Dante's Inferno

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In the epic poem Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Dante’s experiencing pity for the damned souls in hell defies the Medieval Church’s concept of the absolute nature of Divine Wisdom. Dante’s natural impulse to pity those who suffer in Hell causes him to focus on their sufferings, rather than the fact that their punishments are merely a reflection of God’s Divine Justice. Dante initially pities the damned souls because he fears that the consequences of his own bad behaviors may also lead him into Hell. Also Dante feels pity for those in Hell because in the beginning of the journey, he fails to recognize the moral lessons Vergil is trying to convey to him. Dante’s pity for the punished souls negates the church’s teachings, because Divine Justice is strictly objective and impersonal. Finally when Dante is experiencing pity for the souls that are damned in Hell, he is actually questioning the perfection of God’s Divine Wisdom.

When a man observes but cannot share the pain and sorrow of others, he naturally responds by experiencing pity for those who are suffering. In the same sense Dante is extremely sympathetic for those who suffer in Hell, therefore he initially fails to recognize Divine Justice. It’s natural for one to feel pity for those who suffer, but expressing pity for those in Hell defies the Medieval Church because each punishment is a perfect reflection of God’s Divine Justice. For instance, when Dante first arrives in the Ante-Inferno he immediately reacts with pity when he hears the cries of the neural angels who had neglected both God and Lucifer, “And when, with gladness in his face, he placed his hand upon my own, to comfort me, he drew me in among the hidden things. Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries were echoing across the starless air, so that, as soon as I set out, I wept” (III, 19-24). Dante expresses pity for the suffering souls of the neutral angels, because he is impulsively responds to his emotions instead of his intellect. In other...
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