The Journey of Dante and Odysseus

Among the many works of the great Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri (cycle of sonnets, ballads and canzone, philosophical and political treatises), the most significant is the “Divina Commedia”, an epic poem in three parts (“Inferno”, “Purgatorio”, “Paradiso”) which consists of 100 songs called the poetic encyclopedia of the Middle Ages.

The hierarchical structure of Dante’s “Inferno” is exactly coincident with the gravity of sin. Classification of human vices performed with meticulous of the Middle Ages, with close exact sciences, which gave every reason to call Dante Linnaeus of the morality. Upper circles of the “Inferno” are filled with souls of violators of the natural measure: sensualists, gluttons, misers, wasters, and angry, despondent men.

Dante’s “Inferno” is a triumph of justice, retaliation, the line between good and evil, but it is also a path to the suffering, love and freedom. The eighth, the lowest circle of the “Inferno”, has a complex structure. It is one more “Inferno” in the miniature with the ten slits that repeat the logic of the author: the more disgusting deception, the more grueling it is. Odysseus, named in the poem Ulysses, who invented the Trojan hose for his trick is placed into the eighth slit. This character is Dante’s antipode. Ulysses’ sin is that he is driven by passion for the adventures, not a desire for the spiritual perfection: Dante is a pilgrim, and Ulysses is a traveler.

Dante showed images of vices, leaved in people, to oppose them to the others scenes that have to create people for the harmony and awareness. The artistic originality, which demonstrates life in three sides, is achieved by the methods of presentation to the reader symbolical characters, details, motives and different kinds of the perception.

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In the 26th song of the “Inferno” Dante tells about Odysseus who with a small squad goes to the unknown sea behind the Pillars of Hercules and starts the “insane flight”. Odyssey endowed passion of knowledge, and though he is a sinner because of cheating with the people, but Dante do not judge the hero, he sympathize Odysseus.

Dante and Virgil see the lights, which move along the valley. All of the lights are burned sinners who encouraged people to the lie. In the one of the lights is found Odyssey. The author shows that endless thirst for knowledge leads one to death. And this is one of the tragic contradictions of the high purpose of the man and his nature.

The great Renaissance poet hears Ulysses’ confession without Virgil translation. Dante is mostly interested in the reason which led one of the main characters to the death. People who dared to go out to the sea, behind the Pillars of Hercules, that symbolize the end of the known world, break laws given by the gods. This is an unjustified action, but the charm of this proud step is described with the mesmerizing imagery. The person cannot be satisfied by the given limits, he is desperate in knowledge. This thought is the end of the episode though in the beginning it was proclaimed by prowess and restraint.

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Abyss into which leads the mind is more sinful to Dante then the outright deception, theft. Therefore, Ulysses and the others who are blamed in the sin of using the mind to the deception are situated in the lowest circle of the “Inferno”. But Dante, like a poet who moves to the Renaissance and forms, it admires the brave flight and poeticizes the reckless human desire to the cognition. Faith and love are needed to go through all the circles of the Dante’s “Inferno”. The author explores the causes of the death and makes sure that the most important is the violation of laws given by the gods. The acts committed by people, originated by different motives, and they determine the fate after the life.

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