I-Rene Guenon L’Esoterisme de Dante
I quote from Sophia Perennis
“In the middle of the nineteenth century two scholars, Gabriele Rossetti and Eugene Aroux, pointed to certain esoteric meanings in the work of Dante Alighieri, notably The Divine Comedy. Partly based on their scholarship, Guénon in 1925 published The Esoterism of Dante. From the theses of Gabriele Rossetti and Eugene Aroux, Guénon retains only those elements that prove the existence of such hidden meanings; but he also makes clear that esoterism is not ‘heresy’ and that a doctrine reserved for an elite can be superimposed on the teaching given the faithful without standing in opposition to it. In the present volume, along with its companion volume Insights into Christian Esoterism (which includes the separate study Saint Bernard), Guénon undertakes to establish that the three parts of The Divine Comedyrepresent the stages of initiatic realization, exploring the parallels between the symbolism of the Commedia and that of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and Christian Hermeticism, and illustrating Dante’s knowledge of traditional sciences unknown to the moderns: the sciences of numbers, of cosmic cycles, and of sacred astrology. Guénon also touches on the all-important question of medieval esoterism and discusses the role of sacred languages and the principle of initiation in the Christian tradition, as well as such esoteric Christian themes and organizations as the Holy Grail, the Guardians of the Holy Land, the Sacred Heart, the Fedeli d’Amore and the ‘Courts of Love’, and the Secret Language of Dante.”
I couldn’t find anything about Gabriele Rossetti, but there is a lot about Eugene Aroux. The medal mentionned by Hernani Donato, based on Edmundo Cardillo is the following:
Guénon states that the medals he saw were found in Vienna’s Historische Museum. However, a search of this museum’s current online catalogue does not return any of the two medals. The medal representing Pisanello, does appear in a Catalogue of bronzes and ivories of European origin shown by the Burlington Fine arts club in 1879. That catalogue ascribes the medal to Pisanello (1360-1415). Both Morelli and Gruyer believe that the medal is genuine; however, Milanesi and Lenormant believe that the medal was made by Francesco Corradini, not Pisanello, hence the inscription “Franciscus Korradini Pictor Fecit” (from the Lives of Painters by Giorgio Vasari, Blashfield and Hopkins edition, volume II).
Luigi Valli, in his study Studi sui fidele d’amore, I, 1933, suggests that the inscription could refer to the seven virtues, Fides, Spes, Karitas, Justitia, Prudentia, Fortitudo, Temperantia. In his view, this could have held some initiatic meaning.
It is hard to derive a clear cut conclusion from the study of this medal as to whether Dante was a Templar or not. Dante’s work suggests that he might have had knowledge of Kabbalah and other esoteric practices, but there is no hard evidence for it.
Aroux’s study is very detailed and supported by extensive research. His argument would appeal to those who believe that the roots of freemasonry go back to the Middle Ages or even to Egyptian times. However, one would need to bear in mind two points.
First, we assume that any Hermetic manual would have been written in either Greek or Latin. Canto XXVI of the Inferno, where Dante meets with Ulysses, suggests that Dante might have had no knowledge of Greek and his Latin might have been limited.
In this Canto, fraudulent councilors such as Ulysses are enveloped in a tongue of fire. The type of punishment might have been chosen because of a misinterpretation of the Latin words: calliditas(astuteness) and caliditas (heat). Unlike the hero of the Greek Odyssey, who returns to Ithaca after his voyage, Dante’s Ulysses convinces his crew to push past Hercules’ columns and dies by falling off the edge of the world. This story is based on Ovid’s version of Ulysses’ quest in Metamorphosis XIV.
Dante looks at the fires in the circle of fraudulent councilors:
Second, the Scottish rites used in Aroux’ study were only first organized in the 1500s and there is no evidence that they were based on medieval chivalric rites of initiation. Dante, obviously, would have had no access to them when he drafted the Divine Comedy.
