Date(s) - 20th January, 2024
10:00 - 13:00
The Divine Comedy is a labyrinthine work of genius, which might be expected as one widely recognised to explore not only the human psyche but the inside of the whole of reality. Following Dante’s path and learning from his experiences, poetry and insights takes time, which these three seminars are designed to provide. They will be useful to individual’s approaching the Divine Comedy for the first time or for those seeking a chance to re-read it and so absorb more, as texts of inspiration always provide.
Saturday 20th January 2024 – The Inferno
Did Dante believe in hell? Yes, though in the sense that hell is a state in which people find themselves, rather than one to which they are condemned, though they may well feel that to be so. We will explore the shape of the Inferno, ask what it reveals about matters from rage to suicide, and see how Dante realises he must know the worst to participate in the best. We will focus particularly on Canto XXVIII, which participants are ask to read ahead of time, one of the most difficult in the Inferno, though a pivotal one for understanding how hellish states of mind confine.
Saturday 20th April 2024 – The Purgatorio
What happens in purgatory? The “purging” is not actually of sins but of the veils that obscure the sight of light and love. We will explore how the characters Dante encounters as he ascends the mountain first realise what is being asked for them, then embrace the mix of hope and suffering, and finally rise, capable of life in all its fulness. We will focus particularly on Canto IX, one of the transitional moments for Dante as he gains the ability to actively participate in, and understand, the transformation of his soul.
Saturday 18th May 2024 – The Paradiso
Should we be interested in paradise? – The Paradiso
The Paradiso is sometimes said to be the most impenetrable canticle of the Divine Comedy, full of lovely but bemusing descriptions of smiles and music. We will seek to understand why Dante tells us that the Paradiso is both the most essential and difficult part of the Divine Comedy, looking at how Beatrice guides him, souls educate him and, finally, he learns to see that his life and the divine life are a singular and pluriform vitality. We will focus particularly on Canto XXXIII, the final canto, in which Dante reveals how memory and words fail as consciousness shifts, and he approaches the love that moves the Sun and the other stars.