (tercas) and each start with the word ―love‖ o Repetition allows readers to be absorbed into the atmosphere of love, celebrating love, the power of love, the irresistablity of love o Dante weeps after hearing this, and wants to hear more, caught in this absorbtion of the genre o The book of p and f is the galehaut (guy who set up lancelot and gunivere together in the story p and f read); p and f would not have been together without that book o Therefore, this is about love and the role of reading; the readers involvement in reading o Dante the pilgrim explores the logic of sin to later become humble  Canto 10, dante meets farinata and cavlacante o These sinners believed that the body and soul die; rejected the notion of eternality o Local Italian examples ^ ; shows that Christians can reject this notion too, just like pagans o Dante is identified by who his ancestors are o Farinata sees his relationship in terms of family, politics and body; politics becomes a realm of ordering the world, but can be separate from religion and that is dantes problem o F and c constrast each other o C is dante’s bestfriend’s father o C is calmer o C predicts d’s will be exiled from Florence o F sees the world in terms of politics, and alliances and he wonders why his family is still exiled and dante replies that politics has now become religion Monday, January 21, 2013 Dante’s Inferno – Lecture 3  When Virgil comments about the broken rocks he and Dante must navigate, he alludes to the earthquake that, according to the Gospels, occurred upon Christ’s crucifixion.  Dante implies that Christ’s death shook Hell to its very roots, both literally and figuratively  seems to suggest that Hell experiences the effects of the passage of time  This notion of Hell possessing a past, present, and future would seem to contradict the eternal nature of the place  The pool of boiling blood serves as an allegorically apt punishment for those who were violent toward others: they sit eternally submerged in the blood after which they lusted in life  punishment proves impeccably flexible according to the sinners’ degrees of sin, allowing for individualized penalties of excruciating exactitude  suicides in trees: punishment fits the crime: having discarded their bodies on Earth, these souls are rendered unable to assume human form for the rest of eternity. In committing suicide, these souls denied their God- given immortality and declared that they did not want their bodies; their punishment is to get their wish only after they have recognized the error in it  Dante the poet explains and clarifies the geography of his Hell in the form of periodic lectures given by Virgil to Dante the character  The ―Old Man‖—the statue from which the four rivers of Hell flow—derives in part from the poetry of Ovid and in part from the Bible’s Book of Daniel  Virgil describes it as comprising four materials: gold, silver, brass, and iron  The left leg of the statue, made of iron, can be seen to represent the Roman Empire, strong and willfully led, while the right leg, made of clay, could be the Catholic Church—cracked by its corruption. Additionally, the statue looks west, toward Rome, in hope of renewal.  Although Dante often uses Inferno to make jabs at his political enemies and ―reward‖ his allies, this scene suggests that the work transcends mere political propaganda.  Thus, although he places many Black Guelphs and Ghibellines in Hell, along with a number of popes, Dante also sees the flaws among his own White Guelphs, declaring, ―so long as conscience is not betrayed, / I am prepared for Fortune to do her will‖  he puts forth the following of one’s conscience as the most important rule to follow, regardless of party  shows that religion is Dante’s underlying priority  Ulysses behaved recklessly and fraudulently by Christian standards, and, in Dante’s Hell, Christian morals always take precedence over ancient values.  Dante frequently acknowledges the Italians in Hell’s possession of what he deems a minor, if misguided,
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