Thursday, October 25, 2012

Calm Down, Dante

It might just be me, but it seems a bit pretentious of Dante to consider himself "worthy" enough to view Hell and get the 411, if you will, on everyone's sins and punishments. His whole journey through Hell reminds me of Milton's statement of purpose in Paradise Lost of "justifying the ways of God to man". Dante doesn't explain why or how he was chosen, but raises himself to the stature of being able to access superior knowledge of life after death. Additionally, Dante compliments his own writing and influence by considering himself to be on the same level as Homer, Ovid, Horace, and Lucan. Plus, Dante continually throws his contemporaries under the bus by putting them in different levels of Hell, letting his personal and political biases affect their punishments. (And although Dante admitted to straying from the righteous path, I'm sure he wasn't as blameless as he made himself out to be.) It also seems like Dante could have been considered a blasphemer due to his claims in The Divine Comedy of having superior knowledge of the afterlife and the inner workings of God's plan, considering himself an intercessor for the divine. Although he wrote Inferno to emphasize the importance of remaining faithful to God and ultimately improve society, it still seems like he would have gotten in some sort of trouble for writing it.

6 comments:

Michell D said...

I think that Dante is saying that he has to go through hell in order to revel the truth of hell to the world. Although the "truth of hell" was all a lie, (or at least we think so) he was the one who had to go to hell to see it all first hand. His bending of the truth gives an illusion of legitimacy that would be needed for the document to be respected. I don't think the claims made in The Divine Comedy were all that blastphemous because he did them without intending to come across as a self righteous. How would he have maintained full legitimacy and not input his opinions? With that being said, there is a bit of a tone that he uses to make himself seem great. But I don't blame him, if anything I think he deserves to.

Michell D said...

I don't expect this "apology post" to count as a post but I remember posting this right before I fell asleep without reading over it and my thoughts were a little disorganized, but I wasn't about to forget to blog again. So my sincerest apologies if it sounds a little confusing, but I stand behind what I said.

and I should have said "in order to reveal* the truth"

TSHAH said...

I find it funny how usually Dante's role would be to talk up Cangrande since cangrande was his patron, however Dante creates a superiority complex for himself in scenarios such as his meeting with the famous poets where he felt he deserved a higher position among them. Maybe Dante should create a section in hell for people who think they are too great.

Tyler Dean said...

Dante does sort of balance this out in the beginning when he tells Virgil that he isn't worthy, but I understand where you are coming from. Everyone wants to make a name for themselves, and i feel like that is all he was doing. Also, he may not have known that his Comedy would be so popular, but because of its success, many people feel like he is up there with the best, so maybe he "predicted his future" or something weird like that.

Ben Bonner said...

I think its important to remember the historical context surrounding The Divine Comedy. In an earlier post, Ian said that Dante was trying to educate his readers, Congrande among them. In the early 14th century, I think Dante and his contemporaries would have been less concerned with creating a powerful literary work than he would have been with advancing his political agenda. Therefore, I don't think glorifying himself the way he does would have seemed as offensive to a reader of that time as it does to us.

wkuehne said...

I think Dante was trying to do something unprecedented for the time by logically explaining the afterlife, and some of god's plans. While this may be sacreligious in some ways, it really shows that Dante is trying to almost channel god (neo-platonism) through literature.