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Dante and Governance$
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John Woodhouse

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198159117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159117.001.0001

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From Darkness to Light: Governance and Government in Purgatorio XVI

From Darkness to Light: Governance and Government in Purgatorio XVI

Chapter:
(p.12) 2 From Darkness to Light: Governance and Government in Purgatorio XVI
Source:
Dante and Governance
Author(s):

Piero Boitani

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159117.003.0002

This chapter presents an example of the subject of governance which contains ethical, theological, and personal implications more complex and profound than a modem audience might expect if confronted with a more simplistic title, such as Politics in Dante. It offers a reading of Purgatorio XVI which presents the episode as a brilliant miniature of the entire Commedia. The canto opens with the despair of ‘the darkness of hell and of a night bereft of stars’ and closes with the hope of ‘the dawn shining through the smoke, and already glowing bright’. The central terzine outline the ideal itinerary of the human soul, released with a light grace from the hand of a joyful God. But as the canto proceeds, the ideal is spoiled and the journey interrupted by the reality of the world.

Keywords:   Purgatorio XVI, Virgil, blindness, personal sin, ecclesiastical poverty

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