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Thread: I need help answering this question about Dante's Inferno!!

  1. #1
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    Jul 2010

    I need help answering this question about Dante's Inferno!!

    Ok so I need to write an essay over some given questions about some books we have read. Well I honestly do not understand how to answer some of them so I was wondering if I could get some help/input. Here is the question. Thanks!

    Why does Dante believe his descent into hell, and his understanding of the meaning of hell, is important for him, but also civilization?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    University or my little estate
    It serves as a moral compass to society basically outlining, ok here is what you ought NOT to do or else this shall happen to you.

  3. #3
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    It's much more complex than that. I'll not answer the question for you, but I'll suggest you think about what the poem as a whole expresses about Dante's thoughts on the responsibilities of the church and the state... those in positions of power... the aristocracy and the Papacy. Think about how hell is ordered... there is a logic to it... and why Dante has placed certain "sins" lower than others. Think about the punishment afforded those Angels who took no sides during the great war with God. THink about where crimes of passion fall vs crimes of intellect... evil councilors, etc...
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  4. #4
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    I agree with Stlukesguild and with his suggestions for you to consider while answering the question for your essay.

    In addition, you might want to consider why he points out specific persons who would be well known at the time who were in positions of power, or historically known and the sentence Dante felt appropriate which speaks to the importance he would place on the sins of the self-justifying or unrepentant.
    I'd rather have questions that I can't answer than answers that I can't question.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2010
    Ahh thanks so much! This was very helpful and just what I was looking for.

  6. #6


    I think the key to why Dante felt that Inferno was important for civilization is in the idea of justice. For Dante, justice is a political manifastation of God's will. If people do the right thing and obey God's will there will be justice and civilization will survive (justice is one of the most frequently used words in the Comedy) and the Inferno is a guide to doing the right thing.
    I write more about these and many other ideas in my new book Dante's Invention. Good luck.
    Last edited by JBurge; 11-09-2010 at 06:21 PM.

  7. #7
    Forgot to say: you can find out more about the book Dante's Invention on and even buy it on

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