Dante


begins Canto XXVIII with a rhetorical question. Virgil and he have just arrived in the Ninth Abyss of the Eighth Circle of hell. In this pouch the Sowers of Discord and Schism are continually wounded by a demon with a sword. poses a question to the reader:
“Who, even with untrammeled words and many
attempts at telling, ever could recount
in full the blood and wounds that I now saw?” (Lines 1-3)
The rhetorical question draws the reader into the passage because we know by this point in the Divine Comedy that is a great poet. What is it that sees before him on the brink of the Ninth Abyss that is so ineffable that he, as a poet, feels he cannot handle?
In the following ...

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reader is intrigued. How could a man of Dante's stature criticize language, which is the very tool he uses to create the epic work of La Commedia? If we cannot take Dante seriously with these opening statements, we must pose the question of what Dante is trying to do, by teasing us with this artificial beginning to Canto XVIII?
Dante will now contradict himself and try to describe what he says is impossible. But, if he were to go right into a description of the Ninth Abyss, it would deflate his rhetorical position. Instead, Dante first sets up a quite lengthy comparison of the sights he has just witnessed with examples of bloodshed throughout human history:

“Were you to reassemble all the men
who once, within Apulia1's fateful land,
had mourned their blood, shed at the Trojans' hands,
as well as those who fell in the long war
where massive mounds of rings were battle spoils—
even as Livy write, who does not err—
and those who felt the thrust of ...

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the world of the historian, whose objectivity is supposedly more trusted in front of this horror. By this time the reader can see the irony of what Dante is doing in this opening passage. Dante the poet must give up to historical fact, but the reader knows that Dante the poet is playing this game to entice the reader into listening to him.
Dante moves on to the wars at Carthage in his next example. This is material which Virgil deliberately does not deal with in the Aeneid because this was a battle which the Romans barely come out intact. The historian Livy is used as the narrator of these events. Livy describes the destruction at Carthage: The attention of all was particularly attracted ...

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"Dante." Essayworld.com. April 20, 2005. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://www.essayworld.com/essays/Dante/25674.
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Added: 4/20/2005 04:49:41 PM
Category: English
Type: Free Paper
Words: 1618
Pages: 6

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