View Poll Results: Where are you with Dante?

Voters
15. You may not vote on this poll
  • I have read the Inferno before.

    11 73.33%
  • I have read excerpts but never the whole thing.

    1 6.67%
  • I have never read the Inferno before.

    0 0%
  • I am a total Dante-head, the kind who should own a cat named Beatrice.

    5 33.33%
  • I know no Italian whatsoever.

    1 6.67%
  • I know a little Italian.

    6 40.00%
  • I am fluent in/have a competent reading knowledge of Italian.

    5 33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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Thread: Let's Talk About Dante! Inferno Canto 1

  1. #31
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    ...wouldn't it make more sense if they corresponded with the three overarching types of sin Dante describes in Hell (incontinence in circles 1-5, violence in circle 7, and fraud in circles 8-9)? Dante especially surrounds the incontinent sinners with animal imagery.

    That was my thought as well... it always seemed so obvious that I couldn't help but wonder why it was not more generally accepted... but as Virgil states... it is quite likely Dante was prepared to accept multiple interpretations.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  2. #32
    biting writer
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    If I can speculate a little on the leopard, sort of working backward from modernism, I do not think it is an accident that Dante's use of the animal reverberates: Lampedusa does not name his Prince "The Leopard" for nothing, and Doris Lessing, as well, heavily ties the animal to a primal Roman psychology in her weak novel, The Cleft.

    Lions, I believe, extended their range into Europe in our early history, but I do not think leopards naturally made it that far and were exported, possibly out of defeated Carthage?

    I am not looking at my notes, and I have a lot of them because I have two editions I am working with, but Rome saw Egyptian Orientalism as a state concept that needed to be defeated, and perhaps this plays into Dante's use of the animal as a looming threat. Let me think a little more.

    luke: I am not sure I like Pinsky's efforts, but that may be a conservative reaction.

  3. #33
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    JoZ... Sorry if I don't respond logically but memorial Day Weekend... and I've wound up a very very hot day in the studio having finished the latest painting gone home to grill steaks on the grill and now I'm several good strong British beers under the weather (thank God for spell check) including a big bottle of Three Philosopher's Belgian Ale (10% alcohol) with Miles Davis, Brubeck and the Stones blasting at ear crunching levels.

    Nevertheless... I certainly thought of Lampedusa's Leopard myself....


    "But we all need someone we can bleed on..."

    Sorry


    sorry...


    I think I'll wait 'til tomorrow...
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  4. #34
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    I come back after a rather busy week and what's happened to this promising Dante discussion? Already the drunken revels!

    I'll have a little more time to come back and post properly tomorrow or later tonight. For now, I wonder if perhaps we should move forward into canto 2 (though people are also welcome to stick with canto 1 if you prefer). We've already talked a little about how the start of canto 2 is, essentially, a second start to the poem. It is at the start of this canto that we receive the more formal epic style invocation : "O Muse, o alto ingegno, or m'aiutatate" (O Muses, O high genius, help me now!" and it also marks a return to night and ends with a full return to the surroundings of the opening of canto 1 : "intrai per lo cammino alto e silvestro" (I entered along the deep and savage way). The passage of time is something to keep track of in the Commedia and becomes especially important when we can see the sky again in the Purgatorio and in the Paradiso. As many of you probably know, each of the three parts of the Commedia[ ends with the word "stelle" (stars). At the end of Inferno he will say "E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle" (and thence we issued forth to see again the stars), but at the end of canto 2/start of canto 3 he is venturing into a timeless and dark place away from sky and stars.

    On a different note, since some of you were discussing the leopard in canto 1, I noticed that the word for that animal in the Italian "una lonza" seemed like an unusual one. In his gloss, Singleton mentions that it is an unusual word and possibly an unusual beast. He cites a Medieval Bestiary (Bestiario toscano, M.S. Garver and K. McKenzie, 1912, p.86) as describing the "loncia" (aka "lonza" or, in Old French "lonce") as being an animal born of a lion and a leopard. Elsewhere, apparently the word is glossed as meaning a female leopard. Not sure exactly what that does for our interpretation of the beasts, but I thought it was interesting.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

  5. #35
    biting writer
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  6. #36
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Petrarch... and others... hopefully we are still on with our Dante discussion. I'm actually well beyond the second canto... but I returned to read it again... this time in the Hollander translation... and to also explore the voluminous notes. Among a few of the things that Robert Hollander points out:

    This canto sees the first of Dante's invocations to the muses:

    O Muses, O lofty genius, aid me now!
    O memory that set down what I saw,
    here shall your worth be shown.


    Hollander points out that there are 9 instances in which Dante invokes the muses... and considering his attention to numerology and his obsession with the number 9, how likely is it that this is just a coincidence?

    Hollander also points out that with the exception of the 11th canto in which Virgil is mostly involved in an explanation of the circles of hell, the second canto involves the greatest percentage of dialog... which is ordered symetrically:

    Dante (10-36)
    Virgil (43-57)
    Beatrice (58-74)
    Virgil (75-84)
    Beatrice (84-114)
    Virgil (115-126)
    Dante (133-140)

    Another interesting point made by Hollander concerns the Dante's dialog with Virgil... expressing his reservations about the journey through hell. Dante brings up two examples of predecessors on such a journey to the after-world: Aeneas (who journeyed through hell) and Paul, for his ascension to heaven while still alive. Speaking of Aeneas, Dante states, "You (Virgil) tell of the father of Sylvius..." suggesting that Dante must take the poet's word as fact... yet when speaking of Paul... there is no such suggestion that he must take another's word... he simply states the facts: "Later the Chosen Vessel went there, to bring back confirmation of our faith..." Even before reading Hollander's notes I noted how Dante is careful to suggest that there is a higher degree of veracity attached to the Biblical narratives than even to his beloved Virgil.

