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.