The Mythological Allusions in Dante Alighirie’s Inferno
Keywords:allegory, allusion, Divine Comedy, epic, mythology
This study identified all allusions from classical mythology found in the first book of the Divine Comedy, the Inferno. It looked into the appropriacy of the use of each mythological allusion in hell, and how each mythological allusion hammered home the impact of the punishment.
This qualitative research used textual analysis to crystallize the mythological references in the Inferno. Each allusion was interpreted based on its story. Knowing what they are in mythology served as a springboard for the analysis of their place in the Inferno, thus a close reading of the allegorical epic was done. Alluded to were Hector and Achilles, Trojan war heroes and protagonists in Iliad: Helen and Dido, famous women: beasts and monsters like the Minotaur, Cerberus, and Harpies: and places such as the rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Cocytus.
Based on the analysis, it was found out that the Inferno is rich in mythological allusions. Imaged and symbols are found in almost every canto of the poem. The great images however are Virgil, the representation of Human Wisdom and Beatrice, the image of Divine Wisdom and she also symbolizes the “Blessed Virgin”.
The use of each mythological allusion in hell was found to be appropriate. The placement if these mythological allusions in hell was based on their stories and sins. It was also gleaned that each reference either to sinners, or places or monsters and beasts hammered home the impact of the punishment. Dante has placed each mythological allusion in the circles of hell corresponding to what they were or did in classical mythology.
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