O Mal no Mundo Clássico

(See it in English)

Nota: Novamente aqui somos penalizados pela não existencia de bons artigos em Português. Os verbetes existem, mas são muito condensados.

Obviamente, a Antiguidade Clássica é o mundo greco-romano desde a antiguidade até a queda do Império Romano.

A antiguidade clássica (também a era clássica, o período clássico ou a idade clássica) é o longo período de história cultural centrado no mar Mediterrâneo, que compreende as civilizações interligadas da Grécia antiga e da Roma antiga, conhecida como o mundo greco-romano. É o período em que a sociedade grega e romana floresceu e exerceu grande influência em toda a Europa, África do Norte e sudoeste da Ásia.

Vamos tentar dar ênfase ao problema do Mal, mas é aconselhável dar uma olhada nessas civilizações porque elas tiveram uma forte influência em tudo que é cultural para o mundo ocidental, especialmente no Renascimento.

Um bom enquadramento para o assunto é notar que uma das transformações mais importantes na Antiguidade tardia foi a formação e evolução das religiões abraâmicas; Cristianismo, Judaísmo rabínico e, eventualmente, Islamismo

De acordo com a Tese de Pirenne, as subseqüentes invasões árabes marcaram o fim da Antiguidade tardia e o início da Idade Média.

Dê uma olhada em deuses e deusas romanos e deuses gregos e deusas gregas

Greek Gods and Goddesses

Roman gods and goddesses

Roman Gods and Goddesses

equivalent

Embora fossem os gregos quem primeiro colocou a questão da origem e da natureza do mal em termos estritamente filosóficos, eles conseguiram criar deuses, ou Deuses, como manifestações ambivalentes de um mesmo Deus. Essas qualidades contraditórias éticas e ontológicas (ou seja, relacionadas à sua existência) dos deuses indicam mais confusão do que uma tentativa de coincidir os opostos relacionados a eles.

Eles têm dois conceitos que indicam o caráter do deus, um ouranico ou celestial e o outro ctonico, do submundo (o inferno?) Sendo o ctonico mais frequentemente assimilado com o conceito de mal. Novamente, você não tem um verbete para ouranico, mas você pode ter uma tabela de comparação entre as qualidades.

Além disso, eles têm outro conjunto de conceitos, Theos e Daimon.

Interessante saber é que Theos é de qualquer maneira Deus e Daimon Daemon, a que convido a leitura do verbete. Como Rollo May percebeu, e nós já discutimos, Daimon, que é uma escrita alternativa para Damon, no dicionário é definido como uma divindade ou um ser sobrenatural de natureza entre deuses e humanos(na crença grega antiga). Também como espírito interno aos seres humanos ou assistente ou força inspiradora. E deve-se observar que seus sinônimos são numen, genius, genius loci, força inspiradora, espírito assistente, espírito tutelar, demonio, do qual você diz:

Deve ter sido um magnífico demônio que habitou o coração e a alma desse artista

 O rei dos deuses era Zeus Pater, na Grécia e Júpiter em Roma. Zeus, ou “pai do céu” em seu nome antigo, poderia trazer luzes, granizo, trovoadas e ventos, mas também gentilmente chuvas leves e férteis: daí o nome dele maimaktes, o colérico.
Em Creta, onde ele era Zeus Kuros, suas características eram decididamente ctônicas, mas foi Homero quem o fixou permanentemente na consciência clássica como uma deidade ourânica. Sua esposa, Hera, rainha dos deuses, tornou-se uma deusa do céu trazendo clima quente para culturas e tempestades destrutivas. Ela também foi ctônica e identificada com a deusa da Terra primordial Gaia, também deusa da fertilidade e da gravidez. Mas sua prole possuía terríveis naturezas, como Hepahistos, deus de explosões vulcânicas, conspiradas com espíritos das cavernas e das montanhas.
Interessante observar que a família continua, sendo que o filho de Hermes, Pan, nasceu cabeludo e parecido com cabra ou bode, com chifres e cascos e uma divindade fálica como o pai,. Ele representava desejo sexual, que pode ser criativo e destrutivo. Sua influência iconográfica (na aparência) sobre o Diabo como a conhecemos é enorme. A tradição medieval tornou possível a imagem de Pan juntar-se com a do Diabo, porque tem sua raiz na associação do Diabo com as divindades ctônicas da fertilidade, que foram rejeitadas pelos cristãos como demônios junto com outros deuses pagãos que foram particularmente temidos pela da associação entre instintos selvagens e com o frenesi sexual. A paixão sexual, que suspende a razão e conduz facilmente ao excesso, era alienante tanto para o racionalismo dos gregos quanto para o ascetismo dos cristãos. Era fácil assimilar um deus da sexualidade com o princípio do mal. A associação do ctônico com o sexo e o submundo, e, portanto, com a morte, selando a união.
Também é interessante observar que Hades, que era o governante do submundo, presidisse o sombrio e terrível reino das almas mortas e trouxesse a morte às culturas, animais e humanidade, casou-se com a gentil Perséfone, dona da primavera. Era (ou é) ela que na primavera, emergindo de sua prisão subterrânea, causa o surgimento do verde na terra. Mas foi ela que também emergiu para liderar os Erinyes, os terríveis espíritos da vingança, na sua impiedosa busca de vingança. Assim, as divindades do submundo, na Grécia como em outros lugares, trouxeram medo e esperança

O Mundo Inferior

De Linkedln learning

1-Hades

A região dos mortos era governada por um dos grandes deuses Olimpicos, Hades ou Plutão, e sua rainha, Persefone.

2-Tartarus

Tartarus e Erebus são algumas vezes duas visões do mundo infernal Tartarus. O mais profundo, contºem os filhos da terra.

3-Erebus

Erebus: Onde os mortos vão depois de morrer.

4-Acheron

O caminho para o Inferno é percorrido no Acheron, o rio da aflição, que desagua no Cocytus, o rio da lamentação.

5-Charon

Um velho barqueiro chamado Charon transporta as almas dos mortos pelas aguas para as margens mais distantes em direção a Tartarus

6-Cerberus

Guardando a entrada está Cerberus, o dragão de três cabeças em forma de cão que permite que todos espiritos entrem, mas nenhum retorne.

7-Rhadamanthys, Minos Alakos

Rhadamanthys, Minos e Alakos, são os três juizes que na chegada das almas passam as sentenças e enviam os maus para o tormento eterno e os bons para um lugar de bem aventurança chamado de Os Campos Elisios

8-Phlegethon

Phlegethon: O rio de fogo

9-Styx

Styx: O rio do juramento impossível de ser destruido

10-Lethe

Lethe: O rio do esquecimento

11-Erinyes

Os Erinnyes: O lugar onde são castigados os que praticaram o mal.

A mitologia em torno de todos esses personagens é muito longa para analisarmos aqui. Sobre tudo o que você possa imaginar que pode acontecer em um grupo de pessoas, sejam gregos ou romanos, ou o que quer que seja, haveria algum tipo de equivalente na saga dos deuses.

É básico para qualquer compreensão da religião grega que era uma religião viva, não padronizada e refinada pelas tradições literárias. Cada deus foi percebido como uma manifestação dos aspectos gentis e destrutivos da divindade. Esta ambivalência aparece na literatura, mitologia e filosofia gregas no período clássico. Homero não faz uma clara separação do bem e do mal e certamente não há hipostatização (tratar como uma substância distinta na realidade) de qualquer destas características. A vontade do Deus não é conhecida. Além dos homens e além dos deuses, existe uma força remota e impessoal chamada Moira que atribui a cada deus e a cada um a função adequada. Moira é completamente sem personalidade ou mesmo vontade consciente, é como um conceito “uma verdade sobre a disposição da Natureza”, a verdade é que cada pessoa tem um papel ordenado a desempenhar no mundo. Em uma palavra: Destino ..

Também é notável a forte semelhança em várias situações na literatura grega e romana, de Homero a Esquilo com o Livro de Jó da Bíblia.

Basicamente, Jeffrey Burton Russel diz, para Homero o mal consiste em violar a honra (momento) de um deus. Dê uma olhada na entrada na Wikipédia.

A teodiceia, na sua forma mais comum, é uma tentativa de responder à questão de por que um Deus bom permite a manifestação do mal e no final do período clássico, as dificuldades colocadas pela teodicéia grega tornaram-se evidentes no trabalho de Eurípides, onde o homem luta para dominar um universo irracional em que os deuses não representam nenhuma ordem.

Orfism 

Vamos dar uma olhada em Orfismo porque há uma conexão entre Orfismo e Dyonisos no pensamento de Platão, ou Platonismo e Pitágoras ou Pitagorismo, :

O orfismo era, ou pelo menos parece, uma religião paralela à religião grega. Há questões não resolvidas, quer sobre se já existisse como uma religião organizada, qual a relação exata com o culto de Dionysos ou até que ponto o seu dualismo era próprio ou importado. O mito central do Orfismo pode ter sido o mito de Dionysos e dos Titãs.

O Culto de Dyonisio

Os conceitos expostos aqui deveriam estar conectados com o conceito de Nietzsche Apolônio e Dionísio em The Birth of Tragedy para designar os dois princípios centrais na cultura grega, como ele vê. Uma vez que Nietzsche fez uma excelente contribuição para entender a presença do mal,  este artigo é uma espécie de contribuição para quem quer aprofundar o assunto. É uma pena que Erich Auerbach em Mimesis ou Dante Poeta do Mundo Secular não toque Nietzsche diretamente como mais de um estudioso apontou.

O mito central do Orfismo pode ter sido o mito de Dionysio e dos Titãs.
No início do mundo, Phanes era o andrógino que trazia todas as coisas à luz. Primeiro Phanes dá a luz a Ouranos, que é pai de Kronos, e pai de Zeus. Depois que Zeus derrota os Titãs, ele engole Phanes, levando assim para dentro de si mesmo o princípio original, tornando-se um deus criador e produzindo todas as coisas de novo, incluindo os Titãs. Enquanto isso, Zeus é pai de um filho, Dionysos. Odiando a Zeus e invejando a felicidade do bebê Dionísio, os Titãs se aproximam da criança, distraem sua atenção com um espelho e a apanham. Eles a devoram aos pedaços. Mas Athene resgata o coração do menino e o leva a Zeus, que o consome. Zeus agora tem relações sexuais com Semele, que dá origem de novo a Dionysos. Satisfeito com a ressurreição de seu filho, Zeus procede a punir seus assassinos, empurrando-os para cinzas com raios. Das cinzas dos titãs surge a raça da humanidade.
O mito é totalmente dualista. A humanidade tem uma natureza dualista, espiritual e material. A parte material de nossa natureza deriva dos Titãs, a parte espiritual de Dionisos que eles devoraram. Os ensinamentos de Pitágoras e os pitagóricos foram altamente influentes para o desenvolvimento da tradição dualista. Para os pitagóricos, a alma é imortal, a carne mortal. A alma está presa no corpo como prisioneira (soma sema), nossa tarefa na Terra é escapar da nossa prisão corporal por meio da purificação ritual.

Mas o dualismo encontrado nessas doutrinas é diferente do dualismo do Irã. O dualismo iraniano postulou um conflito entre dois poderes espirituais, um de luz e um da escuridão. O dualismo orphico postulou um conflito entre a alma divina e o maligno, corpo Titânico que a aprisionou. No orfismo, o dualismo da matéria e do espírito, corpo e alma, é primeiro claramente enunciado: sua influência sobre o pensamento cristão, gnóstico e medieval foi enorme e é um dos elementos mais importantes da história do Diabo. Na mesma proporção em que Dionísio era bom e o mal era assumido dos Titãs,  na medida em que a alma é boa e o corpo mau. Essa interpretação cresceu de forma constante ao longo do período helenístico, quando, influenciada pelo dualismo iraniano, a matéria e o corpo foram designados para o domínio do espírito maligno e da alma para o espírito do bem. Nesse ponto, os dois dualismos, orphicos e iranianos, uniram-se, e a idéia de que o corpo e a carne são obra do mal cósmico se implantou nas mentes judaica e cristã. A opinião da maioria tanto no judaísmo como no cristianismo sempre rejeitou essa idéia em sua forma explícita, mas, desde o gnosticismo, tem sido a fonte mais persistente de heresia. (Em Dante explorada no canto 10)
A doutrina de que o corpo era a prisão da alma fez com que os Orficos acreditassem na metempsicose, a transmigração das almas. Pode-se escapar da carne apenas através de uma série de encarnações durante as quais se pratica cuidadosamente a pureza ritual. O processo de reencarnação cessa quando a pureza perfeita é alcançada e é adiada por qualquer recaída na carnalidade. Os órficos abstiveram-se de carne tanto porque é carnal e porque um animal pode ser uma reencarnação de um ser humano. Sob a influência de Pitágoras, eles também se abstiveram de feijão, que eles consideravam como semente por excelência e, portanto, a raiz da carne.

 A pureza ritual do orfismo também foi associada ao culto de Dionísio, que era muito diferente. Festivais de Dionísio ocorriam à noite, símbolo da escuridão e do proibido. Eles costumavam ocorrer em uma caverna ou gruta, locais associados com umidade, fertilidade e poderes ctonicos. Os adoradores eram principalmente mulheres, Maenads ou Bacchantes, que eram liderados por um sacerdote masculino.
Como a pureza Orphic e o frenesi Dionysiaco existirem juntos? Ou em outros grupos, como gnósticos, cataristas, etc.? Jeffrey Burton Russel propõe uma série de respostas:
  •  Primeiro, a pureza orphica era ritual e não moral.
  • Em segundo lugar, a coexistência de moderação ascética e adoração frenética é comum na história das religiões e, psicologicamente, é uma manifestação previsível da sombra.
  • Em terceiro lugar, o êxtase frenético é freqüentemente uma maneira aceita de tirar o espírito para “fora” do corpo.
  • Em quarto lugar, e mais importante, é uma manifestação da coincidência dos opostos, da ambivalência que era subjacente a todo o pensamento humano, em particular sobre o que se pensava dos deuses.
Para Dionísio, como os outros deuses, é ambivalente. O filho de Zeus, símbolo do espírito contra o corpo, também é um deus de fertilidade com chifres. O benfeitor, Euergeus, é também Anthroporraistes, “triturador de homens”, e Omistes, “comedor de carne crua”, e monta em um navio preto. Acima de tudo, ele é Lusios ou Luaios, o grande e mais solto ou mais livre, que libera de todas as restrições e inibições. No período helenístico, tornou-se o andrógino perfeito, como o grande busto que esta no Museu Britânico  mostra. O orgulho pode ser percebido como um desejo de integração através do intercâmbio dos sexos. Por um lado, a oposição do espírito e do corpo acabou por fazer do Diabo “o senhor deste mundo”. Por outro lado, a orgia Dionisica tornou-se o modelo de teologia imputado aos gnósticos, cataristas e bruxas.
Estamos falando de várias centenas de anos e para nossos propósitos, eu prefiro usar outro critério para enquadrar esse assunto nesse período.
Alguns autores dividem a religião grega em três estágios, ou às vezes cinco, com expansão da terceira etapa. Essas etapas são as seguintes:
  • Primeiro, há a Euetheia primitiva ou a Era da Ignorância, antes que Zeus estivesse perturbando a mente dos homens, um estágio ao qual antropólogos e exploradores encontraram paralelos em todas as partes do mundo. Basicamente alguém (não tenho certeza se corretamente) foi definido como Estupidez Primordial (Dr. Preuss) (veja em alemão).
  • Em segundo lugar, há o estágio olímpico ou clássico, um estágio em que ocorre uma batalha difícil, cheio de idas e vindas, onde essa imprecisão primitiva foi reduzida a um tipo de ordem. Este é o palco dos grandes deuses olympianos, que dominavam a arte e a poesia, governavam a imaginação de Roma e da Grécia e prolongavam uma espécie de domínio romântico até a Idade Média. Muitos acreditam que este contexto não tem valor como religião, apenas como arte.
  • Em terceiro lugar, há o período helenístico, indo aproximadamente de Platão a São Paulo e aos gnósticos anteriores. Os sucessores de Aristóteles produziram mais uma escola de ciência progressiva, e os de Platão uma escola de ceticismo refinado. O lado religioso do pensamento de Platão demoraria um tempo para atingir seu pleno poder, que aconteceu no século III dC, na época de Plotino.
 Para Aristóteles levaria ainda mais tempo, pois foi realmente exposto por Santo Tomás de Aquino no século 13 dC.
Foi uma surpresa para mim, mas eu confirmei por toda Internet, Platão não explorou sistematicamente o problema da origem do mal. No máximo, há citações dele dizendo o óbvio, um pensamento passageiro. Sócrates ia mais ao ponto: para ele, o mal era uma falha no conhecimento prático de como fazer o bem. É interessante observar que a percepção de Platão da oposição entre o espírito, o assento ou a razão e o corpo, o assento das emoções e, a partir daí, a concepção do corpo e da alma como manifestações dos princípios metafísicos do espírito e da matéria, sendo atribuída a bondade ao espírito e ao mal à matéria, que é um dualismo incoerente, porem acabou ficando mais coerente através de seus seguidores. O desenvolvimento do conceito do Diabo deve muito, se não quase tudo, diretamente a Platão, graças às permutações de seu pensamento no trabalho dos platonistas, especialmente Plotinus.. O pensamento de Aristóteles não admitia um princípio do mal, que é uma demonstração de que Platão tinha opositores.
No lado dos romanos, o Mithraism merece menção. Talvez esteja melhor explicado aqui.
"Tauroctony" - Mithras slaying a bull

 

Dante: Poet of the Secular World

(Veja em Português)

Erich Auerbach

CONTENTS

Introduction by Michael Dirda

I. Historical Introduction; The Idea of Man in Literature
II. Dante’s Early Poetry
III. The Subject of the “Comedy”
IV. The Structure of the “Comedy”
V. The Presentation
VI. The Survival and Transformation of Dante’s Vision of Reality
Notes
Index

Introduction by Michael Dirda

In the introduction, of this book, published by the New York Review of Books in 2001,  Michael Dirda, presents Erich Auerbach to us informing about Mimesis, which was already analyzed here.

One interesting issue he informs us is that this specific book on Dante was Auerbach’s first real book, written in 1929, some 13 years before Mimesis, and had its first translation to English in 1961.

Mr Dirda states flat out that this is simply the best, if not the easiest, short introduction to Dante and his artistry, what justifies it being here.

