Why should you read Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? – Sheila Marie Orfano


“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here… ” Inscribed above the Gate of Hell, these ominous words warn dark
tidings for Dante as he begins his descent into inferno. Yet despite the grim tone, this prophecy sets into motion what is
perhaps the greatest love story ever told; an epic journey that encompasses both
the human and the divine. But for Dante to reach
benevolent salvation, he must first find his way through Hell. This landscape of torture is the setting
for “Inferno,” the first in a three-part narrative poem written by Dante Alighieri
in the 14th century. Casting himself as the protagonist, Dante travels deeper and deeper
into Hell’s abyss, witnessing obscene punishments distinct
to each of its nine realms. Beginning in Limbo, he travels through the
circles of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, and Fraud, to the horrific ninth circle of Treachery, where sinners are trapped under the
watchful eyes of Satan himself. The following two parts, “Purgatorio” and
“Paradiso,” continue Dante’s journey, as he scales the Mount of Purgatory and ascends the nine celestial
spheres of Heaven. Written together over 10 years, these
3 sections comprise the “Divine Comedy”– an allegorical imagining of the soul’s
journey towards God. But Dante’s “Divine Comedy” is more than
just religious allegory. It’s also a witty, scathing commentary on
Italian politics. A soldier and statesman from Florence,
Dante was staunchly faithful to God, but often critical of the
Roman Catholic Church. He particularly disliked its rampant
nepotism and practice of simony, the buying and selling of religious
favours such as pardons from sin. Many groups took advantage of these
corrupt customs, but few supported them as much as the
Guelfi Neri, or Black Guelphs. This was a political and religious faction which sought to expand the pope’s
political influence. Dante was a member of the Guelfi Bianchi,
or White Guelphs– who believed Florence needed more
freedom from Roman influence. As a public representative for the
White Guelphs, Dante frequently spoke out against
the pope’s power, until the Black Guelphs leveraged their
position to exile him from Florence in 1302. But rather than silencing him, this lifelong exile led to Dante’s
greatest critique of all. Dishonored and with little hope of return, the author freely aired his grievances
with the Church and Italian society. Writing the “Divine Comedy” in Italian, rather than the traditional Latin of the
educated elite, Dante ensured the widest possible audience
for his biting political commentary. In the “Inferno’s” circle of the Wrathful, Dante eagerly witnesses sinners tear Black Guelph Filippo
Argenti limb from limb. In the circle of Fraud, Dante converses with a mysterious sinner
burning in the circle’s hottest flames. He learns that this is Pope Nicholas III, who tells Dante that his two successors
will take his place when they die— all three guilty of simony and corruption. Despite the bleak and sometimes violent
imagery in “Inferno,” the “Divine Comedy” is also a love story. Though Dante had an arranged marriage with the daughter of a powerful
Florentine family, he had also been unrequitedly in love with
another woman since he was nine years old: Beatrice Portinari. Despite allegedly meeting just twice,
she became Dante’s lifelong muse, serving as the inspiration and subject for
many of his works. In fact, it’s Beatrice who launches his
intrepid journey into the pits of Hell and up the terraces of Mount Purgatory. Portrayed as a powerful, heavenly figure, she leads Dante through “Paradiso’s”
concentric spheres of Heaven until he is finally face-to-face with God. In the centuries since its publication, the “Divine Comedy’s” themes of love,
sin, and redemption have been embraced by numerous artists– from Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali,
to Ezra Pound and Neil Gaiman. And the poet himself received his own
belated, earthly redemption in 2008, when the city of Florence finally revoked
Dante’s antiquated exile.

100 thoughts on “Why should you read Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? – Sheila Marie Orfano

  1. Not sure who this is for? I think anyone subbed to this channel knows y they should if they haven read it already

  2. I read it. It's amazing. I don't much about Italian history, but the book is simply spectacular.

  3. This "why you should read" series doesn't exactly tell us why we should read the books.

  4. I would like to ask any native speaker of Italian how different is the language of Dante from the modern Italian? I assume that you can understand all of the poem as easily as any modern Italian text, but are there many words in la commedia that you don't use them today? Or are there any differences in grammar and syntax,or generally any other differences? Please give a like on this comment in order to go higher on the comment section so that it will be more possible that more Italians will give an answer. Thanks in advance and much love to Italy from Greece!!! You are and you will always be the lighthouse of the world!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. i just finished reading this book (through wikipedia) yesterday! i can’t believe this video released today haha.

