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20091008-11 Inferno, cantos 18-26 (Group 5)

Page history last edited by Michael Cook 10 years, 11 months ago


While discussing Dante Alighieri's Inferno the first six circles of Hell are the levels of inconfinence. The seventh level is Violence and 8-9 are fraud. Between levels seven and eight there is the monster Geryon. Geryon was a scropion's tail and the face of an honest man. As the monster is leaving the seventh level and going to the eighth, the tail is facing the seventh level and the face is toward the eighth. The tail can be seen as a violent part of the monster, it is easily a cause of death for the two if he stung them. Although the face of the monster is that of an honest man's face, as it is pointed to the level for fraud, it can be seen as the face itself is fraud.

We focused a good portion of class on discussing Virgil. The things we discussed included his name, why he is indeed in hell, and his relationship with Dante. One thing we found ironic within today's readings was that Dante and Virgil traveled into the eighth circle of hell, the circle associated with traitors and those that are fake or phony, as very close friends that cared for one another. Virgil helped protect Dante and looked to be the exact opposite of a traitor. We also discussed that Virgil's punishment while in hell is his despair. The sin Virgil committed and his reason for being in jail and that he did not repent in his lifetime. This impenitence leads directly to Virgil's despair, which is evident often, including when he is turned away at the gate, and every time he goes back to his original circle.   



"The Color of the coward on my face,

     when I realized my guide was turning back,

     made him quickly change the color of his own.

He stood alert, like one who strains to hear;

     his eyes could not see far enough ahead

     to cut the heavy fog of that black air.

"But surely we were meant to win this finght,"

     he said, "or else...but no, such help was promised!

     Oh, how much time it's taking him to come!"

I saw too well how quickly he amended

     his opening words with what he added on!"


This passage is from Canto IX and discribes Virgil as he is worried.


"Our adversaries slammed the heavy gates

     in my lord's face, and he stood there outside, 

     then turned toward me and walked back very slowly

 with eyes downcast, all self-assurance now

     erased from his forehead-sighing, "Who are these

     to forbid my entrance to the halls of grief!"

He spoke to me: "You need not be disturbed

     by my vexation, for i shall win the contest,

     no matter how they plot to keep us out!

This insolence of theirs is nothing new; 

     they used it once at a less secret gate,

     which is, and will forever be, unlocked;

 you saw the deadly words inscribed above it;

      and now, already past it, and descending,

     across the circles, down the slope, alone, 

comes one by whom the city will be opened."


This passage is from Canto VIII and and shows Virgil's reaction to getting turned away from the gate.  It is meant to reinforce the concept that reason, represented by Virgil's character, is powerless without Faith.  This concept is reinforced further when an angel comes and easily flicks open the gate.



1) Allegory-descriing a text with a hidden meaning.

               Characteristics are often:     one-to-one



Comments (3)

sjbryan@... said

at 11:32 pm on Oct 14, 2009

Come on guys, I at least expected someone to have started on it. Here is a start for our group.

sjbryan@... said

at 1:59 am on Oct 15, 2009

Thank you!

Brian Croxall said

at 11:02 pm on Oct 16, 2009

First, I've noticed that only two people contributed to these notes. Good work, Stephen and Chris. The rest of you: get out of Circle 5.

The lack of group effort and editing of these notes is apparent. You do a good job of summarizing parts of our discussion about Virgil and Dante, but it could be edited to make it more clear. For example, nowhere in here is there an explicit mention that Virgil's protection of Dante models for us true friendship as we're about to enter a place where fraud is the key trait. You discuss other aspects of this moment, but with more eyes on the page, I suspect that you would have gotten closer to this and could have trimmed down some of the extraneous details. This would have allowed you to do more summary work on Virgil's encounter at the gate and how we readers should understand this moment of allegory. You've picked two fine passages, but your explanations of why they matter are too short. What you should be doing here is more or less writing the answer that you would give me if you saw these passages on an exam.

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