A canto by canto journey for Dante 2020
This year, 2020, marks the 700th anniversary of the completion of the great Divine Comedy. I invite you to experience the odyssey, too, by accompanying me as I discuss each canto.
Dante begins his journey by waking up in a dark wood. The air tastes bitter. He becomes fearful. Truth is out of reach. But his crisis is a turning point.
Many today, too, are waking up to something that’s gone wrong. We’re in a spiritual crisis. We must see the world afresh and understand. I believe Dante can help us discover how.
I recommend the translation by Mark Musa in the Penguin Classics edition, both for its accessibility and notes. Most of the images that accompany my discussion are by Gustav Doré and William Blake.
Dante frightened by his plight, terrorised by strange beasts, discovers a guide. MP3 here.
Dante wavers and Virgil reveals why he is here. MP3 here.
Dante and Virgil enter the gates of hell to find lost souls and a river. MP3 here.
Virgil leads Dante into the first circle of hell. MP3 here.
Virgil and Dante enter the second circle of hell and meet those whose love in life has trapped them. MP3 here.
In the third circle, they encounter Cerberus and the disfigured Caccio. MP3 here.
Virgil and Dante are in the fourth and fifth circles meeting those trapped by money and by anger. MP3 here.
Still in the fifth circle, they face the river Styx and the terror of Dis. MP3 here.
Terrified by the demons that block their path, Dante and Virgil wait. MP3 here.
Now inside Dis, they meet those who have followed their own way. MP3 here.
A foul stench prompts illumination of lower hell’s subtler evils. MP3 here.
Descending a steep slope, they see the minotaur, centaurs and a river of boiling blood. MP3 here.
They enter an ugly wood filled with wailing and those who killed themselves. MP3 here.
By burning sands and falling fire, they speak with a soul cursing Jupiter and see a vision. MP3 here.
Walking alongside the red stream, avoiding the burning sands, a gaggle of souls approach them. MP3 here.