  6. I dont see "think like a coder" so i wont watch

    Jk its ted ed ofc ill watch it

  7. To anyone interested in Dante's inferno but too lazy to read it, I would recomend watching OverlySarcasticProductions video series on it. It is one of the funniest and best animation summary video Ive seen 🙂

  8. When you still don't read Divine comedy after watching this video

    " he who desires but acts not , breeds pestilence "

  9. Me: I wanna read something cool, not modern, mysterious and beautiful
    Ted-ed: I got you fam

  10. Hey! I am Beatrice and I was named after Beatrice Portinari from "Divine Comedy".

  11. Beatrice and Dante actually met more than twice. They frequently met in the streets later on (given by wikipedia as after 18) but they never really talked or got to know each other apart from exchanging greetings.

  12. I do recommend it! For those who don't like to read or don't have the time, at least search for the video.

  13. the only reason to read dante is because you have to write an essay about it.

  14. I just finished teaching this Literary work to my students. Very timely!

    And amazing work!

  15. Thank you for the video! I'm an Italian student and this year "Dante's Inferno" will be my nightmare.

  16. Dante: dead for over 500 years

    Florence: Oh hey, Dante my man, I'm so sorry! I totally forgot about you! You may now come back if you want 🙂

  17. This channel teaches that:
    Considerate la vostra semenza/ fatti non foste a viver come bruti/ ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.” (Inferno, XVI, 19-21)
    (Consider your origin/ you were not born to live like brutes/ but to follow virtue and knowledge)
    Thank you so much for doing this video 🙂

  18. I wrote a novel last year partially based on the Inferno. I hope to have it published someday, though I doubt it'll have the same impact as its inspiration.

  19. I read it years ago. Bloody hard going if you’re not an expert on medieval Italian history. Tbh, I don’t think it’s worth the effort. There are just better things to read.

  20. Italian people out there be like: shut up and hold my vine, Dante oramai è uno di famiglia, conosco più cose su di lui che su me stesso

  21. Make a video on the world oldest language. Please… that would be so helpful.

  22. “The heaven that rolls around cries aloud to you while it displays its eternal beauties, and yet your eyes are fixed upon the earth alone.”

    Dante Alighieri

  23. Loved this when we took it back in high school and this video makes me want to reread it!

  24. I get Great content by Ted-Ed and very thankful to your to make all type of interesting videos….
    But my humble request is please improve the size of your videos, then it's more helpful…….👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

  25. Please, do WHY SHOULD YOU READ IF THIS IS A MAN (Se questo è un uomo – Primo Levi)

  26. Divine Comedy, the greatest Christian theological self insert fanfic made into the Western literary canon.

  27. It was Italic politic, not Italian, because Italy still didn't exist as a nation.

  28. Reading it as an Asian on 4th year HS on a 3rd world country, rip English comprehension

  29. I have a copy of this (which uses the Longfellow translation), but I’ve never managed to finish it. This is a great video on it, though.

  30. “Why you should read The Divine Comedy” but instead let’s take a low blow at the Church & preach social politics.
    Also, let’s completely disregard Dante’s true genius in synthesizing classical Philosophical and Theological thought of the prior 18 centuries & his creation of the Terza rima upon which his whole poem was structured🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️ Bravo…

  31. I enjoy a lot of these videos, but for this video they should have focused more on the religious components of the poem as opposed to the politics.

  32. In high school we study it, it's so fascinating. Italian language and mind is really shaped as Dante Alighieri's

  33. This is one of the rare ted-ed vids I do not thoroughly like. There is a lack of depth, and it didn’t discuss purgatory and paradise. As someone who has read the thing, it is a let down.
    Also, why on earth was Guelphi Bianchi pronounced properly but not Beatrice?
    Meh.

  34. I wouldn't talk about "Italy" and "Italian" when analysing the divine comedy, since this political and cultural reality didn't exist at the time. Apart from that, this is a great video!!

  35. In Italy we haven't so much to be proud of in the last century. And as a nation we are young and still not so united, so nationalism is quite a farce here (I mean, more than it's for anyone, cause is a farce by itself). That's why I'm not so proud to be italian, but if you ask me if there is something I am happy about being italian, I have no doubt: I can read Dante in his language (with some help, cause the volgare was a little different, but not so much).

  36. After couple of century people talk about how great dante's "divine comedy" and this animation was

  37. Awesome, he was against a Satanic Catholic Church yet he included Purgatory which unbiblical place and thus a demonic scheme to delude more people and lead them away from the Truth (God).

  38. Love how in 2008, centuries after he died, Florence was like
    "Yo we should get Dante back here"

  39. I tried reading it when I was 12 it was too confusing then but I’m gonna try again now, I’m 14

  40. I remember studying this back in 10th Grade and now that I'm really interested on this literary piece, I regret for not listening well.

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