The Aristotelian background to Dante, and Dante's expressing in poetic terms the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas is explored. Like Swift, Dante presents what Aristotle called “probable impossibilities,” and shows sinners punished less by an external agency than by their own obsessive immersion in their vices—hence a chosen eternity of suffering. The structure of Inferno: sins against charity, in increasing gravity, lead to images of spirits in ice, removed as far as possible from the light and warmth of the good, which is God. The precision and concreteness of the moral and spiritual geography of Dante, and the paradox that love created hell, are explored.
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