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The “Divine Comedy” is an allegory of human life, in the form of a vision of the world beyond the grave, written with the object of converting a corrupt society to righteousness. It was originally composed in Italian, of a hundred “cantos”, written in the measure known as terza rima. which Dante so modified from the popular poetry of his day that it may be regarded as his own invention.
Dante relates, nearly twenty years after the event, a vision which was granted to him in 1300, in which for seven days (beginning on the morning of Good Friday) he passed through hell, purgatory, and paradise, spoke with the souls in each realm, and heard what the Providence of God had in store for himself and the world.
The sacred poem, the last book of the Middle Ages, sums up the knowledge and intellectual attainment of the centuries that passed between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance; it gives a complete picture of Catholicism in the thirteenth century in Italy. In the “Inferno”, Dante’s style is chiefly influenced by Virgil, and, in a lesser degree, by Lucan. The heir in poetry of the great achievement of St. Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas in Christianizing Aristotle, his ethical scheme and metaphysics are mainly Aristotelean while his machinery is still that of popular medieval tradition.
Adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia
I. Dante, The Divine Comedy. Inferno
Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).
The Dark Forest. The Hill of Difficulty. The Panther, the Lion, and the Wolf. Virgil.
The Descent. Dante’s Protest and Virgil’s Appeal. The Intercession of the Three Ladies Benedight.
The Gate of Hell. The Inefficient or Indifferent. Pope Celestine V. The Shores of Acheron. Charon. The Earthquake and the Swoon.
The First Circle, Limbo: Virtuous Pagans and the Unbaptized. The Four Poets, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. The Noble Castle of Philosophy.
The Second Circle: The Wanton. Minos. The Infernal Hurricane. Francesca da Rimini.
The Third Circle: The Gluttonous. Cerberus. The Eternal Rain. Ciacco. Florence.
The Fourth Circle: The Avaricious and the Prodigal. Plutus. Fortune and her Wheel. The Fifth Circle: The Irascible and the Sullen. Styx.
Phlegyas. Philippo Argenti. The Gate of the City of Dis.
The Furies and Medusa. The Angel. The City of Dis. The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs.
Farinata and Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti. Discourse on the Knowledge of the Damned.
The Broken Rocks. Pope Anastasius. General Description of the Inferno and its Divisions
The Minotaur. The Seventh Circle: The Violent. The River Phlegethon. The Violent against their Neighbours. The Centaurs. Tyrants.
The Wood of Thorns. The Harpies. The Violent against themselves. Suicides. Pier della Vigna. Lano and Jacopo da Sant’ Andrea.
The Sand Waste and the Rain of Fire. The Violent against God. Capaneus. The Statue of Time, and the Four Infernal Rivers.
The Violent against Nature. Brunetto Latini.
Guidoguerra, Aldobrandi, and Rusticucci. Cataract of the River of Blood.
Geryon. The Violent against Art. Usurers. Descent into the Abyss of Malebolge.
The Eighth Circle, Malebolge: The Fraudulent and the Malicious. The First Bolgia: Seducers and Panders. Venedico Caccianimico. Jason. The Second Bolgia: Flatterers. Allessio Interminelli. Thais.
The Third Bolgia: Simoniacs. Pope Nicholas III. Dante’s Reproof of corrupt Prelates.
The Fourth Bolgia: Soothsayers. Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Aruns, Manto, Eryphylus, Michael Scott, Guido Bonatti, and Asdente. Virgil reproaches Dante’s Pity. Mantua’s Foundation.
The Fifth Bolgia: Peculators. The Elder of Santa Zita. Malacoda and other Devils.
Ciampolo, Friar Gomita, and Michael Zanche. The Malabranche quarrel.
Escape from the Malabranche. The Sixth Bolgia: Hypocrites. Catalano and Loderingo. Caiaphas.
The Seventh Bolgia: Thieves. Vanni Fucci. Serpents.
Vanni Fucci’s Punishment. Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, Cianfa de’ Donati, and Guercio Cavalcanti.
The Eighth Bolgia: Evil Counsellors. Ulysses and Diomed. Ulysses’ Last Voyage.
Guido da Montefeltro. His deception by Pope Boniface VIII.
The Ninth Bolgia: Schismatics. Mahomet and Ali. Pier da Medicina, Curio, Mosca, and Bertrand de Born.
Geri del Bello. The Tenth Bolgia: Alchemists. Griffolino d’ Arezzo and Capocchino.
Other Falsifiers or Forgers. Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha, Adam of Brescia, Potiphar’s Wife, and Sinon of Troy.
The Giants, Nimrod, Ephialtes, and Antaeus. Descent to Cocytus.
The Ninth Circle: Traitors. The Frozen Lake of Cocytus. First Division, Caina: Traitors to their Kindred. Camicion de’ Pazzi. Second Division, Antenora: Traitors to their Country. Dante questions Bocca degli Abati. Buoso da Duera.
Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri. The Death of Count Ugolino’s Sons. Third Division of the Ninth Circle, Ptolomaea: Traitors to their Friends. Friar Alberigo, Branco d’ Oria.
Fourth Division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca: Traitors to their Lords and Benefactors. Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius. The Chasm of Lethe. The Ascent.
II. Dante, The Divine Comedy. PURGATORIO
The Shores of Purgatory. The Four Stars. Cato of Utica. The Rush.
The Celestial Pilot. Casella. The Departure.
Discourse on the Limits of Reason. The Foot of the Mountain. Those who died in Contumacy of Holy Church. Manfredi.
Farther Ascent. Nature of the Mountain. The Negligent, who postponed Repentance till the last Hour. Belacqua.
