The Role Of The Divine Comedy In Dante's Inferno

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The archetype of the sage pervades the epics of old: King Arthur had Merlin, Gilgamesh had Utnapishtim, and Odysseus had Mentor. In his work The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri subverts the clichéd, all-knowing and morally sound guide by placing Virgil the poet in this role. Virgil’s tragic predicament as a virtuous pagan propels Inferno’s message with respect to the nature of sin through his interplay with both Dante the Pilgrim and his surroundings.
To examine Virgil’s role in the Divine Comedy as a whole, one must first delineate the three main characters of the Inferno: Dante the Pilgrim, Dante the Poet, and Virgil. Dante the Poet is the speaker of the tale within the text (not Dante himself in reality, who will be referred to as Dante the Author), and he recounts the previous journey of Dante the Pilgrim through the three sections of the afterlife. In this role, Dante the Poet often interjects his own thoughts about the sights around him, such as when, regarding the eighth circle and ninth Bolgia of Hell, he writes that “assuredly would every tongue fall short,/ by reason of our speech and intellect,/ which serve but little to describe so much” (Inf. 28.4-6). Thus, Dante the Poet (whose tongue apparently did not fall short) describes his past journey through a more objective standpoint than Dante the Pilgrim.
Dante the Pilgrim, on the other hand, corresponds to Dante ten years before the Poet wrote this story, who must travel through the afterlife to align himself
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