Dante is the first realist author and perhaps the greatest. He was the first to configure

“…man, not as a remote legendary hero, not as an abstract or anecdotal representative of an ethical type, but man as we know him in his living historical reality, the concrete individual in his unity and wholeness; and in that he has been followed by all subsequent portrayers of man, regardless of whether they treated a historical or a mythical or a religious subject, for after Dante myth and legend also became history.

(quoting Auerbach)

Dante is not a religious poet only. He is far more than that: he is a “poet of the secular world”

What is secular? It is  not subject to or bound by religious rule; not belonging to or living in a monastic or other order.

In Dante’s vision, people laugh and conspire, love and hate, sin and triumph over sin, even though technically disembodied spirits, they show up with their essential character and as Auerbach notices: “though the concrete data of their lives and the atmosphere of their personalities are drawn from their former existences on earth, they manifest them here with a completeness, a concentration an actuality, which they seldom achieved during their term on earth and assuredly never revealed to anyone else”.

As Mr. Dirda much properly asserts, Dante invites us to regard this great poem not just as a divine comedy but also as a comédie humaine.

Another interesting observation Mr. Dirda does is that St. Thomas Aquinas insisted upon individuality and diversity as a theological tenet. Since the world was made in God’s image, no one species of created things is adequate to reflect the likeness of God. You need them all. In terms of psychology, every soul possesses its own particular, gradually acquired habitus,

“…an enduring disposition which enriches and modifies the substance; it is the residuum in man’s soul of his soul’s history; for every action, every exertion of the will toward its goal leaves behind a trace, and the modification of the soul through its actions is the habitus. In the Thomist psychology diversities of habitus account for the diversity of human characters; it is the habitus which determines how each empirical man will realize his essence. It illumines the relations between the soul and its acts.”

But the habitus only reveals itself over time. As a result, no matter what one’s precise earthly station, each human being must necessarily be a dramatic hero.
The example as how this happens is  Dante’s encounter with Farinata and Cavalcante, which I transcribed briefly from Mimesis. (scroll down when you get there till it shows up). In chapter IV, Structure, Auerbach discerns three underlying systems:

Mr. Dirda reveals to us that Auerbach in the introduction to his last book, {(Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages (1965)} offers something of a personal credo which I think I pursue and should be every body’s quest:

“To grasp the special nature of an epoch or a work, to perceive the nature of the relations between works of art and the time in which they were created, is an endless problem which each of us, exerting the utmost concentration, must endeavour to solve for himself and from his own point of view.”

Let’s take a look at the book.

I. Historical Introduction; The Idea of Man in Literature

ἦθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαίμων

A mans character is his fate.
Character is destiny
Dem Menschen ist seine Eigenart sein Dämon.
To man, his peculiarity is his demon.

Auerbach:

“Ever since its beginnings in Greece, European literature has possessed the insight that a man is an indivisible unity of body (appearance and physical strength) and spirit (reason and will), and that his individual fate follows from that unity, which like a magnet attracts the acts and sufferings appropriate to it. It was this insight that enabled Homer to perceive the structure of fate. He created a character-Achilles or Odysseus, Helen or Penelope -by inventing, by heaping up acts and sufferings that were all of a piece. In the poet’s inventive mind an act revealing a man’s nature, or, one might say, his nature as manifested in a first act, unfolded naturally and inevitably into the sum and sequence of that man’s kindred acts, into a life that would take a certain direction and be caught up in the skein of events which add up to a man’s character as well as his fate.
The awareness that a man’s particular fate is a part of his unity, the insight embodied in the maxim of Heraclitus cited above, enables Homer to imitate real life. Here we are not referring exactly to the realism that some ancient critics praised in Homer and others found lacking in him for those critics were concerned with the probability or credibility of the events he narrates. What we have in mind is his way of narrating. Regardless of their plausibility, he makes them so clear and palpable that the question of their likelihood arises only on subsequent reflection. In the ancient view, a narrative of a fabulous or miraculous event is necessarily realistic. The view I am taking here is that the portrayal can be convincing regardless of whether such a thing has ever been seen or of whether or not it is credible.”

The unity of essence and destiny comes through in the Myth of Er and the fate of the dead seems a source from where Dante draw a lot of inspiration, which, for instance, can be seen in Canto 10.

myth_of_er_345

More about the myth of Er

Another interesting observation from Auerbach is about the replacement of the encounter with fate by truth, in the judgment recounted by Socrates in Gorgias, where willingness, devotion, resolution, with its inherent need of proof through courage and nobility, is very difficult to appraise, because its perception comes from appearance

Gorgias is a Socratic dialogue where is detailed a study of virtue founded upon an inquiry into the nature of rhetoric, art, power, temperance, justice, and good versus evil. As such, the dialogue both maintains independent significance and relates closely to Plato’s overarching philosophical project of defining noble and proper human existence.

Gorgias Przygotowanie_narzędzi_rolniczych

Late 17th-century illustration of a passage from the Georgics by Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter

It boils down to, as Auerbach aptly expresses, and I quote:

“A rationalistic negation of fate was the prevailing attitude of  antiquity from Aristotle to the triumph of Christianity and the mystery religions; that was just as true of the Stoics who, in their necessary order of the world, equated reason with nature, as of  the Epicureans with their metaphysical concept of freedom; and both those philosophies culminated in an ethical ideal which insulated the individual against his fate. The wise man is he whose equanimity nothing can disturb; he overcomes the outside world by refusing to participate in it, by subduing his emotions.”

“Virgil mastered this notion in his poems, replacing  or overcoming fate with creative imagination. What utterly distinguishes Virgil’s conception from all the eschatological traditions he employs.’ is not merely his art, with which he raises the obscure, scattered, subterranean and secret wisdom of the Hellenistic Mediterranean countries to the broad light of day; it is rather the fact that for him all that dark wisdom took on a concrete form in the hoped for and already dawning world order of the Imperium. These are the roots of his poetic and prophetic power. ”

Virgil_

Dante recognized the importance of Virgil probably because, Auerbachs says:

“Thus for European literature Virgil was in many respects an important innovator, and his influence extended far beyond literature. He was the mythologist of Europe’s most characteristic political form, the creative synthetist of Roman and Hellenistic eschatologies, and the first poet of sentimental love. He was the first of his cultural sphere to transcend the fatelessness of late Greek philosophy and to see the a priori unity of the character in his fate. True, there is an uncertainty in his theological attitude, for what he glorified was an earthly institution, and the union of religious currents that he exploited poetically aimed at more than that; in his picture of the other world-an after-life at the service of Rome’s greatness-the traditional doctrines of purification and transmigration are not developed quite consistently; his realm of the dead is merely an artistic instrument, and as in all the ancient conceptions, the souls of the departed have only a partial, diminished life, a shadowy existence.”

On the other hand, the material Dante was dealing with had the following characteristics, as Auerbach notices:

“The historical core of Christianity-that is to say, the Crucifixion and the related events-offers a more radical paradox, a wider range of contradiction, than anything known to the ancient world, either in its history or in its mythical tradition. The
fantastic march of the man from Galilee and his action in the temple, the sudden crisis and catastrophe, the pitiful derision, the scourging and crucifixion of the King of the Jews, who only a short time before had wished to proclaim the Kingdom of God on earth, the despairing flight of the disciples, and then the apotheosis, based on the visions of a few men, perhaps of only one, a fisherman from the lake of Gennesaret-this entire episode, which was to provoke the greatest of all transformations in the inner and outward history of our civilized world, is astonishing in every respect. Even today, anyone who tries to form a clear picture of what happened is deeply puzzled; he cannot but feel that myth and dogma gained only a relative ascendancy in the books of the New Testament and that the paradoxical, ddisharmonious, perplexing character of those events erupts at every turn.”

Chrystianity

He discusses in detail a summarized  story of Christ and observes:

“In entering into the consciousness of the European peoples, the story of Christ fundamentally changed their conceptions of man’s fate and how to describe it.”

But

“The change occurred very slowly, far more slowly than the spread of Christian dogma. It faced other obstacles that were harder to overcome: resistances which, insignificant in themselves, were impervious to the political and tactical factors that favored the acceptance of Christianity, because they were rooted in the most conservative element of a people’s being, namely the innermost sensory ground of their view of the world. To that view of the world the apparatus of Christian dogma could be adapted more easily and quickly than could the spirit of the events from which it had grown. But before we enter into the history of this change and the phenomena it produced in the course of time, let us try to describe the nature of the change. The story of Christ is more than the parousia of the logos, more than the manifestation of the idea. In it the idea is subjected to the problematic character and desperate injustice of earthly happening. Considered in itself that is, without the post humous and never fully actualized triumph in the world, as the mere story of Christ on earth, it is so hopelessly terrible that the certainty of an actual, concretely tangible correction in the hereafter remains the only issue, the only salvation from irrevocable despair. Consequently, Christian eschatological conceptions took on an unprecedented concreteness and intensity; this world has meaning only in reference to the next; in itself it is a meaningless torment. But the otherworldly character of justice did not, as it would have where the classical spirit prevailed, detract from the value of earthly destiny or from man’s obligation so submit to it.”

and

“The depth and scope of the naturalism in the story of Christ are unparallelled; neither the poets nor the historians of antiquity had the opportunity or the power to narrate human events in that way.”

The-Passion-of-the-Christ-Movie-Last-Supper-600x353

Principium individuationis*

principium individuationis, the cause (or basis) of ndividuality in individuals; what makes something individual as opposed to universal, e.g., what makes the cat Minina individual and thus ifferent from the universal, cat. Questions regarding the principle of individuation were first raised explicitly in the early Middle Ages.
Classical authors largely ignored individuation; their ontological focus was on the problem of universals. The key texts that originated the discussion of the principle of individuation are found in Boethius. Between Boethius and 1150, individuation was always discussed in the context of more pressing issues, particularly the  problem of universals. After 1150, individuation slowly emerged as a focus of attention, so that by the end of the thirteenth century it had become an independent subject of discussion, especially in Aquinas and Duns Scotus.
Most early modern philosophers conceived the problem of individuation epistemically rather than metaphysically; they focused on the discernibility of individuals rather than the cause of individuation (Descartes). With few exceptions (Karl Popper), the twentieth century has followed this epistemic approach (P. F. Strawson). See also INDIVIDUATION, METAPHYSICS.
J.J.E.G Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy

Auerbach make comentaries on this principle which requires previous knowledge which is supposed to exist among his readers. I am not in this category, but I have a notion which I will expose here trying to grasp Auerbach’s arguments.
The basic idea is that this principle is : (Lat.) Principle of individuation (q.v.); the intrinsic, real factor in an existing singular thing which causes the individuality of the thing. To understand that you have to take in consideration the greek perception of reality then:

Plato

Plato developed a two layer view of reality, the world of Becoming and the world of Being. The world of Becoming is the physical world we perceive through our senses. This world is always in movement, always changing. The world of Being is the world of forms, or ideas. It is absolute, independent, and transcendent. It never changes and yet causes the essential nature of things we perceive in the world of Becoming. Though Plato was sometimes vague about the exact relationship between the two worlds, he has suggested two ways in which they may interact. Objects in the material world may be only imperfect copies or imitations of the ideal, and objects may participate in the formness they are representing.

From that comes the so called superiority of being to becoming, alluded by Auerbach, adding that idea and matter and the identification of matter and change with metaphysical non being, which had a demolishing effect in all possibility of representing earthly destiny in art.

Matter ceases to be merely resistance, becoming metaphysical counter pole of idea, which, obviously, alone has full being. The spirit joins the physical world.

The great change is that mimetic art loses contact with empirical reality and becomes a copy of inner forms inside man.

Absorption of that by Christian Churches West and East

Auerbach goes on

“Beside that destruction of the phenomenal world, the hostility of the Church Fathers to art was almost insignificant; for such hostility was directed only against particular themes and attitudes, and not fundamentally against the world of appearance. From such a negation of appearance the Church Militant was saved by the earthly event with which it had begun and which, with its own unquestioned reality, lent meaning and order to all appearances. Not without dogmatic obfuscation but with a consistent tenacity, the Western Church, in opposition to spiritualist influence, held fast to the life of Christ on earth as a concrete event, as the central fact of history, and conceived of history as a true record of the relations of human individuals with one another and with God. In the East, spiritualist views soon gained the upper hand and transformed the life of Christ into a triumphal rite. In the West it seemed for a moment as though a mimetic attitude toward the Gospel story, based on direct ex perirence of its gripping reality, were about to emerge; at least the groundwork for such a development is present in the dramatic thinking of Augustine. For Augustine managed to save a good deal from the spiritualism of the Neo-Platonists and Manichaeans: by his analytical investigation of consciousness, he preserved the unity of the personality; with his metaphysical speculation, he saved the idea of a personal God; and in his teleological history of the world he saved the reality of earthly happening. The very way in which he formulated the problem of free will and predestination bears witness to the fundamentally European determination not to abolish reality by speculation, not to take flight into transcendence, but to come to grips with the real world and master it. In Augustine the history of salvation is taken concretely, and that is why, as Harnack once wrote.l! he is able to endow Latin and the future tongues of Europe with ‘a Christian soul and the language of the heart.'”

He ellaborates on the superiority of the late Pagan Culture over the newly formed Christian culture.  He reminded me Gore Vidal’s Julian. Anyway, Chrystianity won and, as he says, and I quote again:

“European Christendom emerged from the struggles of the second half of the first millennium as a new orbis terrarum; and here the history of Christ operated unremittingly, day after day, as a force for unity. It became the creative myth of the nations, rekindling men’s perception of the world and drawing all other traditions into its sphere. And in the end that history, in which reality and meaning are so peculiarly one, in which the miraculous is so manifest and close at hand, overcame the spectral vestiges of the Platonic doctrine of two worlds. In the mimetic revival that now took place in the liturgy, imitation is o longer separate from the truth; the sensory appearance is divine and the event is the truth.”

orbis terrarum

“Orbis Terrarum” was sort of a stock phrase meaning “the whole earth.” Even though Greek astronomers had proved long before that the Earth was (roughly) a sphere, the Romans continued in everyday speech to refer to the Earth as if it were a flat disc. (Kind of like we know that the Earth is the thing that’s moving, but we still say the sun “rises” and “sets.”)

Auerbach elaborates extensively about that effect in sculpture and painting, with examples and a perspective where he sees:

“But the spiritualization of the world went far beyond the Church and the strictly religious sphere; it encompassed institutions and events which, by their nature and origin, would no seem to have lent themselves to such illumination. It incorporated the wild, crude power of the  heroic legends, turned the feudal system into a symbolic hierarchy, and transformed God into the supreme feudal overlord.”

Being educated with French bias, as he states in the introduction, he attributes a major role to Provence in this whole scheme of poetry which came from there,which is what Dante would present to the world.

II – Dante’s Early Poetry

Once upon a time there was only Latin. And then Latin evolved in several languages called taday Romance languages.

Latin_Europe

300px-Romance-procents

Occitan literature (referred to in older texts as Provençal literature) is a body of texts written in Occitan, mostly in the south of France. It was the first literature in a Romance language and inspired the rise of vernacular literature throughout medieval Europe. Occitan literature’s Golden Age was in the 12th century, when a rich and complex body of lyrical poetry was produced by troubadours writing in Old Occitan, which still survives to this day. Although Catalan is considered by some a variety of Occitan, this article will not deal with Catalan literature, which started diverging from its Southern French counterpart in the late 13th century.

Auerbach, himself a Romance Languages specialist, tells us that the Provençal poetry differentiated itself from any other and was extremely elegant, although very difficult to be understood from anyone outside the group of troubadours who invented it.

The hallmark of this poetry was its sweet savor (dousa sabor) which certain words and phrases possessed for them. It was completely subjective loaded with mysticism, difficult to interpret with our present knowledge. It was aristocratic and esoteric, i.e., for the initiated. It was a vanguard movement ot its day.

Auerbach elaborates on this Poetry and the situation of Poetry in Italy, with its first literary movement  done by a single person, Guido Ghinizelli of Bologna. He observes that before that Feudal Society and customs never flourished in Italy, leaving no trace of a national culture which could have come down to us. He points out Francis of Assisi as responsible for the renewal of imagination and sensibility in Europe which would reflect not only in religious experience but also in the political striving of the Italian towns, giving concreteness and individuality to the writtings of the chroniclers and storytellers as well as to works of art. The great political and religious currents combated one another and disintegrated in the course of the 13th century.

Dante drew his first inspiration not from a formal culture or from some great, universal movement, he drew his inspiration from this small circle adopting consciously the Provençal tradition which brought to Italy the refinement it didn’t have.

Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore è una poesia di Guido Guinizelli ed il primo testo letterario della nuova tendenza poetica che nasce in Italia nella seconda metà del XIII secolo: il dolce stil novo. Quest’opera è considerata il manifesto programmatico ed esemplare dello stilnovismo

Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore is a poem by Guido Guinizelli and the first literary text of the new poetic tendency born in Italy in the second half of the thirteenth century: the sweet new style. This work is considered the programmatic and exemplary manifesto of stilnovismo

DickseeRomeoandJuliet

Auerbach elaborates on the appearing of the dolce stil novo, and in a fashion which would be the hallmark of his Mimesis, does a detailed analysis of the best known poem of the Vita nuova explaining how Dante acquires his style which would make him the poet he was.

For those interested in such details, I suggest to look directly in the book because it is beyond my scope to delve in to that.

Dante knew what he was doing because he dealt theoretically with these matters, as it can be seen in the sixth chapter of the second book of his Devulgari eloquentia (Of Writing in the Vernacular), which is also a specialized subject  I will not dwell in

III – The Subject of the Comedy

According to Auerbach, Dante was carried out beyond the sphere of feeling and mystical experienced involved in the dolce stil novo. This reflects in the Convivio, which according do A.Dempf quoted by Auerbach was the world view Dante came up to after entering his giovinezza, or young manhood.

Auerbach contends that the stil novo had no political concerns, although some scholars think to the contrary, without solid evidence.

Dante was the first to undertake the job of fusing the whole world with the experience of his youth and order it with the experience of his youth and order it according to the measures of these experiences.

Which were these experiences eventually were referred to Beatrice in the poem in a crucial passage in the 30th and 31rst Cantos of Purgatorio when he accuses himself before Beatrice of grave error from which he has been saved only by the miracle of grace. The nature of the error does not come through, although it must have been  involving the very core of his being  since it forms the starting point of the poem. We have only a general notion what is that he was falling away from Beatrice, perhaps by a misdirected love or some illusionary sort of attraction.

