Vergil and Dante

 

HONR 350-03/
ENGL 427-03
Spring 2003
2:00-3:20 p.m. MR
Bliss 145
Prof. G. Steinberg
Office: Bliss 216
Office Phone: 771-2106
Office Hours: 9:30-10:50 TF
and by appointment
E-mail: available through SOCS
Prof. D. Pollio
Office: Bliss 242
Office Phone: 771-2735
Office Hours: by appointment
E-mail:  pollio@tcnj.edu
 
TEXTBOOKS.
At the Bookstore:

On Reserve at the Library:

On eReserve:

Other:

COURSE DESCRIPTION.  In the history of Western literature, Vergil and Dante are probably the two most influential figures of all time.  Only the Bible and Homer can possibly compete with them.  In this course, we will read the major work of each author (the entire Aeneid and the entire Divine Comedy), looking at each poet’s magnum opus both as a masterpiece in its own right and in relation to the other writer’s work.

GOALS.  As our goals in this course, we want you

    1. to develop your familiarity with two major writers of the European tradition (Vergil and Dante),
    2. to gain a better understanding of intertextuality and literary influence,
    3. to become aware of some of the problems and advantages in studying classical and medieval literature (especially in terms of literary canon, historicity, and the reception of the poems in their own times), and
    4. to improve your speaking, critical thinking, and writing skills.
REQUIREMENTS.  For this course, you must complete the following graded assignments:
    1. twelve response papers (20 points each),
    2. an in-class oral presentation (100 points),
    3. a take-home midterm exam (180 points),
    4. a final paper of 8-12 pages (300 points), and
    5. a final exam (180 points).
Your final grade will be based on a 1000-point scale:  A = 930-1000, A- = 900-929, B+ = 870-899, B = 830-869, B- = 800-829, C+ = 770-799, C = 730-769, C- = 700-729, D+ = 670-699, D = 600-669, and F = below 600.

ATTENDANCE.  Regular attendance is a virtual necessity for successful completion of the graded assignments in this class.  Class discussion constitutes important, useful preparation for the course’s graded assignments.  If you miss a class, you will essentially lose out on that day’s contribution to your preparation, since it is never really possible to reproduce or recapture the dynamics and flow of discussion for a missed class meeting (even if you get notes from someone).  In addition, you may not submit a response paper for a class meeting that you miss.  If, however, you positively must miss a class, we expect you to find out what you missed and to come fully prepared -- without excuses -- to the next class meeting.

OFFICE HOURS.  Professor Steinberg’s office is Bliss 216.  His office hours this semester will be 9:30-10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.  If you cannot see him at this time, however, feel free as needed to call his office (771-2106) or talk to him before or after class to arrange an appointment at another time.  You may also contact him by e-mail (through SOCS), or you may leave a message for him in his box at the English department offices in Bliss 124.  E-mail is generally the fastest way to contact him in an emergency.

Professor Pollio’s office is Bliss 242.  His office hours this semester will be by appointment.  Feel free as needed to call his office (771-2735) or talk to him before or after class to arrange an appointment.  You may also contact him by e-mail (pollio@tcnj.edu).

EMAIL.  We may, on occasion, want to e-mail everyone in class.  We generally only have access to your TCNJ e-mail addresses, however.  As a result, if you regularly use an e-mail address other than your TCNJ address, we recommend that you have mail from your TCNJ address forwarded to the address you use more regularly.  That way, if we e-mail your TCNJ address, our message will be forwarded to your other address automatically.  To forward mail from your TCNJ address, just go to http://managemail.tcnj.edu/  and click “Mail Forwarding Manager.”  Follow the directions there to set up the mail forwarding.

If you would like to send an e-mail message to one or more of your classmates, you can do so through SOCS.  To access SOCS, go to http://socs.tcnj.edu and, after you have logged in with your TCNJ e-mail username and password, choose this course (listed as ENGL42703) from the list of your courses this semester.  Then, when our course page comes up, click the “Email” button.  From there, you can select individual e-mail addresses or the entire class and send a message to the address(es) you’ve selected.

RESPONSE PAPERS.  In the course of the term, you are required to write 12 short, informal papers (about 2 pages each) on the readings for class -- 6 on Vergil and 6 on Dante.  We will post questions about each day’s reading assignment for you to consider as the basis of your response.

Response papers will be graded Pass/Fail.  We ask you to type them (so that they are easier for us to read), but they need not be a perfect, polished product.  Rather, response papers should be just what their name says -- a response.  Think about the question(s) that we ask you to consider for a particular day’s reading assignment; then, write a response.  Don’t worry about typos or comma splices or organization.  Don’t worry about answering every question we ask in the assignment.  In fact, focus on the one question that seems most interesting to you, and be as specific as you can, getting down as much as you can as quickly as you can.  Treat response papers more like a journal entry than like a formal paper.  We don’t want a thesis or five-paragraph theme.  Rather, we want an exploration -- as detailed and specific as possible -- of the reading assignment for the day.

Normally, as long as you submit a response paper of suitable length, detail, and thoughtfulness (and as long as you turn it in on time on the assigned day), you will receive all 20 points that the assignment is worth.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and organization have no effect on the number of points you receive.

You may submit more than 12 response papers in the course of the semester (to make up for any response papers that do not receive a grade of Pass), but no matter how many extra response papers you turn in, you will not receive more than 120 points total for all the response papers you write on Vergil and 120 points total for all the response papers you write on Dante.  You may not submit more than one response paper on a single day, nor may you submit a response paper for a day that you are absent from class or for the day on which you do your oral presentation.  (NOTE:  Even if you do not submit a response paper on a particular day, you should still come to class prepared to discuss the assigned questions for that day, since we will focus on those questions in the in-class discussion of the reading assignment.)

ORAL PRESENTATIONS.  Each student will do an extra reading assignment for one class meeting this term.  On the assigned day, the student will do a brief oral presentation (10-15 minutes) that summarizes the extra reading assignment for everyone else in class.

