Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy: Inferno Canto 2

My blogging friend Rebecca Budd is currently participating in a #KaramazovReadalong, you can read about it here: https://ontheroadbookclub.com/2021/07/27/karamazovreadalong-day-1-who-is-fyodor/.

The reading group are reading one chapter a day of this book and it inspired me to tackle Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri in the same manner.

You can read my thoughts on Canto 1 here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/08/30/roberta-writes-divine-comedy-inferno-canto-1/

Canto 2

In Canto 2, Dante calls upon the Muses, the ancient goddesses of art and music, to help him tell of his experiences.

As Dante and Virgil approach the gates of Hell, Dante reflects on whether he is worthy to make this journey and follow in the footsteps of Aeneas and St Paul. He is anxious that he does not measure up to this noble pair.

Virgil tells Dante he does not need to be afraid. He says there is much concern about his welfare among angelic spirits, in particular Beatrice, Dante’s beloved, who died at the age of 24 and is now in Heaven.

Beatrice, on the instruction of St Lucia, the Virgin Mary’s messenger, had approached Virgil and asked him to help Dante find the right way out of the dark wood. Beatrice had cried when she asked Virgil for his assistance with this task and he had readily agreed. Virgil has rescued Dante and now they are ready to begin their journey.

Virgil assures Dante that the three ladies in Heaven, Virgin Mary, St Lucia, and Beatrice all care for him and tells him to have courage. Dante agrees to follow Virgil.

Art Smart — Beatrice Visiting Virgil in Limbo Gustave Dore
Beatrice visiting Virgil in Limbo. Picture credit: https://artsmarttumble.tumblr.com/post/131003437981/beatrice-visiting-virgil-in-limbo-gustave-dore

Extract

“That from this terror thou mayst free thyself,
I will instruct thee why I came, and what
I heard in that same instant, when for thee
Grief touch’d me first.  I was among the tribe,
Who rest suspended, when a dame, so blest
And lovely, I besought her to command,
Call’d me; her eyes were brighter than the star
Of day; and she with gentle voice and soft
Angelically tun’d her speech address’d:
“O courteous shade of Mantua! thou whose fame
Yet lives, and shall live long as nature lasts!
A friend, not of my fortune but myself,
On the wide desert in his road has met
Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn’d.”

39 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Divine Comedy: Inferno Canto 2

  1. Well done, Robbie. The Divine Comedy and The Canterbury Tales were both crammed into a “split session” summer quarter at college for me. (Meaning that they take the curriculum for an entire quarter and pack it into half the time.) While I tested well on the exam, it was all so rushed that I didn’t retain much of it. I think your slower approach is great. The language of the era alone makes it harder to absorb.
    Hugs on the wing.

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