30 & 31 canto purgatorio

It seems to me it was all carnal transgressions, he had an attack of concupiscence and by no means he would confess to Beatrice other sort of transgressions of his whole being, i.e., his ideals and faith.

Again we have two different readings of the same passage, Auerbach’s and Teodolinda’s, it is interesting to compare them and decide which way we want to read Dante.

I fully agree with Auerbach, the best we can do is to accept it as a fact, it was an error, period. I quote him to support my reasoning:

“To deny it abandon its literal reality in favor of an allegorical or soteriological meaning strikes me as without justification. It seems very likely that for a time Dante doubted the Christian verities and inclined toward a radical Averroism of a free-thinking sensualism; to discuss the passages in his work that might fit in with such conjectures would take us too far from our subject; they do not provide clarity.”

Auerbach gives an account, based in the second book of the Convivio, where Dante tells us how he meet with philosophy, seeking consolation after the death of his beloved, reading Boethius and Cicero’s Laelius, admitting that he had a hard time to understanding it.

Auerbach concludes that although Dante was not an original philosopher, he managed to provide a systematic synthesis of different bodies of traditional thought, the same way Thomas Aquinas sought to combine Aristotelianism with the Christian Platonism of Augustine. Dante reconciled the Thomist system with the mystical ideology of the cor gentile. The fact that Dante didn’t achieve that in writing the Convivio, was also a motivation factor to write the Comedy.

Auerbach contends that most definitely Dante was original and didn’t take any previous models of any source which preceded him.  Auerbach says, and I quote:

“The convention of the journey to the other world offered Dante’s passion for concrete expression and metaphysical order the possibilities which he himself had been unable to realize in his previous work and which those of his precursors who had composed eschatological visions had not even attempted to exploit.”

He compares extensively Virgil’s poetry with that of Dante pointing out differences, specially noticing that Virgil lacked a unified doctrine and was unable to achieve a complete fusion between the philosophical and the mythical traditions, specifically because Virgil did not disclose the ultimate destinies in his underworld, being that the overwhelming majority of his souls were destined to embark on a new earthly existence, entering new bodies.

That creates an entirely different background, when it is allowed to one and the same soul live several lives on earth in different bodies. Transmigration destroys both the Christian drama of a unique term of earthly life in which the decision must be made, and the ineluctable unity of the personality, the common form and fate of soul and body, attested  in the doctrine of resurrection.

What radically distinguishes the comedy from all other visions of the other world is that in it the unity of man’s earthly personality is preserved and fixed; the scene of action thus becomes the source of its poetic value, of its infinite truth, of the quality of direct empirical evidence which makes us feel that everything that happens in the work is real and credible and relevant to ourselves.

“We conclude with the most important point: the subject matter of the Comedy enabled and required Dante to justify his own unhappy life and to reconcile it with the universal order. The man gone astray of the opening lines is Dante; he himself is the traveller through the three realms, to whom the highest grace has sent a savior and guide. Beatrice descends into the underworld to summon Virgil, the guide, from his eternal abode. Two persons leave their place in the predetermined and fulfilled scheme in order to carry out the work of grace; and these two executants of the divine plan of salvation are at the same time the guiding forces in Dante’s life: Virgil, poet of the pax romana and prophet of last things, bearer of a truth which to him was still veiled, gave Dante the fine style of an all-encompassing poetry of wisdom, while Beatrice, formerly a visible manifestation of the secret truth, now come forth as a revelation of the perfect order, was his own daemon, to follow and be saved or to turn away from and be damned. These are the deepest powers within him, the powers of his own true love, who have been summoned up to save him from error-and therein lies the justice of the grace that annuls the stern sentence. They imbue him with courage to follow them, to tear himself away from the destructive powers, and they lead him toward intuitive knowledge of the divine order. Not only his past, but his future life as well, is interpreted and justified; for the time of the vision is the year 1300 when he was still living in Florence and the catastrophe was still to come; thus the error with which the poem starts precedes this date, and what follows-exile, vain hopes, poverty, proud withdrawal-has no connection with his error; they are his deserved and appropriate earthly fate, they belong to him like the dignity of a high office.”

IV – The Structure of The Comedy

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The structure of the great poem is made up of three merging interwoven systems which are conceived of as corresponding in the divine order. There is a physical, an ethical, and a historico political system; each of them, in turn, involves a synthesis of different traditions.

Physical

The physical system consists in the Ptolemaic order of the universe, as adapted to Christian dogma by Christian Aristotelianism; as a whole and in most of its details, that order was already formulated in the writings of the high scholastic philosophers and in the didactic works inspired by them, so that Dante was able to derive its basic traits from his sources –  Aristotle, Alfraganus, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Brunetto Latini. The globe of the earth is at the center of the cosmos; round it revolve nine concentric celestial spheres, while a tenth, all embracing sphere, the Empyrean, the seat of God, is conceived to be at perfect rest. Only half the earth, the northern hemisphere, is inhabited; the eastern and western limits of the ólkοvμένn or inhabited world, are the Ganges and the Pillars of Hercules; its center is Jerusalem. In the interior of the earth, or rather of the northern hemisphere, like a funnel narrowing down toward the center of the earth, lies Hell; in its deepest part, at the very center of the earth, is the eternal abode of Lucifer, who in his fall immediately after the Creation, bored deep into the earth, pushing aside an enormous portion of its interior and driving it upward; that portion of the earth is the great mountain which alone rises above the ocean which covers the whole southern headed for Paradise but still in need of purification. On the hemisphere. It is the mountain of Purgatory, abode of souls summit of the mountain, the point where the earth comes closest to the lowest celestial sphere, lies the Earthly Paradise, where the first man and woman lived before the fall from grace. The celestial spheres, which are the true Paradise, are ordered according to the heavenly bodies situated in them; first the spheres of the seven planets of ancient astronomy in the order: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn; then the sphere of the fixed stars; the ninth is the invisible crystalline heaven, and the last is the Empyrean. The motion of the celestial spheres is concentric and circular; a burning desire to be united with God imparts a circular motion of the highest velocity to the ninth sphere, that closest to the motionless Empyrean where He dwells; the ninth sphere in turn, through. the hierarchy of Intelligences, or Angels, communicates its motion to the lower spheres within it.

Aristotles’s view of the Universe

He believed in a Prime Mover

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55 chrystalines spheres, celestial objects attached to the sphere, which rotated at different velocities, Earth was at the center.
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All motion in the heavens is uniform circular motion. Celestial objects are made from perfect material and cannot change their properties (e.g., their brightness)

Ptolemaic Universe

Ideas about uniform circular motion and epicycles were catalogued by Ptolemy 150 AD, which was endorsed by the medieval Church as Geocentric Model of the universe.
Thomas Aquinas (1222-1274) rediscoveres Aristotle and blended his ideas with medieval theology.
view 5
Main Characteristics:
Comfort – Individual could locate God. souls destination would be above or below
Stability – Earth was at center. Mankind is important in God’s plan
Reassurance – Divine power would triumph over corruption and decay of earthly things and lift the soul to and after life in heaven
view 6

Dante’s view of the Universe

Auerbach quotes Edward Moore, from his “The Astronomy of Dante” from Studies in Dante: (Take a look) page 18 –  (Auerbach omitted or synthesized what is written in red, which I transcribed from the original, together with his quotation, left in black):

One reason for the difference is that Auerbach translated it to German and then it was reversed based on Auerbach’s translation, not in the original text, as here. I found the ommited information useful. Although it is hard not to observe that Auerbach ommited astrology, or referred to “alleviating” it,  and kind of  “pasteurized” or filtered Dante’s ideas. This problem, which is a mix of literary criticism mixed with the creation of a perspective in our mind about Dante’s writings deserves a separate discussion which I will give it a try in Dante: Learned Scholar or wise genius?

“Within the heaven of the divine peace [i.e. the empyrean or tenth heaven] a body whirls there revolves a body [the Primum mobile, or ninth heaven], in whose virtue or influence depends lies the being of all that it contains is contained within it  [the entire cosmos i.e. as in the passage last explained from the Convito, if the Primum Mobile ceased to operate, all things would return to chaos and nonentity. See Conv. II, XV,152, ‘ Life would become extinct in plants and animals; nights and days, and months and years would be no more, and all the universe would fall back in to confusion]

The next heaven, which has so many things to show [the heaven of the fixed stars with its many luminaries], distributes this being among various essences, different from yet contained in it.

The heaven which follows, which has so man objects of sight (i.e. the eight heaven with all the fixed stars) distributes that Being through diverse essences or existences, which are distinct form it an contained by itm(i.e. the numerous stars which this eight heaven displays)

The other spheres [the planetary heavens] by various differentiations bestow to their own ends the distinctions which they have within themselves, together with the seeds. These organs of the world move, as you now see, from step to step, receiving from above and acting on what is below …. The movement and virtue of the holy spheres must be inspired by the blessed movers [the intelligences, or angels], like the hammer’s art by the smith; and heaven, which so many lights make fair [the heaven of the fixed stars], takes the stamp from the profound mind that turns it and makes of that stamp a seal. And as the soul within your dust is diffused through differing members shaped to different functions, so the Intelligence (i.e. God) unfolds in goodness multiplied through the stars, itself revolving upon its unity. Different virtues make different alloys with the precious bodies that they quicken (the starry heaven), to which they are bound like life in you. Because of the happy nature form which it derives, the virtue shines, mingled, through the body like joy through a living eye from this comes what seems different between one light and another, not form density or rarity this is the formal principle…

The other revolving spheres through various differences dispose towards their several ends and their several productions the distinctive objects which they have within themselves (i.e. the several planetary spheres or heavens each according to its proper and distinct purpose, bring about the diverse operations and productions suitable to each)

These organs of the Universe (i.e. sun, moon, and planets, or , as Dante would say, the seven planets) proceed as thou now seest from step to step, for they receive from above and operate below, i.e. they themselves receive influence from the higher spheres, the eighth and ninth heavens, from which the precessional and diurnal motions common to them all are derived, and they exercise influence on that which is below them, i.e., on the events and life of this earth; the ‘sublunary’ sphere, as we still call it, because it was thought to lie below the lowest of the heavenly spheres, viz. that of the moon. The rest o the passage, though highly poetical in form and interesting in its teaching scarcely falls within the scope of astronomy.

The same teaching is expressed in the plain prose of the Conv II XV, 132-8:”The said heaven (i.e. the inth or the Primum Mobile) regulates by its motions the daily revoluktion of all the others, through which they below receive the virtue (or vivifing influence) of all their parts . Because if the revolution of this heaven did not so order ddthis, little of the influence of those heavens woudl come here below, or even the sight of them: in other words, their influence on human affairs woudl be almost entirely lost. The savisng phrases ‘little’ and ‘almost entirely’, refer tothe very slight ‘precessional’ motion which woudl still remain even if the diuturnal were aboished. How the ‘sight’ of them would be lost has been already explained  (p.17)

This explicit reference to the influence of the stars in human affairs, as well as the expression ‘organi del mondo’ in Paradiso ii. 121, suggests that we should here define precisely the nature of Dante’s belief in ‘astrology’ in the modern sense of the word, though in his day the term was used convetiblly with ‘astronomy’. There is a striking passage in Paradiso viii 97 seqq. in which Dante declares the difference in human characters to be de to God’s special providence. The career of each individual is foreseen and fore-ordained of God (though it is often perversely departed from,II 139, seqq.) and his character and capacities are ordered suitably to it. See II. 100-3

E non pur le nature provvedute
Son nella mente ch´`e da sé perfetta,
Ma esse insieme com la lor salute

But the immediate efficient cause of these differences of charactaer is found in the influence of the stars. See II 97-9

‘Lo ben che tutto il regno che tu scandi
Volge e contenta, fa esser virtute 
Sua provvidenza in questi corpi grandi;’

and again in IL 127,128, ‘La circular natura’ (i.e. the revolution of the heavens) is described as ‘suggello alla cera mortal.’

Thus Dante firmly held that God’s ‘never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth,’ yet He wills to use the stars as His instruments, just as the angels who effect the motions of those stars are His agents. Hence, in the passage above quoted, the stars are called ‘organi del mondo.’ In Mon. II ii 15, we read, ‘ Est enim natura in mente primi motoris, que Deus est, deinde in coelo tanquan in organo’;  and ibid 25 he speaks of ‘instrumentum eius (sc. Dei) quod coelum est.’ Similar language will be found in the Questio xx.59: ‘quum organum suae virtutis sive influentiae sit ipas luna.’ So again, ibid. xxi. 16. See further Ep. V. viii, i34, shere God is said sometimes to carry out His purposes ‘per homines, tanquem per caelos novos.’ When in the important passage, Purg. vvi. 67-83, Dante insists that the stellar influence is never so overpowering as to destroy human responsibility, this is equivalent to the assertion of the freedom of the will side by side with the belief in God’s foreknowledge, and in a special providence. The reality of the influence  of the stars on human affairs (in this perfectly harmless form) Dante regarded as entirey indisputable (see Conv. II xiv 27); so much so that any one who doubted it was ‘extra limitem philosophiae’ (Quaestio xxi, 18).

The following are some of the other passages in Dante beyond those already referred to which bear upon this subject: Purg. xx 13, xxx, 109-11; Par. xxiii,i, xxvi. 129; Conv. II. xxiii. 50.

I will next cite a few passages in which dante refers to the extremely slow motion of the eighth, and the extremely sweift motion of the ninth heaven.

The slowness of the eighth heaven is alluded to in Purg. xi. 103 seqq., where the vanity of human fatrie is exhibited by the reflection that before 1000 years are passed it will utterly have perished, and yet that period bears  less proportion to eternity than the twinkling of an eye to the revolution of the slowest sphere in the heaven, i.e. to the 36000 years occupied in the revolution of the eighth heaven. In connexsion with this there is a passage in Conv. II xv. 114, which calls for a word of explanation. Dante is here arguing for the appropriate connexion of each of the sciences of the Trivium and Quadrivium with one of the seven planetary spheres or eavens, and he says that the slow motion of the eighth heaven, being in fact endless, is a symbol those incorruptible things which form the subject of metaphysics. That it is ‘endless’ he proves thus. Since the creation only a little more than one-sixth part of this revolution has been accomplished, and we are already in the last age of the worl, awaiting the consummation of all things. Consequently this revolution will never be commpleted while the wolrd lasts. It is at first sight rather puzzling to find Dante declaring that a little more than one-sisth of the revolution is already accomplished, for on his own datum of 1 in a century this would imply that in or about 1300 AD the world had existed for more than 6000 years. This however, corresponds with the horology which would be found by Dante in two authorities with which he was familiar .

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From this passage we learn the following points:
1. The Being and the entire motion of the universe stem from the primum mobile or prime mover (hence from God’s love as well as from the love of God). All Creation is an unfolding and reflection of divine Being-non e se non splendor di quella idea che partorisce amando il nostro sirt? (it is nothing but the reglow of that Idea which our Sire, in loving, begets); its motion and all its activity have their eternal source in Him. The lines translated above are drawn from a passage about the nature of the Moon and that is why they speak only of the celestial spheres, Actually the same is true of all Creation, both of that part which is created directly by God (intelligences, celestial spheres, prima materia, and the human soul) and of that part which is produced indirectly through His organs (elements, plants, animals. Everywhere it is la divina bonta che ‘I mondo imprenta‘ (the divine goodness which stamps the world), and the motion it produces is Love: Ne creator ne creatura mai … fu sanza amore, o natural o d’animo (Neither creator nor creature … was ever without love, either natural or rational}.”
2. The universe is a multiplication of the first motion; the Intelligences, or Angels, communicate it to the lower degrees of Creation and impart to all created things the energy and motion peculiar to them, but in spite of all that the unity of divine Being is never relinquished: the Trinity, as Dante quotes St. Thomas as saying:
per sua bontate il suo raggiare aduna
quasi specchiato, in nove sussistenze,
etternalmente rimanendosi una
Quindi discende a l’ultime potenze
giu d’atto in atto, tanto divenendo,
che piu non fa che brevi contingenze;
e queste contingenze esser intendo
le cosc generate …. 

(of its goodness focuses its own raying, as though

refleeted, in nine existences, eternally abiding one.
Thence it descends to the remotest potencies,
down, from act to act, becoming such as makes
now mere brief contingencies; by which

                                     contingencies I understand the generated things…).

Thus the source of the multiplicity of Creation is the unfolding and reflection of divine goodness through the nove sussistenze, or nine existences, that is, the Angels, who are the movers of the heavenly spheres and of their luminaries. Here the relation between astrological conceptions and the divine order of the world is made perfectly clear. In the first canto of the Paradiso Dante expresses his surprise that he, as a material body, should have been able to rise up to heaven, and Beatrice replies: “Le cose tutte quante hanno ordine tra loro…: All things whatsoever observe a mutual order; and this is the form that makes the universe like God. In it the exalted creatures [those endowed with intelligence] trace the impress of the Eternal Worth, which is the goal for which the norm now spoken of was made. In the order of which I speak all things incline, by various lots, nearer or less near to their source; for which reason they move to different ports across the great sea of being, each one with instinct given it to bear it on. This bears the fire toward the moon; this is the mover in the hearts of things that die; this draws the earth … together and unites it. This bow shoots not only the creatures that lack intelligence but those that have both intellect and love. The Providence that ordains all this, with its light makes ever still the heaven in which that one whirls which has the greatest speed; and there now, as to the site ordained, the power of that bowstring bears us….”This instinct is the work of the celestial spheres, ovra de le rote magne, che drizzan ciascun seme ad alcun fine (operation of the mighty spheres that direct each seed to some end); the hole of earthly Creation is subject to them with the exception of man; for although man as a body, and hence also the sensitive a owers of the soul, are subject to inclination by the influence of the stars, he possesses in the rational part of his soul the power to guide and limit that influence; that power is his free will.
“The heavenly bodies,” says St. Thomas. “cannot be the direct cause of the free-will’s operations. Nevertheless, they can be a disposive cause of an inclination to those operations, in so far as they make an impression on the human body, and consequently on the sensitive powers which are acts of bodily organs having an inclination for human acts.” And similarly in another passage: “The heavenly bodies are not the cause of our willing and choosing. For the will is in the intellectual part of the soul … the heavenly bodies cannot make a direct impression on our intellect. . . .” The pars intellectiva of the soul is man’s vis ultima, or ultimate essence, what makes him a man, and he must employ it for good or evil. Without it he could no more do evil than a plant or an animal: for naturale (amore) e sempre sanza errore. The natural is always without error.

Ethical

These remarks on the special position of man bring us to the second of the systems underlying the Comedy, the ethical system. Man alone possesses freedom of choice, a power compounded of intellect and will, which, though closely connected with the natural disposition and hence always individual, reaches out beyond it; it is that power which enables him during his lifetime on earth, to love in the right or wrong way and so decide his own fate. In the ethical system he builds up on the basis of that conception, Dante follows the Nicomachean Ethics as elaborated in St. Thomas. Brunetto Latini had set forth the ethical doctrines of Aristotle and St. Thomas in his Tresor, particularly in the sixth and seventh books. His exposition shows many points of contact with Dante, and the words m’insegnavate come l’uom s’etterna (you taught me how man makes himself eternal) make it clear that Dante regarded Brunetto as the foremost authority on those ideas.

Man’s ethical nature is grounded in his natural inclination or disposition. As such that is always good, for it is love, more specifically the love of some good. The highest good and the source of the good is God.

Auerbach goes on with his interpretation:

Quindi discende a l’ultime potenze
giu d’atto in atto, tanto divenendo,
che piu non fa che brevi contingenze;
e queste contingenze esser intendo
le cosc generate …. 
(of its goodness focuses its own raying, as though

reflected, in nine existences, eternally abiding one.
Thence it descends to the remotest potencies,
down, from act to act, becoming such as makes
now mere brief contingencies; by which

                                      contingencies I understand the generated things…).

Thus the source of the multiplicity of Creation is the unfolding and reflection of divine goodness through the nove sussistenze, or nine existences, that is, the Angels, who are the movers of the heavenly spheres and of their luminaries. Here the relation between astrological conceptions and the divine order of the world is made perfectly clear. In the first canto of the Paradiso Dante expresses his surprise that he, as a material body, should have been able to rise up to heaven, and Beatrice replies: “Le cose tutte quante hanno ordine tra loro…: All things whatsoever observe a mutual order; and this is the form that makes the universe like God. In it the exalted creatures [those endowed with intelligence] trace the impress of the Eternal Worth, which is the goal for which the norm now spoken of was made. In the order of which I speak all things incline, by various lots, nearer or less near to their source; for which reason they move to different ports across the great sea of being, each one with instinct given it to bear it on. This bears the fire toward the moon; this is the mover in the hearts of things that die; this draws the earth … together and unites it. This bow shoots not only the creatures that lack intelligence but those that have both intellect and love. The Providence that ordains all this, with its light makes ever still the heaven in which that one whirls which has the greatest speed; and there now, as to the site ordained, the power of that bowstring bears us….”This instinct is the work of the celestial spheres, ovra de le rote magne, che drizzan ciascun seme ad alcun fine (operation of the mighty spheres that direct each seed to some end); the hole of earthly Creation is subject to them with the exception of man; for although man as a body, and hence also the sensitive a owers of the soul, are subject to inclination by the influence ~£ the stars, he possesses in the rational part of his soul the power to guide and limit that influence; that power is his free will.
“The heavenly bodies,” says St. Thomas. “cannot be the direct cause of the free-will’s operations. Nevertheless, they can be a disposive cause of an inclination to those operations, in so far as they make an impression on the human body, and consequently on the sensitive powers which are acts of bodily organs having an inclination for human acts.” And similarly in another passage: “The heavenly bodies are not the cause of our willing and choosing. For the will is in the intellectual part of the soul … the heavenly bodies cannot make a direct impression on our intellect. . . .” The pars intellectiva of the soul is man’s vis ultima,15 or ultimate essence, what makes him a man, and he must employ it for good or evil. Without it he could no more do evil than a plant or an animal: for naturale (amore) e sempre sanza errore. The natural is always without error.”
These remarks on the special position of man bring us to the second of the systems underlying the Comedy, the ethical system. Man alone possesses freedom of choice, a power compounded of intellect and will, which, though closely connected with the natural disposition and hence always individual, reaches out beyond it; it is that power which enables him during his lifetime on earth, to love in the right or wrong way and so decide his own fate. In the ethical system he builds up on the basis of that conception, Dante follows the Nicomachean Ethics as elaborated in St. Thomas. Brunetto Latini had set forth the ethical doctrines of Aristotle and St. Thomas in his Tresor, particularly in the sixth and seventh books. His exposition shows many points of contact with Dante, and the words m’insegnavate come l’uom s’etterna (you taught me how man makes himself eternal) make it clear that Dante regarded Brunetto as the foremost authority on those ideas.

Man’s ethical nature is grounded in his natural inclination or disposition. As such that is always good, for it is love, more specifically the love of some good. The highest good and the source of the good is God.

Historico Political

Hisorical

In the heaven of fixed stars, the heaven of the prima milizia, where redeemed mankind is united in the Triumph of Christ, a fourth figure joins the three examining Apostles; it is Adam, the first man, who closes the circle by relating, at the scene of its completion, the primordial beginnings of the drama. The events that he relates or explains form the starting point of the third, historico-political system of the Comedy. For through Adam’s fall mankind lost the original purity and goodness in which it was created and was damned like Lucifer, the fallen Angel. Eve’s original sin was not the mere tasting of the forbidden fruit, but a transgressing of limits, a striving to exceed her allotted destiny: earth and heaven obeyed, only a woman who had just been created could not endure to remain within her predestined sphere. Of all created things on earth man was the most perfect: he possessed immortality, freedom, and likeness to God, but the sin of apostasy robbed him of those gifts and flung him down all the lower because he had stood so high. And man disposed of no means of reparation, for no amount of humility could fully compensate for the terrible crime of his fall away from God, the highest good; only God himself in His infinite compassion could forgive him and restore him to his former place. But God is just as well as good; justice is the eternal order of the world, and accordingly it was His pleasure to satisfy the dictates of justice even in the practise of His infinite mercy through the incarnation of His son, born of a human mother. He engendered a pure man, who in his humility could justly and fully expunge the original sin; the union of divine and human nature in Christ is the mystery which satisfied the requirements of God’s justice, for here a man by the humility of his life and Passion atoned for the original sin, but in view of the man Christ’s other, divine nature, his act of atonement was an undeserved gift of God’s unlimited goodness, in excess of all justice. With that idea which is known essentially to every Christian, Dante combines another which in this context may strike a modern observer as strange: it is the idea of the special mission of Rome and the Roman Empire in history. From the very beginning Divine Providence elected Rome as the capital of the world.
It gave the Roman people the heroism and the spirit of self-sacrifice necessary to conquer this world and possess it in peace; and when the work of conquest and pacification, the sacred mission announced to Aeneas, was accomplished after centuries of bitter battles and sacrifices and the inhabited world lay in the hands of Augustus, the time was fulfilled and the Saviour appeared. For it was decreed that the redeemed world should abide in perfect peace, in supreme earthly perfection down to the last day; that is why Christ rendered unto Caesar the things which were Caesar’s and submitted to his judgment; that is why Peter and Paul went to Rome, why Rome became the center of Christianity and the seat of the papacy. Since the very beginning of the Roman legend the two plans of Providence have been intertwined; Aeneas was granted his journey to the underworld with a view to the spiritual and secular triumph of Rome. Rome was the mirror of the divine world order, so much so that Paradise is once referred to as quella Roma onde Christo `e Romano (that Rome where Christ is a Roman). In the earthly Rome, as Christ made clear by his words and deeds, it was decreed that two strictly separate powers should rule in perfect balance, the spiritual power of the Pope, who must possess nothing, for his kingdom is not of this world, and the secular power of the Emperor, who is just, because God appointed him and all things earthly are in his power.
Thus the whole Roman tradition flows into the history of salvation, and the two prophecies seem complementary and almost equal in rank: Virgil’s Tu regere imperio populos (Thou shalt rule as an empire over the nations) and the Ave Maria. Before the appearance of Christ, the Roman Eagle, whose deeds Justinian relates in the heaven of Mercury, was the herald, and afterward the executor, of God’s plan of salvation; Tiberius the third emperor, considered as the legitimate judge over Christ the man, was the executant avenger of original sin, who satisfied God’s wrath; Titus, the conqueror of Jerusalem, was the legitimate executant of vengeance against the Jews; and in the bottommost Hell, in the jaws of Lucifer, Judas has as his companions Brutus and Cassius, Caesar’s murderers.
But for a second time the world fell away from the divine will, and once again the sin consisted in a trapassar del segno, a transgressing against the earthly world order appointed by God; this sin is symbolically represented by the fate of the mystical chariot in the Earthly Paradise. Christ the griffon has fastened the chariot to the tree from which Adam once plucked the forbidden fruit and which now signifies the earthly world order or the Roman empire. Beneath its branches mankind can rest in peace (Dante’s sleep), and in the shadow of the tree the revealed authority of the Christian doctrine finds its natural place. The chariot of the Church resists the assaults of the Eagle (the persecutions of Christians under the first Roman emperors) and of the fox (the early Christian heretical sects); but when the Eagle covers the chariot with its wings – an allegory for the Donation of Constantine – disaster sets in. Satan rises up from the depths, breaks a piece -the spirit of humility – out of the floor of the chariot, the rest of which is filled to the brim with the Eagle’s feathers (earthly goods), and the seven deadly sins appear as death’s heads on the shaft and in the corners. On the seat of the chariot sits a harlot, the Roman curia, fornicating with a giant; the giant symbolises unrestrained illegitimate power, probably in particular the French king, and in order to gain complete power over the harlot detaches the chariot from the tree and makes off with it.

As we see, this order is perfectly consonant with the two others, for the whole poem, whether considered from a physical, an ethical, or a historico-political point of view, builds up the destiny of man and his soul and sets it before us in a concrete image; God and creation, spirit and nature lie enclosed and ordered in perfect necessity (which however is nothing other than perfect freedom allotted to each thing according to its essence). Nothing is left open but the narrow cleft of earthly human history, the span of man’s life on earth, in which the great and dramatic decision must fall; or to look at it the other way round, from the standpoint of human life, this life, in all the diversity of its manifestations, is measured by its highest goal, where individuality achieves actual fulfilment and all society finds its predestined and final resting place in the universal order. Thus, even though the Comedy describes the state of souls after death, its subject, in the last analysis, remains earthly life with its entire range and content; everything that happens below the earth or in the heavens above relates to the human drama in this world. But since the human world receives the measures by which it is to be molded and judged from the other world, it is neither a realm of dark necessity nor a peaceful land of God; no, the cleft is really open, the span of life is short, uncertain, and decisive for all eternity; it is the magnificent and terrible gift of potential freedom which creates the urgent, restless, human, and Christian-European atmosphere of the irretrievable, fleeting moment that must be taken advantage of God’s grace is infinite, but so also is His justice and one does not negate the other. The hearer or reader enters into the narrative; in the great realm of fulfilled destiny he sees only himself alone unfulfilled, still acting upon the real, decisive stage, illumined from above but still in the dark; he is in danger, the decision is near, and in the images of Dante’s pilgrimage that draw before him he sees himself damned, making atonement, or saved, but always himself, not extinguished, but eternal in his very own essence.
Thus in truth the Comedy is a picture of earthly life. The human world in all its breadth and depth is gathered into the structure of the hereafter and there it stands; complete, unfalsified, yet encompassed in an eternal order; the confusion of earthly affairs is not concealed or attenuated or immaterialized, but preserved in full evidence and grounded in a plan which embraces it and raises it above all contingency. Doctrine and fantasy, history and myth are woven into an almost inextricable skein; often an almost unconscionable amount of time and effort is required to fathom the content of a single line; but once one has succeeded in surveying the whole, the hundred cantos, with their radiant terza rima, their perpetual binding and loosing, reveal the dreamlike lightness and remoteness of a perfection that seems to hover over us like a dance of unearthly figures. Yet the law of that dream is a human reason operating according to a plan and conscious of its destiny, which it is able to govern and order because its courageous good will has been favored by divine grace.

V – The Presentation

Dante journeys through the Other World and there, in the stations which mark their ultimate destiny, he encounters the souls of men he has known or with whose lives he is familiar. Even one who knows nothing of the Comedy can, by reflecting on the situation, easily imagine the emotion aroused by those meetings and the natural occasion they offer for the most authentic, most powerful, and most human expression. The encounters do not take place in this life, where men are always met with in a state of contingency that manifests only a part of their essence, and where the very intensity of life in the most vital moments makes self-awareness difficult and renders a true encounter almost impossible. Nor do they take place in a hereafter where what is most personal in the personality is effaced by the shadows of death and nothing remains but a feeble, veiled, or indifferent recollection of life. No, the souls of Dante’s other world are not dead men, they are the truly living; though the concrete data of their lives and the atmosphere of their personalities are drawn from their former existences on earth, they manifest them here with a completeness, a concentration, an actuality, which they seldom achieved during their term on earth and assuredly never revealed to anyone else. And so it is that Dante finds them; surprise, astonishment, joy, or horror grips both parties to the meeting, for the dweller in the Other World as he is shown there is also deeply moved by an encounter with one of the living; the mere fact of seeing and recognising one another reaches into the deepest foundations of human feeling and creates images of unparallelled poetic force and richness.
Thus the meetings between souls in the Comedy offer a number of scenes which, though they derive the elements of their expression from the memory of earthly encounters, far surpass any possible earthly encounter by the degree of emotion that accompanies them and the wealth of situations they disclose. They are most moving where Dante was bound to the other by earthly ties, either of actual life together or of inner, spiritual influence. The passion which, either from diffidence or from lack of occasion to speak, tends in temporal existence to hide, bursts forth here, all in one piece, as though moved by the awareness that this is its one and only opportunity to express itself.
In Dante’s extreme need in the face of impending ruin, the helper sent by divine grace appears before him: and it is Virgil! But even before he has recognized him, Dante’s distress impels him to throw the whole of himself into his cry of supplication; and when the master of his art and precursor of his thinking makes himself known, Dante’s love and admiration spring forth naturally and uncontrollably, and in his situation the constitutive words, which provide the essential picture both of the other and of himself, seem quite self-evident, words full of pathos, yet genuinely rooted in the specific occasion. And when in the triumphal procession in the Earthly Paradise Beatrice appears; when Dante, in need of help, turns to Virgil to say: “Less than a dram of blood is left in me that trembleth not” and no longer finds the dolcissimo padre at his side; and when the name of Dante rings out like a call at the Last Judgement, the well-prepared emotion, grounded in his past and present fate, legitimated no less by reason than by the heart, the emotion which is true readiness to know and acknowledge himself, grips us scarcely less than it does him, so that the reader too might well say in Dante’s words:Men che dramma di sangue m’è rimaso che non tremi: conosco i segni de l’antica fiamma’.

Auerbach goes on describing  a long list of encounters. Basically everyone is like he or she was in reality, but in a state of essence of whatever they were or achieved or misbehaved.

Auerbach wraps up in a way  which deserves quotation:

These elements – reality and superhuman will, order and compelling authority – are the substance of the Comedy’s style, which is so unique that anyone who knows the work well has the impression of hearing Dante’s voice in every word and every tone: a powerful voice, sternly admonishing, yet full of tenderness, a voice which for all its severity is always human. In uttering what is true and right, it takes the tone of a teacher; in recording real events it becomes a chronicler. But doctrine and chronicle are caught up in the poetic movement, sustained and exalted until, with all their clarity, they stand before us unapproachable and inexplicably perfect. The Comedy, as we have repeatedly said in the course of this investigation, treats of earthly reality in its true and definitive form; but palpable and concrete as this reality is, it takes on an ethereal dreamlike quality in the Other World. As we have seen, the later Provencal poets, the poets of the stil nuovo, and Dante himself in the poetry of his youth, had followed an old esoteric tradition in setting apart the noble devotees of Amore from the rest of mankind and in regarding them alone as a worthy audience. That tradition like many others is transformed but not abandoned in the Comedy. Here I am not referring to the occasional apostrophes to one another of the chosen few; they are not crucial in this connection, for there is no doubt that the Comedy as a whole is addressed to all men or at least to all Christians. What I have in mind is that he leads all men into a realm apart, where the air is not that of our everyday earth. Not that the reality of life has vanished; it has grown doubly plain and tangible. But the light is different and the eyes must grow accustomed to it; they must acquire a new and sharper vision which passes over no detail as unimportant, commonplace, or fragmentary; whatever appears in that place is definitive and immutable, demanding the fullest and most careful attention. Dante transports his listeners into a strange world so permeated by the memory of reality that it seems real while life itself becomes a fragmentary dream; and that unity of reality and remoteness is the source of his psychological power.

VI – The Survival and Transformation of Dante’s Vision of Reality

(Remember: This was written in 1929)

Here we shall not speak in the usual sense of Dante’s influence on posterity. Neither the few insignificant poets who have imitated the Comedy, nor the highly problematic influence of Dante’s ideas and teachings, nor the far more important “history of his fame” – in short, no part of what is known in Italy as la fortuna di Dante – can have any bearing on the present study. Here we are concerned with something he created and which remained living and effective, quite regardless of whether those in whom we find it followed his doctrines or not, of whether they loved or hated him, or, for that matter, of whether they were even familiar with his work. For the land he discovered has not been lost; many have entered upon it, some have explored it, though the fact that he was first to discover it has been largely forgotten or ignored. The something of which I am speaking, the discovery that remained alive, is Dante’s testimony to the reality that is poetry, to the modern European form of artistic mimesis which stresses the actuality of events. Stefan George speaks of tone, movement, and Gestalt – it is they, he says, that make Dante the father of all modern literature. And perhaps not only of literature. Dante discovered the European representation (Gestalt) of man, and this same representation made its appearance in art and historiography. Dante was the first to configure what classical antiquity had configured very differently and the Middle Ages not at all: man, not as a remote legendary hero, not as an abstract or anecdotal representative of an ethical type, but man as we know him in his living historical reality, the concrete individual in his unity and wholeness; and in that he has been followed by all subsequent portrayers of man, regardless of whether they treated a historical or a mythical or a religious subject, for after Dante myth and legend also became history. Even in portraying saints, writers have striven for truth to life, for historical concreteness, as though saints too were a part of the historical process. As we have seen, Christian legend came to be treated as an immanent historical reality; the arts have striven to represent a more perfect unity of spirit and body, spun into the fabric of man’s destiny, and despite changes of taste and differences in artistic technique, this striving has endured, through many perils and darkenings, down to our day. In the present work, we have tried to show that this immense conquest did not spring full-blown from Dante’s intuition, but that his creative powers were kindled by his subject, which compelled him, once he had undertaken to set forth the divine judgment, to unearth the complete truth about individual historical men, and consequently to reveal the whole character and personality. As we have repeatedly stressed, his poetic genius was inseparably bound up with his doctrine. But his doctrine did not endure. The Comedy represented the physical, ethical, and political unity of the Scholastic Christian cosmos at a time when it was beginning to lose its ideological integrity: Dante took the attitude of a conservative defender, his battle was an attempt to regain something that had already been lost; in this battle he was defeated, and his hopes and prophecies were never fulfilled. True, ideas of a Roman World Empire survived down to the Late Renaissance, and indignation over the corruption of the Church led to the great movements of the Reformation and Counter Reformation. But those ideas and movements have only certain superficial characteristics in common with Dante’s view of the world; they originated and grew independently of it. Some were fantastic dreams, some were great popular uprisings, some acts of practical politics, and still others had something of all three: but none possessed the depth and universal unity of Dante’s Thomist world view, and their consequence was not the worldwide humana civilitas (see note 1) for which Dante hoped, but an increasing fragmentation of cultural forces; it is only after the imperial ideology and the Christian-medieval conception of the world, shaken by intestine struggles, were swept away by the rationalism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that a new practical view of the unity of human society began to take form. Thus Dante’s work remained almost without influence on the history of European thought; immediately after his death, and even during his lifetime, the structure of literary, cultured society underwent a complete change in which he had no part, the change from Scholastic to Humanistic thinking, and that transformation undermined the influence of so rigorously committed a work as the Comedy. The radical shift in values that has taken place is made clear by the example of Petrarch, who was only forty years younger than Dante. Petrarch was not actually of a different party, he was not opposed to Dante’s strivings; but what moved Dante, the whole attitude and form of his life, had grown alien to him. He is distinguished from Dante above all by his new attitude toward his own person; it was no longer in looking upward – as Orcagna portrayed Dante in his fresco of the Last Judgment in Santa Maria Novella – that Petrarch expected to find self-fulfillment, but in the conscious cultivation of his own nature. Although far inferior to Dante in personality and natural endowment, he was unwilling to acknowledge any superior order or authority; not even the authority of the universal world order to which Dante submitted so passionately. The autonomous personality, of which Petrarch was to be the first fully typical modern European embodiment, has lived in a thousand forms and varieties; the conception takes in all the tendencies of the modern age, the business spirit, the religious subjectivism, the humanism, and the striving for physical and technological domination of the world. It is incomparably richer, deeper, and more dangerous than the ancient cult of the person. From Christianity, whence it rose and which it ultimately defeated, this conception inherited unrest and immoderation. These qualities led it to discard the structure and limits of Dante’s world, to which, however, it owed the power of its actuality.

Four_portraits_of_Dante_Alighieri_Wellcome_M0017298
Accordingly, even if it is agreed that Dante’s creation is closely bound up with his subject matter, that his poetry is inseparable from his doctrine, he seems to be a special case that has never been repeated and hence tells us nothing about the nature of the poetic process. For the art of imitating reality continued to develop quite independently of the presuppositions which seem to have been at the base of Dante’s work. No poet or artist after Dante required an ultimate, eschatological destiny in order to perceive the unity of the human person: sheer intuitive power seems to have enabled subsequent writers to combine inner and outward observation into a whole. But that argument does not take in the whole truth. Its proponents neglect or underestimate the part played in the creative drive by the residues of older intellectual forces and fail to discern such residues beneath superficial changes in consciousness. It is generally acknowledged that the Renaissance represents a unit in the history of European culture and that the decisive element of its unity was the self-discovery of the human personality; and it is also generally recognised that, despite Dante’s medieval view of the world, the discovery began with him. Thus there would seem to be reason to believe that something in the structure of the medieval world view was carried over into the new development and made it possible. In the history of modern European culture, there is, indeed, a constant which has come down unchanged through all the metamorphoses of religious and philosophical forms, and which is first discernible in Dante; namely, the idea (whatever its basis may be) that individual destiny is not meaningless, but is necessarily tragic and significant, and that the whole world context is revealed in it. That conception was already present in ancient mimesis, but carried less force, because the eschatological myths of the ancients lent far less support than Christian doctrine and the story of Christ to the conviction that the individual is indestructible, that the life of the individual on earth is a brief moment of irrevocable decision. In the early Middle Ages the historical sense had been dulled – the image of man was reduced to a moral or spiritualist abstraction, a remote legendary dream, or a comic caricature; in short man was removed from his natural, historical habitat. With Dante the historical individual was reborn in his manifest unity of body and spirit; he was both oldand new, rising from long oblivion with greater power andscope than ever before. And although the Christian eschatology that had given birth to this new vision of man was to lose its unity and vitality, the European mind was so permeated with the idea of human destiny that even in very un-Christian artists it preserved the Christian force and tension which were Dante’s gift to posterity. Modern mimesis found man in his individual destiny; it raised him out of the two-dimensional unreality of a remote dreamland or philosophical abstraction, and moved him into the historical area in which he really lives. But that historical world had to be rediscovered; and in a spiritualist culture, where earthly happening was either disregarded or looked upon as a mere metaphorical existence leading up to man’s real and final destiny, man’s historical world could be discovered only by way of his final destiny, considered as the goal and meaning of earthly happening. But once the discovery was made in that way, earthly happening could no longer be looked upon with indifference. The perception of history and immanent reality arrived at in the Comedy through an eschatological vision, flowed back into real history, filling it with the blood of authentic truth, for an awareness had been born that a man’s concrete earthly life is encompaseed in his ultimate fate and that the event in its authentic, concrete, complete uniqueness is’ important for the part it plays in God’s judgment. From that center man’s earthly, historical reality derived new life and value, and even the Comedy where, not without difficulty, the turbulent new forces were confined within an eschatological frame, gives us an intimation of how quickly and violently they would break loose. With Petrarch and Boccaccio the historical world acquired a fully immanent autonomy, and this sense of the self-sufficiency of earthly life spread like a fructifying stream to the rest of Europe-seemingly quite estranged from its eschatological origin and yet secretly linked with it through man’s irrevocable bond with his concrete historical fate. By that I do not mean that literature and art began to concern themselves exclusively with subjects drawn from real life and history, and no such statement would be in keeping with the facts. Mythical and religious subjects continued to be treated,and indeed more penetratingly than before. For they too were drawn into the historical vision we have described; the traditional fable lost its emblematic rigidity, and from the rich material, which had been largely obscured beneath dogmatic and spiritualist symbols, the author was now enabled, by his insight into the unity of character and fate, to select the perceptions that seemed to offer the fullest evidence and the most essential truth. And another form of literature, which is perhaps the most significant of all in modern Europe because it has permeated all others, namely the lyrical self-portraiture initiated by Petrarch, was rendered possible only by the discovery of the historical world. For it was only in that area that the diverse levels of feeling and instinct, the entire unity and variety of the personality, could unfold, that the empirical person, the individual with his inner life, could become an object of mimesis.
This current created rich new possibilities and grave dangers for mimesis. To discuss them is not the purpose of the present book, in which I have tried to grasp Dante’s work as a unity, rooted in the unity of his subject matter. It has seemed to me
that this approach offered the only hope of representing Dante’s historical reality in such a way that “the words may not be diverse from the fact.”

Note 1: In both the Convivio and the MonarchiaDante is concerned to examine, from the Aristotelian point of view throughtout, the civilitas humana which is the union of different individual societies, particularly the communitates perfectae. The humana civilitas is ordained for the purpose of furthering the life of happiness, which nobody can achieve without the help of others. (Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought)

Civilitas podia significar cidade, cidadão, os direitos de um cidadão, organização civil e posteriormente vida cívica e vida na cidade. Como o termo era tradicionalmente usado em contraste com o não cívico, como vida no campo e com camponeses, o termo veio também a significar o oposto de inumano, animalidade e barbarismo. Civilitas/civilis gradualmente tornou-se um conceito útil na construção de uma identidade, sendo usado para distinguir nós e eles, à maneira de outros pares antiéticos mais antigos, tais como grego/bárbaro, romano/bárbaro, cristão/pagão.  O conceito também foi traduzido para o vernáculo. Em Dante e notório o uso da expressão civilitas humana para significar o conjunto da humanidade. Dante foi o primeiro a traduzir civilitas para o vernáculo italiano como civiltade. No século XIV a palavra italiano civiltade foi substituída por civilta. (Historia dos conceitos )

 

 

 

 

 

Evil in the Classical World

(Veja em Português)

Obviously the Classical Antiquity is the Greco Roman World from antiquity till the fall of the Roman Empire.

Classical antiquity (also the classical eraclassical period or classical age) is the long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Southwestern Asia.

We will try to stress the problem of Evil but it is advisable to take a glimpse in these civilizations because they had a strong influence in everything cultural for the western world, specially in the Renaissance.

A good framing to the subject is to notice that one of the most important transformations in Late Antiquity was the formation and evolution of the Abrahamic Religions;   Christianityrabbinic Judaism and, eventually, Islamism

According to the Pirenne Thesis the subsequent Arab invasions marked the end of Late Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Take a look on Roman gods and goddesses and Greek Gods and Greek Goddesses

Greek Gods and Goddesses

Roman gods and goddesses

Roman Gods and Goddesses

equivalent

Although it was the Greeks who first posed the question of the origin and nature of evil in strictly  philosophical terms, they manage to create gods, or Gods, as ambivalent manifestations of the one and same God. This contradictory ethical and ontological qualities (i.e. related to their existence) of the gods indicate more confusion than an atempt to coincide the opposites related to them.

They have two concepts indicating the character of the god, one ouranic or heavenly and the other chthonic, from the underworld (hell?) being the  chthonic more often assimilated with the concept of  evil. Again, you don’t have an entry for ouranic, but you can have a comparison chart between the qualities.

On top of that they have another set of concepts, Theos and Daimon.

Interesting to know is that Theos is at any rate God and Daimon Daemon, to which I invite the reading of the entry. As Rollo May perceived, and we already discussed, Daimon, which is an alternative writing to Damon, in the dictionary is defined as (in ancient Greek belief) a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans. Also as an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force. And it should be observed that its synonyms are numengeniusgenius loci, inspiring force, attendant spirit, tutelary spirit, demon, from which you say: 

It must have been a magnificent daemon that inhabited the heart and soul of this artist”
The king of gods was Zeus Pater, in Greece and Jupiter in Rome. Zeus, or “sky father” in his ancient name, could bring lightning, hail, roaring winds but also kindly light and fertile rains: hence his name maimaktes, the wrathful one.
In Crete, where he was Zeus Kuros, his characteristics were decidedly chthonic, but it was Homer who fixed him permanently in the classical consciousness as an ouranic deity. His wife, Hera, queen of gods,  became a sky goddess bringing both warm weather for crops and destructive storms. She was also chthonic and identified with the primeval earth deity Gaia, also goddess of fertility and childbearing.
But their offspring possessed terrifying natures, such as Hepahistos, god of volcanic explosions and consorted with spirits of caves and of mountains.
Interesting to notice, that the family goes on and on, but the son of Hermes, Pan, who was born hairy and goat like, with horns and cloven hooves and a phallic deity like his father, represented sexual desire, which can be creative and destructive. His iconographic influence upon the Devil as we know it is enormous. How medieval tradition made it possible for the image of Pan to joined with that of Pan has its root in the association of the Devil with the chthonic fertility deities, who were rejected by the Christians as demons along with other pagan gods who were particularly feared because of the association with the wilderness and with sexual frenzy. Sexual passion, which suspends reason and easily leads to excess, was alien both to the rationalism of the Greeks and to the asceticism of the Christians. It was easy to assimilate a god of sexuality with the principle of evil. The association of the chthonic with both sex and the underworld , and hence with death, sealed the union.
It is interesting that Hades, which was the ruler of the underworld, presided over the dark and dreadful kingdom of dead souls and brought death to crops, animals and mankind, was married to the gentle Persephone, lady of springtime. It was she who in the spring, emerging from her underground prison, caused the earth to green. But it was she also who emerged to lead the Erinyes, the terrible spirits of revenge, in their pitiless search for vengeance. Thus the deities of the underworld, in Greece as elsewhere, brought both fear and hope.

The Underworld

From Linkedln learning

1-Hades

2-Tartarus

3-Erebus

4-Acheron

5-Charon

6-Cerberus

7-Rhadamanthys, Minos Alakos

8-Phlegethon

9-Styx

10-Lethe

11-Erinyes

The mythology surrounding all these characters is too long to go into here. Just about everything you can imagine can happen in a group of persons, be it Greeks or Romans, or whatever, there would be some sort of equivalent in the saga of the gods.

It is basic to any comprehension of the Greek religion that it was a living religion, not standardized and refined by literary traditions. Each god was perceived as a manifestation of both the kindly and the destructive aspects of divinity. This ambivalence shows up in the Greek literature, myth and philosophy in the classical period. Homer does not make a clear separation of good and evil and certainly no hypostatization (treat as a distinct substance in reality) of either. The will of the God is not known. Beyond men and beyond gods there exists a remote, impersonal force called Moira that assigns to each god and each man his proper function. Moira is completely without personality or even conscious will, it is  as a concept “a truth about the disposition of Nature”, the truth being that each person has an ordained role to play in the world. In a word: Destiny…

It is also noticeable the strong resemblance in several situations in the Greek and Roman literature, from Homer to Aeschylus with the Book of Job of the Bible.

Basically, Jeffrey Burton Russel says, to Homer evil consists in violating the honor (time) of a god. Take a look at the entry in Wikipedia.

Theodicyin its most common form, is an attempt to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil and toward the end of the classical period, the difficulties posed by Greek theodicy became evident in the work of Euripides, where man struggles in the grip of an irrational universe in which the gods represent no order at all.

Orphism 

Because there is a connection between Orphism and Dyonisos in the thinking of Plato, or Platonism and Pythagoras or  Pythagoreanism let’s take a look on it: 

Orphism was , or at least it seems, a parallel religion to the Greek religion. There are unresolved questions whether as to if it ever existed as an organized religion, what was the exact relationship with the cult of Dionysos or to what extent its dualism was form its own or imported. The central myth of Orphism may have been the myth of Dionysos and the Titans.

The Cult of Dyonisos

The concepts exposed here would have to be connected with Nietzsche’s Apollonian and Dionysian  in The Birth of Tragedy to designate the two central principles in Greek culture, as he sees it. Since Nietzsche has done an outstanding contribution in understanding the presence of evil, this is a sort of contribution for anyone who wishes to go deeper in the subject. It is a pity that Erich Auerbach neither in his Mimesis or Dante Poet of the Secular World does not touches Nietzsche directly as more than one scholar pointed out.

The central myth of Orphism may have been the myth of Dionysos and the Titans.
In the beginning of the world was Phanes, the androgyne who brings all things to light. First Phanes bears Ouranos, who sires (fathers) Kronos, the father of Zeus. After Zeus defeats the Titans, he swallows Phanes, thus taking’ into himself the original principle, becoming a creator god, and producing all things anew, including the Titans. Meanwhile Zeus fathers a son, Dionysos. Hating Zeus, and envious of the happiness of the infant Dionysus, the Titans approach the child, distract his attention with a mirror, and seize him. They tear him apart and devour him. But Athene rescues the boy’s heart and brings it to Zeus, who consumes it. Zeus now has intercourse with Semele, who gives birth anew to Dionysos. Pleased with the resurrection of his son, Zeus proceeds to punish his murderers by blasting them to ashes with thunderbolts. From the ashes of the Titans arises the race of mankind.
The myth is wholly dualist. Mankind has a dual nature, spiritual and material. The material part of our nature derives from the Titans, the spiritual part from the Dionysos whom they devoured. The teachings of Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans were highly influential in one development of the dualist tradition. For the Pythagoreans, soul is immortal, flesh mortal. The soul is trapped in the body like prisoner (soma sema), our task on earth is to escape our bodily prison by means of ritual purification.

But the dualism found in these doctrines is different from that of Iran. Iranian dualism posited a conflict between two spiritual powers, one of light and one of darkness. Orphic dualism posited a conflict between the divine soul and the evil, Titanic body that imprisoned it. In Orphism the dualism of matter and spirit, body and soul, is first clearly enunciated: its influence upon Christian, Gnostic, and medieval thought was enormous, and it is one of the most important elements in the history of the Devil. To the extent that Dionysos was good and the Titans evil, which is assumed, to that extent is the soul good and the body evil. This interpretation grew steadily throughout the Hellenistic period, when, influenced by Iranian dualism, matter and the body were assigned to the realm of the evil spirit, and soul to that of the good spirit. At that point the two dualisms, Orphic and Iranian, were united, and the idea that the body and the flesh are the work of cosmic evil became implanted in Jewish and Christian minds. The majority opinion in both Judaism and Christianity has always rejected this idea in its explicit form, but from Gnosticism onwards it has been the most persistent source of heresy. (In Dante explored in the 10th canto)
The doctrine that the body was the prison of the soul caused the Orphics to believe in metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls. One can escape the flesh only through a series of incarnations during which one carefully practices ritual purity. The process of reincarnation ceases when perfect purity is achieved and is delayed by any relapse into carnality. The Orphics abstained from meat both because it is carnal and because an animal might be a reincarnation of a human being. Under the influence of Pythagoras, they also abstained from beans, which they regarded as seed par excellence and therefore the root of the flesh.
The ritual purity of Orphism was also associated with the cult of Dionysos, which was very different indeed. Festivals of Dionysos took place at night, symbol of darkness and the forbidden. They were often held in a cave or grotto, locales
 connected with moisture, fertility, and the chthonic powers. The worshipers were primarily women, the Maenads or Bacchantes, who were led by a male priest.
How could Orphic purity and Dionysiac frenzi exist together? Or to other groups, such as Gnostics, Catharists, etc.? Jeffrey Burton Russel proposes a number of answers:
  • First, Orphic purity was ritual rather than moral.
  • Second, the coexistence of ascetic restraint and frenzied worship is common in the history of religions and, psychologically, is a predictable manifestation of the shadow.
  • Third, frenzied ecstasy is frequently an accepted way of bringing the spirit “out of” the body.
  • Fourth, and most important, it is a manifestation of the coincidence of opposites, of the ambivalence that” underlies all human thought, particularly thought about the gods.
For Dionysus, like the other gods, is ambivalent. The son of Zeus and symbol of spirit against the body, he is also a horned fertility god. The benefactor, Euergeus, he is also Anthroporraistes, “crusher of men,” and Omistes, “eater of raw flesh,” and he rides in a black ship. Most of all he is Lusios or Luaios, the great looser or freer, who releases from all restraints and inhibitions. In the Hellenistic period he became the perfect androgynous, as the great head in the British Museum shows him. Orgy may be perceived as an urge to integration through commingling of the sexes. On the one hand the opposition of spirit and body eventually made the Devil “the lord of this world”. on the other hand the Dionysiac orgy became the model for theology imputed to Gnostics, Catharists and witches.
We are talking of several hundred years and for our purposes, I prefer to use another criteria to frame up this subject in this period.
Some authors divide the Greek Religion in three stages, or sometimes five, whith expansion of the third stage. These stages are the following:
  • First there is the primitive Euetheia or Age of Ignorance, before Zeus came to trouble men’s minds, a stage to which anthropologists and explorers found parallels in every part of the world. Basically somebody (I am not sure if properly) defined it as Primordial Stupidity (Dr. Preuss) see it in German.
  • Secondly there is the Olympian or classical stage, a stage in which  in a rough battle up hill, full of fits and starts this primitive vagueness was reduced a kind of order. This is the stage of the great Olympian gods, who dominated art and poetry, ruled the imagination of Rome and Greece and extended a kind of romantic dominion even over the Middle Ages. Many believe that this context has no value as religion, only as art.
  • Thirdly, there is the Hellenistic period, reaching roughly from Plato to St. Paul and the earlier Gnostics. The successors of Aristotle produced rather a school of progressive science, those of Plato  a school of refined skepticism. The religious side of Plato’s thought would take a while to como to its full power which happened in the 3rd century AD at the time of Plotinus.
To Aristotle would take even longer, it was really exposed by St Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century AD.
It came as a surprise to me but I confirmed it throughout Internet,  Plato didn’t explore systematically the problem of the origin of evil. At the most there are quotations from him saying the obvious, a passing thought. Socrates was more to the point: to him, evil was a failing in practical knowledge of how to do good. It is interesting to observe that Plato’s perception of the opposition between the spirit, the seat or reason and the body, the seat of emotions, and from there the conception of body and soul as manifestations of metaphysical principles of spirit and matter, goodness being ascribed to spirit and evil to matter, which is a incoherent dualism ended up being more coherent by his followers. The development of the concept of Devil owes much, if not almost all, directly to Plato, thanks to the permutations of his thought in the work of Platonists, specially Plotinus. The thought of Aristotle did not admit a principle of evil, which is a demonstration that Plato had opponents.
On the side of Romans, Mithraism is worth to be mentioned. Perhpas better explained here.
"Tauroctony" - Mithras slaying a bull

A Existência do Mal

(See it in English)

Este artigo deveria ser mais ou menos interpretado como uma dialética quando comparado ao artigo Existência de Deus, de onde o leitor ou leitora veio.

Vou tentar, talvez sem sucesso, manter essa discussão tendo em mente que o Diabo deve ser entendido em termos do sofrimento de um indivíduo.

Evitei chamar este artigo A existência do Diabo por causa do seguinte, e cito da Wikipédia Daemonic (não há entrada Demonic, apenas Demon, que será discutido aqui):

Nota: Não é possível ainda montar esta discussão da forma como esta feita em Inglês na nossa língua, pois para nós, demônio é o diabo e demoníaco tem outro significado e apenas a palavra se parece com a nossa. Tem que enfrentar o texto em Inglês.

O psicólogo Rollo May  concebe o daimônico como uma força primitiva da natureza que contém potencialidades tanto construtivas quanto destrutivas, mas, em última instância, procura promover a totalidade do self. [16] Rollo May introduziu o daimônico para a psicologia como um conceito concebido para rivalizar com os termos “demônio” e “demoníaco”. Ele acredita que o termo demoníaco seria insatisfatório devido à nossa tendência, enraizada na mitologia judéo-cristã, de projetar o poder fora do self em demônios e o diabo. O daimônico também é semelhante à sombra de Jung, mas é visto como menos diferenciado. Uma dificuldade problemática da doutrina junguiana da sombra é a tentação de projetar o mal a essa “personalidade de fora” como relativamente autônoma e, assim, fragmentar desnecessariamente a liberdade e a responsabilidade individuais e óbvias. Finalmente, em comparação com o instinto de morte de Freud (Thanatos), o daimônico é visto como menos unilateral.

Embora semelhante a vários outros termos psicológicos, existem diferenças notáveis. O daimônico muitas vezes é indevidamente confundido com o termo demoníaco.

Eu argumento que, embora o Diabo não exista em si, há forças dentro de nós cuja melhor descrição para elas é o Diabo e, como Jeffrey Burton Russel, como um historiador eminente, diz muito corretamente e cito:

“A erudição histórica não pode determinar se o Diabo existe objetivamente. No entanto, o historiador pode sugerir que homens e mulheres parecem agir como se o Diabo existisse.”

Vou me concentrar no Livro de Jeffrey Burton Russel “O Diabo – Percepções do mal da Antiguidade ao Cristianismo Primitivo” , porque foi através da Divina Comédia de Dante que essa idéia surgiu aqui e seu contexto, junto com o da autora Eilleen Gardiner “Visões do Paraiso e do Inferno antes de Dante“, montam uma base perfeita para apreciar Mimesis de Auerbach do ponto de vista medieval e, principalmente, entender a contribuição de Dante.

A resenha da Amazon diz:

“Este entusiasmado e erudito livro traça a história do conceito do mal desde os seus primórdios nos tempos antigos até o período do Novo Testamento. Um notável trabalho de síntese, que se baseia em um grande número de fontes para abordar um grande problema histórico e filosófico Durante um amplo período de tempo e em várias culturas diversas, o Oriente e o Ocidente, Jeffrey Burton Russell examina as raízes da idéia do mal, trata o desenvolvimento da idéia no Oriente Próximo antigo e depois examina o conceito do Diabo Como foi formado no judaísmo  mais tardio e no cristianismo primitivo, generosamente ilustrado com cinquenta imagens em preto e branco, este livro atrairá uma ampla gama de leitores, de especialistas em religião, teologia, sociologia, história, psicologia, antropologia e filosofia a qualquer pessoa com interesse no demoníaco, o sobrenatural e a questão do bem e do mal “.

Por favor observe que, enquanto que no artigo sobre a Existência de Deus, o contexto  tende a ir para a Teologia metafisicamente, aqui será examinado como um conceito na mente humana.

“Der Teufel, der ist alt” (O diabo é velho) Fausto, Goethe (que é basicamente a mesma discussão que fazemos aqui, mas feita por um gênio).

Escher The_Scapegoat

 

De agora em diante, resumirei o conceito no livro sem mencionar “citando”, mas os argumentos são aqueles que podem ser lidos lá.

Se o Diabo não existe, racionalmente, então, o que existe?

A melhor opção é que é algo genético em nós. Se origina da nossa natureza animal. Provavelmente, por que como outros animais, os humanos primitivos tiveram que lutar sem parar contra um ambiente indiferente ou hostil, gerando hábitos que a civilização tenta controlar. Mas não é assim tão simples. Talvez Konrad Lorenz em seu livro Sobre a Agressão seja o melhor exemplo dessa linha de pensamento  que deve ser lido juntamente com Erich Fromm criticando Sobre a Agressão em seu livro A Anatomia da Destrutividade Humana.

A diferença básica é a “natureza” contra “educação”. Provavelmente é ambos.

Não é claro para mim se este livro de Konrad Lorenz é o mesmo em Alemão Das sogenannte Böse. Meu alemão é muito pobre, mas colocar a qualificação em frente à agressão torna tudo um jogo completamente diferente. A entrada na Wikipédia alemã, que traduzi com a ajuda do tradutor do Google, diz o seguinte:

(De fato, a entrada inteira é um excelente exemplo de competência alemã, talvez eu a enfrente quando tiver mais tempo)

O suposto intitulado de maligno é um livro do cientista comportamental Konrad Lorenz, do ano de 1963. Trata-se da origem do tratamento da agressão (supostamente chamado mal), isto é, a interpretação de Lorenz do intra específico, (pertencendo a uma especie) dirigido ao instinto de luta conspécifico (pertencendo a mesma especie) de animais e humanos “. A decisão de escrever este livro foi feita de acordo com Lorenz, durante uma viagem à América (USA), onde ele deu palestras sobre ciência comportamental comparativa e fisiologia comportamental para psiquiatras, psicanalistas e psicólogos. “Lá conheci psicanalistas que não consideravam os ensinamentos de Freud como dogmas irrefutáveis, mas como hipóteses de trabalho.” Ele havia reconhecido em relação a Freud: “As discussões de seus instintos revelaram coincidências inesperadas entre os resultados da psicanálise e da fisiologia comportamental”. Isso incluiu uma visão compartilhada sobre o instinto de morte descrito por Freud e o instinto de agressão do homem como presumido por Lorenz como parte de sua teoria instintiva. Assim, ele foi pela primeira vez que disse, opondo-se a Josef Rattner, : “… que a destruição e a hostilidade no comportamento humano devem ser completamente baseadas na deformação educacional e cultural”. O livro começa com a descrição das observações de formas típicas de comportamento agressivo. As batalhas territoriais dos peixes de corais, os instintos e as inibições moralmente semelhantes  de animais sociais, a vida conjugal e social das garças noturnas, as lutas de massa dos ratos marrons e muitos outros comportamentos peculiares dos animais servem de base para a “compreensão as conexões mais profundas “. Ao aplicar o método indutivo, as leis que todos os animais obedecem devem ser desenvolvidas – desde a consideração inquestionável de casos individuais até a abstração.

Se você não está interessado em psicologia, psicanálise, behaviorismo ou como são os modelos mais reconhecidos da mente humana, um bom ponto de partida é o Mental Maps of New York  , especialmente a discussão sobre o autor, o Dr. Steve Milgran. Você deve dar uma olhada no filme da Netflix de 2015 sobre seu experimento em comportamentos e outros experimentos que foi lançado e está disponível na Netflix

Do lado da psicologia humanista, com seus defensores mais notaveis, Freud e Jung, você deve considerar a mente humana como algo real, não como entidade separada do corpo e do cérebro, mas, na verdade, como algo onde as idéias e os sentimentos da mente é o que experimentamos diretamente e, de fato, são as únicas coisas que realmente conhecemos. Você pode fazer sua escolha, mas para mim, a mente, especialmente naquilo que nos faz seres humanos, tem uma independência e liberdade além das fronteiras estabelecidas pelos deterministas de genética e behavioristas. Por esses motivos, você pode rejeitar argumentos de “natureza e educação”. E, além do argumento óbvio do instinto, deve ser notado, como Jeffrey Burton Russel fez em seu livro, citando Robet A. Nisbel em The Sociological Tradition, NY, 1966, página 164, que:

“Uma ordem social possuida por mudança convulsiva, deslocamento de valores e incerteza espiritual, inevitavelmente convida ao tipo de alienação que produz o mal”

Ao que deve ser adicionado o elemento mais importante da discussão: responsabilidade, liberdade, consciência e, acima de tudo, dignidade.
E eu não mencionarei Alem da Liberdade e Dignidade do Skinner, porque eu totalmente discordo dele, embora reconheço relutantemente que Steve Milgran o demonstrou. Mas deve-se notar que nem Skinner, nem Milgran, embora reconheçam que certas formas de controle bloqueiam a  liberdade humana ou  o livre arbitrio, eles não dizem quais são esses controles.
Behaviourism não é apenas além da liberdade e da dignidade, é além do bem e do mal, da dor e da alegria, do amor e da compaixão, da originalidade e da criatividade, enfim: além da humanidade.

Talvez seja um bom lugar para observar que, embora o cognitivismo tente diferenciar-se do behaviourismo eles têm características comuns às quais as críticas elaboradas aqui se encaixam da mesma forma.
De volta à psicologia humanista, a idéia de Jung de que a repressão (ao contrário da supressão consciente) de sentimentos destrutivos tende a criar uma “sombra” ou força negativa na personalidade que pode explodir destrutivamente sem aviso prévio.
Para entender o que Jung tinha em mente, por exemplo, se você estiver dirigindo seu carro e, inadvertidamente, atinja alguém. Se o sujeito perder seu controle e dizer ofensivamente coisas para você, independentemente da raiva que você sente, fazendo você querer bater na pessoa, você reconhece o impulso e decide não agir sobre isso. Isso é supressão consciente.
Talvez esta seja a opção mais sugestiva na compreensão do diabo que existe!
Sombras monstruosas podem ser construídas e quando lançadas, elas parecem vir do Diabo, mas o que elas realmente são é isto…
Jeffrey Burton Russel elabora extensivamente sobre isso, mas é muito explícito e crú para reproduzi-lo aqui e vamos voltar na nossa busca pelo Diabo.
Deixando de lado a teologia Tomista, que pressupõe que o Diabo não é um ser ontológico, sendo, estritamente falando, sem essência, sendo geralmeno visto como a personificação da origem e da essência do mal.

A história é um bom sistema para descobrir a verdade sobre o Diabo porque:.

  1. Procura por um senso da realidade individual da pessoa ou evento, uma percepção da pessoa ou evento tal como era ou se apresenta na vida;
  2. Histórico não é estático, mas dinâmico, lidando com mudanças ao longo do tempo (em oposição ao cientista social);
  3. A história nunca é impessoal, mas sempre humana, levando em consideração o que é importante para a condição humana (e para o próprio historiador);
  4. A história coloca distância entre o observador e a cultura em que o observador e a vida observada ocorre, ampliando o espectro de opções integrando os pensamentos do passado com os do presente..
  5. A história está preocupada com a moral, reconhecendo o compromisso com outros homens e mulheres e que não cessa quando morrem..

Dentro desse contexto, é possível entender por que a figura do Diabo é coerente. Lembre-se que, como já foi dito, o entendimento não é uma acumulação de informações externas, mas uma assimilação ou integração do conhecimento em nossa experiência, como ser humano.

Isto trouxe as seguintes possibilidades para o assunto:

(Mantenho a lista em Inglês, como comparação, pois existem diferenças)

Resumindo o argumento até agora, pode-se dizer que o Diabo existe porque (embora não haja uma definição objetiva do Diabo):

  1. O Diabo pode ser definido historicamente;
  2. A definição histórica do diabo pode ser obtida com referência às definições do mal que são elas próprias existenciais;
  3. O Diabo é a personificação de tudo o que é percebido na sociedade como um mal;
  4. O conceito do Diabo consiste na(s) tradição (ões) de percepções dessa personificação.

Depois desta apresentação bastante longa, que, de certa forma, é o estado da arte sobre o assunto, vamos chegar à idéia que nos trouxe aqui, ou seja, como foi antes de Dante. Embora Dante não se preocupe com o Diabo, mas com o Inferno, pois me parece que Dante considera o como simplesmente existindo.

A primeira parte do livro, quando Jeffrey Burton Russel realmente entra no assunto, ele escreve um capítulo sobre o Diabo no Oriente e no Ocidente, procurando por ele nas civilizações mais antigas e suas culturas, para criar uma perspectiva sobre os conceitos ocidentais. Apesar das culturas serem amplamente separadas, o Diabo (ou o mal) traz formulações paralelas que surgem das estruturas universais do pensamento humano (arquétipos?) Ou de algum tipo de difusão de idéias que ainda não sabemos e que possa ter ocorrido. Obviamente, o cosmos às vezes é benigno e às vezes hostil à humanidade, sem mencionar que a natureza humana também está dividida contra si mesma, o que faz com que o paralelismo provoca todos a aceitarem a idéia de um princípio divino ambivalente. Deus, desde o início da humanidade tem duas faces: ele é uma coincidência de opostos. Essa ambivalência pode ser expressa teologicamente, em termos racionais, mitologicamente e em termos de histórias. Quando a cultura cria o politeísmo, parte dos deuses é boa, parte é má. No hinduísmo, isso é muito claro, onde Brahma é chamado de “criação e destruição de todas as pessoas”. Jeffrey continua oferecendo exemplos e oferece uma idéia interessante sobre esta recorrência: o princípio de deus ainda é a fonte do mal, mas agora está associado (literalmente ou figurativamente) ao princípio do bem e ao princípio do mal, o primeiro geralmente identificado com o Deus Maior, este se tornando o adversário de Deus (menor). Esses pares são chamados de “doublets”.

Dei uma olhada em “doublet”  e parece-me que Jeffrey forçou um pouco o conceito, mas, de qualquer forma, é um bom raciocínio sobre algo que não pode ser raciocinado …

Em Português, cuja tradução parece como dupleto, que é usado apenas para química, agravado pelo fato que existe dupleto e dubleto. Salvo ignorância minha, ou nossa linguística não contem isto, ou ninguém ainda colocou em Português nada sobre isto na Internet.

Por enquanto, vamos trabalhar a ideia como Jefrey Burton Russel propôs, porque é uma boa ideia que deve ser apoiada.

Paremos por um minuto e pensemos.

Martin Buber, em seu livro Israel e o Mundo – Ensaios em Um Tempo de Crise faz uma observação muito interessante quando cita de Kant “Deus não é uma entidade fora de mim, mas sim um pensamento dentro de mim”. Ou, como Kant diz em outra ocasião, “Simplesmente uma relação moral dentro de mim“. No entanto, Ele (Deus) possui um certo tipo de “realidade”. Adicionando: “Deus é apenas uma idéia da razão, mas uma ideia que possui uma enorme realidade prática interna e externa“. No entanto, é óbvio que esse tipo de realidade não é adequado para tornar o pensamento sobre Deus idêntico à “crença nEle e Sua personalidade“. A filosofia transcendental, cuja tarefa era verificar se existe um Deus, finalmente se viu obrigada a declarar: É absurdo perguntar se existe um Deus.

(Novamente, tem que ver em Inglês sobre Filosofia Transcendental)

O absurdo, como é sabido, significa contrário à razão ou ao bom senso; totalmente  ridículo, ao que pode ser acrescentado, tolo, estúpido, risível, cômico, sem sentido, insano.

