Tuesday, December 15. 2009
If you have questions, your classmates have answers. Post both here!
EDIT: OK, it's nearing the witching hour. Time to head back to the soggy apartment! Feel free to continue asking one another questions.
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Raffa is the person who runs the Danteworlds website. He is cited often in the powerpoints.
True - without Raffa's work, I couldn't have constructed this unit. You can read his analysis, study art, etc. at http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/index2.html.
what's the story behind the scene of cannibalism we witness in Canto XXXII?
Count Ugolino della Gherardesca lived in a city called Pisa, one of Florence’s rival cities. He was born into an important Pisan Ghibelline family, but switched sides once the Guelfs started gaining power; Ugolino was exiled after failing to install a Pisan Guelf government, but he would return and, years later, be elected as podesta (political head) of Pisa. His grandson, Nino Visconti, served as “captain of the people” – nearly the same in rank. At this point, Ugolino capitulated to political expedience and gave away Pisan castles to Florence and Lucca; this led to a split between him and Nino, as well as between their followers.
At the same time, Ghibellines led by Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini were gaining power in nearby Tuscany; Ugolino conspired with them to have Nino driven from the city, and was intentionally absent from Pisa when their forces arrived. But when Ugolino returned, Ruggieri betrayed him, inciting the public against him by bringing up his “betrayal of the castles.” With popular pressure against him, Ugolino, two sons, and two grandsons were arrested and locked away.
Dante changes the conditions of Ugolino’s imprisonment by making the sons much younger and pretending the grandsons don’t exist, then really lengthens the duration of their stay (years instead of months). However, fact and fiction end the same way, albeit for different reasons (change in Ghibelline leadership in life vs. Ruggieri’s cruelty in the book): the key to Ugolino’s cell is thrown away, and food deliveries soon stop. Ugolino must watch helplessly as his sons, begging for food, starve to death over the course of a week; in their desperation, they offer their dying bodies to their father as food. It doesn’t seem like Ugolino takes them up on their offer, although some commentators believe he did; at any rate, he starves to death soon afterward.
Since Ruggieri murdered the one he betrayed – and his children – through starvation, the Archbishop is now condemned to serve as food for his victim for eternity. Thus Ugolino tears at his flesh over and over, waiting for it to grow back before ripping at it again. The cannibalism is less about feeding than it is about revenge.
In what ways are Dante's ideas similar to Robert J Sternberg's?
Both argue that the stories we consume can influence our behavior, perceptions, and expectations permanently, particularly when it comes to romantic matters. (Sternberg wrote the "Happily Ever After" article from the Gilgamesh unit.)
Why does Dante concentrate on the heretics who deny immortality?
what determines the severity of heretics punishment?
1. Dante concentrates on the immortality deniers for two reasons. Firstly, those who denied immortality threatened church control of Florence - a lot of Florentines self-identified as Epicureans. Regardless of Dante's opinions about Boniface or Clement, he's still a Christian first and foremost. Secondly, those who denied immortality necessarily deny that love fuels the immortal soul. In Dante's eyes, these people therefore devalue love, and since Dante seems to argue that love is everything - that which moves us, drives us, saves us, makes us go - those arguments are anathema to his own.
2. The flames of the Heretics' tombs burn according to the degree of heresy that soul committed. If you're a really effective teacher of heresy, you're going to have a very hot flame.
Lots of questions here:
1) What is symbolic about the reason why the poets don't immediately descend into the Seventh Circle?
2) Why does Virgil yell at Dante while they're watching the Falsifiers in Bolgia Ten?
3) What is the inscription above the Gate of Hell's greater significance?
4) What is the Second Circle's contrapasso?
5) What significance would meeting Virgil outside of the Dar Wood have had for Dante?
6) "I've emphasized that The Inferno is a spiritual journey told through physical allegory. Explain what I mean by this: what's really "going on" in this story and why does Dante tell his story this way?"
7) What does Raffa mean when he talks about Dante's attempt to "juggle the ennobling power of attraction toward the beauty of a whole person and the destructive force of possessive sexual desire"?
In what ways are Dante's ideas similar to Robert J. Sternberg's (from the "Happily Ever After" packet in the GIlgamesh unit)?
9) How does Raffa attempt to fit the Vestibule, Limbo, and the Sixth Circle into Dante's Aristotlean moral structure?
10) What is Ser Brunetto Latini's prophecy?
That was supposed to be an 8 that turned into a smiley...
