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Dante's Inferno, Lecture 3

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University of Toronto St. George
David Roberts

Dante's inferno Think of the story as a Theodicy  Greek: God + Justice  A Writing, doctrine, or theory intended to "Justify the ways of God to men' (OED) Sub Specie Aeternitatis  Latin ("Under the aspect of eternity")  "Humans have the special capacity to step back and survey themselves, and the lives to which they are committed... Without developing the illusion that they are able to escape from their highly specific and idiosyncratic position, they can view it sub specie Aeternitatis - and The Inferno: Questioning God's Justice  Justice moved my maker on high. Divine power made me. Wisdom Supreme, and Primal Love  the book brings the idea that God is a sadist, which is dangerous thinking for the time in which this story was written. Canto XIII: The Suicides  the Romans believed it was a honorable idea.  Thomas Aquinas denounced suicide as an act against God as a sin for which one could not repent 1. Suicide is contrary to natural self-love, whose aim is to preserve us. 2. suicide injures the community of which an individual is a part 3. Suicide violates our duty to God because God has given us a life as a gift and in taking our lives we violate His right to determine the duration of our earthly existence.  It's not suicide itself, but the attitude towards it  Dante isn't punishing the act itself but a specific frame of mind in which suicide was committed.  Pier delle Vigne (1190-1249) o of humble origin; rose to distinction in Emperor Frederick II's working variously as a judge, ambassador, chancellor, and private secretary o at the height of his power, Pier was Frederick's most intimate advisor o like his imperial master, Pier was a poet o Suddenly fell into disgrace, arrested at Cremona, thrown into prison, and blinded o killed himself by dashing his brain out against a wall o it was a general opinion at the tie that he was the victim of a calumnious accusations of the part of those jealous of his influence with the emperor  Pier was the opposite of Jesus o he passively let himself be killed, it's pushing away guilt compared to Jesus Th
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