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Discussion – Divine Comedy

After going over the PowerPoint and the primary source. Why does Dante use the symbolism of three for each of the important beings he meets at the end of each section of the

Divine Comedy

(Satan at the end of


, Beatrice at the end of


, and God at the end of


)? What is he saying about Satan, Beatrice, and God that they are all represented by the number three (the three faces of Satan, one yellow, one black and one red; the three colors of the garb of Beatrice, red for love, green for faith, and white for hope; and the three aspects of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit)? Why do you think he does this?

Why do you think Dante focuses on the things he does in the poem? What does this say about his society? another 5 sentences

***Your post should be a

solid paragraph

in length (as always a solid paragraph is roughly 7 sentences), which includes both your initial response and the responses to your colleagues.

you need to respond thoughtfully and respectfully to one of your colleague’s posts.

***(5-7 sentences)

Divina Commedia
A Guide to Medieval Europe
La commedia
illumina Firenze
by Domenico di
Divine Comedy and Dante Alighieri
Written between 1308 and 1320, Dante’s magnum opus was
hugely influential as soon as was released to the public
The work was originally titled just Comedia and was meant
to represent the ascension of the soul, just as comedies end
on an up note as opposed to tragedies, which end on a down
Born c. 1265, Dante was from a semi-elite family in Florence,
Italy and became a counselor and politician
He took part in the cutthroat politics of the day and was
eventually exiled from Florence in 1302, when he took up the
writing of poetry
Mural in the Uffizi,
Andrea del Castagno, c. 1450
The Hellish and the Pagan
The unmitigated horrors of tortured souls, the
institution of Hell is codified in popular thought
The Seven Deadly Sins provide the structure of
Hell and the distribution of punishments
Pre-Christian pagans, non-Christians and
heretical Christians make up a large proportion
of the people in Hell
Vergil, his guide through Hell and Purgatory,
represents logic and reason
Within each mouth—he used it like a grinder—
with gnashing teeth he tore to bits a sinner,
so that he brought much pain to three at once.
“But fix your eyes below, upon the valley,
for now we near the stream of blood, where thos
who injure others violently, boil.”
Bringing Christians back to Christianity
Dante sees Christendom (the Christian world) as corrupt
and in need of repentance
Vergil (logic and reason) leads Dante through all of Hell
and up the end of Purgatory; Dante then enters the Earthly
Paradise and needs a new guide, Beatrice, who represents
faith and belief
It is both the secular (logic and reason) and the religious
(faith and belief) that people need to right themselves on the
path to the Heaven
In these first two books, Dante defines Christian Europe
Beatrice Takes the Lead
a woman showed herself to me; above
a white veil, she was crowned with olive
her cape was green; her dress beneath,
Staring into the Face of
God represents both the triumph of pure religion and science,
but it also represents the the secular uniting of Italy
The face of God is mirrored by the appearance of Beatrice; the
corrupted form can be seen
in the face of Satan, which
are mirrors of the Churches
…In the deep and bright
essence of that exalted Light, three circles
appeared to me; they had three different colors,
but all of them were of the same dimension;
one circle seemed reflected by the second,
as rainbow is by rainbow, and the third
seemed fire breathed equally by those two circles.
Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri
Translated by Allen Mandelbaum, Latin translation by Jonathan Martin
Provided by https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/ (Links to an external site.)
Canto XII 46-61
“But fix your eyes below, upon the valley,
for now we near the stream of blood, where those
who injure others violently, boil.”
O blind cupidity and insane anger,
which goad us on so much in our short life,
then steep us in such grief eternally!
I saw a broad ditch bent into an arc
so that it could embrace all of that plain,
precisely as my guide had said before;
between it and the base of the embankment
raced files of Centaurs who were armed with arrows,
as, in the world above, they used to hunt.
On seeing us descend, they all reined in;
and, after they had chosen bows and shafts,
three of their number moved out from their ranks;
and still far off, one cried: “What punishment
do you approach as you descend the slope?
But speak from there; if not, I draw my bow.”
Canto XII 100-112
Now, with our faithful escort, we advanced
along the bloodred, boiling ditch’s banks,
beside the piercing cries of those who boiled.
I saw some who were sunk up to their brows,
and that huge Centaur said: “These are the tyrants
who plunged their hands in blood and plundering.
Here they lament their ruthless crimes; here are
both Alexander and the fierce Dionysius,
who brought such years of grief to Sicily.
That brow with hair so black is Ezzelino;
that other there, the blonde one, is Obizzo
of Este, he who was indeed undone,
within the world above, by his fierce son.”
Canto XXXIV 1-69
“Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni [The banners of the King of Hell advance]
toward us; and therefore keep your eyes ahead,”
my master said, “to see if you can spy him.”
Just as, when night falls on our hemisphere
or when a heavy fog is blowing thick,
a windmill seems to wheel when seen far off,
so then I seemed to see that sort of structure.
And next, because the wind was strong, I shrank
behind my guide; there was no other shelter.
And now—with fear I set it down in meter—
I was where all the shades were fully covered
but visible as wisps of straw in glass.
There some lie flat and others stand erect,
one on his head, and one upon his soles;
and some bend face to feet, just like a bow.
But after we had made our way ahead,
my master felt he now should have me see

