The Development Of Dante's Inferno

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The Development of Dante in Inferno Every civilization in history has made an effort, of some nature, to try and understand the world around them more thoroughly through religion or philosophy of some nature. Not least of these was medieval Rome or, for that matter, any of the warring city-states surrounding it in an ancient and divided Italy. Although each city-state had a religious allegiance to Rome and the authority of its leader, the Pope, Florence, Venice, and Naples never wanted to fully submit to themselves in a secular way, which would have placed them as Papal states; thus they retained some amount of autonomy. Florence, just before the dawn of the Renaissance, became, in certain regards, an exception to this rule. Two warring political…show more content…
Cardinal Dante Alighieri- a prominent Florentine cardinal, poet, and theologian- was a White Guelph, and when Florence fell to the Black Guelphs soon after the turn of the 14th century, he and others were exiled, or worse. It was here, bitter and separated from the city he loved, that Dante began his magnum opus, La Divina Comedia, or The Divine Comedy, where he takes on the role of protagonist as well as author. The three-part epic was his attempt to capture what it meant to know divinity, and part one, his journey through hell, Inferno, reveals much about the theological beliefs of Dante. Inferno is the account of an everyman’s journey both literally and allegorically towards his creator with the help of a mentor and guide, in this case, taking the form of the Roman poet Virgil. As expected for the start of such a fantastic journey, much changes in the first 34 cantos of The Divine Comedy. Although many see Dante Alighieri as a static character in his epic Inferno, he develops throughout as he progresses towards God, loses his sympathy towards sinners, and ultimately gains a…show more content…
From the very beginning, Dante makes this clear, writing the first lines “In the midway of this our mortal life,/ I found me in a gloomy wood, astray/ Gone from the path direct…” (Alighieri 1). Note the use of the pronoun “our” instead of “my” in the first line, he means to represent everyone through a set of relatable experiences, like being- metaphorically and physically- lost in a dark wood. He sets himself out as the average human failing in his attempt to follow divinity, distant physically from the path to God. Yes, the position of Dante at the beginning of the story is meant as an ominous and all-too-realistic place for many people of Dante’s beliefs. Literary critic Wallace Fowlie elaborates on the meaning of the start of Inferno, going as far as to claim that Hell is an unavoidable consequence of Dante’s turning away from the path (74). The dark forest is more than just a dark forest, and instead is a greater area of sin and darkness in the life of Dante, and one which he cannot escape by his own

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