Lesson 8: Inferno; MIDTERM

Learning Objective:

You should gain a critical understanding of the symbols in the text and their cultural significance.


  • Inferno, 1265-1295.
  • Inferno, 1295-1326.
  • Answer discussion question; Take MIDTERM in Blackboard.

Lecture Notes:

Some have claimed that Dante’s text is heretical and not orthodox because through the image of Beatrice – rather than through the image Christ – Dante’s reaches, in the final Canticle of the Comedy, God. Harold Bloom believes we should read the Comedy as a personal gnosis. That is, Dante inherited the traditional symbols of his religion and transformed them into his own understanding. By falling in love with Beatrice, he created his own religion, and pledged to worship a fallible god. It is interesting that when Dante actually meets Beatrice at the Garden on the top of Mount Purgatory, she ridicules and admonishes him. So theology does not govern Dante, he governs it; or, to put it simply, he uses religion as a resource for his salvation. As Bloom notes:

The Comedy, like all of the greatest canonical works, destroys the distinction between sacred and secular writing. Beatrice is the allegory of the fusion of sacred and secular, the union of prophecy and poem.

Posted below as a playlist are the lecture videos for Yale Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta’s course, Dante in Translation: