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Cosmological and Philosophical World of Dante Alighieri

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


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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II. The Convivio – theology and cosmology


1) Aristotelianism in medieval Europe

At the end of the twelfth century, the papacy reached the peak of its political and social power in the European medieval feudal world. This happened primarily due to the earlier actions of Pope Gregory VII and the institutions established by the legates, that provided significant help in exemption of individual bishops from secular jurisdiction and keeping them united with Papacy39. The thirteenth century was, therefore, the period of stabilization in certain ecclesiastical, political and social structures of the Middle Ages. The emerging communities – whether a city or a state – prompt reflection on coexistence between people and their mutual relationship, as well as that to power – both secular and spiritual. In a natural way the opportunities for scholars (clergy and lay) to undertake various analyzes of theological philosophical, political and social issues presented themselves40. In this situation universities become a place where important theological, philosophical, and political-legal disputes occurred, invigorating the greatest minds of the Middle Ages.

At the meeting point between Arab and Christian culture, in medieval Iberia (especially in Toledo), as well as in Venice, Naples and Bari – the centers of trade and shipping, where merchants established their regular contacts – the rediscovery of Aristotle’s writings and thought took place in the twelfth century, when a vast body of philosophical and scientific literature by Greek and Arabic authors was translated from Arabic into Latin. Arab scholars had almost the entire body of Aristotle’s writings already translated before the...

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