Professors Cook and Herzman provide you with an illuminating introduction to one of the greatest works ever written. One of the most profound and satisfying of all poems, The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri is a book for life. In a brilliantly constructed narrative of his imaginary guided pilgrimage through the three realms of the Christian afterlife, Dante accomplished a literary task of astonishing complexity.
But the full achievement of the Commedia goes beyond anything merely literary. In these twenty-four lectures, as you follow Dante on his journey, you'll learn how medieval literature offers insights into fundamental questions: What is the quality of our moral actions? How does spiritual transformation come about? What is the nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, sin and sanctity? Why is the world so full of strife? How do we go on when we lose the things we love? You'll discover why, in the centuries since the Commedia was written, not one of these questions has lost its force. Moreover, you'll hear Dante address them in a demanding and innovative Italian verse form (terza rima) that makes the Commedia one of the great virtuoso pieces of world literature.
With the guidance of these two master professors, you'll learn invaluable background information on Dante's life and times; why Dante wrote the Commedia; how to approach the various English editions available; and how each part of the poem is connected to what has come before. But above all, you'll understand why the Commedia is not a puzzle to be solved or a book to be read and put aside-but a mystery whose beauty and richness is to be constantly savored.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
50 something geek.
Yes I will definitely listen to this again. Its chalk full of information on the symbolism, characters, and political climate that existed in Italy around the time Dante wrote the Commedia. The first listen has given me an over view of the work. I will go back to fill in the details with my own copy of the translation so that I can experience the work as it was meant to be experienced.
Dante's "Divine Comedy" is a classic that is somewhat inaccessible to many readers today who don't have a degree in Italian history, politics and art. This presentation cuts through all that and allow everyone to access the themes and meanings in the work. The poem is presented line by line with descriptions of every line and character. Its provides an excellent way for a modern reader to enjoy this extraordinary work.
The performance is presented in a clear and easy to listen to lecture format. Its broken down into 30 minute sessions which are excellent for the drive into work so its easy to bring Dante along.
I was really caught off guard by how enlightening this course was. The authors immediately dispel the common perception of the Comedia as some kind of poetic revenge fantasy and break through to the core of Dante's vision. Introducing the readers to a bit of the necessary history, the course is then able to spring board into Dante's perspective on sin and virtue. One warning, this course necessarily only skims the surface of what is to be found in The Divine Comedy. Nevertheless it is a great first step for anyone seeking to understand the great Florentine poet!
The course is taught by two professors, apparently Catholic, and obviously well versed with Dante and one of them with Church history.
The course, however, is more like a history of who was who in Dante as well as the politics of his time, although they certainly touch upon the philosophical and theological points that Dante makes throughout.
Excellent pair of lecturers. Made the subject matter very accessible and understandable. Highly recommend this as an adjunct to your reading of the poem
Authors provide abgreat overview w referrals to translations. lively theological insertions to stay faithful to Dantes Weltanschauung.
They did a great job guiding through the poem. After listening to the lectures I was well equipped to read and understand the poem on it's own terms. The penguin classic they recommend by Mike Musa provides excellent notes.
If you have ever wanted to read this giant in Western literature, then get this course and get a book to read along.
Aires male -- often butts head against reality
This is the first time I listened to a contrapuntal series of lectures and the techniquet works well, helping to maintain interest. I would urge anyone planning to listen to these lectures to read or listen to the Divine Comedy first; you will get far more out of the lectures that way.
I have only one question and one criticism:
Why is Trajan, a pagan who never accepted Jesus as savior AND who encouraged persecution of Christians given a place in the Paradise of the Just.
My guess, which is not considered by Professors Herzman and Cook is the following:
Trajan persecuted far more Jews than Christians. In fact, it is Trajan and his troops who laid the final siege of Jerusalem, sacked the city, took thousands of Jewish slaves to Rome to build the Colosseum, and paid for it with the stolen treasures of the destroyed Temple. Trajan is responsible for the first major Jewish diaspora. In fact, in my view, it precisely because Trajan is the cause of this disaster to the Jews that Dante gives him a place in heaven.
Why? Certainly by Dante's time, the many libels against the Jews had taken firm root in Christendom. Christians blamed Jews for the execution of Jesus and were fiendishly inventive in the canards they concocted about Jewish religious practices. Christians also believed that the only reason Jews should still be tolerated in their midst was an object lesson of divine judgment: This is what happens to a people that commits deicide. Moreover, Christians theology required the destruction of the Temple and its sacrifices because the death of Jesus was the final expiatory sacrifice for sin. God himself could not allow the Temple and its sacrifices to continue since they would now be heretical. Hence, from Dante's point of view, Trajan acted as so many other pagan kings in the Hebrew Bible did: as the tool of a wrathful God who wanted to punish the Jewish people. For that service, Trajan naturally would get a place in heaven.
I welcome any alternative interpretations to this one.
"A wonderful way to understand this masterpiece"
Excellent teaching. Easy on the ear and a wonderful way in to this classic text. Full of interesting explanations and new thoughts for me on Dante
This lecture series gives you exactly what it says. The tag-team lecturers take a few minutes to get used to, but its unnoticeable once you get going. It helps if you've read at least a synopsis of the poem and have a cursory understanding of Italian history, but they go pretty thoroughly into everything, so you could probably survive without any background read.
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