The Significance Of Virgil In The Inferno — страница 2

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are of a Heavenly nature. Accordingly, Virgil?s influence, being a symbol of reason, falls short with these souls. They must wait for a Heavenly messenger to come before they can proceed to the lower circles of Hell. 4 In addition to being the symbol of reason, Virgil is also a fatherly figure to Dante. Dante frequently describes him as such in the poem. Describing in ways such as ?the sweet Guide and Father?. Virgil at times protects Dante in a fatherly manner, as when they encounter the three furies at the gate of Dis. At the horrible sight of the furies, Dante draws closer to Virgil. The furies then call Medusa to turn the two poets into stone. Virgil commands Dante to turn his back and cover his eyes. He then turns Dante himself puts his hands on top of Dante?s to help shield

his eyes. This scene rings with a fatherly, protective tone. It is obvious that Dante views Virgil as a sort of paternal figure. This figure could have many meanings. Obviously, Virgil could represent a forefather and creator of the art of poetry. Dante, committing himself to this craft, could view himself as a surrogate, a bearer of the noble name of poetry that forefathers in the art created. More importantly, though, he is a father of virtue. He represents the nobility of all of those great thinkers of the classical world, and the heights they attained in logic, ethics, science, and art. However, like any father-child relationship, there comes a point when the child must usurp his father. However noble and wise a father may be, his wisdom is limited to that that was available

in his lifetime. The child has not only available to him all of his father?s knowledge, but also new ideas and enlightenments that come about as time moves on. In this case, the new enlightenment happens to be 5 the Catholic religion. Reason and logic aren?t useless in Dante?s view, but they are incomplete without the next step, faith in God and repentance of sins. Dante illustrates his matching of the virtues of Virgil when he is accepted so readily into the circle of poets that inhabit The Citadel where the honorable pagans dwelled. The poets, ?the masters of that highest school whose song outsoars all other like an eagle?s flight?, confer amongst themselves and then ?turned and welcomed me most graciously.? Dante here dubiously illustrates the feeling that he is on par with

the greatest poets in history. He has matched their abilities. His superceding of these forefathers is symbolized in his ability to traverse where they cannot. Virgil must leave Dante in the hands of a more worthy soul when his journey though hell is done. Dante, having sought the divine knowledge that his father figure didn?t seek in his life, is granted passage into a higher realm. He thus usurps the power of Virgil. So, Virgil represents in The Inferno the accomplishments of reason and art in the classical world. He also symbolizes their shortcomings, the fact that their view of life was incomplete. Life to Dante can only be complete for one who seeks, with reason and logic as his tools, knowledge of the Higher Power.