Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lasciate Ogne Speranza, Voi Ch'Intrate

My DVD collection has been a bore lately. I feel I’ve over-watched everything I’ve got, which I have. I desperately need to get some new ones, but nothing good is coming out anytime soon. Nothing! Absolutely nothing. Nothing even remotely interesting.

So for the last several nights before bed, I’ve been rereading one of my favorite books that I haven’t even touched since high school… The Divine Comedy. I should probably clarify that I only really enjoy the cantos of "Inferno" and "Purgatorio." "Paradiso" is great too, but it lacks the most intriguing character of the combined collection, Virgil.

I’m sure that anyone who’s read the book can clearly see that Virgil is supposed to be a very noble and wise character. He knows the way through Hell and can act as Dante’s knowledgeable guide while he struggles alongside Dante when they enter Purgatory together for the first time.

It’s often discussed in school that Virgil is an allegorical representation of human reason… both in its immense power and in its inferiority to faith in God. But that’s not what I find interesting about him in this book. What’s best about him, most unique about his character to me, is that he seems to be comically sadistic.

Virgil praises Dante for an outburst of temper, yet at other times he criticizes him for not being compassionate enough. It seems that Virgil, despite his piercing moral clarity, seems puzzled at times… or is he? I think he truly enjoys seeing those suffer who he feels deserve it.

Maybe that’s just my own bizarre and twisted view, but I honestly feel this guy gets off on how hell tortures people. I don’t think Dante intended Virgil to come across in this manner, though I think it makes the story much more entertaining and witty. Does anyone else see that, or is it just me?

Anyway, I'm noticing some things about the "Inferno" I hadn't noticed before… or if I had, I'd forgotten them, which is just as good. For one thing, hard as it is to believe, I had never particularly noticed how each circle of Hell (with the exception of the outer circle, Limbo) has its own guardian, something that, in video game circles, remind me of an "sub-boss." Minos stands guard over Circle 2 (the Lustful), and has the great pleasure of informing sinners which level they've been condemned to. Cerberus stands guard over Circle 3 (the Gluttons); Plutus over Circle 4 (the Greedy and the Wasteful); Phegyas over Circle 5 (the Angry). At that point they come to the walls of the City of Dis, the barricade that separates the not-so-bad sinners they've encountered so far and the really bad sinners who follow. Once inside, the way opened for them by an unnamed angel, they find Circle 6 (the Heretics). The first round of Circle 7 (Violence against others) is guarded by the Minotaur; the second (Violence against self) by the Harpies.

1 comment:

celtgirl said...

I learn more and more about you. You are AMAZING!