Saturday, October 11, 2014

Possible Meanings Behind the 3 Animals: Leopard, Lion, and Wolf

So I was doing a little research on the leopard, lion, and she-wolf in the first part of Dante's Inferno and I found some possible reasons for them. The first and most obvious source can be found in the Bible, specifically in the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah it says, "Wherefore a lion out of the wood hath slain them, a wolf in the evening hath spoiled them, a leopard watcheth for their cities: every one that shall go out thence shall be taken, because their transgressions are multiplied, their rebellions strengthened." This passage predicts the destruction of those who refuse to repent for their sins. For this reason, the three animals are seen as the three types of sin: concupiscence (immoderate desires), violence, and fraud. Another, perhaps lesser known, reason for these animals is strictly political. The political faction that Dante was apart of had three main enemies: the Blacks in Florence, the Royal House of France, and, of course, the Papacy. I'm not sure which animal would correspond to each of these groups but the similarity in the number of each should be noted. Whether Dante meant for the three animals to represent a religious idea, a political one, or a hybrid of the two might only be known to the author himself, but one thing is certain: they definitely lingered, as if looming, in Dante's thoughts for a while.

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