Dante Reaction Paper Essay, Research Paper
Dante Reaction Paper
In his lecture, Professor Mark Dantmore says that Purgatorio is “almost science fiction” to people of the time it was written. I find it very interesting that a book in the Divine Comedy, something the Catholics take as truth, might be described this way. Of course Purgatorio is a book largely dealing with Christian themes, but the actual setup was meticulously constructed to agree with scientific knowledge of the time. In fact, it was demonstrated in the lecture that the descriptions of the position of the sun and other heavenly bodies at different times of day were accurate.
The reason he Dante’s model worked so well was because no one knew of what existed in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. The Northern Hemisphere existed from Gibraltar to the Ganges River with Jerusalem and Rome in between. Dante said that the only land in the Southern Hemisphere was the island the mountain of Purgatory. This island was exactly opposite to Jerusalem. Certainly it is something to note that the mountain that connects the natural world to the supernatural world is exactly opposite the center of human religion. Because of this Dante could describe the position of the sun – the time of day – both in Purgatory and Italy.
Relating to the daylight is the concept of moving onward and upward only in the light of the sun. I have always liked how well this idea works in the Divine Comedy and really came to understand it in the lecture. When there is darkness there is movement in error. That is why in Hell the actual darkness keeps souls from ever making the correct movement to free them from there torture and God does not shine a guiding light to these souls, so they will never move to him. Dante can move on because he has the dim light of human reason from Virgil. Of course the idea continues in Purgatory when movement is only allowed during the daylight hours. Again, movement is much easier when you can see, but also the divine light of the lord allows for the souls to climb the mountain when it is their time. One of the best parts of the workings of Purgatory is that it is the connection between natural and supernatural, so a guide with human reason can only go so far. In the end, Dante will need the guidance of a divine light to take him where the dim light of his guide can not go.