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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Dante's Heroism

In the "Inferno", Dante narrates a fictional experience of hell. Dante the author, implies that Dante the traveler is a hero by directly comparing him to famous heroes from memorable epics written earlier, such as Aeneas from Virgil's "Aeneid." But there is a problem: while these courageous heroes are gifted at fighting and ruling, Dante the pilgrim neither fights nor rules, but rather spends his time in the Inferno merely walking through the underworld and talking to dammed spirits. Moreover, he often becomes so overwhelmed by fear as to faint, and desperately needs not only Virgil's guidance but also his companionship and encouragement!Though Dante the pilgrim may be a more passive hero than earlier ones in the epic tradition, Dante the author actually underscores his tremendous heroism by suggesting that his voyage through hell is itself so impressively terrifying that simply moving on and completing it is heroic.

Presenter: Laura Bailey (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: English
Location: 215 Hartwell
Time: 2 pm (Session III)