Those who died by Violence, but repentant. Buonconte di Monfeltro. La Pia.
Dante’s Inquiry on Prayers for the Dead. Sordello. Italy.
The Valley of Flowers. Negligent Princes.
The Guardian Angels and the Serpent. Nino di Gallura. The Three Stars. Currado Malaspina.
Dante’s Dream of the Eagle. The Gate of Purgatory and the Angel. Seven P’s. The Keys.
The Needle’s Eye. The First Circle: The Proud. The Sculptures on the Wall.
The Humble Prayer. Omberto di Santafiore. Oderisi d’ Agobbio. Provenzan Salvani.
The Sculptures on the Pavement. Ascent to the Second Circle.
The Second Circle: The Envious. Sapia of Siena.
Guido del Duca and Renier da Calboli. Cities of the Arno Valley. Denunciation of Stubbornness.
The Third Circle: The Irascible. Dante’s Visions. The Smoke.
Marco Lombardo. Lament over the State of the World.
Dante’s Dream of Anger. The Fourth Circle: The Slothful. Virgil’s Discourse of Love.
Virgil further discourses of Love and Free Will. The Abbot of San Zeno.
Dante’s Dream of the Siren. The Fifth Circle: The Avaricious and Prodigal. Pope Adrian V.
Hugh Capet. Corruption of the French Crown. Prophecy of the Abduction of Pope Boniface VIII and the Sacrilege of Philip the Fair. The Earthquake.
The Poet Statius. Praise of Virgil.
Statius’ Denunciation of Avarice. The Sixth Circle: The Gluttonous. The Mystic Tree.
Forese. Reproof of immodest Florentine Women.
Buonagiunta da Lucca. Pope Martin IV, and others. Inquiry into the State of Poetry.
Discourse of Statius on Generation. The Seventh Circle: The Wanton.
Sodomites. Guido Guinicelli and Arnaldo Daniello.
The Wall of Fire and the Angel of God. Dante’s Sleep upon the Stairway, and his Dream of Leah and Rachel. Arrival at the Terrestrial Paradise.
The River Lethe. Matilda. The Nature of the Terrestrial Paradise.
The Triumph of the Church.
Virgil’s Departure. Beatrice. Dante’s Shame.
Reproaches of Beatrice and Confession of Dante. The Passage of Lethe. The Seven Virtues. The Griffon.
The Tree of Knowledge. Allegory of the Chariot.
Lament over the State of the Church. Final Reproaches of Beatrice. The River Eunoe.
III. DANTE, Divine Comedy. Paradiso
The Ascent to the First Heaven. The Sphere of Fire.
The First Heaven, the Moon: Spirits who, having taken Sacred Vows, were forced to violate them. The Lunar Spots.
Piccarda Donati and the Empress Constance.
Questionings of the Soul and of Broken Vows.
Discourse of Beatrice on Vows and Compensations. Ascent to the Second Heaven, Mercury: Spirits who for the Love of Fame achieved great Deeds.
Justinian. The Roman Eagle. The Empire. Romeo.
Beatrice’s Discourse of the Crucifixion, the Incarnation, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection of the Body.
Ascent to the Third Heaven, Venus: Lovers. Charles Martel. Discourse on diverse Natures.
Cunizza da Romano, Folco of Marseilles, and Rahab. Neglect of the Holy Land.
The Fourth Heaven, the Sun: Theologians and Fathers of the Church. The First Circle. St. Thomas of Aquinas.
St. Thomas recounts the Life of St. Francis. Lament over the State of the Dominican Order.
St. Buonaventura recounts the Life of St. Dominic. Lament over the State of the Franciscan Order. The Second Circle.
Of the Wisdom of Solomon. St. Thomas reproaches Dante’s Judgement.
The Third Circle. Discourse on the Resurrection of the Flesh. The Fifth Heaven, Mars: Martyrs and Crusaders who died fighting for the true Faith. The Celestial Cross.
Cacciaguida. Florence in the Olden Time.
Dante’s Noble Ancestry. Cacciaguida’s Discourse of the Great Florentines.
Cacciaguida’s Prophecy of Dante’s Banishment.
The Sixth Heaven, Jupiter: Righteous Kings and Rulers. The Celestial Eagle. Dante’s Invectives against ecclesiastical Avarice.
The Eagle discourses of Salvation, Faith, and Virtue. Condemnation of the vile Kings of A.D. 1300.
The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of old. Benevolence of the Divine Will.
The Seventh Heaven, Saturn: The Contemplative. The Celestial Stairway. St. Peter Damiano. His Invectives against the Luxury of the Prelates.
St. Benedict. His Lamentation over the Corruption of Monks. The Eighth Heaven, the Fixed Stars.
The Triumph of Christ. The Virgin Mary. The Apostles. Gabriel.
The Radiant Wheel. St. Peter examines Dante on Faith.
The Laurel Crown. St. James examines Dante on Hope. Dante’s Blindness.
St. John examines Dante on Charity. Dante’s Sight. Adam.
St. Peter’s reproof of bad Popes. The Ascent to the Ninth Heaven, the ‘Primum Mobile.’
God and the Angelic Hierarchies.
Beatrice’s Discourse of the Creation of the Angels, and of the Fall of Lucifer. Her Reproof of Foolish and Avaricious Preachers.
The Tenth Heaven, or Empyrean. The River of Light. The Two Courts of Heaven. The White Rose of Paradise. The great Throne.
The Glory of Paradise. Departure of Beatrice. St. Bernard.
St. Bernard points out the Saints in the White Rose.
Prayer to the Virgin. The Threefold Circle of the Trinity. Mystery of the Divine and Human Nature.