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An Analysis of Patriotism in Dante' s Inferno - Essay Example

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RUNNING HEAD: Dante and Patriotism An Analysis of Patriotism in Dante’s Inferno Name Date Professor Class Outline Introduction Political Reality – White vs. Black Guelphs Dante’s Criticism of Florentine Corruption, Evil and Factionalism Dante’s Rebellion as Act of Patriotism Conclusion Essay Text Across all historical periods, the notion of patriotism as respect and devotion towards a political entity has been held to be a positive virtue…
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An Analysis of Patriotism in Dante s Inferno
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, a political analysis of the Divine Comedy can allow for the reader to gain further insight into Dante’s relationship with Florence. This paper will discuss the political dimensions of the Divine Comedy, Dante’s criticisms of the Florentine political reality and lastly how Dante uses his passage through Hell to reflect how his exile is actually an act of Florentine patriotism. This analysis will yield an enhanced appreciation for and understanding the characters which intersperse Dante’s literary universe. The vast majority of the characters with which Dante populates the Divine Comedy originate from the city state of Florence. During Dante’s life, Florence was a prosperous city-state with legions of greedy merchants and contending violent political factions. The primary political division was between two major political groups, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. In general, the Guelphs promoted Papal power while the Ghibellines promoted the power of the Holy Roman Emperor in Italy. To understand the political reality of Dante’s universe a proper understanding of this conflict is essential (Scott, 1996). During Dante’s early years, the Guelphs (who Dante’s family supported) came to power and forced the Ghibellines from power and into exile. Eventually the Guelphs would fracture into two factions: the Whites and the Blacks. The Whites centered on the Cerci family while the Blacks were members of the Donati family. Dante was a member of the White faction and served in the political leadership of the city. Ultimately, with the backing of Pope Boniface VIII the Blacks seized power, sentenced many to death and sent the others into exile. Dante would explore the nature of exile, corruption and political power through his various writings and be a critic of the Florentine regime (Olson, 2007). In Dante’s eyes Florence was a den of corruption and evil. Through his writing efforts to bring attention to these vices, Dante hope to save Florence from herself. In the Sixth Circle of Hell Dante places "sepulchers" or burial vaults in which "the lids" "have all been lifted" and "no guardian is watching over them" (Canto 10.7-9). A further example within the same canto is when Dante meets a Florentine Ghibilline named Farinata degli Uberti. Their conversation begins with an intimate first question, "Who were your ancestors?" (10.42). This structuring of dialogue highlights the powerful link between family and political affiliation during Dante’s lifetime. When Dante recounts to Farinata the events which have transpired since his death, he states, "If they were driven out they still returned, both times, from every quarter; but yours were never quick to learn that art" (10.49-51). Within the same dialogue, Dante recounts his own family political exiles yet highlights the face that after both times they returned to power. This is in contrast to the single time that the Ghibellines were exiled and how they never regained political power. This demonstrates the political tension between these two Florentine politicians. Yet, Dante recognizes Farinata’s patriotism and refers to him as "magnamino" or "great-hearted one" (10.73). Dante can admire his bravery in stopping his army from destroying ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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