I'd appreciate it if someone pitched in and answered some of Stephanie's questions...I'll do my best to divide my attention!
1. Dante's not really ready to confront the sins of Lower Hell, even though he's gone through the Heretics' circle. He's flinching at the "smell" of the sins of the Lion and Leopard. Virgil takes him aside and explains what he'll see while he "gets used to the smell," i.e. prepares himself to encounter the horrors of human baseness. Once Dante's been informed of what lies ahead, he's better able to handle it, and the poets descend.
2. Virgil yells at Dante because he's gaining amusement from watching the sinners fight; while you'd think this contradicts his approval of Dante's gleeful reaction to Filippo Argenti's dismemberment, it doesn't. In the earlier encounter, Dante's glee represents his righteous anger towards those who have wronged God (and the great plan). Here, Dante's just happily watching human degradation, kind of like someone watching trashy reality TV. Virgil essentially tells him that the person who gets entertained by such debasement degrades himself, and Dante's so deeply and immediately ashamed that Virgil forgives him.
(I don't understand why so many people struggle with this one; Ciardi explains it point-blank in his Canto summary.)
I believe this is because we didn't really pay attention to this little detail.
It doesn't matter; it's basically the point of that entire Canto! There are plenty of things in the book that I expected you guys to pick up simply by reading it yourself; no matter how many hours I spend on this stuff, there are limits to how much I can teach. This is the kind of thing I have to count on you guys to be responsible for.
Although I wouldn't say that I did not pay attention to the small details, for me it is that I get confused by the details or I sometimes forget them.. But nonetheless, thanks you Mr. Feraco for spending so much time to help us with the slides and whatnot. (:
3. The inscription's greater significance is that it provides a testament to the supremacy of God's powers, even within the underworld; Hell was not created by Evil, but created by Good to house Evil (just as a jail is created in the name of Justice to house Evil; it's not an evil place, but there's plenty of it inside). It reminds Dante, in an odd way, that God will protect him even in the depths of Hell - giving him silent hope at the same time he's supposed to be abandoning it. (That said, he's far more terrified than reassured here.)
4. The sinners are swept in a tornado or hurricane, just as they allowed themselves to be swept away by their passions and base desires (abandoning human reason in the process).
5. Dante idolized Virgil, and modeled some of his writing techniques after the old Roman poet. He would have been reassured to find his idol as his mentor/guide; it's a wise choice on Beatrice/God's part.
6. There's not much to say in response to this one, honestly.
Dante's not really walking through Hell.
The whole thing's an allegory, although the writing's so grounded in the physical that Dante makes the unbelievable seem visceral and real; you forget that it's a story about a man's internal pursuit of salvation.
7. Again, not much to say about this one. The question's fairly self-explanatory. Dante struggles to reconcile love's ability to elevate and destroy us, particularly where carnal desire is concerned (it can bond you to someone powerfully or can encourage you to surrender your commitment to morality and reason). This struggle seems to be the reason he can't get that angry at the Lustful/Carnal in the Second Circle. (That, and it seems pretty evident that he's guilty of this sin; after all, this is the guy whose symbol of divine love is not his wife, but some other woman.)
8. Please refer to my earlier response to Maggie's question.
9. Most of Dante's Hell is based on the things we do wrong. Raffa speculates that these three areas are separated because their “faults” are each based in the intellect, and are each based on not doing something (worshipping correctly, building a moral code, or believing in God) rather than on doing something wrong.
10. Another one from Ciardi's Canto summary. Brunetto Latini's prophecy involves Dante's "future" sufferings at the hands of the Neri and the Florentines.
Hope this helps! (And thanks for asking the questions, since I'm sure plenty of others have them as well.)
Remember, "art" is basically "craft" - it's like violence against work. You're supposed to work for the things that you receive when Fortune spins her wheel; the Usurers only profit off the struggles of others (for those who took out loans usually did so because they were in dire straits, and had to work hard to earn enough money to pay back the loan + interest). Since they're not working for the good things they receive, they're violating Art, and upsetting the divine order of things.
Whoops! Forgot to ask this question:
What does Virgil's successful confrontation with Plutus signify for, say, Florence?
That good can always overcome evil, as long as it has the courage - the guts - to challenge the malignant forces that exist in the world.
The problem with Florence, of course, is that far too many people there are perfectly happy to surrender to sin. Dante's great hope is that someone will have the conviction to stand up to the forces corrupting his great city, sweeping the city clean through the force of his resistance. (That's what the Greyhound prophecy is supposed to be about.)
