About Dante Alighieri’s poem “The Divine Comedy”

“Divine Comedy” Dante is a monumental monument of medieval culture, synthesizing its most important achievements, knowledge, ideas about the world and aesthetic experience. At the same time, it largely surpasses its era, reaching the level of “timeless”, “eternal” creations of world culture.

The work is based on the story of “walking” in the afterlife widespread in medieval literature. However, the created picture of the universe in its scale, originality, philosophical richness and artistic power is incommensurable with any product of this kind. In detail depicting three “layers” of the other world – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – in the context of the described journey, Dante unfolds a grandiose panorama that encompasses the entire universe, from the bottom of the netherworld where Lucifer nests to the summit of Paradise, the abode of the Triune Godhead; from the “eternity” that preceded the

creation of the world, to the future Kingdom of God on earth. In addition, the poem embraces the history of the human race from Adam and Eve to Dante’s contemporaries. It reflects the foundations of the Christian dogma, an ancient tradition,

Dante created his own “geography” and “structure” of each “layer” of the other world. Thus, Hell in his “Comedy” is portrayed as a funnel-shaped abyss reaching the center of the globe and consisting of 9 “circles”, according to which, depending on the sins, the souls of the deceased are distributed. To them adjoins the region of “insignificant”, that is, outside of the Hell, that is, souls who did not deserve mercy or punishment because of the mediocre life. Thus, the nether world has 10 “levels”. The next layer, Purgatory, also includes 10 steps. It looks like a truncated cone. Its upper part consists of 7 circles, the number of which corresponds to the number of mortal sins; the lower part of it forms the Precursor, where they expect access to the redemptive torments of the souls of the

dead under ecclesiastical excommunication and the soul of the negligent; on the flat top of the mountain, the desert forest of Earthly Paradise is green. Heavenly Paradise is located in the cosmic height, which extends above the sphere of fire, surrounding the earth’s atmosphere. Above its nine heavens is the tenth – immobile Empire, in which is the abode of God, angels and blessed souls.

An important role in the artistic construction of the “Divine Comedy” belongs to the numbers 3, 9 and 10. The poem consists of three parts: “Hell”, “Purgatory”, “Paradise”, each of which includes 33 songs, written by tertsins and in total giving a number 99. If you add the introductory song “Ada” to them, you will get 100 – the square of the “perfect” number 10, the symbol of perfect completeness repeating in the structure of each layer of the other world.

Dante himself called his poem “Comedy.” In the Middle Ages, it was customary to call any composition with a happy ending. In this case, the happy ending was the description of Paradise. This is exactly how he conceived the poem of Dante, who saw her goal in “bringing the people living in this life from a state of distress and leading them to a state of bliss.” The epithet “Divine” added to Dante’s “Comedy” one of its first commentators, the famous Italian writer of the Renaissance Giovanni Boccaccio, thereby expressing a reverent delight in this great creation of poetic genius.

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About Dante Alighieri’s poem “The Divine Comedy”