General Humanities Essay
The literary work of Dante Alighieri entitled “Divine Comedy” is mainly a critical expression of the author’s opinion and perception about the humanitarian concept of sin and its punishment. His ideas are explicitly presented through his narration of his journey through the realms of hell, purgatory and hell. In his travels to the realm of hell subdivided by different circles signifying the degree and seriousness of the sin committed by the individual being punished, he expressive narrated the prominent people he met who symbolized the main criteria of sinful nature for this realm. Among the significant icons he encountered in hell are Homer, Socrates and Plato who all are enduring punishment in the first circle of hell because of the sinful nature according to the author.
The First Circle or Limbo
In Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, he explicitly narrated his travels into the realms of hell which he illustratively described to be divided into several circles or level where the sinners who are being punished are actually categorize into. He also narrated that in his journey into the first circle which he called “limbo”, he actually saw some prominent people in the human history such as Homer, Plato and Socrates who he stated to be suffering in hell for their sinfulness according to the teachings and principles of the dominant social and religious institution during those times.
The idea behind this scenario is that the first circle is the place for pagans who lived before establishment of Christianity which is marked by the birth of Jesus Christ and the people who did not convert or unbaptized after the said era. Thus, during the creation of the said literature, pagans from the early times and the unbaptized ones are considered to be sinners that do not have chance for forgiveness and repentance. Their unchristian lives are considered to be illicit and sinful in nature thus they must suffer in hell as their punishment.
Socrates, Plato and Homer are prominent people who lived before the dawn of Christianity thus they did not have any chance to be baptized into the Christian religion. Also, their lives are actually regarded to be sinful because they also exercised religion from other Gods that are being dominantly adored by the Greek and Roman civilization. In addition, the philosophers mentioned namely Plato and Socrates both devoted their time and effort in pursuing political and personal aspects that are also regarded to be worldly and unreligious by the dominant religious institution during Dante’s time. Because of these reason, event he prominent people in history such as Socrates, Plato and Homer were regarded to be sinner who must eternally suffer in hell without hope of forgiveness.
By analyzing the historical background and the social nature during the time when Dante Alighieri wrote his “Divine Comedy”, it can be viewed that the principles and concepts that are explicitly expressed in the literature are actually influenced by the teachings dominantly implemented by the religious institutions during those times. Contemporary society at the present explicitly argues that the definition and criteria held by the said literature regarding the humanitarian aspect of sin to be inapplicable and unreasonable in nature. The aspect of being called sinner in the present is judge according to the morality of the person and his or her actions. Pagans who did not actually have a chance to become Christian are not regarded sinner by the present society since they are unaware of the said institution’s teachings and principles. Judging their rightfulness and sinfulness will be based on their actions and moral perspective and not mainly on the guidelines and the criteria set by the dominant religious faculty basing from their own views and opinions.
CliffNotes. Summaries and Commentaries-Canto IV. The Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Wiley Publishing. Yahoo, Inc. 2005. http://education.yahoo.com/homework_help/cliffsnotes/the_divine_comedy_inferno/17.html. December 15, 2006.
The University of Texas at Austin. Circle 1, Canto 4. International Technology Services, Liberal Arts. 2006. http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle1.html. December 15, 2006.