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March 22, 2018


The Divine Comedy

by N@ncy

  • Author: Dante Alighierie
  • Title: The Divine Comedy
  • Trivia: Title is called a comedy because  it narrates Dante’s salvation.
  • This was considered comic in the medieval sense.
  • Trivia: Topics are politics (Italy, Florence), poetry, papacy, theology, literature.
  • Published: 1320
  • List of Challenges 2018
  • Monthly reading plan


Inferno – Dante distances himself from the sinners – DOWN 9 circles of hell

  1. Dante meets his guide, Virgil….
  2. Virgil was heaven sent (a feeling of grace)
  3. The way to rise…you must first go down. (Hell)
  4. Virgil tells the pilgrim that he will help him.
  5. Dante is not enthusiastic
  6. ….he even wants out of the deal!
  7. Virgil has been sent by others….to guide Dante.
  8. For the way of salvation you have to go another route.
  9. Virgil will stay with Dante for 2/3 of the way.
  10. Abandon all hope …he who enter here.
  11. Dante’s response: “these words are cruel.”
  12. The sign says this is a place of justice
  13. but the pilgrim does not accept these words…yet.


Purgatorio – Dante  goes  UP 7 story mountain (terraces)

  1. Beatrice arrives in 3 colors white, green and red (Faith, Hope, Love).
  2. Dante consults his guide Virgil. But Virgil was not there!
  3. This is the handing off from Virgil to Beatrice.
  4. Beatrice begins by speaking sternly to Dante
  5. …to take him to task for all for the things he has failed to do.
  6. Part of Beatrice’s function is to be a stern judge.
  7. Beatrice tells him he had so many talents
  8. …why was this potential so unfulfilled in you?
  9. You should re-orientate yourself to only ‘very high things.
  10. Dante does not go defensive
  11. …because he saw so many do that and they are in Hell!
  12. He must go back into the world and help other
  13. sinners by writing when this journey has been completed.


Paradiso:   Dante goes  OUTWARD  to 7 planets where souls contemplate God.

  1. Who does Dante meet on the Moon, Mercury, Venus?
  2. Dante meets ex-sinners who lack the virtues of faith, hope and love.
  3. Conclusion: heaven is not reserved for people who have led perfect lives.
  4. Who is on the Sun? (wisdom)
  5. Famous scholars …St Thomas Aquinas,  Albertus Magnus
  6. …but there are some simple folks there.
  7. Conclusion: wisdom does not equal scholarship.
  8. Who is on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn?
  9. We meet Dante’s great-great-grandfather,
  10. just rulers  (Emperor Trajan), monk (Peter Damian).
  11. On the Fixed Stars Dante meets the Virgin Mary.
  12. Then Dante reaches the Primum Mobile.
  13. Dante finally sees God as an intensely bright point of light.
  14. Beatrice has not disappeared as Virgil did…
  15. …but Dante can still see her in the mystical rose (love)
  16. Now St Bernard of Clairvaux stands next to Dante.
  17. Why St Bernard as the last guide? 
  18. This man was a mystic and a poet.
  19. He is the final mediator in this journey.
  20. Virgil prepared Dante for Beatrice.
  21. Beatrice has prepared Dante for  St Bernard
  22. …..and St. Bernard prepares Dante for God.


  1. Dante sees God,
  2. …the Triune God, the  Mystery of the Trinity.
  3. Dante tries to describe this mystical experience.


Last thoughts:

  1. After  14,233 lines that are divided into three canticas
  2. Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso each and
  3. …the total number of cantos to 100
  4. I can finally say I have read this great classic!
  5. There are many allusions that were difficult to discover
  6. in the Purgatorio
  7. eagle = Emperor Constantine, first Christian Roman emperor
  8. chariot in procession = Catholic Church
  9. I am deeply impressed with Clive James’ translation, bravo!
  10. Also I would recommend reading + listening to The Divine Comedy
  11. with Audible version.
  12. It  helped me…to push on through 100 cantos!
  13. #MustRead  Classic….once in your lifetime!


Read more from Classic, poetry

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