After a very brief introduction to the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) I shall discuss the claim in the author's own words that his Christian poem is a continuation of the Classical tradition. A common literary technique was that of imitatio whereby a poet would take an image from another poet and use his own imagination to develop and embellish it, and I shall trace some images from Virgil's Aeneid through Lucan or Statius to Dante's reworking of them in the Comedy. I shall also consider whether Dante, in his invocation of Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry, believed he was writing in the epic genre. In conclusion I shall touch on the controversial theory that Dante's main reason for writing, like Virgil's, was political and that his prime focus in the Divine Comedy was not God or even Beatrice, but Rome.
Non-members are welcome. A donation of $10 per person includes entry in the lucky door prize and afternoon tea. Afternoon tea will be held in E318, Forgan Smith Building.