This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Comparing The Struggle In Dante’s Inferno And Book Vi Of The Aeneid

4378 words - 18 pages

The Infernal Struggle in Dante’s Inferno and Book VI of The Aeneid

Does hell have its own history? For Dante, the structural and thematic history of ‘hell’ in the Inferno begins with the Roman epic tradition and its champion poet, Virgil. By drawing heavily from the characteristics of hell in Book VI of The Aeneid, Dante carries the epic tradition into the medieval world and affirms his indebtedness to Virgil’s poetry. Moreover, Virgil becomes a central character in the Inferno as he guides Dante, the pilgrim, who has no knowledge of hell, through his own historical model. Similarly, the protagonist of The Aeneid, Aeneas, lacks the foresight necessary to make the journey through hell on his own and thus places his trust in the mythological prophet, the Sybil. Because the Sybil and Virgil already have knowledge of the underworld, their characters in The Aeneid and the Inferno are associated with history, both literally through Virgil’s poetry and metaphorically through their enduring wisdom in eyes of the pilgrim and Aeneas. For Aeneas and the pilgrim, however, religious history evolves from an ancient world of paganism to medieval Christianity and these values are transposed onto hell itself--showing that its history changes over time. Furthermore, the living realities that the pilgrim and Aeneas take into the underworld prove unstable when juxtaposed with hell’s slippery and ever-changing ambience. In Book VI of The Aeneid, Aeneas enters an underworld filled with triple-hybrid beasts, sinners, heroes, and a transparent physical reality that foils his warriorlike instincts for conflict and resolution. Likewise, in Dante’s Inferno, the journeying pilgrim witnesses a horrific blurring of life and death, which in this case negates his imagination as a poet--his ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Thus, the journeying protagonists in Dante’s Inferno and Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid face the possible subversion of their own living realities as hell’s historical values evolve from ancient paganism to medieval Christianity.

The historical relationship between the Aeneid and the Inferno originates with Dante’s own definition of the former as “the canonic epic model” (Jacoff 3). By definition an “epic model” dramatizes events of historical or legendary importance (Webster). Thus Dante, who “had no direct access to Homer” and the first epic models of Western literature--The Illiad and The Odyssey--chose Rome’s national epic, The Aeneid, as his historical inspiration (Jacoff 3). Specifically, the Inferno finds its overarching structural and thematic antecedent in Book VI of The Aeneid, where Aeneas descends into the realm of the shades. Here among hell’s carnage Aeneas finds his idea of eternal beauty embodied within the shade of his father, Anchises, who has survived in the heaven-like Elysian Fields. In the Inferno, the pilgrim undertakes the same journey as his historical prototype but instead searches for spiritual absolution in a...

Find Another Essay On Comparing the Struggle in Dante’s Inferno and Book VI of The Aeneid

The Opening Foundational Themes of Dante’s Inferno

1725 words - 7 pages The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri somewhere around the year 1308 and originally called The Comedy, is widely considered one of the preeminent works of Italian literature. It is an epic poem that consists of three books: Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, which chronicle (narrate) the adventures of Dante the Pilgrim (a fictitious character personified by Dante himself) in his travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Although

The Politics behind Dante’s Inferno Essay

1190 words - 5 pages Emperor. This paper will analyze the political aspects within the Divine Comedy and its connection to religion, focusing specifically on the Inferno. During Dante’s lifetime, two factions were in constant conflict amongst each other over control of his home of Florence; the Guelphs, supporters of the Pope, and the Ghibellines, who sided with the Holy Roman Emperor (Norton, p. 1458). Eventually, the Guelphs, whom Dante was a supporter of, gained power

A discussion of the Plan of Dante’s Inferno

827 words - 4 pages Dante’s Inferno is about a man who goes through, and describes hell in great detail. He describes the many different levels, and the levels within the levels. He tells about who and why someone would go there, at each different level. Each crime, or sin has a different punishment that has to do with how bad the sin was that the person committed. Some punishments are more intriguing than others, depending on the person reading them. Some of

An analysis of 3of the best punishments from Dante’s Inferno

880 words - 4 pages In Dante’s Inferno, Dante travels through nine circles of hell. “Dante's Inferno, widely hailed as one of the great classics of Western literature, details Dante's journey through the nine circles of Hell.” (Miller) Dante tells us that you don’t go to Hell because you’ve sinned; you go to Hell because you didn’t repent for your sins. In each circle, there are different types of sinners and punishments for each sin. The punishments can be

Separation in Dante’s Inferno

1052 words - 5 pages allegories illustrate Dante’s view about sin and God. The psychological allegories illustrate the internal conflicts within Dante. The political allegories illustrate Dante’s frustration with the government, and how the church is involved in the government. The literary allegories illustrate the structure of Dante’s poem, or they describe Dante as a poet. In the Inferno, Dante separates hell and Mount Joy into three different levels. In the highest point

Comparing the Aeneid and the Odyssey

2917 words - 12 pages   Both the Odyssey and the Aeneid represent their cultures very well, but they express different ideas on what one should strive for in life.  There are also different forces that pushed both epics to be written.  The Aeneid expresses the Roman idea of pietas which means to show extreme respect for one’s ancestors. We see this in Aeneas when he is pictured caring his father away from burning Troy.  He has pietas because he cared so much for

How does Aeneas present himself and his people in Book 2 of the Aeneid?

