First Impressions Are Everything:
Dante’s First Encounter with the Damned
The Inferno, is the story of a man, Dante, who is midway through his life and feels that he is lost on his path. For this reason he is given the opportunity to partake in an unforgettable journey through the layers of hell to find his meaning. Virgil, who is known for his famous epic The Aneied, guides him on this journey. As Dante continues through hell he encounters a variety of sins and sinners, which he reacts differently towards. As the story progresses, so does Dante’s character. In canto IV, Dante’s reaction to the sinners shows that his initial motive was not to find divine salvation; instead he wanted to enjoy this adventure by associating with people of great note – both historically and academically. Simultaneously this canto conveys Dante’s curiosity, shock, and sympathy with the situation his idols have been ill-fated to endure.
When we first encounter Dante, he is portrayed as a respectful and humble person. “My head bent low in shame” (Dante, p. 7) of the first canto indicates his humility; he accepts his behavior of fleeing was shameful, particularly since he is running away from his destiny. His humility suggests a sense of respect for Virgil especially because Virgil, at this time, was renowned for being a poet and more importantly, a thinker. “You are my teacher and my master. You are the on from whom alone I took the noble style that has brought me honor.” (Dante, p. 7). Dante is thanking Virgil for his contributions to academia world history, and for imparting his knowledge on man. In Canto IV Dante and Virgil pass through the first circle of hell, otherwise known as Limbo. Upon arriving Dante describes, “It was full of vapor, dark and deep. Straining my eyes toward the bottom, I could see nothing.” (Dante, p. 67). Dante is describing Limbo as this place that is so dark that the spirits are blind to their surroundings. These spirits that lived...
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