that creature who was once a handsome presence;
he stepped aside and made me stop, and said:
“Look! Here is Dis, and this the place where you
will have to arm yourself with fortitude.”
O reader, do not ask of me how I
grew faint and frozen then—I cannot write it:
all words would fall far short of what it was.
I did not die, and I was not alive;
think for yourself, if you have any wit,
what I became, deprived of life and death.
The emperor of the despondent kingdom
so towered from the ice, up from midchest,
that I match better with a giant’s breadth
than giants match the measure of his arms;
now you can gauge the size of all of him
if it is in proportion to such parts.
If he was once as handsome as he now
is ugly and, despite that, raised his brows
against his Maker, one can understand
how every sorrow has its source in him!
I marveled when I saw that, on his head,
he had three faces: one—in front-bloodred;
and then another two that, just above
the midpoint of each shoulder, joined the first;
and at the crown, all three were reattached;
the right looked somewhat yellow, somewhat white;
the left in its appearance was like those
who come from where the Nile, descending, flows.
Beneath each face of his, two wings spread out,
as broad as suited so immense a bird:
I’ve never seen a ship with sails so wide.
They had no feathers, but were fashioned like
a bat’s; and he was agitating them,
so that three winds made their way out from him—
and all Cocytus froze before those winds.
He wept out of six eyes; and down three chins,
tears gushed together with a bloody froth.
Within each mouth—he used it like a grinder—
with gnashing teeth he tore to bits a sinner,
so that he brought much pain to three at once.
The forward sinner found that biting nothing
when matched against the clawing, for at times
his back was stripped completely of its hide.
“That soul up there who has to suffer most,”
my master said: “Judas Iscariot—
his head inside, he jerks his legs without.
Of those two others, with their heads beneath,
the one who hangs from that black snout is Brutus—
see how he writhes and does not say a word!
That other, who seems so robust, is Cassius.
But night is come again, and it is time
for us to leave; we have seen everything.”
Canto XII 52-84
I think no man now walks upon the earth
who is so hard that he would not have been
pierced by compassion for what I saw next;
for when I had drawn close enough to see
clearly the way they paid their penalty,
the force of grief pressed tears out of my eyes.
Those souls—it seemed—were cloaked in coarse haircloth;
another’s shoulder served each shade as prop,
and all of them were bolstered by the rocks:
so do the blind who have to beg appear
on pardon days to plead for what they need,
each bending his head back and toward the other,
that all who watch feel—quickly—pity’s touch
not only through the words that would entreat
but through the sight, which can—no less—beseech.
And just as, to the blind, no sun appears,
so to the shades—of whom I now speak—here,
the light of heaven would not give itself;
for iron wire pierces and sews up
the lids of all those shades, as untamed hawks
are handled, lest, too restless, they fly off.
It seemed to me a gross discourtesy
for me, going, to see and not be seen;
therefore, I turned to my wise counselor.
He knew quite well what I, though mute, had meant;
and thus he did not wait for my request,
but said: “Speak, and be brief and to the point.”
Virgil was to my right, along the outside,
nearer the terrace—edge—no parapet
was there to keep a man from falling off;
and to my other side were the devout
shades; through their eyes, sewn so atrociously,
those spirits forced the tears that bathed their cheeks.
Canto XXIX 121-132
Three circling women, then advancing, danced:
at the right wheel; the first of them, so red
that even in a flame she’d not be noted;
the second seemed as if her flesh and bone
were fashioned out of emerald; the third
seemed to be newly fallen snow. And now
the white one seemed to lead them, now the red;
and from the way in which the leader chanted,
the others took their pace, now slow, now rapid.