Therefore, while Dante uses a great deal of symbolism, we find that there is a much higher chance this would have come to him from medieval philosophers or even from a lay interest in the Kabbalah (which flourished in Southern Europe just after the fall of Jerusalem), than from direct contact with the Masons (as Aroux argued) or the Cathars (as argued by Reghini).
This is the first of two installments, where we look at the knights Templar in Dante’s work.
The Templars first appear in the Inferno, Canto XIX, when Dante and Virgil descend to the third pocket of the Eighth Circle, which punishes one of the key crimes of the thirteenth century: Simony. A simoniac sold pardons or holy offices for personal enrichment. In this Canto, Dante criticizes Rome’s nepotism and the Church’s corruption. Popes are being punished in this circle for simony.
One of the Popes Dante meets, Nicholas III, announces that he awaits the arrival of two other Popes: Boniface VIII (who died in 1303, three years after Dante’s fictional journey into Hell) and Clement V (who died in 1314, one month after the last Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay, was executed). Pope Clement V, previously the archbishop of Bordeaux, was elected Pope in 1305, backed by King Philip IV of France and by French Cardinals in the conclave. Dante calls him a “pastor sanza legge”, because of his connection to the king of France (in line 108, Dante refers to Popes as being the emperor’s ‘prostitutes’ “puttaneggiar coi regi”).
Here is the key of the Canto: the Church’s ‘prostitution’ to the Empire, for money and power. The separation of temporal and spiritual power was a key aspect of medieval society since Carolingian times. The two roles were to co-exist in balance. Philip IV and Clement V overthrew this balance. This was the political backdrop to the Templars’ demise. As a ‘hybrid’ military order, they did not report to the King. In fact, in 1139 Pope Innocent III declared the knights were independent from any lay and church authority: they would report directly to the Pope. However, Philip IV saw himself outside the Pope’s authority. His predecessor, Charles of Anjou, had even plotted to kidnap the Pope (then Boniface VIII, who Dante places in the same circle as Clement V) and transfer the papacy to France.
By 1307, Jerusalem was lost to Saladin. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Temple had become a powerful organization, and in France the knights had virtually become the kingdom’s bankers. Two key political events led to 1307. First, Clement V tried to revive Nicholas’ IV plan to merge the Hospitallers and the Templars into one order, reporting to a European king and not to the Pope. Jacques de Molay was opposed to this plan, believing that a king would use the new order for political aims and the Holy Land’s cause would be lost. Second, Templar castles in Armenia reported that the French army might have an interest in marching through that country, to take it over. When Philip IV asked permission for his troops to march through Armenia, the Templars refused to grant them hospitality. The king had also come close to bankruptcy, after having funded the last Crusade.
On Friday, October 13th, 1307 (which is the origin of Friday the 13th tradition), the French army arrested all Templars in France on account of heresy and the king launched an investigation into the order, which would eventually cause its demise, with Jacques de Molay’s death in 1314.
Why did Philip IV terminate the Templars? Whatever the reason, Dante’s invective against both Clement V and the King of France remind the reader that their actions were criticised even during their times.
Conclusion: Neither Rene Guenon or Eugene Aroux had a clear case. There was something, but it is not what they want us to believe
The Tree o Life and Numerology explanation was placed here (press the title) to give perspective to such kind of interpretations. The article is dialectic in itself.
I quote from Was Dante a Rosicrucian?
- The Divine Comedy is divided in to three sections (Inferno, Purgatio and Paradiso)
- The poem takes place over three days, between Good’s Friday and Easter Sunday, which is an utmost significant period of time in Christianity, for after three days Christ was crucified, he rose from the dead
- The Catholic Church believes in the Holy Trinity
- All three poems of Dante are divided into 33 Cantos, written in terza rima (three line stanzas with a rhyme scheme)
- At entrance of Hell Dante faces three beasts representing three temptations which lead people to the “dark wood of error”
- Number 9 is a multiple of three which features the 9 circles of Hell. In the 9th circles Satan rules holding three of the worst sinners and traitors in three mouths (Brutus, Cassius and Judas)
- Number 10 is a holy perfect number. Works as opposite to the Threes, associated with evil (despite being associated with Trinity)
These associations were expected to happen in the middle ages
III – The Celestial Rose
From the same Blog
IV – Perception of Reality and Beliefs turned to Symbols
The Divine Comedy opens with Dante lost in a dark wood in a fearful valley. Finally he sees a hill on which the sun is shining, and his heart fills with hope. But as he starts his climb, he is confronted by three beasts.
