Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On Dante: Divine Inspiration or Incredible Imagination?

I have a Professor here at UD that likes to tell us that he thinks Dante is a divinely inspired poet. What does this mean? He seriously thinks that Dante had some form of vision from God and that here are great elements of truth in what he writes. At the same time, this same professor thinks that Dante is wrong about homosexuals, Mohammad and Pagans' position in the Inferno. This duality of beliefs is startling. How he can maintain the position that there is divine inspiration yet at the same time disagree with the information presented? Answer: he cannot.

Dante was either inspired or not. Either he had divine assistance or not. Dante claims over and over again implicitly that he has divine inspiration but never actually says it. Why? because he knows he will be labeled as a heretic by the Church. If he had a divine Mandate he would not be afraid to say it explicitly. This is just a fact.

My belief is that of Dr. Hollander's: I believe that Dante has elaborately created an idea of the afterlife by creating an amazing synthesis of the classical poets: Horace, Ovid, Virgil; and the theologians: Aquinas and Augustine. It is a brilliant creation but an artificial one. It is not real. The truth found in it is a truth that has already been expressed by the theologians. Therefore Dante is a Theologos Poeta.

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