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Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Timeless Journey
Saturday, December 1, 2018 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
"Dante and the Divine Comedy", 1465, by Domenico di Michelino in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy
The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges said that no one should ever deny themselves the pleasure or reading Dante. Take Borges at his word, and let the artistry of Dante’s epic poem delight and amaze you. The Divine Comedy offers us the most familiar, yet most mysterious of all spectacles.
Frank Ambrosio, director of Georgetown University’s My Dante Project, lays out a roadmap that enables participants to experience the Comedy as Dante intended: a journey of his self-discovery, both terrible and sublime, set in a landscape as varied as the array of unforgettable characters who reside there. For readers, it can be a rewarding journey of personal discovery, too.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Introduction: “In the Middle of Life’s Journey”
How Dante’s poem speaks to us at the level of our basic humanity.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Inferno: “Abandon All Hope Who Enter Here”
Dante’s portrayal of the human condition as characterized by relationship, freedom, and responsibility; the meaning and significance of sin and damnation; sin as a revelation of an alternative possibility—forgiveness.
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. Purgatorio: Freedom and Forgiveness
How the Purgatorio dramatizes the struggle to come to terms with human suffering; the Seven Deadly Sins as failed strategies for evading suffering; forgiveness as the transformation of suffering into meaning.
3–4:15 p.m. Paradiso: The Joy of the White Rose
How Paradiso invites us to imagine what is the very best we can possibly hope for as the meaning of our lives, without drifting into irresponsible fantasy.
Ambrosio is an associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, where he has taught courses in Dante for more than 20 years.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
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Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)