• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

One of the oldest and most unsettled theological debates is the existence of evil and sin

Extracts from this document...


One of the oldest and most unsettled theological debates is the existence of evil and sin. Throughout the monotheistic centuries, religionists have delved deeply into this convoluted problem. How can evil exist in a world that is wholly informed by God, the ultimate Good? What could ever lure man, bestowed with divine qualities, to sin to the incredible extent human history has witnessed? Through the insightful poetic journey into the Christian afterlife and the allegorical meaning it encompasses, Dante, in his Divine Comedy, tackles and resolves with a forceful conclusion this problem of sin. He utilizes the threefold structural division of Mount Purgatory, and its allegorical symbols described therein to reveal his insightful conception of love and freewill, as he exposes the roots of not only good deeds, but sin as well. Through his carefully organized arrangement of the afterlife, Dante brings to light the significance of the halfway point of cantos XVII and XVIII of Purgatory. By placing Virgil's discourse on love and freewill at the midpoint of his own ascent up Mount Purgatory, Dante exposes the concept of freewill in the universe, as he is necessarily positioned at the centre between the Inferno and Paradise. Immediately, Dante opens his Divine Comedy with carefully chosen words to indicate something special regarding his future journey. ...read more.


At this cornice, the sin of pride is purged by a forced submission to the opposite virtue. This method adopts the Aristotelian notion of habituating virtue and forms the pattern of purgation Dante follows throughout Purgatory, as penitence is forced by either suffering the effects of the sin, practicing its opposing virtue, or both. In order to further examine the implications of Middle Purgatory, as it represents the centre and crux of Dante's assertions on love and freewill, it is necessary to first consider Upper Purgatory. In this third category, the sins of Covetousness, Gluttony and l**t are shown as consequences of excessive love. Dante's dream of the Siren before ascending these cornices indicates the character of these sins. In the dream, Dante perceives the "ancient witch" (Purgatory XIX, 58) as beautiful, though she is far from it according to common sight. His perverted gaze is like that of the covetous, gluttonous, and lustful who desire mundane things simply because of their distorted imagination in which narcissism is prevalent. The covetous, for example, sought to acquire great wealth in life because of the attached power that could satisfy the burning impulses of their egoism. On the Fifth Cornice, they are seen "weeping, their faces turned towards the ground" (Purgatory XIX, 72), focused upon the earth in which they invested too much in life. ...read more.


Rational love in the mind should see the good and desire it, but if it fails to pursue it with all the power of its freewill then inadequate love is purged on this fourth and middle terrace, that of the Sloth. Dante's approach to this medieval notion of love and freewill, sprung from his intellectual inheritance from Plato and Aristotle. He weaves together vivid poetic symbols, heavily charged allegorical hints and structural implications to advance a scholarly argument about the nature of good and evil. In this way, the full weight of his idea that love is actually the seed of all sin is most convincingly conveyed. Dante necessarily gives his discourse on love and freewill at the very center of his Divine Comedy to illustrate the importance of the midway point of his own spiritual ascent. Dante focuses on the importance of this pivotal moment early on, when he presents the "midway" as the first word in the work, clearly illustrating its significance. Dante's elaborate sketch of the climb from the depths of the Inferno to the Earthly Paradise is really an inner spiritual journey devoted to exposing his own sins and discovering the underlying layer of pure love that is found within his own heart. When Dante does finally pass through the fire and enters the Earthly Paradise he recognizes it as a return to the starting point of the Christian quest, and not his final destination, as it is only then that he understands love's true purpose. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Christianity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Christianity essays

  1. The Theme of Suffering in the Gospel of Mark.

    The confirmation of suffering as part of life is a source of strength for Christians. Mark seems to see the disciples not simply as historical figures from the past but as representative of Christians of his own time. The instructions Jesus gives his followers, the difficulty they have in understanding

  2. The serpent serves several functions in The Book of Genesis. It functions as ...

    (Genesis 3:1-8) The serpents' message is an indication of opening one's eyes to knowledge. By providing one with the wisdom to know the difference between good and evil. But God did not want them to be God like. He created them, and was jealous and angry that they should be equal or even better than him.

  1. Free essay

    In what way would it be fair to describe Martin Luther as a revolutionary(TM)?

    did not need to buy indulgences to get into heaven, but through good works and faith, they were equal to the priests that they had come to despise. This was a revolutionary idea. 3 "...let everyman who has learnt that he is a Christian recognise what he is, and be certain that we are all equally priests..."

  2. Outline Luther's theological principle of sola scriptura (by the Bible alone), and assess its ...

    From analysis of these direct and indirect consequences it will be concluded that Luther's principle was of the utmost theological importance. I will also strive to demonstrate sola scriptura's wider importance in that it had far reaching effects, both theologically and in other respects, such as politically.

  1. Although there is no passage in the Bible which explicitly states the absolute dominance ...

    witch was acting in an ?unusual? manner, there was a possibility that she would have to pay for it with her life (Muchembled). Ideas common at the time were that the female body was fouler than that of man, and for that reason the demons preferred to mate with and possess women.

  2. Critically assess the claim that the response of the Early Church to Gnosticism provided ...

    anew and established on a firmer foundation those points of Christian revelation which were particularly attacked and threatened by Gnostic teachings.? In order to refute the claim that heretics were the sole possessors of revelation the Christian theologians set to work to prevent the collapse by bringing forward the concepts of apostolic tradition and succession and confirming what constituted Scripture.

  1. In the minds of Roman Catholics living in the North America, regardless of abortion ...

    However, a married couple (Wade) with no children attacked the laws and argued against Roe because they believed that she did not have the right to expel the child. The Wades argument was based on the following quote: ?the future possibilities of contraceptive failure, pregnancy, unpreparedness for parenthood, and impairment

  2. How is Spiritual and Religious Awareness in the Contemporary World Reflected in Popular Music?

    1987 27% were aware of the presence of God, rising to 38% in 2000[12]. The demand for religion and for people to express their spirituality is still apparent in society; the problem is how people perceive the Church itself. Research has suggested that the church is disconnected from society, and is perceived as out-dated and irrelevant[13].

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work