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Dante's Burning Sands

Some New Perspectives


Francesca D'Antoni

This study illuminates some dark passages at the center of the Commedia's three canticles, revealing the poem's artistic integrity in ways hitherto unperceived. Dante's Sodom is a crematorium of all dead empires, where his fellow aristocrats join other Italian nobles, later judged in Purgatorio and Paradiso, as perverters of their «holy seed» of Roman nobility. All sinned against God, Nature and Art by subordinating their divine gift of human intelligence to beastly instincts, abusing power and privilege for material gain - a practice abhorrent to a true Roman. Having undergone metempsychosis, they resemble Homeric beasts pastured by Circe in Dante's typological circle of burning sands in the Inferno.
Contents: Like tragic heroes blinded by ambition, Dante's self-serving magistrates incur Nature's revenge for subjecting virtue to fortune. Their despoiled cities become ruins and vineyards revert to wastelands.