• Submitted By: lorijoy
  • Date Submitted: 03/14/2009 10:26 AM
  • Category: Psychology
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Inferno 1

Commentary on Canto I of Dante’s Inferno
Name: Lori Embrey
School: Strayer University
Professor: Christopher Griffin
Course: HUM 101 '' Origins of Western Culture

Inferno 2

In Canto I of the Inferno, Dante sets up an allegory that is both dreamlike and theologically resonant. Verse form in the poem helps enforce a sense of imagistic and narrative inevitability, despite some eccentricities. The importance of poetry, and of his own poetic mission, in Dante’s conception of his personal salvation is evident from his encounter with Virgil near the end of the Canto.

Inferno 3

Commentary on Canto I of Dante’s Inferno
With concision and swiftness, Dante introduces us to the world of his Christian epic. That it is to be an allegory is apparent from the first stanza, with its mention of a “dark wood” (p. 368, l. 3). The poet finds himself in this menacing wood “midway in our life’s journey” (p. 368, l. 1). He does not say it is in the middle of his personal life history that he discovers himself isolated in a wasteland. We are to understand that he is one of mankind—a representative, seemingly, of whatever is universal in the human experience. As he describes his terror at being lost in “so rank, so arduous a wilderness” (p.368, l. 5), he does not personalize the experience very much. Details that would identify him as the individual he is are withheld in favor of more archetypal expressions of fear and the pain of knowing that, however he got to this place, it is a “valley of evil” (p.368, l. 13).
The effect of this handling is to create both a distance from the sense of lived reality...

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