The Divine Comedy

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During the Middle Ages, the church was a powerful institution. It had its own government, courts, system of taxation, and laws. To live a good Christian life guaranteed access to heaven in the afterlife, and a life of sin was to be sentenced to hell. Dante Alighieri was an Italian poet, who had an admirable depth of spiritual vision and was known for his intelligence (Encarta, 1). Between the years of 1308 and 1321, Dante wrote the epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” which described a journey through the afterlife. It takes place during the three days of Good Friday, when Jesus died, and on Easter Sunday when he rose body and soul to heaven. It is a moral comedy, and was written to make readers evaluate their own morals. The journey was to show readers what could happen if they live a sinful life, or if they live a godlike life.

“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to my senses in a dark forest, for I had lost the straight path. Ah! How hard a thing it is to tell what this wild and rough and difficult wood was, which in thought renews my fear! (Alighieri, 1)” This passage tells us that Dante is lost in the middle of the woods, and he is in the middle of his life. The reason he gives for being lost is that he had become inattentive and was not paying attention to where he was going. This symbolizes how he has lost his quest for salvation. His laziness, a sin, caused him to stray from the road of salvation. He can’t go back the way he came because that is the way of sin. He is lost. As he realizes this, he knows he needs to go experience the seven sacraments to cleanse himself of his sins. Only then will he join God in Paradise, rather then spend eternity in Inferno.

Most people imagine hell as an evil, dark, and scary place, burning with fire. This is also how Dante depicts it, full of violence, gore, and blood. This horrid description is meant to scare people from sin. The inscription on the gate to hell read...
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