2954 words - 12 pages The second book of Virgil's Aeneid is the account of the sack of Troy from Aeneas' point of view. Since Aeneas is the narrator, the characterisation of him and his men is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the way in which Virgil intended his future founder of the Roman race to portray himself in the face of adversity. As a result Virgil is able to emphasise the bravery of the Trojans in contrast with the merciless Greeks, showing

Divine Comedy - Dante and Virgil's Relationship in Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno

842 words - 3 pages Dante and Virgil's Relationship in Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno In Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno, Virgil describes the statue of the Old Man of Crete. Dante uses the Old Man of Crete as a metaphor for Virgil’s legacy in order to elucidate the nature of Dante’s and Virgil’s relationship. In the beginning of the metaphor, Dante carefully and methodically illustrates the grandeur of the Greek empire and Roman civilization. "[Mount Ida] was

Dante’s Inferno “Beatrice Portinari, Virgil, and the Pope Boniface VIII and their Significance”

1049 words - 4 pages , either in history or for their relation to Dante's writing and depiction of a journey through Hell in his eyes. Thus, in what follows, I will discuss each character as they are described in Inferno and each's relevance to Dante and history.Beatrice Portinari was Dante Alighieri's childhood and lifelong love, so it's only fitting that she be seen as "the Divine Love and Grace" (Turner, 3) throughout the Inferno. Dante first encountered Beatrice at age

Canto 8 of Dante’s Inferno

1439 words - 6 pages . Others state that Dante’s anger was righteous (ira bona) because there was proper reasoning behind it. Kleinhenz, one particular scholar, argues that Dante’s outburst at Filippo Argenti is a result of the praise Dante received after initially criticizing the sinner. In his book, Inferno 8: The Passage Across the Styx, he maintains that Virgil’s praise “is perhaps wrongly motivated and consequently, that Dante’s reaction to Fillipo Argenti in this

Allegorical Punishments: Analysis of Dante’s Use of Allegory in Inferno

1280 words - 5 pages In Dante’s Inferno, those who never repented for their sins are sent there after death. Like the old Latin proverb says, “The knowledge of sin is the beginning of salvation.” (“Latin Proverb Quotes” ThinkExist) The punishments in his Hell are decided by the law of retribution, which according to Webster’s Dictionary is the total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as

Similar Essays

Comparing The Underworlds In Dante’s Inferno And The Odyssey

2212 words - 9 pages underworlds, and how the underworld operates. These differences and similarities can be attributed the Dante’s and Homer’s religion, the time period and culture in which they wrote their respective works, and the purpose for the visits to the underworlds in each work. Although there are many similarities between the underworlds in Dante’s Inferno and The Odyssey, the two works ultimately offer two different visions of the underworld due to

An Analysis Of The “Up On Your Feet” Passage From Dante’s Inferno, And How It Relates To The Overall Theme Of The Book

861 words - 4 pages people believed in gods of the Earth. After the time of the Greek Olympians passed came the time of Christian Doctrine, and the rise of the Roman Catholic Church. One text from this time gives reason to be a believer and gives reason for one to repent their sins. Dante’s Inferno has lasted the test of time, and though its writer didn’t necessarily believe this to be the true representation of Hell, he shows the world what his personal Hell would

The Role And Function Of The Major Monsters In Dante’s Inferno

1895 words - 8 pages In Dante’s Inferno, throughout the epic journey of the character Dante into the depth of Hell, he encounters a number of beasts and monsters as he passes along the way, especially through the seven stations of the greatest monsters of Hell. The most significant of these seven major monsters is of central importance to the character Dante’s journey as well as to the narrative, for these monsters not only challenge the presence of the character

Dante’s Inferno And The Path To Enlightenment

774 words - 4 pages to see past the blurring effects of human emotion; he has no choice but to accept the realities of God’s judgment and confirm his unending trust in God’s will. Dante’s narration of Inferno captures the fundamental nature of sin and translates it into every aspect of the story, even the structure of Hell itself. The punishment does not simply fit the sin; the punishment becomes the sin. Both the hierarchical nature in which Hell is