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It is divine because it deals with heaven, hell, and God divinity. ... Virgil, Dante s guide through hell and purgatory, was a pre-Christian Roman poet. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Dante

Dantes Divine Comedy
Introduction to Dante
  • Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), of Florence, Italy.
  • One of the 5 greatest poets of the Western
    tradition (with Homer, Virgil, Milton, Goethe).
  • His masterpiece (The Divine Comedy) embodies the
    Thomistic synthesis of Greek philosophy the
    Biblical worldview.

Introduction to Dante
  • His great love seems to have been Beatrice
  • They met when they were children.
  • Dante worshipped her.
  • Beatrice was Dantes inspiration for The Divine
  • After her death in 1290, he dedicated a book of
    verse, La Vita Nuova, or The New Life, to her.
  • Though each married, they did not marry each

Introduction to Dante
  • Dante entered an arranged marriage in 1291 with
    Gemma Donati, a noblewoman.
  • They had four childrenJacopo, Pietro, Giovanni,
    and Antonia.
  • Records contain little else about their life

Political Climate
  • Church (Pope) vs. State (Holy Roman Emperor)
  • After the collapse of the Roman Empire, there
    were attempts to recreate the Holy Roman
  • Conflicts between various Popes and emperors
    continued for hundreds of years.
  • In Dantes time, both the Pope and the emperor
    claimed political authority
  • Dante wanted to separate the two forms of
    authority and have the church deal only with
    spiritual matters while the empire dealt with
    earthly ones.

Dantes Banishment
  • In Florence, Italy, there were two political
  • The Guelphs supported the Pope
  • The Ghibellines supported the Emperor
  • Due to opposing local, papal, national, and
    political politics, the Guelphs split into two
    subparties Blacks and Whites
  • Pope Boniface VIII sided with the Blacks Whites
    were then persecuted.
  • Dante (a White Guelph) was banished from Florence
    and never returned. He wrote The Divine Comedy
    after he was banished.

The Divine Comedy
  • Written between 1308 and 1321
  • Begins on Good Friday in the year 1300
  • An imaginary journey that takes Dante through
    Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise
  • An allegorythe journey is symbolic of the
    spiritual quest for salvation
  • Three parts The Inferno, Pergatorio, and

  • Although it may not seem "funny" to us, The
    Divine Comedy is classified as a comedy because
    it has a happy ending. It is divine because
    it deals with heaven, hell, and God divinity.
  • This was the old definition of comedy, as opposed
    to our current notion that a comedy should keep
    us laughing.

  • Dantes use of the local (Tuscan) dialect of
    Italian rather than Latin in writing The Divine
    Comedy was a daring gamble at the time most
    serious writing was done in Latin because the
    vernacular languages kept changing and people
    were afraid that no one would be able to read
    them in a few years.

Retribution in Hell
  • Punishments in the tours of hell consists of
    those based on the principle of Eye for an eye
  • Punishment equal to the crime

Example Fortunetellers pretend to know future,
so in hell, their heads are fastened on backwards
so they must always look behind themselves.
  • The sinners in the circles include
  • Circle OneThose in limbo (basically innocent
    people unbaptized and unbelievers)
  • Circle TwoThe lustful
  • Circle ThreeThe gluttonous (food, drink, other
  • Circle FourThe hoarders (greed as sin)
  • Circle FiveThe wrathful

  • Circle SixThe heretics
  • Circle SevenThe violent
  • Ring 1 Violence Against Others
  • Ring 2 Violence Against Self
  • Ring 3 Violence against God, Nature, and Art

  • Circle Eight the fraudulent.
  • Has 10 levels
  • Seducers
  • Flatterers
  • Simonists (buy/sell pardons)
  • Fortune tellers
  • Barrators (frivolous lawsuits)
  • Hypocrites
  • Thieves
  • Fraudulent counselors
  • Sowers of discord
  • Falsifiers

  • Circle NineTraitors
  • Region 1 Traitors to their kindred
  • Region 2 Traitors to their country
  • Region 3 Traitors to their guests
  • Region 4 Traitors to their lords/benefactors

Themes to Consider
  • Love as the source of both good and evil.
  • The paradox of free will
  • The relationship between body and soul.
  • Faith and Reason and the limits of each

Love as the source of Good and Evil
  • Virgil distinguishes between animal-like love and
    mind-directed love.
  • The second is imperfect both in respect of its
    object and its intensity.
  • Wrong object Pride, Envy, Wrath
  • Too weak Sloth
  • Too strong Avarice, Gluttony, Lust

The Paradox of Free Will
  • If God is omnipotent (all-knowing) and knows what
    we will do before he created us, how can we have
    free will?

The Paradox of Evil
  • Paradox If God is good and omnipotent, why
    does He allow evil in the world?
  • Dante maintains that God allows evil because of
    free will. Man is to have free will, the ability
    to choose, and without good and evil, man has
    nothing to choose between.

Relationship between Body Soul
  • For medieval Christians, the soul was separated
    from the body at death and then judged based on
    the life it lived in the body while on earth.
  • Vision literature describes life after death in
    terms of other worlds, heaven and hell for
    medieval Christians. 

Faith Reason
  • Dante gives a high status to natural reason.
  • Virgil, Dantes guide through hell and purgatory,
    was a pre-Christian Roman poet.
  • The philosophers and poets (ones who rely
    entirely on reason) are in limbo, because they
    were born before Christ, or were not baptized.
    They are treated with great respect, and suffer
    only the sadness of the loss of heaven.

Three Medieval Theories
  • Dante endorses creationism that each
    individual human soul is specially created by
  • Augustine and others endorsed traducianism the
    human soul is formed by natural powers possessed
    by the sperm egg.
  • Dante clearly rejects Averroism that all human
    beings share a single soul.

  • A method of expressing ideas by using a parallel
    story or images
  • Examples Dante wandering in the woods in the
    midpoint of his life the situation is an
    allegory for his personal confusion and lack of
    direction, his mid-life spiritual crisis
  • The leopard, wolf and lion are allegorical
    beasts each represents a sin which keeps Dante
    from getting to heaven.

The Divine Comedy as an Epic
  • A long, narrative poem
  • Reflects universal themes
  • Life and Death
  • Good and evil
  • Faith and Reason (represented by Beatrice and
  • Plot is complicated by supernatural beings/events
    and involves long and dangerous journeys through
    foreign lands.
  • Vast scale (includes heaven, hell, and earth)
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