What is mature – I’ll tell you everything,
And the story is not in vain.
He saw the picture of God’s judgment,
He visited purgatory and, knowing the
Way to Paradise, reached this paradise,
To say the truth, coming back here…
So said another great man of the Renaissance – the painter, architect, sculptor, poet and engineer Michelangelo Buonarroti – about the great Dante. Rather, he spoke about the most important work of his life, which influenced the art of the Renaissance as a whole – about the “Divine Comedy.”
The poem is conceived as a “vision,” a story-journey to the afterlife: Hell – Purgatory – Paradise. And the point here is not at all in the religious beliefs of the Catholic believer Dante about the structure of the universe, that the Earth is a fixed center of the world, and hell is placed inside it. The poem reflects the poet’s conception
of the world, his worldview, political views, sympathies and moral principles.
Particularly indicative in this respect is the first part of the poem – “Hell.” This is an underground funnel, divided into nine circles of retribution and punishment, where sinners are punished depending on the severity of their sins.
The first circle of hell is Limb. Here dwell the souls of those who did not commit sin, but who died unbaptized. Dante inhabits Limb with his beloved ancient poets and literary heroes, his guide to Hell and Purgatory lives here the famous Roman poet Virgil. In the Middle Ages, he enjoyed the glory of a sage and personified the earthly mind in the poem.
The arrival in Limbo is somewhat like coming to the world of dreams. The heroes of antiquity take Dante in his circle, and he is proud of this honor.
In the second circle of Hell, the souls of those “whom the earthly flesh called,” who bear punishment for sinful love, languish. We see here the Assyrian empress queen Semiramis, the “sinful harlot” Cleopatra, Elena the Beautiful. Their souls
are ruined because of the thirst for pleasure. In a perpetual whirlwind, a couple is spinning – Paolo and Francesca. But the poet does not condemn Francesca, who changed her unloved husband. On the contrary, he justifies it and sympathizes with lovers. The torments of these two sinners, who were in hell together, so shocked Dante that he lost his senses.
Dante also affirms the human right to know the world around him, respecting the curiosity and courage of Ulysses, who dared, contrary to the gods, to look beyond what is permissible. He calls to give earthly feelings “comprehension of novelty” to “see the world uninhabited.”
The punishments that various kinds of sinners suffer in Hell give us an idea of Dante’s views, his understanding of Good and Evil.
The poet hates all deception: in the terrible trenches of the eighth circle of hell, the souls of counterfeiters, false prophets, flatterers are tormented. Struggling for the purity of the church, he places in a special ditch dirty greedy people from the highest ecclesiastical ranks and even the pope himself – for selling church ranks and indulgences, for deceiving human souls.
The kara of a sinner is always associated with sin itself: the tyrants are drowned in the rivers of blood, flatterers wear lead garments gilded from the outside, deceivers are immersed in a ditch upside down.
According to Alexander Pushkin, “the single plan of Hell” is already the fruit of a high genius. “
The traitors are doomed to the greatest punishment. They are in an icy swamp. Three of them: Judas, who betrayed Christ, and the murderers of Julius Caesar Brutus and Cassius – are in the mouth of Lucifer himself, as traitors to his benefactors.
Purgatory is the hill of virtue of the seven degrees, where at every step the seal of sin is washed from the forehead.
Dante’s guide to Paradise is Beatrice – the ideal woman, Dante’s love, the addressee of his sonnets. It symbolizes the Divine mind and is perceived as the embodiment of abstract love, “that moves the sun and the stars.”
In his poem, Dante judges the dark forces of the Middle Ages, denounces vices, exalts love, glorifies the deeds of man.
VG Belinsky believed that the “Divine Comedy” expressed “the entire depth of the spiritual life of his time in forms peculiar to this life and this time”, he saw in it the “true” Iliad of the “Middle Ages”.