posted on Feb, 19 2011 @ 10:08 AM
Hey mossme89, you’re talking about my main man Dante, and because of that, this is the reason why I joined ATS to make my first post. Thank you
and hello to everyone! I’ve been a lurker for a long time, but when you bash Dante, it’s like saying my momma’s a$$ is too big, so I gotta set
the record straight.
I’m glad you’re reading this book; but your dismissal of it is premature. I think you’re missing the point only because as it’s been said
earlier, you’re getting only one-third of the whole story. I don’t know if your class will cover the other two parts of the poem, and if it
doesn’t, it would be unfortunate, but classic, because your teacher is probably just teaching this, as opposed to someone who really loves it and
wants to share and inspire others with its underlying message. Whatever you do, don’t let a robotic teacher turn you against this masterpiece.
Regarding this thread, other posters have summed up pretty much what the poem is all about; but for my money, this epic poem just can’t be tossed
aside. These comments are merely scratching the surface. Now I have joined to post my thoughts regarding my favorite poet of all time, if not one of
the greatest poets who ever lived. Sure you have Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe and Blake, all giants in their own write (intentional pun); but IMHO
Dante tops them all, and I hope this post will show you why.
We should all take a closer look at Dante because “The Divine Comedy” represents a journey, not just Dante’s personal journey, but the journey
of all mankind through suffering, purification and salvation. In writing to his patron Can Grande della Scala, Dante said that this poem can be taken
in several ways: allegorically, spiritually and literally. How can one not be pulled in by its opening line (from Mark Musa’s translation in the
Penguin Classics series):
Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off from the straight path…
This is not the path of religion he’s speaking of. We’re talking about someone who’s veered off his life-path, of someone who realized the
trajectory of his life has not led him to where he really wanted to be, of someone who’s been severely disappointed by politics, religion and love.
The trouble is that Dante is taught mostly to people who are roughly 25 years before having this mid-life crisis.
To elaborate on what a previous poster said, Dante was talking about the figures of his time, as well as those in history and mythology. After a
lifetime of experience in politics (he was both a statesmen and a soldier), he realized there was no justice in his world (no more so than in ours
today, yes?), he passed judgment on those who were getting away with all kinds of heinous behavior. Dante was so against what was going on in the
Italy of his day, that he was exiled, and threatened with death if came back! If Dante were alive today, he’d probably populate his version of Hell
with people like Hitler (obviously), Mussolini (especially being Italian) and all other politicians/dictators/despots/banksters, etc. Fodder for
future posts no doubt. Gosh, I don’t think 9 levels of Hell would be enough to contain all the souls who would inhabit it now.
Next, the poem was written in Italian. So what?, you reply. But most if not all writing at that time was done in Latin, the language of religion and
the elite; and the Divine Comedy was one of the first poems to be written in its native language, the language of the people, kind of what rap is
today. In a way, you can say that Dante was the first poet/gangsta of his day. This poem virtually created the Italian language. Not only that, but
as you read through the Inferno, the language is coarse, graphically depicting his harrowing descent through its 9 levels; but as you read through
Purgatory, the language becomes more lyrical and beautiful (music plays a big role during this leg of the journey), as Dante’s sins are lifted from
him (his biggest sin in his own estimation being that of Pride) while climbing the mountain of Purgatory. (By the way, Dante is being led through the
Inferno and Purgatory by his favorite poet of all time, the Roman poet Virgil. More about this later). And then, when he reaches Paradise, the
language rises to such a high caliber of mystical expression, he resorts to inventing new words to try and describe what he’s feeling and seeing.
And what is it that he’s seeing and experiencing?
CAUTION…MAJOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD! STOP NOW IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT FOR YOURSELVES, Otherwise please keep scrolling down. Thank you…
God! Yes, God! He sees God (I’m getting choked up as I write this, as I always do whenever I tell people what this poem is really all about).
After going on this amazing journey, he realizes what God is…and that’s Love. And that Love moves the Sun and all the other Stars. So this Love,
which is God, moves everything in the Universe; and it’s this Love which compelled his beloved Beatrice (now in Paradise having died before Dante)
to go down to Limbo to summon Virgil to go and save him before it’s too late. It’s this Love which guides Dante through the Inferno, upwards
through Purgatory and beyond to Paradise. Do you get it now? Even though we may all go through our own personal hells, and come away with a new
understanding of ourselves, we learn (hopefully) that, all along, there was something guiding us, protecting us, sustaining us; and that something is
So you see folks, while this poem is clothed in the religion/beliefs of it’s time, and perhaps other esoteric knowledge, it is not only one of the
great masterpieces of Literature, and the father of the Italian language, but it is one of the greatest love stories ever told by man, and one of the
few (if only) poems where a man sees God. I mean isn’t that what’s really in the back of humanity’s mind (well at least some of ours)? Now
that you’ve got the gist of what this poem is all about, I hope you all will read the whole thing to get the full effect.
My wife and I were one of the incredibly lucky few who’ve seen a “performance” of the last 33 lines of the Paradise by the Italian actor Roberto
Benigni. Performance doesn’t even begin to describe this event. It was a life-changing experience for me because—just when I thought you
couldn’t squeeze any more meaning from this poem--Benigni was able to bring out even more meaning and love from it. It was so beautiful, so moving,
that tears were running down our faces. He called The Divine Comedy “a gift from God to mankind”. At least it is to just about every Italian. I
myself have read the entire trilogy three times, and use Mark Musa’s translation. I think it’s the best one because Mr. Musa uses a
straightforward, non-rhyming translation which for my money really captures the essence of what Dante’s going through and telling us. He supplies
great notes, which are able to give the reader a greater appreciation of why this poem is one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
And now that this immortal classic has been transformed into a video game is really sad because it revels in all the gory violence, turning Dante into
another scythe-wielding warrior (wow, so original, NOT!) and panders to all the adrenaline junkies out there in gaming land. I’m sure they’re not
going to create a Purgatory or Paradise video game. Gamers would be disappointed as there’s nothing to viciously kill in those realms, but I’m
sure the folks at EA could find a way. (BTW there is a level in the Inferno for the Panderers ;-) If you thought religion was a conspiracy to control
our behavior (which it does to a large extent), how about these ultra-violent video games programming its players to be more insensitive to life, more
cruel, perfect little robotic soldiers to go out and destroy people at a distance at the push of a button from the throne of an office chair?!
But that’s okay, the book has already been written, the vision is already out there for anyone to experience, in spite of whatever games or films
that have lamely attempted to cash in on (or crush) this masterpiece. That vision will still shine, long after all of us have left this world (and
all its amusements and distractions) and seen for ourselves what Dante was trying to convey in his own way.