Dante in Translation (ITAL 310)

This lecture examines Inferno IV -VII. Dante’s Limbo, modeled on the classical locus amoenus, is identified as a place of repose and vulnerability. Here, in fact, among the poets of antiquity, the pilgrim falls prey to poetic hubris by joining in their ranks. The pilgrim is faced with the consequences of his poetic vocation when he descends to the circle of lust (Inferno V), where Francesca da Rimini, in her failure to distinguish romance from reality, testifies to the dangers inherent to the act of reading. From the destructive power of lust within the private world of the court, Dante moves on to the effects of its sister sin, gluttony, on the public sphere of the city. The relationship posited in Inferno VI between Ciacco and his native Florence is read as a critique of the “body politic.” In conclusion, Virgil’s discourse on Fortune in the circle of avarice and prodigality (Inferno VII) is situated within the Christian world of divine providence.

00:00 – Chapter 1. The Ambiguities of Gardens
04:10 – Chapter 2. Canto V: The Second Circle
13:14 – Chapter 3. The Lustful in the Second Circle
19:40 – Chapter 4. Overwhelmed by Pity, Dante Faints Like a Dead Body
32:34 – Chapter 5. A Story of Reading; References to Time
40:29 – Chapter 6. Canto VI: The Third Circle; Ciacco
57:47 – Chapter 7. Dante’s Political Understanding
01:03:05 – Chapter 8. Canto VII: The Avaricious in the Fourth Circle
01:08:17 – Chapter 9. Question and Answer

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Fall 2008.

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