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Dante's Deadly Sins


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Table of Contents

About the Author x Preface xii The Rationale xii The Origin xiii Acknowledgments xvii Introduction 1 The Historical Context 1 The Life of Dante 3 Later Writings 8 The Commedia 12 Dante's Death 14 Aims of this Book 15 Dante as Moral Philosopher 17 1 Inferno 19 Dante's Mission 19 The Journey Begins 20 Vestibule (Ante-Hell): The Indecisive Neutrals 21 Upper Hell: Sins of Unrestrained Desire (the Wolf) 23 River Styx, Walls of the City of Dis 28 Lower Hell: Sins of Malice Leading to Violence (the Lion) 30 Lower Hell: Sins of Malice Leading to Fraud (the Leopard) 34 Dante's Existential Lessons in Hell 46 2 Purgatorio 48 Purgatory in a Nutshell 48 The Journey Continues 50 Ante-Purgatory: Late Repentants 50 Gate of Purgatory 56 The First Three Terraces: Misdirected Love 57 The Fourth Terrace: Deficient Love of the Good 62 The Final Three Terraces: Excessive Love of Secondary Goods 64 Dante's Existential Lessons in Purgatory 71 3 The Notion of Desert and the Law of Contrapasso 73 The Notion of Desert 73 The Contrapasso 81 The Problem of Proportionality 87 First Case Study: Francesca 90 Second Case Study: Brutus and Cassius 92 Third Case Study: Epicurus 99 Dante's Moral Conception 102 4 Paradoxes and Puzzles: Virgil and Cato 104 The Paradox of Virgil 105 Summary of the Paradox of Virgil 111 The Strange Case of Cato 116 "The Perfect Stoic" 117 Dante's Decision 120 Dante and Conflict 123 5 The Seven Deadly Sins 124 Historical Background 124 Superbia (Pride) 127 Invidia (Envy) 129 Ira (Wrath) 133 Acedia (Sloth) 137 Avaritia (Avarice) 138 Gula (Gluttony) 139 Luxuria (Lust) 140 The Antidote: Righteous Love 142 The Bridge to Salvation 148 6 Dante's Existential Moral Lessons 149 Dante and Existentialism 149 Jean-Paul Sartre and Hell 150 Dante's Ten Existential Lessons 157 Individualism and Community 176 Personal Strategies 179 Bibliography 185 Index 193

About the Author

Raymond Angelo Belliotti is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He has published ten other books, including What Is the Meaning of Human Life? (2001), Happiness Is Overrated (2004), W atching Baseball Seeing Philosophy (2008), Niccolo Machiavelli (2008), and Roman Philosophy and the Good Life (2009). Belliotti has received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, the William T. Hagan Young Scholar/Artist Award, the Kasling Lecture Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship, and the SUNY Foundation Research and Scholarship Recognition Award.


"In this thought-provoking book Belliotti draws Dante's Commedia into conversation with existentialist philosophy. . . Despite these questions, Belliotti's book is essential reading for anyone interested in Dante. In it the reader will find a refreshingly different take on the moral vision underscored by Dante's Commedia." (The Heythrop Journal, 24 July 2015)

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