Dante: The Divine Comedy

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Dante's Divine Comedy as a theurgic act, a guide for the blessed reader from a state of misery to a state of bliss.

Dante's Divine Comedy as a theurgic act, a guide for the blessed reader from a state of misery to a state of bliss.

To summarise, at this point, concerning Dante’s understanding of sacred art, it can be said that: the double purpose of sacred Scripture as given by Gregory, for the simple man and for the wise man, was still influential and could be also applied to poetry. The cultural authority from France and in particular from Thomas influenced Dante‘s understanding of sacred art. Dante extended Thomas’ definitions of the four senses of meaning related to the sacred Scriptures, developing a more explicit soteriological view and the concept of freedom. The difference that Dante made between a theologian and a poet, which is fundamental for an understanding of his poetry, is concerned with freedom. Dante considered his Commedia to be as sacred as the Sacred Scriptures. The explicit pagan role that Dante assigned to the poets cannot be related to Christian theology. Dante’s Commedia is not only speculative, but ethical and practical, being concerned with catharsis and freedom; and the practical purpose of the Commedia is explicitly soteriological towards others. However, the main link for the argument of Dante’s Commedia as a theurgic act is concerned with the relation between Dante and Dionysius the Pseudo-

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Using Time Series and Graphs in the Analysis of Dante's Divine Comedy

Using Time Series and Graphs in the Analysis of Dante's Divine Comedy

The graph was made using Graphviz with ‘circo’ filter to have a circular layout. From the graph in the Figure 2, we can see that all the words of the list are appearing at least in one of the canti. To have the Figure 3, concerning the first five canti of Purgatorio, we used the same list of words (Amore, Paura, Lume, Notte, Pena, Luce, Dolore, Fede, Disio, Giustizia, Speranza, Morte). We can see that some of these words are not occurring in these canti of Purgatorio. They are Giustizia, Dolore and Fede. In the Figure 4, we considered the same list of words for the first five canti of Paradiso. Let us note that a lot of words of the list are not occurring there. These words are Pena (Punishment), Paura (Fear), Notte (Night), Dolore (Pain), Morte (Death), Speranza (Hope). This is not surprising: Dante is in the Paradise, and then his soul is free from these motifs. Light and Love are dominating his spirit as all the Paradise. The proposed example is then showing how graphs can illuminate the leitmotivs of a poem. In the Figure 5, we are showing again the graph given in Figure 4, but in this image, near the edges of the graph, we have added the number of word occurrences in each canto. For instance, number 3 near the edge linking Disio to Canto IV, is indicating that this word is occurring three times in this canto.

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Uncovering The Sources: Historical Characters In Dante's Divine Comedy

Uncovering The Sources: Historical Characters In Dante's Divine Comedy

Moving forward chronologically, the next newsworthy event that appears in the Comedy is Guccio de’ Tarlati’s drowning in the Arno, which took place near Arezzo. Guccio is our first character not to appear in Hell; instead, he appears in Purgatorio 6 among the late repentant. Guccio is merely identified as the one who drowned while running either from or after someone: “… e l’altro ch’annegò correndo in caccia” (Purg. 6.15). He appears among a group of mostly Tuscan victims of clan warfare, which sets up Dante’s invective against civil strife in the second half of this canto. His grouping among other confirmed victims of internecine conflict would suggest that Dante might have known that the reason for Guccio’s drowning was that he was either chasing the Bostoli family or was being pursued by them. However, Dante does not explicitly cite the Bostoli family as the cause of Guccio’s death. Dante also does not mention Guccio by name; only the early commentators give his name. Guccio’s sin—being a late repentant—is also a bit nebulous and one wonders if Dante knew anything of this man’s life besides the fact that he died suddenly, and thus was not given a chance to atone for his sins. It is possible that Dante himself did not remember Guccio’s full name, but remembered the freak accident in the Arno where a man’s horse ran away from him, causing him to drown. That sole newsworthy event, coupled with the understanding that this man was either in pursuit of or in flight from (in caccia is unclear on which) a warring family as well as the fact that he died before 1300, was all Dante needed to include him in this section of the

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Infernal Imagery: Dante in William Beckford’s Vathek and Matthew G. Lewis’s The Monk

