Essay about The Politics Behind Dante's Inferno

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The Divine Comedy is much more than an epic poem depicting a man’s interpretation of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Written by Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, the Divine Comedy frequently alludes to the political turmoil that was prevalent throughout 14th century Italy, specifically, the city of Florence. During this period of Italian history, there was a lack of a stable government and a power struggle between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor. This paper will analyze the political aspects within the Divine Comedy and its connection to religion, focusing specifically on the Inferno. During Dante’s lifetime, two factions were in constant conflict amongst each other over control of his home of Florence; the Guelphs, supporters of the …show more content…
However, according to Dante, he believed that “only the Holy Roman Emperor could bring order out of chaos, and he condemned the interference of the church, and especially the pope, in political affairs” (Norton, p. 1458). Dante thought this to be true because Jesus Christ was born during the Pax Romana era of the Roman Empire, where Julius Cesar was the emperor in power. In this case, Dante views the Holy Roman Empire as Norton puts it, “divinely ordained” (Norton, p. 1458), because it provided the fitting environment for the birth of Christ, and only when that same environment is recreated, is when the second coming of Christ will be possible. In the Inferno part of the Divine Comedy, readers learn that Dante portrays hell as being a set of stages, where people are placed according to the severity of the sins they have committed. According to the Inferno, there are nine circles of Hell along with the vestibule found prior to entering Hell. The souls found at the vestibule are neither accepted by God into Heaven, nor by Satan into hell. Known as the cowardly, these souls are placed here because they neither decided to do good or bad. Their punishment is to chase a banner, while simultaneously being stung by flies and hornets (Norton, p. 1471). Following the vestibule are the remaining nine circles of hell which are as follows. The first circle of hell is also known as limbo, where

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