Critical Companion to Dante: A Literary Reference to His by Jay Rudd

By Jay Rudd

Sifting conscientiously throughout the voluminous literature, Ruud (English, U. of critical Arkansas) deals scholars and normal readers an creation to Italian poet Dante (1265-1321) and his works. A biography is via distinctive remark at the Divine Comedy and his lesser recognized writings. one of the appendices are a chronology and an inventory of net assets.

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By Jay Rudd

Sifting conscientiously throughout the voluminous literature, Ruud (English, U. of critical Arkansas) deals scholars and normal readers an creation to Italian poet Dante (1265-1321) and his works. A biography is via distinctive remark at the Divine Comedy and his lesser recognized writings. one of the appendices are a chronology and an inventory of net assets.

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This impressive structure represents the highest achievement possible for human reason unaided by divine revelation. It is a beautiful place, but it is still in Hell. Here Dante sees other great figures of antiquity: political figures such as Aeneas and GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR; philosophers such as PLATO, Socrates, and Aristotle; thinkers such as Euclid and Ptolemy. He also sees important figures of medieval Islam, such as Saladin, AVERRÖES, and Avicenna. In all Dante names 38 important historical or legendary figures but finally is led out of the castle and back into the darkness by Virgil.

This seems an odd title for most modern readers, who see little humor in the poem. But there are two reasons Dante calls the poem a comedy. The first, as explained by BENVENUTO DA IMOLA, one of the early Italian commentators on the poem, is that the Comedy (composed in Italian rather than Latin) is written in a vernacular language—an assertion that gains support from Dante’s own comments in Book 2 of DE VULGARI ELOQUENTIA, where he defines comedy in terms of style and diction. The other reason for the title has more to do with the poem’s narrative pattern: Since the poem begins in sorrow (the dark wood of sin) and ends in joy (the vision of God), one can easily argue that the poem’s movement parallels the plot of a comedy.

How Can Grande would rid the world of the sins of incontinence is obscure, unless Dante saw those sins—lust, gluttony, and greed—as particularly attached to the secular ambitions of the papacy. Dante’s hesitancy before following Vigil into Hell itself serves a structural function in this canticle and for the Comedy as a whole: It allows for a second beginning. Notice that the invocation to the Muses takes place here in Canto 2, not in Canto 1. There will be a parallel invocation in the first Canto of both the PURGATORIO and the PARADISO.

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