Looking back on Filippo Argenti

Geraden

New Member
I have been following your Inferno classes with interest – asynchronously because I am in Britain.



I know this comes rather late, but I noted the difficulty Corey had in Canto VIII with Dante's supposedly 'unchristian' attitude to Filippo Argenti.

In the story, the souls in hell are eternally damned, rejected by the God whom they have in life rejected. They are unable to repent, because repentance is a promise of future amendment. The damned have no future because they are already outside of time. They are fixed in their torment as they are fixed in their sins. Because they are without hope, pity is not an appropriate response to their plight. The appropriate responses, which Dante displays, are revulsion, rejection and condemnation.

In the allegory, Dante's response to Argenti is a significant milestone on his own spiritual pilgrimage from the dark wood of error to the presence of God. Here Dante clearly sides with the Good for the first time, and for this he is praised by Virgil.

I was introduced to the Divine Comedy decades ago, via Dorothy L Sayers' verse translation, and I would really recommend her commentaries for the sound way in which she uses Scholastic theology to draw out the meanings of Dante's work.
 

Bruce N H

Member
I agree that looking at this through an allegorical lens is important. Looking at this as the journey of Dante's soul from sin and error ultimately through sanctification and to God you could see this as Dante rejecting wrath. Earlier he had pity, e.g. on the lustful, but this could be him still holding on to a little bit of his sin as maybe not so bad (there's got to be a parallel passage from Lewis, probably from the Great Divorce or from Screwtape), but here he's full on rejecting his sin. Rather than "O master, I am very eager to see that guy from Florence I don't like soused within this broth", read it as "O master, I am very eager to see my own sin of wrath taken from me and soused within this broth". Perhaps Dante saw wrath as a particularly problematic sin in himself that he needed to repent of.
 

Geraden

New Member
I agree that looking at this through an allegorical lens is important. Looking at this as the journey of Dante's soul from sin and error ultimately through sanctification and to God you could see this as Dante rejecting wrath. Earlier he had pity, e.g. on the lustful, but this could be him still holding on to a little bit of his sin as maybe not so bad (there's got to be a parallel passage from Lewis, probably from the Great Divorce or from Screwtape), but here he's full on rejecting his sin. Rather than "O master, I am very eager to see that guy from Florence I don't like soused within this broth", read it as "O master, I am very eager to see my own sin of wrath taken from me and soused within this broth". Perhaps Dante saw wrath as a particularly problematic sin in himself that he needed to repent of.
I am glad that I am not the only one that thinks this way! I am pretty sure that Aquinas teaches somewhere that our right reaction to the torments of the damned is to rejoice in God's justice. This is not an easy doctrine for us with our 21st century sensibilities. It is not the only possible doctrine (the Eastern Church incudes those who have a universalist hope, also found in a modified form in the work of Roman Catholics like von Balthasar) but we have to accept that for Dante there was no alternative on offer: therefore criticisms of Dante-the-pilgrim or of Dante-the-poet fall short of the mark.

Lewis, of course, already shies away from this austere doctrine, particularly (as you say) in 'The Great Divorce', where the denizens of Hell are offered further opportunities of repentance. Many, it is true, reject the offer, but the shade with the lizard of lust on his shoulder eventually allows an Angel to kill the lizard. The man is saved and regains his true humanity; the dead lizard is transformed into a living stallion to serve the man as he gallops towards the mountains.

In view of Lewis's continued emphasis of the reality of Hell for those who obdurately refuse all God's offers of grace, we should see 'The Great Divorce' as a parable for the living, not as a work of eschatology.
 
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