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Culture in “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri Essay


Diving Comedy by Dante Alighieri embodies a sophisticated artistic and philosophic synthesis of medieval culture where it is possible to draw the parallels between Christian and classical culture. In this regard, Dante can be considered the last poet of Middle Ages and the first poet of the new historic period. Such attributes are coincidental because this epic poem embodies serious controversies in terms presentation of Christian ideology that is closely intertwined with classical images of the world composition.

In particular, the interrelations between Christian and classical culture are presented through depiction of Vergil – the ancient Roman poet and the representative of the classical period – who escort Dante on his journey through the Hell, the analysis of other-worldly life and place of a human in it, and presentation of Christian world with regard to materialistic values.

The fact that Vergil – the brightest representative of ancient culture – is present in the poem already distorts the original images of the Christian culture. Hence, by involving Vergil in his theological work, Dante attempts to achieve the superiority of Christian world by presenting himself as being superior to classical poets. Dante’s reflections on this issue are presented in the forth Canto of Inferno: “And more of honour still, much more, they did me, / In that they made me one of their own band/ So that the sixth was I, ‘mid so much wit” (Alighieri 36).

At the same time, Dante gives credit to classical Latin literature through the representation of such outstanding poet and philosophers of ancient time as Virgil. However, the poet also place an emphasis on the fact that the classical literature can serve but partially to a poet who is chosen by God so as to inspire humans who lost they ways in life. Therefore, Divine Comedy successfully manages to combine Christian and vernacular elements. In addition, it is worth saying that Virgil repeatedly refers to God as to “Mighty Lord” as if rejecting the Christian ideology.

Due to the fact that the main scope of medieval reflections and ideology consisted in diverting humans from the vanity of the world and focus their concerns with after worldly life. Hence, while applying the form of ‘visions’, Alighieri tries to fully depict the realistic world. The poet administers justice on human vices and sins, but he resorts to it in order to make people change their lives, but not reject them. In other worlds, Dante does not lead people away from reality and earth; rather, the poet tries to bring them to reality: “…

That I may know who these, and what law makes them appear so ready to pass as I discern athwart the dusky light” (29). In Inferno, resort to materialized and realistic descriptions of humans as if emphasizing their belonging to the real world. Unlike medieval ideological visions that seek to turn a human to after worldly thoughts, Dante provides a classically-oriented form of visions for reflecting a more realistic description of the world.

Materialistic approach to depiction of divine world touches upon the representation of other aspect of the poem. In particular, Dante shows that all truths violated by a human should followed by a severe punishment. In this regard, the poet allegorically presents the state of mind of humans being drawn in sins and vices. Sinners should are doomed to be spin in the help whirlpool for ages. Material orientated is also expressed through the unchanged portrayal of sinners where Alighieri prefers to resort to their bodily features.

In this respect the loss of a human appearance relates to the vilest sins. Similar scene is presented in description of the Forest of Suicides: “When the exasperated soul abandons/ The body whence it rent itself away, / Minos consigns it to the seventh abyss./ It falls into the forest, and no part is chosen for it; but where Fortune hurls it,/ There like a grain of spelt it germinates” (Alighieri 88). As it can be illustrated by the example, the classical and Christian interpretation of the Hell can be noted through the analysis of its functions.

Thus, Dante is more focused on the representation of sinners as personalities with their own fates and outlooks on their worldly lives. The poet depicts the Hell that is administered by justice and possibility to be purified from sins. The allegorical presentation of Christian and classical features of the Hell can be seen in the following passage: “…The anguish of the people/ Who are below here in my face depicts/ That pity for terror thou hast taken” (Alighieri 23).

In conclusion, the connection and interaction of the Christian and classical cultures were intentionally depicted in Dante’s Divine Comedy: Inferno. The poet combines classical and medieval world to present his work as Divine and vernacular poem simultaneously. This effect has been achieved through depiction of Vergil who serves as a connector between Christian ideology and classical representation of the world. Alighieri also provides a combined approach to the analysis of the other-worldly life and the human treat it. Finally, the Comedy makes an accent on materialistic vision of Christian world where the priority is given to justice and freedom of choice.

Work Cited

Alighieri, Dante. Divine Comedy: Inferno. 2008, Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 26). Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/culture-in-divine-comedy-by-dante-alighieri/

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"Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri." IvyPanda, 26 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/culture-in-divine-comedy-by-dante-alighieri/.

1. IvyPanda. "Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri." June 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/culture-in-divine-comedy-by-dante-alighieri/.


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IvyPanda. "Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri." June 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/culture-in-divine-comedy-by-dante-alighieri/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri." June 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/culture-in-divine-comedy-by-dante-alighieri/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Culture in "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri'. 26 June.

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