Divine Comedy: Part II: Purgatorio (Canti 17-33) & Paradiso

The second of a sequence of two semesters, the course is conceived as a reading of Dante’s Purgatorio, part 2 (canti 17-33) and Paradiso. We will start with a general introduction to Dante’s Commedia in order to orient the students to an understanding of Dante’s masterpiece. Purgatorio is the second section of the Divine Comedy, a very long poem traditionally judged to be one of the most important in Western culture. The first section is the Inferno, and the third and last the Paradiso. At the center of the poem is the human being, his condition in the after life and his punishment or reward. Taken literally, the theme is the state of the souls after the death. Paradiso is a journey towards awareness, in which knowledge implies a mystical and philosophical rediscovery of the self. In the poem, Purgatory is depicted as a mountain that Dante climbs in company with the Latin poet Virgil. Dante comes to know the seven levels of suffering and spiritual growth, until he reaches the Earthly Paradise located at the top of the mountain. Love is the compelling law of Purgatory, the law that is coincident with what our inner highest essence dictates. Purgatorio thus makes a universal appeal to the reader’s heart and intelligence. In the course the Purgatorio is considered not just as the place of expiation but as the place of regeneration and rebirth, and encloses a partial reshaping of theories of sin and punishment. Purgatory is the locus in which natural law is regained through repentance and suffering. Love, here conceived as the seed of every virtue and of every vice, is the moving force of the ascent up Mount Purgatory toward the happiness of the Earthly Paradise. The reading of Paradiso focuses on the interaction between the mystical- theological culture and the encyclopedia of medieval secular learning, as it takes place in the Commedia. Dante’s Paradiso will be considered as a realm of eternal happiness that fulfils human earthly aspirations, which, however, earthly life does not allow us to reach. The course will be conducted in English. Dante’s Commedia will be read in light of Dante’s minor works. We will investigate Dante’s text focusing on theories of poetics and rhetoric, philosophy, law, art, and theology. The requirements of the course are as follows: active class participation, a mid-semester oral presentation, and a final paper 20 to 25 pages in length for graduate and 10-15 for undergraduate. The course grade will be broken down as follows: class participation 40%, seminar - paper 60%. All paper topics must be discussed with me before active research and writing begins.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2017

Maria Luisa Ardizzone
W: 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM CASA 203