| Quote #1
O Muses, o high genius, help me now;
Dante’s invocation of the muses suggests that he considers his poem a serious intellectual pursuit, much like Homer’s Odyssey or Virgil’s Aeneid. Like these ancient poets, he entrusts his memory and resulting words to a higher, divine power – much as his prayers to the Christian God will do later.
| Quote #2
[Virgil]: "For we have reached the place of which I spoke
Dante considers the mind and reason a purely human faculties and singular gifts from God. Man, then, has a responsibility to use these intellectual gifts for good. Sinners who use their intellects for evil or simply deny that reason is a human tool have "lost the good of the intellect" and have therefore been condemned to Hell.
| Quote #3
[Virgil]: "Look well at him who holds that sword in hand,
In medieval times, more so than today, poets represented the consummate academics. Dante demonstrates this by referring to the most famous Classical poets as a "splendid school." The character Dante, as an aspiring poet, is flattered when Virgil’s peers invite him to converse with them and he finds himself "sixth among such intellects." If one approaches this statement from the perspective of Dante the author, this rank of "sixth among such intellects" could be read as a bit cocky.