Why are bolgia 10's sinners punished via a "grab bag" approach- every sort of retribution that Dante can dream up?
For two reasons: Firstly, that Bolgia Ten's basically a glimpse at what an amoral society would look like. If everyone acted like the Falsifiers - behaved based on their basest instincts and desires, lying, cheating, and stealing in order to get ahead - this is the horror that would result. (A "sinner society," as I've called it elsewhere.)
Secondly, that the Falsifiers lived in order to turn people's senses against them (think about the nature of Alchemy, Evil Impersonation, etc.). In death, every single one of their senses now betrays them; to sense anything here is to be harmed. If you try to hear, you'll only find bone-chilling shrieks and the screams of the tormented; if you try to smell, only blood and decay will greet you; if you try to see, you'll see nothing - until someone flies at you and drags you away with their teeth. You get the picture: Just as the Falsifiers made man's senses betray him, theirs now betray them in death.
what links the panderers, simoniacs and grafters besides fraud?
They're all "sell-out" sins. The Panderers sell peoples' bodies; the Simoniacs sell the church out (and, by extension, the religious spirit); the Grafters sell the government out (and, by extension, the secular civic spirit).
I don't really know how to describe Ciacco's prophecy (I am a little fuzzy about it too), but Ciardi has a footnote at the bottom of page 69 that continues to page 70 about Ciacco's prophecy.
Why was Guido da Montefeltro both a perpetrator of and victim of fraud?
Once a friar, Boniface compels Guido to give him advice about how to destroy the pope’s enemies; when Guido seems reluctant to answer, Boniface promises the impossible (to absolve him of a sin in advance), and Guido complies, telling the pope to extend a false promise of amnesty to the main family that opposes him
He perpetrated that fraud, but was ultimately betrayed by Boniface, who never absolved him of his sin – and thus doomed him to the Eighth Circle
What "moral compromise" did Dante make? (Dante's Life, Style, and Themes)
Moral compromise: When the priors moved to dispel some of the tensions by banishing Corso and Guido, Dante went along with them
1) Why was Guido Cavalcanti banished? (I only know that Dante and he were on opposite parties..)
2) Which of the views Dante expresses in Circle Eight seem outdated or even offensive to many members of today's audience?
.. and 3) What is Dante's view of suicide?
1) Guido Cavalacanti was banished not because he and Dante were in opposing political parties, but because he was the leader of one of the political groups (if someone wants to provide the names of the groups, that would help. I can't remember if it was the Ghibellines and Guelfs or the Blacks and Whites). It was decided that these political groups needed to be disbanded, and the easiest way to do that was to banish their leaders. Because of this, Guido was banished. He also, rather unfortunately, died soon after being banished.
2) I can't seen anything particularly outdated in the eighth circle, besides the Alchemists, but I do remember reading that there are possible anti-semitic views possibly portrayed in the poem. I can't for the life of me see them, but that might possibly have something to do with it. I honestly wouldn't put much faith in either answers, but if you can find evidence to support them, then please do share.
3) Examine the contrapasso of Circle seven's second round for this one. Because they destroyed their human form, denying their human form as Ciardi puts it, they are denied human form in death. On top of this, because their most potent form of self-expression was through self-destruction, in death the only way they find a voice is by being torn and destroyed.
Hopefully this helps a little. Sorry about the second question, and sorry if my answer to number 3 wasn't very helpful.
It's okay. Thanks for answering though!
For the 1) I know that it is the Blacks v. Whites. Guido was a Black and Dante was a White.
To help with question number 2: Dante portrayed the leaders of Islam as eviscerated corpses with their guts hanging out. He did this because he believed that preachers of Islam were sowers of discord and they were trying to bring down Christianity, Dante's own religion, and so it would make sense why he would despise them. Seeing this expression of hatred for the Islamic religion would most definitely be considered outdated today and totally offensive. I hope someone will gain assistance from this.
2 the religious stuff like gandi
3 feraco usually ask what influences his view, which is romans who see it as ok and the christian who see it as bad
This still continues to remain the last blog since Christmas is near. So with that said, if you're reading this, hope all goes well Mr. Feraco. Tom showed us in "500 Days of Summer" (Italicized?) Reality can never be aligned with your Fantasy, but that does not mean that Fantasy can never topple Reality.
To get to the point, Good Luck with her answer and Happy Birthday. One year closer to the Mount of Purgatory!
P.S. Hopefully this will more than even out your oceanic apartment.
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