Gayism Essay, Research Paper
literary scholars have argued the fact that Dante had homoerotic tendencies. This poin Many t has been justified with the help of Dante s own work of art, the Inferno, a divine comedy where Dante goes down to visit the nine circles of hell. The sin of sodomy is seen in the seventh circle of hell, where sodomites, blasphemers and usurers are punished in three independent rings. Each sin has a different punishment associated towards it. For example, sodomites are punished by fiery rain pouring on them, as they walk on hot arid land that is burning their feet simultaneously. Both authors, Pugh and Boswell talk about Dante s capability of being a homosexual, especially towards his mentor, Brunetto Latini, whom he meets in the seventh circle of hell.
Pugh argues that Dante the pilgrim visits hell to learn about the punishments that have been assigned to sinners in the various circles of hell. It is the Pugh s viewpoint that Dante himself has committed many of the sins that he sees in hell, one of them being sodomy (considered as violence against God). Dante needs to be careful to avoid a fall similar to his mentor s, Brunetto Latini, who has been punished for committing sodomy. Pugh s stand is supposed to prove that Dante himself had committed sodomy while living on earth, possibly with his mentor. Although, their relationship was seen as a student teacher one, Dante probably took the relationship further than that.
At the same time, Boswell tries to prove the same point as Pugh, though he uses a different approach. He argues the same fact as Pugh does; Boswell describes all three rings of the seventh circle. In this circle, the sodomites, blasphemers and the usurers are tormented with different types of punishment. Boswell has described all the punishments of this circle in detail where as Pugh has emphasized only on the third ring of the seventh circle of the Inferno.
Interestingly, Boswell notes that sodomy has not been mentioned in the Inferno, nor is there any specific clues given to the audience as to the nature of the sins committed by the sinners in the seventh circle. There is no evidence that Brunetto Latini was in fact homosexual. Boswell has taken arguments from different literary scholars who have studied Dante s works and have commented on homosexuality in the Inferno. Also, he has used other medieval works such as the Purtgatorio and the Decameron to show the audience the exact connotation of homosexuality defined in the fourteenth century Europe.
Pugh is pretty strong with the usage of words when he is trying to prove a point. He states, Finally, the Pilgrim s interactions in Canto XVI with the three sodomites who form a human wheel Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci contain a virtual confession of his own homosexual desire. (Pugh, 10) This sentence suggests Dante s strong homoerotic tendencies while at earth. Pugh suggests that Dante probably is being sympathetic towards the sodomites. This point is further supported by Dante s words (translated in English): If I d had shield and shelter from fire, / I should have thrown myself down there among them – / I think my master would have sanctioned that; / but since that would have left me burned and naked, / my fear won against the good intention / that made me so impatient to embrace them. (Pugh, 10) The words above definitely suggest that Dante felt the sodomites pain. He wanted to embrace them but was frightened by the fiery rain and the burning sand. It was a sign that Dante was scared to help the sinners out, especially the three naked sinners who had formed a circle. He felt like embracing them but probably knew of the grave consequences of his action.
Boswell on the other hand describes sodomy in different literary works as mentioned above. The author is not only trying to prove whether Dante had homoerotic tendencies or not, but wrote about sodomy and how the issue was treated in medieval Europe. Boswell has used evidence from Dante s Inferno to show signs of sodomy in men. Towards the end of the article, Boswell also talks about the different meanings of sodomy. For example, in everyday language sodomy was the sin against nature. Sodomy was considered as a sexual sin more than anything else. By Dante s time in history, homosexuality was already a very serious sin according to the church. This is one reason why Dante possibly did not mention the word sodomy in great detail in the Inferno.
Both authors have written the articles along the same lines. The gist is the same, although the approaches are pretty different. Pugh on one hand is quite aggressive in his approach to convince the audience that Dante indeed possessed homosexual tendencies. Because of his homoeroticism, Dante required himself to be compassionate and sympathetic towards the sodomites in the seventh circle of hell. Boswell, though, takes a mellow approach towards the same point that Pugh is trying to make: Dante s definition and meaning of sodomy.
Pugh, William White Tison. Dante s Poetics of corruption: Cantos XV and XVI of the Inferno. Romance Notes 40 (1999): 3-11.
Boswell, John E. Dante and the Sodomites. Dante Studies 112 (1994): 63-76.