Lecture 8 - Inferno XIX, XXI, XXV, XXVI

author: Giuseppe Mazzotta, Department of Italian, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: May 7, 2010,   recorded: September 2008,   views: 3038
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

Professor Mazzotta begins this lecture by recapitulating the ambivalent nature of Ulysses' sin and its relevance to Dante's poetic project. Inferno XXVII is then read in conjunction with the preceding canto. The antithetical relationship between Dante's false counselors, Ulysses and Guido da Montefeltro, anchors an overarching discussion of the relationship between rhetoric and politics. The latter half of the lecture is devoted to Inferno XXVIII, where Dante's preeminent sower of discord, Bertran de Born, introduces the principle of the contrapasso. The law of retribution that governs Dante's Inferno is discussed in light of classical and contemporary theories of justice/crime and punishment. In conclusion, the opening of Inferno XXIX is read as a retrospective gloss on the limitations of retributive justice.

Reading assignment:

Dante, Inferno: XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII

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