Upon the left, four other women, dressed
in crimson, danced, depending on the cadence
of one of them, with three eyes in her head.
Canto XXX 22-57
I have at times seen all the eastern sky
becoming rose as day began and seen,
adorned in lovely blue, the rest of heaven;
and seen the sun’s face rise so veiled that it
was tempered by the mist and could permit
the eye to look at length upon it; so,
within a cloud of flowers that were cast
by the angelic hands and then rose up
and then fell back, outside and in the chariot,
a woman showed herself to me; above
a white veil, she was crowned with olive boughs;
her cape was green; her dress beneath, flame—red.
Within her presence, I had once been used
to feeling—trembling—wonder, dissolution;
but that was long ago. Still, though my soul,
now she was veiled, could not see her directly,
by way of hidden force that she could move,
I felt the mighty power of old love.
As soon as that deep force had struck my vision
(the power that, when I had not yet left
my boyhood, had already transfixed me),
I turned around and to my left—just as
a little child, afraid or in distress,
will hurry to his mother—anxiously,
to say to Virgil: “I am left with less
than one drop of my blood that does not tremble:
I recognize the signs of the old flame.”
But Virgil had deprived us of himself,
Virgil, the gentlest father, Virgil, he
to whom I gave my self for my salvation;
and even all our ancient mother lost
was not enough to keep my cheeks, though washed
with dew, from darkening again with tears.
“Dante, though Virgil’s leaving you, do not
yet weep, do not weep yet; you’ll need your tears
for what another sword must yet inflict.”
Canto XXXIII 91-145
I think I saw the universal shape
which that knot takes; for, speaking this, I feel
a joy that is more ample. That one moment
brings more forgetfulness to me than twenty—
five centuries have brought to the endeavor
that startled Neptune with the Argo’s shadow!
So was my mind—completely rapt, intent,
steadfast, and motionless—gazing; and it
grew ever more enkindled as it watched.
Whoever sees that Light is soon made such
that it would be impossible for him
to set that Light aside for other sight;
because the good, the object of the will,
is fully gathered in that Light; outside
that Light, what there is perfect is defective.
What little I recall is to be told,
from this point on, in words more weak than those
of one whose infant tongue still bathes at the breast.
And not because more than one simple semblance
was in the Living Light at which I gazed—
for It is always what It was before—
but through my sight, which as I gazed grew stronger,
that sole appearance, even as I altered,
seemed to be changing. In the deep and bright
essence of that exalted Light, three circles
appeared to me; they had three different colors,
but all of them were of the same dimension;
one circle seemed reflected by the second,
as rainbow is by rainbow, and the third
seemed fire breathed equally by those two circles.
How incomplete is speech, how weak, when set
against my thought! And this, to what I saw.
is such—to call it little is too much.
Eternal Light, You only dwell within
Yourself, and only You know You; Self-knowing,
Self-known, You love and smile upon Yourself!
That circle—which, begotten so, appeared
in You as light reflected—when my eyes
had watched it with attention for some time,
within itself and colored like itself,
to me seemed painted with our effigy,
so that my sight was set on it completely.
As the geometer intently seeks
to square the circle, but he cannot reach,
through thought on thought, the principle he needs,
so I searched that strange sight: I wished to see
the way in which our human effigy
suited the circle and found place in it—
and my own wings were far too weak for that.
But then my mind was struck by light that flashed
and, with this light, received what it had asked.
Here force failed my high fantasy; but my
desire and will were moved already—like
a wheel revolving uniformly—by
the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.

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