Dante’s Divine Comedy: Contrapasso

Dante’s Divine Comedy: Contrapasso Essay Sample

The Divine Comedy is a poem, written by Dante Alighieri in the beginning of the 14th century, which gives the most extensive synthesis of the medieval culture and an anthology of the world. This poem is a medieval encyclopedia of scientific, political, philosophical, moral, and theological knowledge. It is recognized as the greatest work of the both Italian and world literature. In his “Divine Comedy”, Dante builds a strict system of the world beyond the grave from the point of view of the Catholic Christianity, representing it in the form of nine circles of the Hell. Building the model of the Hell, Dante imitates Aristotle, who classified the human sins in his Nicomachean Ethics. According to Aristotle, the more material a sin is, the more forgiving it is.

The discussion was centered around the matter whether the punishment for sins during the life fit the crime. Dante in his Divine Comedy presented various circles of the Hell and introduced the notion of Contrapasso. Apparently, Dante took the God’s purposeful justice as the basis, classifying crimes from the theft to the lust. His descriptions of each torturous punishment after the unrighteous actions committed on earth were done with the ironic humor. “Contrapasso” is an Italian word, meaning the counter-penalty. In Dante’s poem, the human souls are paying redemption according to the nature of their sins during the lifetime. The Hell of Dante was not presented according to the traditional religious beliefs about it as a place where deceased persons, punished by God, had to pay for misdemeanors, committed during their lives. Dante gave us a complex psychological illustration of how certain laws, peculiar to our nature, act within us. Dante wanted to make it clear because these laws always have an impact on your whole life. Dante’s stories about the Hell teach us about the law of Contrapasso, which is an idea similar to the Eastern concept of karma, the scriptural notion of “as you sow, so shall you reap” and related to the scientific concept of the causal relationship, when each our action gives rise to opposition, and to the eternal concept that we need to pay for everything accordingly. The most famous meaning of Contrappasso is the retribution. The Westworld Contrappasso in the sense of an “eye for an eye” is much more common, and this notion is associated precisely with the concept of justice, described in the Old Testament. Dante the poet used a method of Contrapasso to describe the torment to which various sinners are subjected to the hell. Dante believed that the punishment should correspond to the crime committed.

The energy follows thought. If for example, you turn your thoughts toward a negative state of greed or envy, you force yourself to suffer from a hungry, unfulfilled energy of life in this state. From the point of view of traditional religion, you say that you will be punished in another life for your envy, but the truth is that you are suffering right now, being envious: the greed and the envy themselves punish you. Thus, the law of Contrapasso puts you in a difficult, but reassuring situation – we are responsible for how we use our mind and on what we can concentrate our thoughts. It is important to understand how to develop our consciousness in the direction of the greater inner freedom and spirituality. We need to understand one thing: our mind can lead us either to the realm of light or to the eternal sufferings in the Hell.

To Dante’s opinion, everything in this world is interconnected. The retribution depends on the human behavior. He wanted to oppose the real life with the ideal world of eternity, which had a single beginning. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” so sinners most often used to fall into the higher circles of the Hell for their former good intentions. But in the higher circles, there is still the hope for forgiveness. The lower circles are full of hardened criminals, but there are exceptions. The physical sufferings of sinners are not so terrible as spiritual ones. The human soul is alive, as long as a person is remembered. Therefore, one character in the poem asks Dante to remind people of his existence. Dante believed that the freedom of human activity is an indispensable condition, not only for posthumous retribution but also for a person’s moral assessment. Using the freedom granted to him, a person is able to fulfill his earthly destiny.

Dante was confident that the nobility of the individual does not depend on the wealth. The only devotional activity during the life can elevate the human nature to the level of the divine. As we see, “The Divine Comedy” embodied a new humanistic ideal. The main character of the poem is the poet himself, who has learned what others have not previously understood, becomes this ideal for all mankind. A passionate man, whose soul was full of compassion for the mankind, hopes to change the life for the better, he always was searching his way in a world of the bloody enmity. He was wrong, disappointed, but he tried to learn the truth and bring it to people again and again.