Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Reading: Inferno (canto 15)

Throughout the Inferno, there's a tension between the justice of God's punishment & Dante's pity for the damned (both in his explicit reactions and implicitly through his humane descriptions). For the modern liberal and for Dante, this comes to a head in Canto 15, where men are punished for homosexuality. Dante won't controvert Christian doctrine, so instead he paints a compassionate portrait of Brunetto Latini, a friend & mentor. Dante deliberately elides Brunetto's sin, cites his service to Florence, commends the man's poetry, and ends, “he looked more the winner than the one who trails the field.” Well finessed.

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