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The following is my act of productive procrastination in an attempt to get out of my head the content and ideas related to a paper that I have due in my class on Dante and His Divine Comedy

The General Prompt: What has happened to the character Dante by the time he encounters Fra Alberigo in Cocytus, Inferno 33b? Review his behavior through the descent. Has he learned to respond to the Damned appropriaely of has he ‘Lost it’? What is the purpose of his reactions and what do I make of how he changes. 

–> according to the professor, how I answer this question will no doubt reflect my theology as well as literary assessment of the Inferno.

 

My rambling Answer that will need to be shaped and expanded with proper analytic details before I hand in as a paper:

 

“When in Rome, do as the Romans Do.” This familiar adage came to my mind as I began going through the descriptions given to us by Dante the Poet of the different interactions he had on his journey through the highly structured levels of Hell. Be it his momentary loss of self as he swoons over the tragic (and condemning story) told by lovers or his outburst of anger and use of deception at the deeper levels of hell, his embodied actions—especially his final two encounters—left me asking questions that I’m not sure I will ever fully come up with answers for.

 

One of these questions deals with the choice of Dante the Poet to include in the pilgrim’s last encounter (but also in the whole of canto 33) a textual allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. According to a footnote provided in the Durling and Martinez translation of the Divine Comedy the “scornful play on the name” of the last soul the pilgrim meets (Alberigo) “is related to the word for ‘tree’ (albero) and draws on the Sermon on the Mount” from Matt. 7.16-20. My question for the presence of this usage of the name is why does he do it—espeically when we look at the other messages present within that chapter of Matthew. For example, the first segment of the chapter places an emphasis on it being the task of God and no other to Judge and then prescribe/carry out punishment. It is possible to answer this question through the “when in Rome” lens by saying that because Hell is an inversion of how a positive reality is supposed to be then of course Dante is supposed to judge because it is the opposite of what Christ said to do. However, I do not want to accept this because although Dante is in hell he cannot do what the condemned and keepers of Hell do because of his state as a living and embodied human being with his poetic soul still attached. Therefore, my confusion is because of this physical state shouldn’t the Pilgrim still need to abide by the Christian values preached in the seventh Chapter of Matthew and the sermon on the mount? Yes, he can be drawn toward and even seduced by sins but these visceral responses are bound to happen because he is still a flawed breathing man with soul and body joined together.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans Do.” This familiar adage came to my mind as I began going through the descriptions given to us by Dante the Poet of the different interactions he had on his journey through the highly structured levels of Hell. Be it his momentary loss of self as he swoons over the tragic (and condemning story) told by lovers or his outburst of anger and use of deception at the deeper levels of hell, his embodied actions—especially his final two encounters—left me asking questions that I’m not sure I will ever fully come up with answers for.

 

One of these questions deals with the choice of Dante the Poet to include in the pilgrim’s last encounter (but also in the whole of canto 33) a textual allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. According to a footnote provided in the Durling and Martinez translation of the Divine Comedy the “scornful play on the name” of the last soul the pilgrim meets (Alberigo) “is related to the word for ‘tree’ (albero) and draws on the Sermon on the Mount” from Matt. 7.16-20. My question for the presence of this usage of the name is why does he do it—espeically when we look at the other messages present within that chapter of Matthew. For example, the first segment of the chapter places an emphasis on it being the task of God and no other to Judge and then prescribe/carry out punishment. It is possible to answer this question through the “when in Rome” lens by saying that because Hell is an inversion of how a positive reality is supposed to be then of course Dante is supposed to judge because it is the opposite of what Christ said to do. However, I do not want to accept this because although Dante is in hell he cannot do what the condemned and keepers of Hell do because of his state as a living and embodied human being with his poetic soul still attached. Therefore, my confusion is because of this physical state shouldn’t the Pilgrim still need to abide by the Christian values preached in the seventh Chapter of Matthew and the sermon on the mount? Yes, he can be drawn toward and even seduced by sins but these visceral responses are bound to happen because he is still a flawed breathing man with soul and body joined together.

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