Ao que devo acrescentar, finalizando, desde muito, muito tempo, é o mesmo para o Diabo…

Para aqueles mais curiosos, com tempo de sobra, dê uma olhada no artigo Visual Display of Doublet Gods from Antiquity (Deuses representando o bem e o mal na Antiguidade)

 

 

 

Visual Display of Doublet Gods from Antiquity

(Não será traduzido porque a base da informação será o Inglês)

These Gods, or gods, incorporated the ambiguity of good and evil.

Quetzalcoatl

Courtesy the Brooklyn Museum, Henry L. Batterman and Frank Sherman Benson Funds

Sumbha, Jaipur

Shiva and his family  (1790)

Shiva and his family 1790

Goddess Kali dancing on Shiva

Goddess_Kali_dancing_on_Shiva._

The Wheel of Life Tibet

Wheel-of-Life

Ouroboros

ouroboros

Dancing Sorcerer Paleolithic

Dancing sorcerer paleolithic

Ram in the Thicket

Ram in the Thicket

Buddhist hell

King Yama

King Yama

Seth and Horus

Seth and Horus

Set

Set

Isis

isis

Hathor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sekhmet

Sekmet

Assur-nasir-pal

At the Museum (hear the audio)

Assur nasir pal

Pazuzu

pazuzu1_2

Lilitu or Lilith

lilitu

Anat – Ugarit

anategypt

Jyuni-shin-so Twelve Divine Generals

Junishinsho 12 heaven generals

Parthian Goddess

Parthian goddess

Ahura Mazda Persepolis

Ahuramazda

Ohrmazd and Ahriman

zurvan

Zurvan

zurvan (1)

Chinvat Bridge

Chinvat bridge

Next: Evil in the Classical World

The existence of Evil

(Veja em Português)

This entry should more or less be taken as dialectic when compared to The Existence of God, from where the reader came.

I will try,  maybe unsuccessfully, to keep this entry  bearing in mind that the Devil should be understood always in terms of suffering of an individual.

I refrained to call this post The existence of the Devil because of the following, and I quote from Wikipedia Daemonic (there is no Demonic entry, only Demon, which will be discussed here):

The psychologist Rollo May conceives of the daimonic as a primal force of nature which contains both constructive and destructive potentialities, but ultimately seeks to promote totality of the self.[16] May introduced the daimonic to psychology[16] as a concept designed to rival the terms ‘devil’ and ‘demonic’. He believed the term demonic to be unsatisfactory because of our tendency, rooted in Judeo-Christian mythology, to project power outside of the self and onto devils and demons. The daimonic is also similar to Jung‘s shadow, but is viewed as less differentiated. A pitfall of the Jungian doctrine of the shadow is the temptation to project evil onto this relatively autonomous ‘splinter personality’ and thus unnecessarily fragment the individual and obviate freedom and responsibility. Finally, by comparison to Freud‘s death instinct (Thanatos), the daimonic is seen as less one-sided.

While similar to several other psychological terms, noteworthy differences exist. The daimonic is often improperly confused with the term demonic.

I dispute that although the Devil does not exists per se, there are forces within us that the best description to them is the Devil and, as  Jeffrey Burton Russel, as an eminent historian, says very correctly, and I quote:

“Historical scholarship cannot determine whether the Devil exists objectively. The historian may, however, suggest that men and women have seemed to act as if the Devil did Exist”

I will concentrate on Jeffrey Burton Russel’s “The Devil – Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity” because it was through Dante’s Divine Comedy that this whole idea took over and this book together with the book of  author Eilleen Gardiner “Visions of Heaven Hell Before Dante”, sets up a perfect frame to appreciate Auerbach’s Mimesis from the medieval point of view and, specially, to understand Dante’s contribution.

The Amazon review says:

“This lively and learned book traces the history of the concept of evil from its beginnings in ancient times to the period of the New Testament. A remarkable work of synthesis, it draws upon a vast number of sources in addressing a major historical and philosophical problem over a broad span of time and in a number of diverse cultures, East and West. Jeffrey Burton Russell probes the roots of the idea of evil, treats the development of the idea in the Ancient Near East, and then examines the concept of the Devil as it was formed in late Judaism and early Christianity. Generously illustrated with fifty black-and-white photographs, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers, from specialists in religion, theology, sociology, history, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy to anyone with an interest in the demonic, the supernatural, and the question of good and evil.”

Please take notice that while in the post of Existence of God it tends to go to Theology metaphysically, here it will be examined as a concept in the human mind.

“Der Teufel, der ist alt” (The devil, he is old) Faust, Goethe (which is basically the same discussion we do here, but by a genius)

Escher The_Scapegoat

From now on I will summarize the concept in the book without mentioning “quoting”, but the arguments are those that can be read there.

If the Devil does not exist, rationally, then what exists?

The best bet is that it is something genetic in us. It springs from our animal nature. Probably because like other animals, primitivive humans had to struggle endlessly against an indifferent or hostile environment, generating habits that civilization tries out to control. But it is not that simple. Perhaps Konrad Lorenz in his book On Agression is the best example of that line of thinking which should be rean with  Erich Fromm  criticizing On Aggression in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

The basic difference is “nature” against “nurture”. Probably it is both.

It is not clear to me if this book from Konrad Lorenz is the same in German Das sogenannte Böse. My German is very poor,  but the adding of the qualification in front of aggression makes it an entirely different game. The German Wikipedia entry, which I translated with the help of the Google translator, says the following:

(As matter of fact, the entire entry is a prime example of German competence, perhaps I will tackle it when I have more time)

The so-called evil is a book by the behavioral scientist Konrad Lorenz from the year 1963. In it he deals with the origin of and the handling of aggression (the so-called evil), that is to Lorenz’s interpretation of the intraspecific, “directed at the conspecific fighting instinct of animals and human “.  The decision to write this book was made, according to Lorenz, during a trip to America where he gave lectures on comparative behavioral science and behavioral physiology to psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and psychologists. There he met psychoanalysts who did not regard the teachings of Freud as irrefutable dogmas, but as working hypotheses. He had recognized in relation to Freud: “Discussions of his instincts revealed unexpected coincidences between the results of psychoanalysis and behavioral physiology.” These included a shared views on the death instinct described by Freud and the instinct for aggression of man as presumed by Lorenz as part of his instinct theory. Thus, he was for the first time contrary to Josef Rattner, who said, “… that destructiveness and hostility in human behavior must be thoroughly based on educational and cultural deformation.” The book begins with the description of observations of typical forms of aggressive behavior. The territorial battles of the coral fish, the morally similar instincts and inhibitions of social animals, the marital and social life of the night herons, the mass struggles of the brown rats and many other peculiar behaviors of the animals serve as the basis for “understanding the deeper connections”. By applying the inductive method, the laws that all animals obey are to be developed – from the unquestioning consideration of individual cases to abstraction.

If you are not keen on psychology, psychoanalysis, behaviourism, or how are the most recognized models of the human mind, a good starting point is  Mental Maps of New York  specially the discussion about the author, Dr Steve Milgran. You should  take a look on the Netflix  2015 a movie about his experiment on behaviourism and other experiments which was released and is available at Netflix

On the side of humanistic psychology, with their most distinguished proponents, Freud and Jung, you must take the human mind as something real, not as separate entity from the body and the brain, but actually as something that the ideas and the feelings of the mind are what we experience directly and indeed are the only things we really know. You can take your bet, but for me, the mind, specially in what makes us human beings, has an independence and freedom beyond the boundaries set by genetics and behaviorists determinists. On these grounds, you can reject nurture and nature arguments. And besides the obvious argument of instinct, it should be noticed, as Jeffrey Burton Russel did in his book, quoting Robet A.Nisbel in The Sociological Tradition, NY, 1966, page 164 that:

“A social order seized by convulsive change, dislocation of values, and spiritual uncertainty, inevitably invites to the kind of alienation that produces evil”

To what should be added the most important element of discussion: Responsibility, freedom, consciousness and, most of all, dignity.
And I will not mention Beyond Freedom and Dignity from Skinner, because I totally disagree with him, although, I reluctantly recognize that Steve Milgran kind of demonstrated it. But it should be noticed that neither Skinner, neither Milgran though recognizing that certain forms of control block human freedom, or free will, they do not say which are those controls.
Behaviourism is not only Beyond Freedom and Dignity, it is beyond good and evil, pain and joy, love and compassion originality and creativity, or, bottom line: beyond humanity.
Perhaps it is a good point to observe that although cognitivism tries to differentiate itself from behaviourism, they have in common characteristics to which the criticism elaborated here fit the same.
Back to humanistic psychology, the idea of Jung that the repression (as opposed to conscious suppression) of destructive feelings tend to create a “shadow” or negative force in the personality that can burst out destructively without warning.
To understand what Jung had in mind take for example if you are driving your car and inadvertently hit somebody. If the guy looses his mind and say offensively things to you, no matter what anger you may feel, making you wanting to hit the person, you recognize the urge and decide not to act upon it. That is conscious suppression.
Perhaps this is the most suggestive option in understanding the Devil there is!
Monstrous shadows can be built and when released, they seem to come  from the Devil, but what they really are is that…
Jeffrey Burton Russel elaborates extensively on that but it is much too graphic to reproduce it here and let’s move and go back in our search for the Devil.
Leaving asideThomistic theology, which assumes that the Devil has no ontological being, having strictly speaking, no essence, generally the Devil can be regarded as the personification of the origin and essence of evil.

History is a good system to find out the truth about the Devil because:

  1. It strives for a sense of the individual reality of the person or event, a perception of the person or event as it was or is in life;
  2. History is not static but dynamic, dealing with changes through time (as opposed to the social scientist);
  3. History is never impersonal, but always humane, taking into consideration what is important to the human condition (and to the historian himself);
  4. History puts distance between the observer and the culture in which the observer and the observed lives, broadening the spectrum of options integrating thoughts of the past into the present.
  5. History is concerned with morals, recognizing the commitment to other men and women which does not cease when they die.

Within these lines it is possible to understand why the figure of the Devil is coherent. Remember that, as it was already said, understanding is not an accretion of external information, but an assimilation or integration of knowledge into our experience, as a human being.

This has brought the following possibilities for the subject:

Summarizing the argument so far, one can say that the Devil exists because (although there is no objective definition of the Devil):

  1. The Devil can be defined historically
  2. The Devil’s historical definition can be obtained with reference to definitions of evil that are themselves existential;
  3. The Devil is the personification of whatever is perceived in society as evil;
  4. The concept of the Devil consists of the tradition(s) of perceptions of this personification.

After this rather long introduction, which in a way is the state of the art about the subject, let’s get to the idea which brought us here, i.e., how was it before Dante. Although Dante is not concerned with the Devil, but with Hell, it seems to me that Dante takes the Devil for granted.

The first part of the book, when Jeffrey Burton Russel really digs in the subject, he writes a chapter about Devil East and West, searching for it in the oldest civilizations and their cultures, to frame a perspective on Western concepts. Despite widely separated cultures, the Devil (or evil) brings up parallel formulations  which arise from universal human thought structures (archetypes?) or from some sort of diffusion which we are not yet aware might have occurred. Obviously the cosmos is sometimes benign and sometimes hostile to humanity, not to mention that human nature is also divided against itself, which causes the parallelism to make all of them accept the idea of a divine principle ambivalent. God, since the the dawn of mankind has two faces: He is a coincidence of opposites. This ambivalence can be expressed theologically, in rational terms, mythologically and in terms of stories. When the culture creates polytheism, part of the gods are good, part are evil. in Hinduism this is very clear, where Brahma is called “the creation and destruction of all people.” Jeffrey goes on offering examples and offers an interesting idea about this recurrence: The god principle is still the source of evil, but it is now twinned (literally of figuratively) into a principle of good and a principle of evil, the former usually being identified with the High God, the latter becoming the God’s adversary. Such pairs are called “doublets.”

I looked over for doublet, and it seems to me that Jeffrey forced a little bit the concept, but anyway, it is a good reasoning about something that cannot be reasoned…

Let’s stop for a minute and give it a thought.

Martin Buber, in his book Israel and the World – Essays in a Time of Crisis makes a very interesting observation when he quotes Kant “God is not an entity outside of me, but merely a thought within me”. Or, as Kant says on another occasion, “Merely a moral relation within me.” Nevertheless, He (God) possesses a certain kind of “reality.”  Adding up: “God is only an idea of reason, but one possessing the greatest practical internal and external reality.” Yet It us obvious that this kind of reality is not adequate to make the thought about God identical with the “belief in Him and His personality.” Transcendental philosophy, whose task was to ascertain whether there is a God, finally found itself compelled to state: It is preposterous to ask whether there is a God.”

Preposterous, as it is well known, means contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous, to what can be added, ridiculous, foolish, stupid, ludicrous, farcical, laughable, comical, risible, nonsensical, senseless, insane.

To what I should add, since a very, very long time, it goes the same for the Devil…

For those more curious, with time to spare, take a look on a Visual Display of Doublet Gods from Antiquity

 

Mickey’s Inferno

This is just a tasting! It is under the 10% allowance for copy right purposes.

To best appreciate Disney’s parody, let’s take a look first at what is probably the best short version of Dante’s Inferno, depicted as a graphic novel, but displayed as a cartoon with a spoken text over (don’t forget to turn on the subtitles, because it is fast!)

Classics Summarized: Dante’s Inferno

Let’s go to Mickey’s Inferno now:

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno-back front cover

Welcome to the fiery fourth DISNEY GRAPHIC NOVELS graphic novel-more popularly known as the implausibly poetic premiere of GREAT PARODIES, this time featuring “Mickey’s Inferno,” brought to you by Papercutz, those wonderful folks dedicated to publishing great graphic novels for all ages. I’m Jim Salicrup, Editor-in-Chief and student of Morty the Mesmerist’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People the Easy Way” correspondence class.
My job is to use this space to enlighten and inform in all molters regarding Papercutz To that end, allow me to inform the potentially poetic-phobic few out there exactly what “Cantos” means. It’s really simple Just like novels may be divided into chapters, long poems are often divided into cantos. So a canto is a section of a long poem. That was easy. Now, let’s explain the history of “Mickey’s Inferno” “Mickey’s Inferno,” which is a truly special comics story, which we’re proud to publish While Mickey Mouse was born in the USA, created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, he soon became an international sensation, and besides appearing in animated short films, Mickey also starred in countless comics in America.
Not to be left out, other countries have been creating original Disney comics for decades For example, Italy has been publishing Topo/ino (the Italian name for Mickey Mouse), in various forms since 1932. The post- World War II version of Topolino, begun in 1949, featured in its seventh through twelfth issues was an all-new series called GREAT PARODIES. The idea was to create comics, featuring the Disney cartoon stars of the day, spoofing great works of literature The very first GREAT PARODY was based on the epic poem Divine Comedy by Durante degli Alighieri, better known as Dante (c. 1265 – 1321), which is considered by many to be the greatest literary work ever composed in the Italian language, and a masterpiece of world literature. The poem describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio}, and Paradise (Paradiso}, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, and then by his true-love, Beatrice. The GREAT PARODY was written by Guido Martina and drawn by Angelo Bioletto. An abridged English version of “Mickey’s Inferno” appeared in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #666 (Of course), translated and adapted by Dwight Decker and David Gerstein. Papercutz is proud to present the full, unabridged comic in GREAT PARODIES, with an all-new script by Stefan Petrucho. Like the epic poem itself, and previous adaptations, this version also features captions that are in interza rima, Dante’s rhyme scheme for his Divine Comedy.
So, in other words, what we have here is a classic comic inspired by one of the greatest literary works of all time! But the coolest thing about it. .. ? It stars Mickey Mouse as Dante, Goofy as Virgil, Minnie Mouse as Beatrice, and such classic Disney stars as Dumbo, Dopey (in a rare speaking part!), Jimmy Cricket, and others in awesome cameo roles. Its the ultimate mash-up of Disney and Dante, and we hope you love it as much as we do.

Mickey Mose goes to the theater! He, along with Goofy, are performing in a production of Dante’s Divine Comedy. But a funny thing happened after the final curtain…

While taking their bows, both Mickey and Goofy get mesmerized! Now they both believe that they really are Dante and Virgil, the roles they acted in the play, and wind up entering into the nightmare world that Dante created in his epic poem.

“Mickey’s Inferno” is considered a true Disney comics classic! Here for the first time in North America is the complete unabridged story, originally written by Guido Martina and illustrated by Angelo Bioletti (1949), with an all-new script by Stefan Petrucha. It’s a comic many never imagined could exist – Dante’s Inferno as re-imagined by Disney!

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 01

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 02

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 03

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 04

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 05

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 06

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 07

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 08

Great-Parodies-Mickeys-Inferno 09

Dante and Graphic Novels

(Veja em Português)

I quote from Wikipedia and you can find more information there:

graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word “novel” normally refers to long fictional works, the term “graphic novel” is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term “comic book“, which is generally used for comics periodicals.

Before any  body raise their eyebrows, I should say that I completely disagree with the perception that the term tries to create a separate genre on the grounds that its similarity with comic books is something to be ashamed of.

One thing that amazes me is that the sterile discussion you see at the end of the Wikipedia entry on the subject does not mention the most important aspect to be noticed: Graphic Novels are a bridge between the Printed Culture and the Oral Culture. We are on the verge of going back to the days before Gutenberg’s invention with the advent of Internet. It is a discussion that would take a lot of space and time to cover, but you can have a glimpse taking a look at the following articles: The Twitter Trap and  its commentary stressing the Oral culture.

Take a look also on  What_is_Visual_Culture

Graphic Novels are just about perfect to Internet, which is the technological advance which is bringing us back to the Middle Ages way of interacting with each other, believe it or not

You can see it here, taking a look on a selection of Dante’s works and Graphic Novels:

The first, one and only:

Gustave Dore orig plates

Browse at will: Los Angeles 2010, which is tipically a product of the future

Inferno 2010 Los Angeles 03

Also in hard cover

Gustave Dore today in the 21rst Century

Gustave Dore 2012

gustave-dore-2012-01.jpg

Seymour Chwast rendition of Inferno

Seymour Schwast

“The 72 paintings that make up the art collection of “Dante’s Inferno” by Dino Di Durante are not only the depiction of a great literary masterpiece, but also an invitation to experience them. He gives life to a series of images, that does not just tell the remarkable Dante’s journey, but also invites you to relive, with restlessness and amazement, all his emotions almost to the last detail.”
Gianmario Pagano, Priest, screenwriter and Divine Comedy play writer – Italy

Dino Di Durante

Based on the EA video game of the same name, this classic epic poem is brought to life as never before, courtesy of writer Christos Gage (WILDCATS, X-Men/Spider-Man) and hot new artist Diego Latorre. Dante Alighieri is re-imagined as a holy warrior who has returned from the Crusades to find his beloved fiancée Beatrice murdered. When her soul is ensnared by Lucifer, only Dante has the strength and courage to break open the gates of Hell and save her. But at what cost to his own immortal soul? And is Dante himself pure enough for this impossible task? Find out in this sizzling new series!

