Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What the Hell, Dante?

Steven Riddle of Flos Carmelli is rereading Dante, and he provides some very good thoughts on the Inferno in a post from yesterday. The questions he seeks to answer are:
Reading The Inferno gives one pause at moments. Frequently in fact. It isn't so much the punishments described in Hell as it is a number of factors that stem from that. For example, did Jesus not teach us, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." And yet Dante, with impunity, assigns any number of people to any circle of Hell he chooses. Now, were these living people (at the time of his writing) one could say that this were a cautionary tale; however most of them are dead as of the writing of the work. What then do we adjudge from this seeming infraction of a commandment of love?

Next, we get from the Inferno a God of infernal intellect, delicating designing and manipulating Hell as to be of the most exquisite pain to the sinners assigned there. The lavish and ornate punishments that make up the bulk of hellish existence beggar the imagination. What then was Dante about?

Finally, we have an image of a God of such remarkable sternness, indeed of such profound violence that one is at a loss to figure out what Dante wanted us to understand of God from this.
The answers he gives are good. Go read them -- I thought it would be cheating to quote the whole post, though it deserves it.

Which reminds me that I really need to get back to Dante again some day... If not before, maybe I'll blog through the rest of Purgatorio for next Lent.


Anonymous said...

I'm aware only of the most magnificent reviews of the just-completed Robert and Jean Hollander translation, capped off by a recent review from the New Yorker's delightful Joan Acocella. My personal affinity is with C. H. Sisson, though largely because that's the one I own. As for single volumes though, particularly the Purgatorio set apart, I can only say, pronouncing the name with near-idolatrous reverence, "Merwin."


Acocella, on the Hollanders:

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that url.

That last bit: