The Divine Comedy vs. Paradise Lost

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Full Circle – from Sin to Salvation

Great works of literature have been written throughout history. However, The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost have the inept ability to stir the soul and cause a person to examine and re-examine their life. The brilliant descriptions, use of imagery, metaphor and simile give a person a vivid picture of the creation of man and the possibilities for life in the hereafter. This is done, as a person is able to see, full circle, from the beginning of time to the end of time, the consequences of turning away from God. The ability to see a life full circle is apparent through the examination of both of these poems. Although written many years ago, the morals and principles that they convey ring very true for people in this century as well as times yet to come. The Divine Comedy, written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri, is a heroic epic. Throughout Dante's literary work, he outlines his scientific understandings of the world, his political views and provides the reader with a moral compass and spiritual map of which to follow. This poem is written in three parts, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio, each of which is broken down into individual cantos. Inferno includes 34 cantos, whereas Purgatrio and Paradiso each contain 33 cantos, however, the first canto of Inferno is really an introduction to the poem. The primary characters in Dante's poem include himself, who is also the narrator, Virgil, a poet he has admired, who serves as his guide through most of the first two sections, and finally, Beatrice, his inspiration, who greets him at Paradisio and escorts him through the remainder of his journey. Dante experiences a vision, at the age of 35, after experiencing traumatic events in his hometown of Florence. The events that are occurring in Florence at the time are associated with papal corruption and cause Dante to be forced into exile. Following the vision, which confirms to Dante that he has strayed from the right path in life, Dante begins his travel through the three realms, which contain the possible consequences following a person's death. Dante's journey begins on Good Friday, when he is escorted to the gates of Hell, moves to Purgatory and ends in Heaven. However, an escort accompanies him for duration of his journey. Virgil, who Dante has long admired, escorts Dante through Hell and Purgatory, while Beatrice, meets him at the entrance to Heaven and takes him the remainder of his journey. Dante is elated to see Virgil as his first words to Virgil were, "O light and honor of all other poets, may my long study and the intense love that made me search your volume serve me now. You are my master and my author, you—the only one from whom my writing drew the noble style for which I have been honored…". (Canto I of the Inferno in The Divine Comedy). After emerging from the dark woods after Dante's vision, Dante and Virgil find themselves at the gates of Hell, which were inscribed with "Abandon every hope, Ye that Enter." ( This should be found in the second or third Canto of The Divine Comedy, at the place that Dante and Virgil are about to enter Hell). If it is not there, just leave the sentence and remove the brackets for the citation) Hell is a funnel shape pit that is divided into nine terraces. Virgil, Dante's escort resides in the area known as Limbo. He is placed in this area because he died before Christianity. Nevertheless, Virgil is not subjected to Hell. Each terrace provides living space for individuals who were in Hell for the different categories of sin for which they were suffering. The lower the terrace, the more severe the punishment. Satan resides in the very bottom level of Hell. Dante gives a very vivid description of his first sight of Satan when he writes, "The emperor of the despondent kingdom so towered—from midchest—above the ice, that I match better with a giant's height than giants match the measure of his arms; now you can gauge...
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