Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Dante's Triangle: The Trinity in The Inferno

Dante's Inferno, itself one piece of a literary trilogy, repeatedly deploys the leitmotif of the number three as a metaphor for ambiguity, compromise, and transition. A work in terza rima that details a descent through Nine Circles of Hell, The Inferno encompasses temporal, literary, and political bridges and chasms that link Dante's inspired Centaur work between the autobiographical and the fictive, the mundane and the divine and, from a contemporary viewpoint, the Medieval and the ModernDante's recognition of the Renaissance as our millennium's metamorphic period and of himself as its poetic forerunner (until deposition by Shakespeare).

The Inferno is a work of transition between two points, as attested by the opening lines: "When I had journeyed half of our life's way,/ I found myself within a shadowed forest,/ for I had lost the path that does not stray" (I, 1-3). Echoes of these famous lines can be heard in Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled"; whereas Frost's poem concerns itself with the duality and firmness of decision, Dante's tercet implies an interval of great indecision and limbo. Indeed, he is anything but entrenched in position: "I cannot clearly say how I...

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