Divine Comedy, Nortons Translation, Hell
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In this translation, the basic form is the quatrain. To help ensure that no scholastic puzzles get in the road of appreciation, James has also adopted the bold policy of incorporating key points from the scholarship into the text: uploading them from the footnotes, as it were, and making them part of the narrative, where they can help to make things clear. But it is also singled out by its sheer readability.
The result is the epic as a page-turner, a work that will influence the way we read Dante in English for generations to come. Under James's uncanny touch, seven long centuries drop away, and the great poem is startlingly fresh and new. We might, if the translator is both as eminent, and as skillful, as Clive James… It is a wonder to see the light cast by the whole. James' version is not merely a mirrored word, but a transfigured word. As such, it will no doubt enter the essential Dante canon, and remain there for years to come.
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Divine Comedy, Norton's Translation, Hell, Vol. 1
No customer reviews. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. A fantastic and poetic view of part May 16, - Published on Amazon.
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Verified Purchase. As far as the work of Dante that was being related to me, I really enjoyed it. A fantastic and poetic view of part of human nature. However, the translation is a little too far removed from our current language for a comfortable read. An initial canto serves as an introduction to the poem and is generally considered to be part of the first cantica, bringing the total number of cantos to It is generally accepted, however, that the first two cantos serve as a unitary prologue to the entire epic, as well as the opening two cantos of each cantica serving as a prologue to each of the three cantiche.
The verse scheme used, terza rima , is hendecasyllabic lines of eleven syllables , with the lines composing tercets according to the rhyme scheme aba, bcb, cdc, ded, The poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of Beatrice was a Florentine woman whom he had met in childhood and admired from afar in the mode of the then-fashionable courtly love tradition which is highlighted in Dante's earlier work La Vita Nuova.
The structure of the three realms follow a common numerical pattern of 9 plus 1 for a total of 9 circles of the Inferno, followed by Lucifer contained at its bottom; 9 rings of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden crowning its summit; and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradiso, followed by the Empyrean containing the very essence of God.
Within the 9, 7 correspond to a specific moral scheme, subdividing itself into three subcategories, while two others of more particularity are added on for a completion of nine. For example, the seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church that are cleansed in Purgatory are joined by special realms for the Late repentant and the excommunicated by the church. The core seven sins within purgatory correspond to a moral scheme of love perverted, subdivided into three groups corresponding to excessive love Lust , Gluttony , Greed , deficient love Sloth , and malicious love Wrath , Envy , Pride.
This exile, which lasted the rest of Dante's life, shows its influence in many parts of the Comedy, from prophecies of Dante's exile to Dante's views of politics to the eternal damnation of some of his opponents. Citation needed. In Hell and Purgatory, Dante shares in the sin and the penitence respectively. The last word in each of the three parts of the Divine Comedy is stelle , "stars.
The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in the year , "halfway along our life's path" Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. Dante is thirty-five years old, half of the biblical life expectancy of 70 Psalms , lost in a dark wood understood as sin    , assailed by beasts a lion , a leopard , and a she-wolf he cannot evade, and unable to find the "straight way" diritta via — also translatable as "right way" — to salvation symbolized by the sun behind the mountain. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "deep place" basso loco where the sun is silent l sol tace , Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld.
Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso , a symbolic instance of poetic justice ; for example, fortune-tellers have to walk with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because that was what they had tried to do in life:. Allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious.
Added onto these are two unlike categories that are specifically spiritual: Limbo, within Circle 1, contains the virtuous pagans who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ; and Circle 6, containing the heretics who contradicted the doctrine and confused the spirit of Christ. Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom, to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world.
The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere, created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell  which Dante portrays as existing underneath Jerusalem . The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins or "seven roots of sinfulness. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. The seven deadly sins correspond to a threefold scheme of improper love: excessive love, or love of the things that are secondary to divinity Lust , Gluttony , Greed ; deficient love, or the lacking in a desire to achieve divinity Sloth , and malicious love, or love of malignant things that should grieve man and which are contrary to divinity Wrath , Envy , Pride.
