Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Commedia and Dualism

A number of overlying themes have persisted throughout the three canticles of Dante's Commedia. The politically charged and spiritually passionate Florentine elegantly laced into his masterpiece general topics - affairs of state, religion, and human nature - and expressed them thematically from the deepest trenches of the Inferno to the loftiest celestial bodies of Paradiso. One such theme that has resonated throughout Dante's work is the idea of dualism. Dante focuses on the dual nature of man throughout the Commedia, stressing the idea that he put forth in Monarchy that "man alone among created beings is the link between corruptible and incorruptible thing; and thus he is rightly compared by philosophers to the horizon, which is the link between the two hemispheres" (91). Dante, as an active member of the Florentine assembly before his exile and as a devout man dedicated to God, also emphasized the synthesis of and struggle between Church and Empire. Dante acknowledged Church and Empire as two equal and distinct faculties of God manifested in two different forms on earth. This duality of roles is deeply explored and intensely critiqued by Dante throughout the Commedia. Dante's means of expressing the...

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