Christos Gage

Marcus Knight

Marcus Knight

Marcus Knight-Pedrosa Purgatory

Marcus Knight-Pedrosa Purgatory

Populist preacher Hiprah “Hell-fire” Hunt is obsessed with proving the existence of Hell, and Dante’s Inferno is his constant companion. When the evangelist mysteriously disappears for six weeks, it’s hardly surprising to hear that he’s been to Hell and back. This comic graphic novel depicts his odyssey among the damned, where corrupt politicians, bores, frauds, and other sinners receive their just punishments.
American cartoonist and writer Arthur Henry “Art” Young (1866–1943) is best known for his socialist cartoons, particularly those drawn from 1911–17 for the left-wing political magazine The Masses. Young’s lifelong enthusiasm for the works of Gustav Doré — particularly the French artist’s interpretation of Dante’s Inferno — inspired this humorous 1901 publication. Anyone with an interest in political cartoons, early cartoons, and socialist cartoons will be fascinated by this marvel of invention and craftsmanship and its unique reinterpretation of one of literature’s great classics.

Art Young

Hunt Emerson, the dazzlingly talented cartoonist, tackles the biggest literary name of them all: Dante. Emerson’s Inferno delights on many levels: as an ingenious translation of classic verse; an effortlessly readable introduction to a complex poem; a delicious crib for anxious Dante students; and as a warm tribute from the master of one art form to the grand master of another. Hunt’s cartoon is followed by Kevin Jackson’s essay on Dante. Wildly clever and witty, but essentially reverent, it is a wonderful treat for anyone who already loves Dante.

Hunt Emerson

Gary Panter

Gary Panter

Sin Eternal is more than just a re-tooling of the immortal classic, Dante’s Inferno. It plants itself firmly in the modern world and away from the political crimes that dominated Dante’s work. It brings a very basic questioning of the man’s faith as he witnesses some of the most horrendous punishments that could be exacted. The story covers the travels of the man who is sent to hell to examine the various torments and punishments that the sinners of Earth are forced to face each moment of eternity. From the slovenly gluttons to the fates of the suicides, from the heretics to the thieves, a variety of different levels are covered. From the ferry of Charon, the man is taken into the very depths of evil. He must escape the giant creature, Minos to the swallowing jaws of Cerebus. From the Dance of the Harlots who abused love to the gluttons who are encased in solid gold. Witnessing the Heretics, imprisoned in furnace like cells to the Industrialists, those who are taken over by the very machines they created. Those who kill in the name of God are forced into an un-ending battle of mutilation which leads to the River of Blood with the souls of Idi Amin, Hitler, and Stalin washing the crimson onto the shores. The Maze of Eternity blends into a surreal world of mystic images and fallen idols until he finally reaches the very source of evil itself, the Devil. But its not the traditional view, because after all, Lucifer was considered the Morning Star…the beautful angel. All is not as it might first appear.

Sin Eternal

Last but not least

Mickey

Imagine if you will, a satirical retelling of Dante Aligheri’s Inferno starring Mickey Mouse. This is the very first of the world-famouse, er, famous Great Parodies featuring classic Disney stars in outrageous spoofs of the world’s greatest stories.

Let’s browse it!

 

 

Auerbach’s Mimesis

(Veja em Português)

Please bear in mind that Auerbach does an elaborate discussion of syntax, rhetoric, character narrative, style. Contents, meaning, relation to reality, thinking mode are mentioned, but as an accessory. He is more concerned with the language usage as such and  has the merit, for ex. to show that although Italy didn’t exist, it existed as a language, funny though it may seem. It justifies he being here, because Dante kind of invented the Italian language and contributed to the invention of Italy.

I stress that because my general concern with Dante is more to how his idea can influence our interpretation of reality. Although I have a feeling that I write to myself, I cannot avoid mentioning that literary criticism has a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater or throw out the champagne with the cork, i.e, the form is put above the contents.

Additionally, one thing that is taken for granted, but not for me, is that literature can or could represent reality adequately. We are on the verge of beeing sent back to the days before literature, as we know it, with the advent of Internet, because literature only strives on our imagination while reading.  This uses only one sense, maybe a one dimensional communications method, while  Internet is almost three dimensional and access almost all of our senses. Or at least much more than reading and if properly and competently used, is a entirely different game and changes completely our sense of reality.

I’ll make some reflections first using Auerbach’s Mimesis and at the end of this post, I will suggest a perfect example on the possibilities Internet offers us in a Netflix project.

Not to mention that mankind has other cultures besides literature, specially printed on books. Take a look in that discussion to understand what I have in mind.

This is a subjecti in itself and I will eventually tackle it. For the moment, take a look at the following:

Transition from oral to  written culture

Additional_Folklife_Info

Back to Mimesis, I quote from Wikipedia (because you can’t find it in Portuguese and I will use it to translate:

Repeated here from  The Greek and the Middle Ages point of view as an introduction before exploring what there is of Dante in Mimesis.

Erich Auerbach (November 9, 1892 – October 13, 1957) was   a  German philologist and comparative scholar and critic of literature. His best-known work is Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, a history of representation in Western literature from ancient to modern times and frequently cited as a classic in the study of realism in literature.[1]

Mimesis famously opens with a comparison between the way the world is represented in Homer’s Odyssey and the way it appears in the Bible. From these two seminal Western texts, Auerbach builds the foundation for a unified theory of representation that spans the entire history of Western literature, including even the Modernist novelists writing at the time Auerbach did his study. (1942/1945)

Mimesis gives an account of the way in which everyday life in its seriousness has been represented by many Western writers, from ancient Greek and Roman writers such as Petronius and Tacitus, early Christian writers such as AugustineMedieval writers such as Chretien de TroyesDante, and BoccaccioRenaissance writers such as MontaigneRabelaisShakespeare and Cervantes, seventeenth-century writers such as Molière and RacineEnlightenment writers such as Voltaire, nineteenth-century writers such as StendhalBalzacFlaubert, and Zola, all the way up to twentieth-century writers such as Proust, and Woolf. Despite his treatment of the many major works, Auerbach apparently did not think he was comprehensive enough, and apologized in the original publication in 1946 explaining that he had access only to the ‘insufficient’ resources available in the library at Istanbul University where he worked.[2] Many scholars consider this relegation to primary texts a happy accident of history, since in their view one of the great strengths of Auerbach’s book is its focus on fine-grained close reading of the original texts rather than an evaluation of critical works.

The mode of literary criticism in which Mimesis operates is often referred to among contemporary critics as historicism, since Auerbach largely regarded the way reality was represented in the literature of various periods to be intimately bound up with social and intellectual conventions of the time in which they were written. Auerbach considered himself a historical perspectivist in the German tradition (he mentioned Hegel in this respect) exploring specific features of stylegrammarsyntax, and diction claims about much broader cultural and historical questions. Of Mimesis, Auerbach wrote that his “purpose is always to write history.”

He is in the same German tradition of philology as Ernst CurtiusLeo Spitzer, and Karl Vossler, having a mastery of many languages and epochs and all-inclusive in its approach, incorporating just about any intellectual endeavor into the discipline of literary criticism.

Auerbach was a Romance language specialist, which explains his admitted bias towards treating texts from French compared to other languages.  Chaucer and Wordsworth are not mentioned even in passing, though Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf are given full chapters and Dickens and Henry Fielding make appearances.

Obviously all that scares up anyone, specially if adding all the languages involved. But you can use it as an Encyclopedia and as a scaffold to explore a perspective on Literature in its capacity to justify itself.

In Mimesis, I found in the cross reference and comment here the following about Dante since I will comment Auerbach’s book on Dante separately:

Farinata and Cavalcante

Perhaps the contents of pages 174/202 is a good example of what has to be balanced when one approaches the reading and comprehension of Dante’s Divine Comedy, more precisely, his Inferno.

Auerbach in his usual method, picks up Farinata and Calcante,  from the 10th canto of the Inferno which begins with Virgil and Dante walking along a secret pathway among flaming chests whose lids stand open. Virgil explains that they are the tombs of heretics and atheists, and promises Dante fulfillment of his hinted wish to communicate with one of the spirits there confined. Farinata pops up reciting O Tosco.

They have a conversation interrupted by the father of Dante’s early friend the poet Guido Cavalcanti. Notice that Dante represents Cavalcanti and Farinata as neighbors in the same tomb in Hell, but without any interaction between them.

Farinata

Bear in mind that Dante uses 21 lines in this interaction and the whole of his presentation of what happens with those who choose heresy  takes only some 70 lines.  Auerbach himself uses 26 lines in his analysis. Take a look on a modern analysis of that under two sources:

Teodolinda  Barolini coments on canto 10

The University of Texas on canto 10

I can see that the water runs pretty deep, but where is the baby?

Perhaps on what Auerbach says at page 277 and I quote:

“Actually the Christian unity of the cosmos, and the figural preservation of the earthly personality in the divine judgment, led to a very strong concept of the indestructible permanence of the individual (most strongly evident in Dante, but also to be seen elsewhere). And this was first endangered when Christian unity and Christian immortality no longer dominated the European concept of the universe.”

Or what he says in page 321, and I quote:

“With the first dawn of humanism, there began to be a sense that the events of classical history and legend and also those of the Bible were not separated from the present simply by an extent of time but also by completely different conditions of life. Humanism with its program of renewal of antique forms of life and expression creates a historical perspective in depth such as no previous epoch known to us possessed: the humanists see antiquity in historical depth, and, against that background, the dark epochs of the intervening Middle Ages. It makes no difference what errors of conception and interpretation they may have been guilty of in detail-the vision in perspective was gained. From Dante on it is possible to detect traces of such a historical perspective; in the sixteenth century it grows more distinct and more widely known, and even though, as we shall see, the tendency to accept antiquity as an absolute model and to neglect everything pertaining to the intervening centuries threatened to expel historical perspective from men’s consciousness again, it was never successful to the extent of reestablishing the autarchic life natural to antique culture or the historical naivete of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In addition there is in the sixteenth century the effect of the great discoveries which abruptly widened the cultural and geographic horizon and hence also men’s conception of possible forms of human life. The various European peoples came to regard themselves as national entities and hence grew conscious of their distinctive characteristics. Finally the schism in the Church contributed to differentiating various groups of people. In consequence the comparatively simple contrast of Greek or Roman versus barbarian or Christian versus heathen was replaced by a much more complex picture of human society. This did not happen all at once; it was prepared over a long period of time; but in the sixteenth century it progresses by leaps and bounds, adding enormously both to the breadth of perspective and to the number of individuals acquiring it. The world of realities in which men live is changed; it grows broader, richer in possibilities, limitless. And it changes correspondingly when it appears as the subject matter of artistic representation. The sphere of life represented in a particular instance is no longer the only one possible or a part of that only and clearly circumscribed one.”

Or what he says at page 323, not only about Dante, but about the whole context which was changing, specially on the Shakeaspeare saw it:

“..the drama of Christ is no longer the general drama, is no longer the point of confluence of all the streams of human destiny. The new dramatized history has a specific human action as its center, derives its unity from that center, and the road has been opened for an autonomously human tragedy. The great order of the past – Fall, Divine Sacrifice, Last Judgment – recedes, the human drama finds its order within itself; and it is at this point that antique precedent intervenes with plot-complication, crisis, and tragic resolution; the division of the action into acts is from the same source. But the freedom of tragedy, and the realm of man generally, no longer acknowledge the limits of antiquity. The dissolution of medieval Christianity, running its course through a series of great crises, brings out a dynamic need for self-orientation, a will to trace the secret forces of life. Through this need and will, magic and science, the elemental sphere and the moral and human sphere, become mutually related. An immense system of sympathy seems to pervade the universe. Furthermore Christianity had conceived the problems of humanity (good and evil, guilt and destiny) more excitingly, antithetically, and even paradoxically than had antiquity. Even after the solution contained in the drama of original sin and salvation began to lose its validity, the more deeply stirring conception of the problem and the related ideas of the nature of man long remained influential. In Shakespeare’s work the liberated forces show themselves as fully developed yet still permeated with the entire ethical wealth of the past. Not much later the restrictive countermovements gained the upper hand. Protestantism and the Counter Reformation, absolutistic ordering of society and intellectual life, academic and puristic imitation of antiquity, rationalism and scientific empiricism, all operated together to prevent Shakespeare’s freedom in the tragic from continuing to develop after him. Thus Shakespeare’s ethical and intellectual world is much more agitated, multilayered, and, apart from any specific dramatic action, in itself more dramatic than that of antiquity. The very ground on which men move and actions take their course is more unsteady and seems shaken by inner disturbances. There is no stable world as background, but a world which is perpetually reengendering itself out of the most varied forces. No reader or spectator can fail to sense this; but it may not be superfluous to describe the dynamism of Shakespeare’s thought in somewhat greater detail and give an example of it. In antique tragedy the philosophizing is generally undramatic; it is sententious, aphoristic (as by proverbs, for ex.), is abstracted from the action and generalized, is detached from the personage and his fate. In Shakespeare’s plays it becomes personal; it grows directly out of the speaker’s immediate situation and remains connected with it. It is not a result of the experience gained in the action, nor an effective rejoinder in the stychomythia (dialogue in which two characters speak alternate lines of verse, used as a stylistic device in ancient Greek drama); it is dramatic self-scrutiny seeking the right mode and moment for action or doubting the possibility of finding them. When the most revolutionary of the Greek tragic poets, Euripides, attacks the class distinctions between men, he does so in a sententiously constructed verse to the effect that only the name dishonors the slave; otherwise a noble slave is nowise inferior to a free man.”

Dante and Shakeaspeare.

Dante and Shakeaspeare II.

References to Dante in the 17th century

The Netflix project I suggest is Nobel. Besides being a perfect example where a specific human action is centered, its main concern is Evil, which appears completely on its own, i.e., it is something inside of us, and not as an outside projection such as an action of the Devil, or whatever external factor affecting us. Erling Riiser is the 21rst century Dante.

The subject of this series is the kind of thing that moves me in my quest to figure out evil, trying to understand this harsh and absurd reality we are stuck with and above all, try to  control it and see if there is anything that could be done to leave it out or neutralize it.

Last but not least, before we jump to Dante: Poet of the Secular World, it has to be said that above all, Mimesis is highly readable and enjoyable placing Auerbach in a class by itself.

 

 

Visões do céu e do inferno antes de Dante

(See it in English

Não há dúvida de que a visão de Dante sobre o Inferno, que em Ingles virou sinonimo, é  campeã absoluta de tal empreendimento na literatura ocidental, se não da Cultura também. Como era, então, antes que Dante representasse sua idéia na sua obra-prima e ter ficado embutida no imaginário Ocidental?

Qual foi, exatamente, a contribuição de Dante? De acordo com a Enciclopedia Dante. Ed. Richard Lansing. Garland, 2000, verbete de Teodolinda Barolini foi o seguinte:

“Também fundamental para construir uma representação persuasiva do inferno é o que Dante chama contrapasso (” contra-sofrimento “, Inf. 28.142), o princípio pelo qual a punição se encaixa no crime.
Para Dante, o contrapasso freqüentemente assume a forma de literalizar uma metáfora: assim, as almas dos luxuriosos são lançadas por uma tempestade do Inferno, porque na vida, foram golpeadas por suas paixões; Os separatistas, que na vida alugam o corpo políticamente, agora encontram seus próprios corpos rasgados (separados em pedaços). As penas impostas por Dante exibem notável  inventividade e se inspiram de um amplo
espectro de fontes, de motivos tradicionais como a imersão passo a passo de um pecador em um rio ou lago (já presente no Apocalipse de Paulo) e a metamorfose do homem em árvore como em Aen. 3.

Em geral, Dante efetivamente implementa passo a passo o contrapasso para desviar qualquer sensação de aleatoriedade ou arbitrariedade e de esvaziar seu texto com um sentimento da ordem e da justiça de Deus. Deste modo, o contrapasso é uma ferramenta crucial na tentativa de Dante de representar o Inferno de uma maneira que confirma a declaração em seu portal de entrada – Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore (“Justiça moveu meu Criador lá em cima”, Inf. 3.4) – e em um maneira que reflete sua verdadeira natureza: uma vez que o inferno é merecida separação de Deus, o castigo não é algo infligido por Deus, mas a conseqüência do próprio pecado. Aqui também, embora algumas das penas de Dante possam parecer mais adequadas do que outras, e alguns sugerem de forma mais transparente que o pecado seja punido, uma comparação do Inferno de Dante com os de seus precursores revela que ele é o primeiro autor a implantar uma ideologia de decoro moral não esporadicamente, mas como uma característica sistemática de seu outro mundo.

Em última análise, é claro, o que mais distingue o Inferno de Dante de outras representações do Inferno é que ele cria pecadores tão complexos e vivos que o leitor é compelido a simpatizar e se identificar com eles, em vez de simplesmente temer sua propria sorte e resolver evitar isso. Enquanto que as lições dos Infernos anteriores são diretas – cuidado, conserte seus caminhos, ou isso acontecerá com você – o leitor do Inferno de Dante é atraído para uma dança muito mais sofisticada, na qual ele ou ela deve escolher entre os cantos de sereia dos pecadores que são diabólicamente atraentes e trágicamente humanos. Somente Dante constrói um Inferno em que o leitor encontra figuras como Francesca, Brunetto e Ulysses, e é induzido a se envolver nos desafios não apenas da morte, mas da vida.

Qual é o vazio que Dante preencheu? Surpreendentemente, se você procurar no google, a resposta mais adequada vem de um trabalho despretensioso de Eileen Gardiner, que contém versões inglesas de uma dúzia de visões medievais do céu e do inferno que vão do segundo século ao décimo terceiro.

Estas visões são as seguintes e você pode ler o livro ou dar uma olhada no que a Internet diz sobre eles: