Friday, November 2, 2012

Neo-Platonic Aspects of Dante

Layer's of hell epitomize humanity at its worst-its absolute worst. You can't really be "more lustful" than a lustful sinner within the Lustful layer of hell. The concept of having a perfect, or in this case anti-perfect form of an action, or object, or even person is very neo-platonic. Just as Plato had perfect forms of humans, or art Dante has "perfect sinners" so to speak. You cannot get lower than the lower depths of hell. Lucifer is bed-rocked into the ninth layer of hell, and he cannot be moved. The adaption of Plato's concepts by Dante, whether purposeful or not, represents the adaption of classical literature by early Italian Renaissance writers.


Michell D said...

I agree with you to a certain extent. I don't think everyone in hell is the perfect form of lust, wrath, sloth, etc; I think that Dante shows us the near perfect representation of those in hell. (By perfect I mean the absolute worst sinners of hell) there is no limit to the number of people in hell, so that must mean some are worst then others. We see this with people like Attila the Hun in relation to Alexander the Great. They are both in the deepest parts of their circle, but wouldn't Attila be a more "anti-perfect" form of violence? There are aspects of Neo Platonism, but I cannot be certain how intentional or important they are.

Laura N said...

I think a combination of the sinners, their punishments, and the monstrous guards might add up to be a Neo-Platonic representation of perfect forms because together they give the reader an idea, or image of the worst possible situation to have in the universe. However I think that Christian rhetoric and dogma has the heaviest influence on the story. As Virgil explains every sin is a sin against the Christian God.
Personally (and speaking of perfect forms), I think it was perfectly genius that Dante put Judas at the bottom of Hell in Satan’s center mouth. Judas and Satan are the epitome of evil and sin for betraying their Benefactor- God. I probably would never have thought to put Judas in the bottom of hell or, to be frank, maybe not at all (probably because this story never played an important role in my life as a kid or in school to teach about morals.) It may have been more obvious to others that Judas would have been at the worst part of hell, but it wasn't for me. When I read that Judas was the worst sinner ever, everything made sense especially from a Christian standpoint.