Dante inferno

For Essay #2, you will write a research paper on The Inferno, the first poem of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. First and foremost, the poem is a political piece, and it is unlikely that you will be able to remember every name that is called. Therefore, your paper will be guided by the following questions, chosen from a certain number of questions from several, not all, of the cantos. As you read through the cantos, please take time to respond to your selected questions.

An acceptable paper will likely include a page on each question chosen (although this might vary from question to question). At the Longwood University website, there are sources that may be used to help you formulate your responses to the questions you select; the links do not work, so I have included the sources at the bottom of this page for you. Thus, your paper—with the four secondary sources and one primary source (The Inferno)—should probably result in a minimum of six (6) or seven (7) pages.

As many of the questions, though in the same cantos are about different concepts, it will be important for you to incorporate transitions that help to make your paper more coherent. You will also need to include an introduction and conclusion that tie/connect each of the paragraphs/pages/responses together. The paper will still need to be double spaced, and written in Times New Roman, 12 font. Additionally, please include a Works Cited page for all work that is borrowed/synthesized in the paper, using Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

Cantos 1-4 (Choose two [2] questions)

Compare Canto 1 to the opening of The Iliador the The Odyssey. How is it different?

Compare Dante’s journey to the journeys taken by characters in Gilgamesh or The Odyssey. How does Dante’s appearance as the central character in the poem make it a different kind of epic?

Dante encounters a leopard, a lion, and a she -wolf in Canto 1. What do you think these beasts symbolize, if anything? Which animal seems to pose the greatest problem for Dante?

Who are the women discussed in Canto 2? What is their historical or symbolic significance? What is their function in the poem?

Cantos-5-6, 10, 13 (Choose two [2] questions)

Why do you think Dante makes lust a lesser sin than gluttony? (NB: the sins encountered at the top of the slope are less horrible or offensive than the ones at the bottom, and the ones in between are arranged in a corresponding hierarchy from one to the other.)

Paolo and Francesca (Canto 5) are some of the most attractive sinners in Hell. What does Dante do, in a very short space, to make them real to us? Why do you think he makes them so sympathetic (they are, after all, sinners)?

What is the political theme of Canto 6? How does it relate to Dante’s own political experiences?

Look up “epicurean” in a good dictionary. What kind of sin is this?

Cantos 14-5, 21-22 (Choose one [1] question)

Who is Brunetto Latini and what is his message to Dante?

How does Dante depict the Grafters (or “barrators”) in cantos 21-22? What kind of people are they? What kinds of names do the demons in charge of them have? Is their sin more immediate to modern readers than others discussed by Dante? How do the Grafters affect Dante?

Cantos 26-27 (Choose one [1] question)

How is Dante’s Ulysses different from Homer’s Odysseus?

Guido da Montefeltro is guilty of the same sin as Ulysses–but how is he a different kind of person?

Cantos 32-34 (Choose two [2] questions)

What sin is punished in the lowest level of Hell? Why do you think Dante’s considers this to be the worst sin? How are these sinners punished?

What does the lowest part of Hell look like? Does the landscape surprise you? What did you expect? How is it an appropriate place for punishing the sinners who are found here?

Ugolino is one of the last sinners examined in detail in the Inferno. What kind of commentary on extreme evil is Dante making in his depiction of Ugolino? What does Dante’s description of Ugolino contribute to the poem’s political theme?

What does Dante’s Lucifer look like? How is he placed at the bottom of the slope? Is there anything about Dante’s Lucifer that surprises you?
Secondary Source Possibilities (These are only a start):

The Seven Deadly Sins






Primary Source (Also found under “Files” link to the left:

Dante’s Inferno (1).pdf

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