Infernal Imagery: Dante in William Beckford’s Vathek and Matthew G. Lewis’s The Monk

voluntarily enters the evil palace, leading the group. Vathek penetrating into the mysterious subterranean vault in the finale is in contrast to Dante‟s newly-found freedom after his escape from the dark cavern of horror. The poet breathes the pure air and admires the beauty of the stars, whereas Vathek‟s protagonists abandon the marvels of the “firmament” and enclose themselves in the darkest devilish place. I would argue that Beckford did not only have the Divine Comedy perfectly in mind, but that he also intended to create a reversed story, however interspersed with Bakhtinian carnivalesque interludes, where the progress of corrupt individuals culminates in dark despair. A further echo can be found a few paragraphs later when Vathek and Nourinihar look at each other but they can only see reciprocal hate. On the contrary, Dante and Beatrice look at each other in the final Canto 33 of Paradise and they feel a form of ecstasy. Before their fall Vathek and Nouronihar had similar feelings: “As they descended, by the effulgence of the torches, they gazed on each other with mutual admiration; and both appeared so resplendent, that they already esteemed themselves spiritual intelligences” (Vathek 108). Further Dantesque elements can be found in Beckford‟s novel. The following passage in Vathek is an evident symmetric echo of Dante‟s lines in the third Canto of the Inferno:

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Distantly reading Dante translations

Distantly reading Dante translations

In the 700 years of Dante Studies, there have been only three books that have explored the reception of Dante in a broad comparative manner: two edited collections, the first, Dante nel mondo: raccolta di studi promossa dall’Associazione Internazionale per gli studi di lingua e letteratura italiana, published in 1965 (Branca and Caccia 1965); the second, L’opera di Dante nel mondo: edizioni e traduzioni nel Novecento, published in 1992 (Esposito 1992); and the third, a special journal issue of Critica del Testo, entitled Dante nel mondo, published in 2011 (Dante nel mondo 2011). Yet none of these studies addresses the translations of the Divine Comedy in a systematic fashion as I propose to do. However, the resources to do so are available, thanks to ongoing digitalization of the bibliographic records. The corpus of translations will draw on several resources: national libraries with online catalogues, including the Italian national library (opac. sbn.it 2017); wide-ranging catalogues like Worldcat.org (worldcat.org 2017); the online European library (europeanlibrary.org 2017); UNESCO’s online database of literary translations (www.unesco.com/xtrans 2017), and print resources.

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Aimé Césaire and The Divine Comedy: Self-enlightenment and the dialectic of relation in And the Dogs Were Silent

Aimé Césaire and The Divine Comedy: Self-enlightenment and the dialectic of relation in And the Dogs Were Silent

It thus speaks of a Caribbean (poetic) space from which Césaire imagines a humanism that is archipelagic – plural, refracting and shared – a conception that has strong reso- nances with Glissant’s Tout-Monde, itself based on the metaphor of the archipelago, fig- uring a shared, infinite, refracting totality of networks and encounters of consciousness. Consequently, without eliding distinctions between Césaire and Glissant, these conver- gences invite renewed study of the continuities between their philosophies, particularly with respect to the concepts of Relation and Tout-Monde. The katabasis throws into relief an archetypal form of the imagination that gives shape and meaning to the poetry of Césaire: the motif of the abyss as both disappearance and spatial in-betweenness. In redeploying the Dantean underworld journey in a Martinican and Caribbean (post)colonial context, Césaire foregrounds the process of initiation which inheres in his poetry and theatre aes- thetics. In And the Dogs Were Silent, the nihilism of the ego consciousness gives way to revaluation and progressive transformation of psychic being and to the dialectical synthesis of man and world that the hero attains through the pathway of myth. Like the spectre that haunts the stage, constantly returning in the form of character and its new embodiment in each performance, Césaire’s Dante is the Dante of an “infinite rehearsal”, 5 a necessary

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The Divine Sandman

The Divine Sandman

Nevertheless, despite its complexity (or rather because of it), the poem can be accessed on different levels. Just as a Dante scholar may come closest to seeing the poem in its full (moral) glory, a general reader may experience the work as an adventure story, where the protagonist succeeds in overcoming the odds and reaches the Divine presence. If we continue with the summary, just as The Divine Comedy can be oversimplified and merely viewed as Dante’s journey through “Inferno”, “Purgatorio” and ultimately “Paradiso” (or Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, respectively), the story of The Sandman focuses on the protagonist Dream of the Endless, who is the personification of dreams, his penultimate tragic end and ultimate immortality. The sheer complexity of structuring the relevance of various individual stories makes the work difficult to reflect upon during the first reading; a notion that is arguably even more stressful when reading The Divine Comedy. While this great poem relies on the beauty and meticulous arrangement of poetic language, the comics epic stresses numerous pictorial elements as the driving force of its visual narrative. Gaiman is notorious for shifting between stories that center on Dream and (or) his six siblings, called the Endless (Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium), and stories that feature minor characters, thereby creating a dichotomy of tales that can only make sense when the reader