First comes a leopard, that, while not really frightening him, does block his path. Then comes a ferocious, ravenous lion followed by a she-wolf. Dante is terrified and is losing all hope of climbing the hill when a man appears. It is Virgil, the Roman epic poet. He has been sent by Beatrice (the woman Dante loved and who inspired him to write) to lead him on a journey of discovery through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.
To explain the allegory: Dante, busied about the affairs of the world, has wandered from the path of righteousness. He tries to find the path back but is diverted by worldly pleasure (the leopard), worldly ambition (the lion), and by avarice (the she-wolf). Virgil, who represents reason, has come to lead Dante to Beatrice, who represents Divine revelation and the state of grace.
Notice the Christ-like pose and appearance (diaphanous robes, flowing locks) of Virgil, and the exaggerated ‘terror pose’ of the fleeing Dante. Notice also that the three beasts hardly look terrifying at all. Blake, in fact, seemed to have difficulties depicting wild animals.
Magic Portals play a very important role in initiatic ceremonies for secret societies, being crucial for Templars and Rosicrucians. In England and in America there are several examples.
V – Secret Societies
Again, I quote from Matilde Battistini, in Astrology, Magic and Alchemy in Art
“Secret societies and esoteric circles were born for the purpose of fostering the spiritual renewal of restricted elites through the recovery of arcane forms of knowledge and a total ban on divulging the principles and the alphabet of the secret doctrines to the asses. The Knights Templar, whose secret goal was to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, were one of the first esoteric orders of the Christian Wes. The Rosicrucian Society, derived from the Fedeli d’Amori (Faithful Lovers) to which both Dante Alighieri and the author of Le Roman de la Rose belonged, intended to free the spirit of the adept from slavery to earthly temporal powers (the senses and passions, public ambition, and political institutions). The mystical flower of this sect, the rose, symbol of beauty, love and live, in fact, expresses striving toward spiritual elevation and yearning for a return to a natural religion founded on the knowledge of the harmonious correspondences that fill the many realms of reality. Finally the Free masons worshiped light, equality, and the brother hood of man. During the Renaissance, many cultural and political circles, such as the Florentine Neoplatonic Adacemy and the court of Elizabeth I, queen of England, also hid esoteric interests.”
A more complete list of all secret societies should be as follows:
- Religious – such as the Egyptians or Eleusinian Mysteries 78, 79, 185
- Military: Knights Templars 9,11,51, 47-50, 208, 302, 303
- Judiciary: Vehmgerichte 328
- Scientific: Alchymists missing
- Civil: Freemasons 8, 9, 73, 100- 105, 106-109, 116,
- Political: Carbonari 157-177
- Anti social: Garduna missing
In the pages above, you can see by then what the author thought about it. If you press on, you can see how it shows up at Internet today.
He warns, though, that the line of division is not always strictly defined, some that had scientific objects combined theological dogmas therewith – as Rosicrucians, for instance; and political societies must necessarily influence civil life. We may therefore more conveniently range secret societies in the two comprehensive divisions of religious and politic.
Rosicrucians are explained, as the author saw then at the end of the 19th century, as extremely influential in the past, but finished by then. (Page 219).
Again, it must be said that Dante might have been a Templar
The timing is crucial to determine Dante’s participation in any secret society, simply because they didn’t exist, as in the case of the Rosicrucians, or, in the case of the Templars, they were exterminated.