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Below the seven purges of the soul is the Ante-Purgatory, containing the Excommunicated from the church and the Late repentant who died, often violently, before receiving rites. Thus the total comes to 9, with the addition of the Garden of Eden at the summit, equaling Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the Christian life. Christian souls arrive escorted by an angel, singing in exitu Israel de Aegypto.
Divine Comedy, Norton's Translation, Hell by ProjectGutenberg | Teaching Resources
In his Letter to Cangrande , Dante explains that this reference to Israel leaving Egypt refers both to the redemption of Christ and to "the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace. The Purgatorio is notable for demonstrating the medieval knowledge of a spherical Earth. During the poem, Dante discusses the different stars visible in the southern hemisphere , the altered position of the sun, and the various timezones of the Earth.
At this stage it is, Dante says, sunset at Jerusalem, midnight on the River Ganges , and sunrise in Purgatory. After an initial ascension, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven. These are concentric and spherical, as in Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmology. While the structures of the Inferno and Purgatorio were based on different classifications of sin, the structure of the Paradiso is based on the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues.
The first seven spheres of Heaven deal solely with the cardinal virtues of Prudence , Fortitude , Justice and Temperance. The first three describe a deficiency of one of the cardinal virtues - the Moon , containing the inconstant whose vows to God waned as the moon thus lack fortitude; Mercury , containing the ambitious who were virtuous for glory and thus lacked justice; and Venus, containing the lovers, whose love was directed toward another than God and thus lacked Temperance.
The final four incidentally are positive examples of the cardinal virtues, all led on by the Sun, containing the prudent, whose wisdom lighted the way for the other virtues, to which the others are bound constituting a category on its own. Mars contains the men of fortitude who died in the cause of Christianity; Jupiter contains the kings of Justice; and Saturn contains the temperant, the monks who abided to the contemplative lifestyle.
The seven subdivided into three are raised further by two more categories: the eighth sphere of the fixed stars that contain those who achieved the theological virtues of faith , hope and love , and represent the Church Triumphant - the total perfection of man, cleansed of all the sins and carrying all the virtues of heaven; and the ninth circle, or Primum Mobile corresponding to Medieval astronomy of Geocentricism which contains the angels, creatures never poisoned by original sin.
Topping them all is the Empyrean that contains the essence of God, completing the 9 fold division to The Paradiso is consequently more theological in nature than the Inferno and the Purgatorio. However, Dante admits the vision of heaven he receives is the one that his human eyes permit him to see, and the vision of heaven found in the Cantos is Dante's own personal one. In a flash of understanding, which he cannot express, Dante finally understands the mystery of Christ 's divinity and humanity, and his soul becomes aligned with God's love:  But already my desire and my will were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed, by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.
According to the Italian Dante Society, no original manuscript written by Dante has survived, although there are many manuscript copies from the 14th and 15th centuries — more than are listed on their site. The most precious ones are the three full copies made by Giovanni Boccaccio s , who himself did not have the original manuscript as a source. The original printing press is on display in the Oratorio della Nunziatella in Foligno.
The Divine Comedy can be described simply as an allegory : Each canto, and the episodes therein, can contain many alternative meanings. Dante's allegory, however, is more complex, and, in explaining how to read the poem — see the Letter to Cangrande  — he outlines other levels of meaning besides the allegory: the historical, the moral, the literal, and the anagogical.
The structure of the poem, likewise, is quite complex, with mathematical and numerological patterns arching throughout the work, particularly threes and nines, which are related to the Trinity. The poem is often lauded for its particularly human qualities: Dante's skillful delineation of the characters he encounters in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise; his bitter denunciations of Florentine and Italian politics; and his powerful poetic imagination. Dante's use of real characters, according to Dorothy Sayers in her introduction to her translation of the Inferno , allows Dante the freedom of not having to involve the reader in description, and allows him to "[make] room in his poem for the discussion of a great many subjects of the utmost importance, thus widening its range and increasing its variety.
Dante called the poem "Comedy" the adjective "Divine" was added later in the 14th century because poems in the ancient world were classified as High "Tragedy" or Low "Comedy".