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The Splintered Divine: A Study of Ištar, Baal, and Yahweh Divine Names and Divine Multiplicity in the Ancient Near East

The Splintered Divine: A Study of Ištar, Baal, and Yahweh Divine Names and Divine Multiplicity in the Ancient Near East

The six tablet collection An = Anum, 33 which in later tradition developed a seventh tablet, is likely an attempt to “codify the numerous traditional god names so far as possible in accordance with the existing religious status quo.” 34 In this light, not only does An = Anum become the pinnacle achievement of the lexical god-list tradition in Mesopotamia, it also becomes the primary document of the Mesopotamian divine world as recorded by the elite. Lambert’s statement either wholly disregards the potential distinction between the theological speculations of the elite scribal class and the everyday realities of the common, illiterate Mesopotamian who had restricted access to the cult and no access to these tablets, or it suggests to the modern scholar that this series is at least as much proscriptive of Mesopotamian religions as it is descriptive. Perhaps it does both equally. Admittedly, Lambert wrote the above statement over 30 years ago, before scholars were as aware and as conscientious as they are today about the differences between family, state, and cultic religions (see chapter 2); however, since 1975, this statement – or at least the article wherein it appears – has been highly influential in studies of and is often cited in discussion about the hierarchical organization of the Mesopotamian pantheon. A better summary description of the tradition behind the series An = Anum comes from Bottéro, “The pantheon of innumerable gods are organized into a

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The Fight of the Comedian: Comedy as the Arena of Philosophical Thought in Society

The Fight of the Comedian: Comedy as the Arena of Philosophical Thought in Society

If we search for Thought in other examples of the Egyptian Theatre—other than Studio 80 Team—we will find a considerable amount of works that mock the most fundamental social ideas in Egypt. It Is Truly a Very Respectful Family and Imprison Your Daughters are two important plays in the history of the Egyptian Theatre that critique the methods of education in the Egyptian fami- lies. Fouad El Mohandes (a well-known Egyptian comedian) plays the main character in both plays. It Is Truly a Very Respectful Family tells the story of a very conservative father who controls his family by force, fear and totalitarian ideas until he marries a dancer. The dancer’s personality and ideas contradict those of the conservative family. She succeeds in changing the way the family members think and leads them to rebel against the controlling father. The play is a critique of traditional family morals. It tries to convey that the dancer can be more qualified as a parent than the conservative governmental employee (the father). Imprison Your Daughters also discusses the education of the young but it is more focused on the oppression that is exerted by the fathers on their daughters. This play is a strong statement against patriarchy through comedy.

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Approaches to the Divine

Approaches to the Divine

understands Incarnation in a flash of light. Dante has built a relationship with God through knowledge at this instance. “But now was turning my desire and will, even as a wheel that equally is moved, the Love which moves the sun and other stars” (Paradise, Canto XXXIII). Although he cannot speak the entire truth of what he just saw, due to his dreamlike state, his vision is proof of God’s love and he returns to the world with his free will in harmony with God’s. This experience represents one way to God, through devotion and love. Dante prays to God in hope of seeing Him in His cosmic form, which he does. And much like Arjuna, the vision is explained as too great for words, but both characters absolutely love and follow the Divine and return from the experience enriched and knowledge.

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Drive for the divine

Drive for the divine

Metaxas (2010:349) cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he wrote a circular to the local church in Finkenwalde, Germany in 1939 and said, ‘Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words’. Although speaking of the terrible loss of the war, the point applied here is not to avoid the issue, but that although God is not a man (Job 9:32; Rm 9:20), he often speaks of himself in human terms. What is more, not only does God speak of his ‘desire’, but makes plain that without the satisfaction of his desire for the divine in resonance with God’s desire for humans there is no human fulfilment. Thus, without this resonance humans cannot find fulfilment or satisfaction, and therefore, remain frustrated from God as their ‘source’ (Houston 1992:241–242). God’s desire or will that humans be holy, in fellowship with him, follow his commandments, and a host of other intents and directions for humans, speaks to God’s desire and will for humans in harmonious communion (Gn 3:9; Lv 26:12; 1 Jn 4:19; 1 Pt 1:16). Moreover, there is no implication of any ontological lack in God’s being by such a desire any more than that God desires all to be saved (1 Tm 2:3–4). The psalmist calls out from this desire:

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I. THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF THE RENAISSANCE COMEDY

I. THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF THE RENAISSANCE COMEDY

Lyly was the most uniform and single-minded among the University Wits, while the rest tried their hand at everything, and comedy was only a small part of their literary output. George Peele (1558?–1597?), a poet and multifarious dramatist, left only one comedy worthy of attention, but this one has been exceptionally influential. Peele was a son of a London citizen, salter, presumably well off. He studied in London and Oxford, and got his M. A. probably in 1579. After that he worked for the public theatres and children's companies, and some of his plays were performed at Court. He led a dissipated life, and died in poverty. The posthumous collection of “Jests of G. Peele” (Merrie Conceited Iests of George Peele Gentleman / sometimes student in Oxford) shows him as an unpleasant and even dishonest character, but the authenticity of these anecdotes is doubtful (Neilson 1911). Peele was a poet of some merit, although his compositions in verse were mostly occasional, patriotic celebrations of national events. His dramatic work includes histories (Edward I, 1593; The Battle of Alcazar, 1594), mythological and pastoral plays (The Arraignment of Paris, 1584), one play based on a Biblical story (David and Bethsabe, 1599), and one comedy, The Old Wives’ Tale, 1595. There is also a number of plays of uncertain authorship ascribed to him in whole or in part (Baskervill 1934).

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Synge and 'protestant comedy'

Synge and 'protestant comedy'

who could easily turn his hand to writing satire; his comedies are farcical but barbs of political commentary critically underwrite them. And so, if the efficacy of farce is in its ability to elicit laughter because the action is very much dependent on there being something at stake, then in Synge’s comedies there is something doubly at stake: political intervention. A salient dramaturgical motif in Synge’s comedies is to ridicule Ireland’s Catholic bourgeoisie and their unswerving adherence to Roman Orthodoxy. Comic dramaturgy such as this is indicative of Synge’s rearguard defence of Anglo-Irish sovereignty. Using Synge’s unpublished manuscripts, this chapter will consider how Synge wrote The Well of the Saints (1905) not just as a comedy that ridiculed Catholic Ireland, but also as a comedy that supported Protestant Ireland. That Protestantism orbited The Well can hardly be overstated. By way of example, Synge wrote an impassioned letter to Lady Gregory complaining that ‘Miss Laird has been frozen out [of the company] because she is a Protestant’ 3 ; Miss Helen S. Laird (Honor Lavelle) was an original member of the

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Political Comedy in Aristophanes

Political Comedy in Aristophanes

who see in the identification a signal of underlying seriousness. Dicaeopolis, at least, does not take his forthcoming speech altogether seriously; he admits quite freely in 440-5 that his plan is to make fools of the dim-witted Chorus with his clever <17> Euripidean rhetoric (·hmat…oij 445, 447; cf. Clouds 943). Suitably attired after his visit to Euripides, Dicaeopolis begins his speech; the identification is renewed (499-500), and Cleon reappears: ‘this is the Lenaea, so he can’t say that I’m slandering the city before foreigners; and anyway, it’s not the city that I’m criticising, but a few good-for-nothing individuals’ (502-8, 515-8). This might seem more serious. But we must not forget that Dicaeopolis’ ‘suitable attire’ constitutes a grotesque visual joke; that his account of the war’s origins, so elaborately prepared for, turns out to be utterly preposterous; 27 and that the speech as a whole is riddled with parody of Telephus—its opening words set the tone. 28 Furnishing this farrago of jokes with such an elaborate build-up is itself a joke (a form of bathos); but is even the build-up as serious as it seems at first sight, or is it not perhaps itself tongue-in-cheek? The obvious possibility that Dicaeopolis’ mock-seriousness is in reality part of a joke against Cleon does not seem to have been considered as carefully as it deserves. We do not know much about Cleon’s prosecution of the poet. Since it was heard before the Council (379) it was probably an eisangelia; 29 but the procedure adopted is of less significance than the outcome: the prosecution failed (381-2). By alluding to the affair here, therefore, Aristophanes is rubbing his antagonist’s nose in the ineffectualness of his attack. 30 The jibe would have been even more pointed if Aristophanes <18> could count on the audience’s agreeing that the attack was an inappropriate reaction to a comedy, and I shall argue in due course that the audience would indeed have inclined to that view. It is also worth asking why Aristophanes nowhere else thinks it necessary to construct even remotely similar defences. The obvious answer is that such a defence was topical only here, in the first play he produced after the clash with Cleon; but topicality is more usually seen as a virtue of jokes than of defences seriously intended. I am inclined to believe, therefore,

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Borges and Dante: A Critical Issue Revisited

Borges and Dante: A Critical Issue Revisited

The fact that Borges's first poetic compositions alluding to Dantean themes bear upon the question o f evil and punishment shows that he recognised this as one o f the major motifs in Dante's Commedia. Now ‘La escritura del dios’ is a story which has traditionally been associated with Oriental and cabbalistic views o f the world.^® Less common is the reading o f the story from a Dantean perspective. There are, however, several elements in it which have a Dantean connection and which help to set the story within a wider ethical domain. In the first instance, the theme o f the visionary ecstasy links the story with ‘El A leph’, a short story with clear Dantean associations. Borges seems to have worked on the corresponding drafts contemporaneously, that is, during the summer o f 1945, although ‘La escritura del dios’ was published four years later, in 1949. Significantly, Borges collected that same year (as an introduction to a Spanish translation o f the Divine Comedy) some o f the essays he had written on Dante not long before.^' The two stories, then, are characterized by an ecstatic vision at the climax o f the narrative. This takes place in a symbolical underworld and in both cases it leads to a desired state o f oblivion. However, the two episodes are distinguished by a notorious feature: the egotistic images that frustrate the expected joyfulness of ecstasy in ‘El Aleph’ become, in Tzinacan's rapture, the hidden (but now recovered) images o f his people's sacred book. Personal history is replaced by the mythical memory o f a nation. This mystical vision does produce joy, alas only to plunge us immediately into total abandonment.

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Aristotelian Comedy

Aristotelian Comedy

Aristotle suggests that poetry emerged from impromptu activities (aÙtoscedi£smata) which expressed the natural human pleasure in imitation (1448b20-4). From its earliest stages, poetry was divided into two broad streams, distinguished by the ethical quality of the objects of imitation (kat¦ t¦ o„ke‹a ½qh 1448b24, cf. 1448a1-18). 14 The elementary forms of these two kinds of poetry were hymns and encomia, imitating morally superior actions, and invectives (yÒgoi), imitating the actions of the morally inferior (1448b24-7). The earliest extant example of a poem of the latter kind is the Homeric Margites; 15 but in Margites one already finds a formal development analogous to that which took place in the other class of poems as it progressed from encomia to heroic epic (although the juxtaposition of ¹rwik£ and ‡amboi in 1448b30-34 seems to imply that this developed form did not become usual in the imitation of morally inferior actions, as epic did in the other tradition). Aristotle goes on to claim that Margites shares with the Iliad and Odyssey the qualities which made them exceptional even among heroic poems: both anticipate the much later emergence of drama in their narrative technique (1448a35-6, cf. 1460a5-11); hence in Margites Homer adumbrated (¢pšdeixen 1448b37) the scÁma of comedy. It is in this sense that Margites stands to comedy as the Iliad and Odyssey do to tragedy (1448b38- 49a2).

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Full Article

Full Article

These illustrations clearly identify the Florentine poet as a learned scholar, whose words possess dignity and authority. His face is young and clean-shaven and stands in stark opposition to Dante’s commonly attributed physiognomy; to this day, everyone is familiar with Dante’s striking physical features such as the aquiline nose, the gaunt figure, the articulated chin. In fact, it was an outcry when the Italian media realized in 2005 that these features have very little to do with the historical figure of Dante. His stereotyped visual image goes back to Giovanni Boccaccio’s description of Dante in his Trattatello in laude di Dante: in the anecdote of the Veronese women, Boccaccio establishes a metonymic relationship between Dante’s physiognomy and his experiences in hell: obviously, his skin and his beard look the way they do because the smoke and the heat he experienced during his journey in the hereafter had darkened them. 39 Furthermore, Boccaccio

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DANTE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

