Influence Of The Classical World Upon Dante 's The Inferno

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The Influence of the Classical World Upon Dante’s The Inferno Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet and writer of the 13th century, creates a fictional account of his visions of his journey through Hell. His background as a Catholic influences his life and his writings, including The Inferno. He uses the historical and political events of his lifetime to influence his writings as well. Dante is educated and very familiar with the history and literature of the classical world. In The Inferno, he expresses his admiration for Greco-Roman history, literature, mythology, and philosophy, but he also places limitations on the ability of the classical world to gain salvation as taught and believed in Christian doctrine. In Canto I, Dante begins his…show more content…
Dante is saying that Virgil cannot enter heaven because he lived before Christ. Dante admires the classical Roman world but rejects it as the path of salvation to God. In Canto II, Dante says he is unworthy to make the journey with Virgil. Dante summarizes what happens in The Aeneid when Aeneas descends into the underground and sees his father. Later, the descendants of Aeneas establish Rome. Dante believes God favored Virgil as a Roman because eventually St. Peter would be in Rome. “In that quest, which your verses celebrate, he learned those mysteries from which arose his victory and Rome’s apostolate” (25-27). Dante names St. Paul as another person who preached Christianity in Rome, “bearing the confirmation of that Faith which is the one true door to life eternal” (29-30). Virgil convinces Dante that he has been sent by God to guide Dante through Hell. In Canto III, Dante and Virgil arrive at the first river of Hell, Acheron, which was part of Greek mythology. Charon, the ferryman, is also from Greek mythology. In Canto IV, Dante and Virgil arrive at the first circle, which Dante refers to as Limbo. Limbo holds the souls of the Virtuous Pagans, people who were born before the time of Christ. Virgil says, “that these were sinless. And still their merits fail for they lacked Baptism’s grace, which is the door of

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