Ever since the Divine Comedy was written, some seven centuries ago, there have been piles of books written commenting upon the works of Dante, but especially the Divine Comedy. Dante Alaghieri was born in 1265 in Florence, Italy. What is known of his life is based on scraps of documentary evidence: a little note here, a reference there. Otherwise, all that is known is what scholars have assumed based on his works. While many scholars and readers have noticed that Dante seems particularly mystical, none identified him as an initiate of the mystery schools. For until very recently, only those who were initiated into such schools could recognize the works of another educated in those esoteric sciences. Dante was in fact writing a work that would have gotten him killed had he written it openly. Dante himself said that the "letter is fiction, and the truth is found in the allegory alone." Thus for centuries scholars and philosophers have expounded theory upon theory attempting to understand this complex and deeply woven poem, and most, if not all, agree that they appreciate it"s beauty, but never managed to penetrate it"s inner meaning. None have captured the truth of his allegory. The Divine Comedy, as the greatest work produced by Dante, is then a great work of initiatic wisdom. In it we can find an outline of the complete path of the, a path traveled by very few beings of this humanity. In this work he describes in depth the path that one must walk in order to redeem the and claim a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not a "comedy" in the way we understand it: the term used to mean something that had a happy ending, and that was written in a humble and everyday style.
Summary of The Divine Comedy: "In exposition, says Dante, "always the literal must come first"; and he adds, describing his interpretation of his own canzoni, "I shall discourse first of the literal meaning, and after that shall treat of the allegorical, that is, the hidden truth." We may pursue the same course. Literally, then, the Divina Commedia is the narrative of a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The poet, in the middle of his life, finds himself astray at night in a dark wood. He tries to save himself by climbing a mountain whose top is lit by the rays of the rising sun; but three beasts, besetting his path, are about to drive him back, when Virgil, summoned to Dante's help by Beatrice, at the bidding of Mary and St. Lucia, appears and offers to guide him. They can escape from the wood only by going through the earth from side to side. This path leads them through the whole of Hell, where Dante sees the punishment of every kind of sin and converses with the damned. Hell ends at the earth's center, and from that point the poets climb out by a dark, undescribed channel to the opposite hemisphere. They emerge in the middle of the ocean, on the shore of an island which consists mainly of a colossal mountain. Cato of Utica, the guardian of the place, meets and directs them. Up the steep mountain-side Dante drags himself, still accompanied by Virgil. On the ledges are repentantpreparing themselves by discipline for the heavenly life. As Dante and Virgil are approaching the summit, they are joined by Statius, who has just completed his penance. The three mount together to the top, where they find the Garden of Eden, and in it a fair, happy, amorous young maiden, Matelda, who seems to embody the spirit of the place. Amid the trees and flowers they witness a pageant of the Church, or Triumph of Revelation, whose culmination is the appearance of Beatrice in a shower of lilies thrown by angels. Now Virgil vanishes, and presently Statius is mentioned for the last time. Beatrice it is who leads Dante up from earth through the revolving heavens into the real Paradise, which is the presence of the Almighty, and consigns him to St. Bernard, the great mystic. The poem ends with a vision of the Trinity." The Divine Comedy reflects, according to Dante himself, a previous work of similar nature: the Aenied, written by the Roman poet Virgil, who in Dante"s time was universally regarded as the wisest man in history. And in the sixth book of the Aeneid, the hero must travel through the regions of the underworld.
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