DANTE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

Dante would also play a measured, yet significant role in the discourses around the formation and early reception of the Félibrige. In his youthful correspondence as a law student in Aix with his mentor, the Avignon-based and clerically-minded Joseph Roumanille (1818- 1891), Mistral championed Dante enthusiastically, referring to his course in Italian literature with Louis Méry (1800-1883) and his translation of the Ugolino episode into French. In an early number of the Armana prouvençau [Provençal Almanach], the Félibrige’s official journal launched in 1855, Mistral extols Provençal’s illustrious history, citing Dante and Petrarch as belonging to “l’escolo di cantaire prouvençau” [“the school of Provençal poets”] (25). Mirèio itself owes more than a little to the Commedia, particularly in its borrowing of imagery to shape a global vision of Provence (as both Earthly Paradise and potential Hell). In addition to citing four lines from Purgatorio 24 (108-111) in the notes to Canto V, Mistral promotes the myth that Dante stayed some time at Arles and based the sombre topography of Hell on the desolate, rocky landscape of the valoun d’Infèr [Hell’s Hollow] at Les Baux, the ruined medieval village where Mirèio and Vincent seek refuge with the sorceress Tavan in Canto VI. An early review of Mirèio in the regional press noticed in the drowned souls welcoming the villain Ourrias to his death in the Rhone (Canto V) a reference to “certains groupes de damnés dans la Divine Comedie” (Boissard 493). Although the identification and celebration of Mistral as a modern epic poet more often than not referred to Homer and Virgil, his role (alongside Roumanille) as saviour, restorer and codifier of an ancient language (Provençal or langue d’oc) was couched regularly in Dantean terms. J-B Gaut’s 1854 collection of poets Roumavàgi deis troubaires (The Troubadours’ Pilgrimage) cited Dante’s invocation at the start of Purgatorio: “Ma qui la morta poesia risurga/ O santa Muse” (xxix). Early critics of the Félibrige in Paris, particularly Saint René Taillandier (1817-1879), who wrote the introduction to Roumanille’s collection Li Prouvençalo (1852) and a piece in the Revue des deux mondes (1859), noted both the importance of medieval Provençal in shaping Dante’s epic and Christian vision and, inversely, Dante’s influence in providing a template for Mistral’s attempt to purge, cleanse and renew the language for future use (v-xxxv).

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Predictors of Treatment Adherence in Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Role of Age, Body Satisfaction and Prospective Memory in Medication and Diet Behavior

Predictors of Treatment Adherence in Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Role of Age, Body Satisfaction and Prospective Memory in Medication and Diet Behavior

Woodly isn’t the only man duped by a conniving woman in this comedy. The lower plot centers on country justice Clodpate, “a publick spirited, politick, discontented Fop, an immoderate Hater of London, and a Lover of the Country above measure, a hearty true English Coxcomb” who has come to Epsom to find a wife (101). Clodpate first proposes to Lucia, but when she tells him that she has vowed to marry a knight and spend all her life in London, he focuses his unwanted attention on her friend, Carolina. The girls eventually rid themselves of this country pest when Lucia tells him that Carolina wants him to meet her in the cemetery and marry immediately because her brother is coming to drag her back to London against her will. Clodpate rushes off to the church-yard in search of Carolina, but runs into the bullies Cuff and Kick who not only rob him of his money, tie him up, and send his beloved horse racing for London, but go one step further to ensure their escape:

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Vertical readings in Dante's Comedy : Volume 3

Vertical readings in Dante's Comedy : Volume 3

Dante Alighieri captures Peter’s flawed perfection wonderfully. Now a kind of blazing comet, he comes forward to test Dante, circling Beatrice three times, a movement he will complete at the end of the canto. Three is a salient number for St Peter because on the night of Jesus’s arrest and before the cock crowed Peter betrayed his master, as Jesus had predicted, three times: ‘Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times”’ (Matthew 26:75). In Paradiso xxiv the forgiven, faithful Peter performs the threefold sign of his betrayal and yet — just as the risen Christ bears the wounds of his crucifixion — Peter’s circling of Beatrice is no longer a source of pain, but a sign of glory. This blessed fire is Peter post-Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, the tongues of fire which descended on the followers of Jesus and enabled them to speak intelligibly to all peoples: ‘Poscia fermato, il foco Benedetto / a la mia donna dirizzò lo spiro’ [Then, when that blessèd fire had come to rest, / it breathed directly to my lady there in words of fire] (Par., xxiv. 31–32). The Italian here is Latinized to accentuate the connection between breath, spirit, speech and inspiration that we have seen in Dante’s exchanges with the poets in Purgatorio xxiv. Although there are no poets apart from Dante (and maybe Beatrice) in Paradiso xxiv, there are other writers who write with ‘verace stilo’ [truthful pen] (Par., xxiv. 61). It may turn out that to be a poet is to be such a one for, as much as Paradiso xxiv concerns Dante’s faith, it is also concerned with graced writing and speaking.

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