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Cosmological and Philosophical World of Dante Alighieri

«The Divine Comedy» as a Medieval Vision of the Universe

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Jacek Grzybowski

The book analyses the medieval vision of the world as depicted in Dante Alighieri’s poetic works. In detail it discusses two works, The Banquet and The Divine Comedy, and offers a view on politics, faith and the universe of the medieval period. For modern people that period with its debates, polemics and visions represents something exceedingly remote, obscure and unknown. While admiring Dante’s poetic artistry, we often fail to recognize the inspirations that permeated the works of medieval scholars and poets. Although times are constantly changing, every generation has to face the same fundamental questions of meaning, purpose and value of human existence: Dante’s cosmological and poetical picture turns out to be surprisingly universal.
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IV. In the Dantesque theatrum mundi

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Undoubtedly, Dante Alighieri was one of the greatest poets in human history. However, it should be borne in mind that, at the same time, he was also a philosopher, theologian and politician. In all his works these areas of knowledge can be traced, but it is in poetry he excelled as a genius of the word. In his masterpieces philosophy and theology, the cosmological vision of the world and of course politics can be found.

1) Journey to the afterlife – sources and inspirations

When we read and reflect on Dante’s texts, we should keep in mind that the world which he describes revolves according to Ptolemy’s system, were the earth is in its center, with the Sun, planets and stars revolving around it. Printing was not yet invented, people lived in anticipation of the imminent end of the world, and penitential pilgrimages slowly made their way while praying and singing. The most powerful minds were humble when facing the Christian dogma. We are in the midst of the Middle Ages. All theses of the great Italian poet should be looked at precisely from this historical perspective. And although we find philosophy and politics in Dante’s texts, it must be distinctly articulated that the subject of his greatest work, The Divine Comedy, is the status of the soul after death the contemporaneous cosmological notions. That is why the vision of the universe is so important in Dante’s poetry. The way a man organizes his space...

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