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Read A Shorter Comedy: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri Abridged and write a book report. The report must be typed, double-spaced (font: Arial, Calibri, Cambria, and New Times Roman are allowed, using default margins and spacing) eight pages
My expectations for this report are: (1) first, write a plot summary, about 2 pages; (2) the main body, about 5-6 pages, discuss the philosophical concepts found in the three respective parts of the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso (see guidance given below); (3) I hate reports that end abruptly, so make sure your report has a well-developed conclusion, at least a page in length. The attached “Summary of the Divine Comedy” should prove helpful. The attached “Philosophy of Dante” shows the Thomistic influence on Dante’s thought.
Guidance for the main body:
Overall, allegorically the poem represents the soul’s journey towards God, beginning with the recognition and rejection of sin (Inferno), followed by the penitent Christian life (Purgatorio), which is then followed by the soul’s ascent to God (Paradiso). So:
(1) Inferno: Demonstrate how, allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious (these three types of sin also provide the three main divisions of Dante’s Hell). Relate this allegorical presentation to moral philosophy.
(2) Purgatorio: Demonstrate how, allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the Christian life. Christian souls arrive escorted by an angel, singing “In exitu Israel de Aegypto,” a reference to Israel leaving Egypt that refers both to the redemption of Christ and to “the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace” (appropriately, therefore, it is Easter Sunday when Dante and Virgil arrive). The theme of love is especially prominent here, so show how Dante develops a “philosophy of love.”
(3) Paradiso: Relate how Dante’s ascension through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven represent the ascending perfection of the four cardinal virtues, the three theological virtues, the perfection of humanity, the perfection of the angels, and finally the Divine Essence (completing the nine into ten), the Beatific Vision of the Triune God, seen by the soul now aligned with God’s love.
Guidance for the conclusion:
The Divine Comedy has been described as a “Summa Theologica in verse,” because of the powerful influence of Thomism on Dante’s philosophy. So, your conclusion might follow up on this observation, that The Divine Comedy is a mystical or spiritual counterpart to Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. Or, your conclusion might focus of the topic of divine justice, and how it is a unifying theme throughout the entire poem, in its punishments and rewards. Or, another possibility is for the conclusion to focus on what Dante’s three guides allegorically represent, and relate that back to the allegory of the three parts of the poem.
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