    Dante follows this up with his great denial: "I am not Aeneas, nor am I Paul..." which immediately makes clear that the poet... who was not fond of false modesty... was most certainly putting forth himself and his narrative as another Aeneas and another Paul... just as two cantos further he will put forth himself among the great ancient poets including Virgil and Homer:

    ...they made me one among their company
    so that I became the sixth amidst such wisdom...


    Another point that grabbed my attention concerned the description of language. Virgil speaks of Beatrice: "Gentle and clear the words she spoke to me...". Beatrice, in turn, Speaks of Virgil's speech in these terms: "Set out, and with your polished words, and whatever else is needed for his safety, go to his aid...". The two adjectives, piana and ornata recall the medieval distictions between the low/vulgar and the ornate/high forms of rhetoric. Interestingly, Beatrice's speech is of the lower style... but one suspects that her "Gentle and clear" speech not only alludes to Dante's own use of Italian (the vulgar language... as opposed to Latin) as well as his development of what he termed the "sweet new style"... but it also connects Beatrice with the simple clear forms of language employed by the authors of the Gospels... using the simplest/artless language to convey the most profound message... as opposed to the studied artfulness of Poets such as Virgil.

    My last thoughts concern the lines relating Lucy prodding Beatrice to help Dante:

    "... Beatrice, true praise of God,
    why do you not help the one who loved you so
    that for your sake he left the vulgar herd?

    Do you not hear the anguish in his tears?"


    What exactly is the "vulgar herd" that Dante left? Does Lucy suggest that it is Beatrice who inspires Dante's turning away from the dark path? Such is certainly a plausible interpretation. Or does she suggest that it is Beatrice who inspired Dante's shift away from the conventional love poetry of his day, toward something greater... the development of his dolce stil novo (sweet new style) found in his La Vita Nuova. The latter again suggests Dante's lack of any false modesty and recognition of his own achievements.

    These... anyway... are but some of the thoughts that came to me while reading this canto.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  7. #37
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Another interesting point made by Hollander concerns the Dante's dialog with Virgil... expressing his reservations about the journey through hell. Dante brings up two examples of predecessors on such a journey to the after-world: Aeneas (who journeyed through hell) and Paul, for his ascension to heaven while still alive. Speaking of Aeneas, Dante states, "You (Virgil) tell of the father of Sylvius..." suggesting that Dante must take the poet's word as fact... yet when speaking of Paul... there is no such suggestion that he must take another's word... he simply states the facts: "Later the Chosen Vessel went there, to bring back confirmation of our faith..." Even before reading Hollander's notes I noted how Dante is careful to suggest that there is a higher degree of veracity attached to the Biblical narratives than even to his beloved Virgil.

    Dante follows this up with his great denial: "I am not Aeneas, nor am I Paul..." which immediately makes clear that the poet... who was not fond of false modesty... was most certainly putting forth himself and his narrative as another Aeneas and another Paul... just as two cantos further he will put forth himself among the great ancient poets including Virgil and Homer:
    I'm confused as to which Paul you are talking about. St. Paul of Tarsus was beheaded in Rome in 67 AD. He didn't ascend to heaven alive. Could Dante have been wrong about something like that?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  8. #38
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Acts 9:15- But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

    II Corinthians 12:2-4-I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

    Commentary on the passage states that the letter written by Paul of Tarsus (Saint Paul or the Apostle Paul) to the Christians of Corinth, Greece speaks in a veiled manner of his own experience in which his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven... while he was still alive.

    Dante's choice of the term, the "chosen vessel" makes clear that it is indeed Paul he refers to.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  9. #39
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Acts 9:15- But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

    II Corinthians 12:2-4-I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

    Commentary on the passage states that the letter written by Paul of Tarsus (Saint Paul or the Apostle Paul) to the Christians of Corinth, Greece speaks in a veiled manner of his own experience in which his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven... while he was still alive.

    Dante's choice of the term, the "chosen vessel" makes clear that it is indeed Paul he refers to.
    Oh I see. I thought you meant at the end of his life. Thanks.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  10. #40
    Used Register David Lurie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Capozzoli View Post
    Molti son li animal a cui s’ammoglia....

    Anyone have a take on this language? I speak modern Italian and can read through the Commedia...but I don't get everything...at least I feel as if I'm looking at the text through gauze or some sort of filter...like a modern English speaker reading Chaucer. I know that Dante spoke Tuscan, which is one of the Italian dialects. I speak and can read modern Italian, and I also understand one of the Italian dialects (Emiliano). In modern Italian this phrase would be "Motii sono gli animali a cui..." "li animal" is close to the Emiliano "al nimel" which means not only animals, but specifically refers to pigs in the Emiliano dialect. The Tuscans were not far from us in the Po Valley.
    Italian is Tuscany's dialect - thanks mainly to Alessandro Manzoni, poet and novelist of the 19th century - and Dante's language is still very common in modern day Italian, various estimations calculate around 80% the average of Commedia's words still in use in Italy today.
    As for "animali" at verse 100 of Inferno I, the best translation should be "men" since in the 13th century it was quite common "animali" for "uomini" - you'll see further examples of this in Inferno and in Purgatorio too.

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