by Dante Alighieri
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- How can forces like love and compassion give rise to banishment to Hell? Do you see any traces of love or compassion in the sinners’ punishments?
- What are the three categories of sin, according to Dante? Why are the sins of the deeper circles morally worse than those of the higher?
- Why does Dante so highly admire Nature or anything natural? And if the natural is so good, why are the incontinent sinners – who only follow their natural instincts – condemned to Hell?
- Which sinners seem to be portrayed in a sympathetic light, highlighting their good attributes instead of their sins? Why do you think Dante tries to elicit our sympathy for them?
- Why is Dante’s sympathy for certain sinners so angrily rebuked by Virgil? Does Dante's maturation into a condemner make him morally superior?
- If Dante is devoted to honesty in his words, unlike these sinners, is he justified in lying (to say, Fra Alberigo) to carry out Divine Justice?
- To what extent does Dante’s personal and political life affect the Inferno’s content? What proportion of the sinners comes from Dante’s Florence?
- Which sinners come from Classical literature? Which are Biblical? What does this say about Dante’s conception of the Classics vs. the Christian?
- How does Dante honor the Classical tradition while adhering to the tenets of Christianity?
- How does Dante represent good and evil? What does this say about the power of evil in comparison to the power of virtue?
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