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Dante And Virgil: The Influence Of The Aeneid On The Divine Comedy

1018 words - 5 pages

Virgil is not only an influence on Dante as a character of Dante's fashioning and in terms of the poem, but he is also (perhaps more importantly) an incredible inspiration to Dante as a fellow poet. It seems clear that there are many similarities between the Aeneid and the Divine Comedy - what at first glance may seem indefinite is the importance of those similarities. Virgil's Aeneid is intimately intertwined with Dante's Divine Comedy in the capacity of an entire poetic work with similar themes, and also as an integral reference for specific images.
When “Dante” speaks to “Virgil” near the beginning of Inferno, he understands that he is not yet like Aeneas and Paul (Dante 1.2.32). He ...view middle of the document...

15.25-27). And so, the Aeneid is in some ways necessary for the Commedia. In the Aeneid, Anchises prophecies that Aeneas will found Rome, this is, therefore, a triumphant prophecy. Borrowing from this model, Dante has Cacciaguida prophesy his exile from Florence – this prophecy has a character of tragedy. And yet, it is two-fold; with his great sorrow will come great joy, for, according to Cacciaguida, Dante is fated to compose the Commedia and to bring his vision and revelation to others though poetry.
Dante borrows more than these specific scenes from Virgil's Aeneid. Dante uses the Virgilian concept of “history as prophecy” throughout the entire Divine Comedy. The Aeneid is circular: Virgil, in the age of the Romans “prophecies” Aeneas's future and the founding of Rome, as if these events are still to occur, even though they already have. The Aeneid chronicles what is already past as if it were to become the future, and Dante mimics this technique throughout the Commedia. He writes in the present tense of a vision which is to come, but has actually already occurred in the past tense. The action of the Divine Comedy is set in 1300 AD and Dante (the poet) was exiled from Florence in 1302, but he did not begin work on the Commedia until approximately 1304. Dante “prophecies” his exile of 1302 and the composition of the Divine Comedy, but, like Virgil, he makes this prediction after these events have already occurred. This is yet another example of parallel thematic elements that are used throughout both poems.
The similarities between these two works lead the reader to draw certain conclusions about the Commedia. Their equality in terms of poetry certainly has some far-reaching implications, as this view of the relationship between the Commedia and the Aeneid draws many parallels between the two works and their authors. For example, if “Dante” is in some ways a type of...

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