COURSE SCHEDULE.  This schedule is subject to revision at the discretion of the professors.  Line numbers for Vergil are taken from the Fitzgerald translation assigned for class; line numbers for Homer are taken from the Fagles translation on reserve at the library.
Date Assignment/Topic
M Jan 20 Introductions.
R Jan 23 Reading (arma virumque cano):  Vergil’s Eclogue 1 (handout); Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 3-28 (handout)
M Jan 27 Reading (forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit):  Aeneid 1; Odyssey 5.309-end & 12.180-282; Iliad 14.270-332.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Compare and contrast the Juno/Aeolus episode with the Hera/Sleep episode in the Iliad.  How is the overall tone different and what is the significance for the Aeneid?  2.) What do Aeneas’ first two speeches reveal about his character (especially as compared with Odysseus in the Odyssey)?  3.) How would you characterize the relationship between Aeneas and Venus?  4.) What does Aeneas make of the scenes on Dido’s temple?  What do you make of them?  Do you think Aeneas interprets them “correctly”?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 29-49.
R Jan 30 Reading (timeo Danaos et dona ferentis):  Aeneid 2; Odyssey 9-12 (skim).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Consider Aeneas’ self-characterization.  Are his actions particularly “heroic” (e.g., compared with Odysseus’ self-characterization in Odyssey 9-12)?  Does Aeneas seem to have grown as a leader since the night of Troy’s fall?  2.) Why do you think Sinon’s speeches are so successful?  3.) Vergil’s original editors, Varius and Tucca, omitted the “Helen Episode” (741-72) in the Aeneid’s original publication on the grounds that it was unfinished.  Do you think that the episode belongs?  Is Aeneas’ behavior in the episode consonant with the rest of his actions?  4.) What do you think about Aeneas’ treatment of Creusa and his attitude toward her loss?  Does he take responsibility?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 50-63.
M Feb 3 Reading (Aeneas haec de Danais victoribus arma):  Aeneid 3.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) We learn that Aeneas cannot refound Troy.  Does he?  2.) How would you characterize the people and atmosphere of Buthrotum?  3.) What does Helenus’ prophecy fail to mention?  What do you think is the significance of the omission(s)?  4.) Why do you suppose the Trojans pity Achaemenides?  5.) How effective is Anchises as the Trojan leader?  6.) Book 3 is typically considered the most “Odyssean” (in particular, with respect to the action).  How similar do you find Aeneas and Odysseus?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 64-79.
R Feb 6 Reading (Italiam non sponte sequor):  Aeneid 4; C. Perkell, “On Creusa, Dido, and the Quality of Victory in Virgil’s Aeneid” (on eReserve).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Consider Dido’s love for Aeneas and her eventual suicide.  What role do the gods (Mercury, Venus, Amor, and Juno) play?  What role do the mortals (Aeneas, Anna, and Dido herself) play?  How do you think Vergil assigns blame for Dido’s suicide?  How would you assign blame?  2.) Briefly summarize the arguments of Dido and Aeneas at 403-551.  Who makes the stronger case?  With which character do you sympathize?  How do you think Aeneas really feels about Dido?  Could Aeneas have said or done anything to avert Dido’s suicide?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 80-95.
M Feb 10 Reading (unum pro multis dabitur caput):  Aeneid 5; Iliad 23.296-end.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Compare and contrast the two sets of funeral games.  What overall function do they serve in each poem?  What important elements or themes does Vergil reinforce in his contests?  2.) How successful are Iris and Somnus at persuading their audiences?  How do they end up motivating their audiences?  What do you think the episodes convey about the nature of these gods and their relationship with mortals?  3.) Why do you suppose Neptune requires a sacrifice to ensure safe passage for the Trojans -- and why Palinurus?  4.) How does Aeneas feel about Palinurus’ disappearance?  How do you think Vergil wants us to feel about it?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 96-110.
R Feb 13 Reading (ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram):  Aeneid 6; Odyssey 11.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) What are some of the symbolic meanings of the images on the doors of Apollo’s temple, the Golden Bough, and the death of Misenus?  2.) How would you explain the differences between Vergil’s description of the death of Palinurus at the end of Book 5 and Palinurus’ account in Book 6?  3.) What do you think Aeneas is trying to achieve with his speech to Dido?  What is her reaction?  Is it justified?  4.) Compare and contrast the Vergilian and Homeric representations of the Underworld.  What are the major similarities and differences?  What is the significance for the AeneidPresentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 111-27.
M Feb 17 Reading (tibi nomina mille, / mille nocendi artes):  Aeneid 7.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Consider the “psychology” of Amata and Turnus.  Why do you think Allecto chooses them as her primary targets?  Why is the simile of the spinning top (521-30) especially appropriate for Amata?  What do you think actually happens when Allecto attacks?  Does Allecto’s snake (with which she attacks Amata) seem real?  Is Turnus awake or asleep when he speaks with the disguised Allecto?  2.) Consider the role of the gods in general.  Do you think that they are symbols to explain human motivation and impulses or do they act like characters in their own right?  If you think that the gods are (at least to some degree) characters in their own right, do they seem to play on existing emotions or characteristics in humans or can they cause humans to act against their will?  Presentations:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 128-47; A. Parry, “The Two Voices of Virgil’s Aeneid” (on eReserve).
R Feb 20 Reading (rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet / attollens umero famamque et fata nepotum):  Aeneid 8; Iliad 18.547-end.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Vergil intimates a connection between Hercules, Aeneas, and Augustus, as all three are depicted as imposing order on chaos.  Are there any aspects of the Hercules-Cacus episode that should alarm us and/or make us question the validity of Hercules’ victory?  2.) What is the function of Aeneas’ tour of the future sites of Rome?  What kind of effect do you suppose this episode might have had on an ancient Roman audience?  3.) Compare and contrast the images on the shields.  What is their significance for Achilles and for Aeneas?  Why do you think Vergil describes Aeneas as “[k]nowing nothing of the events [pictured on the shield],” despite what he saw in Book 6?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 148-61.
M Feb 24 Reading (nec te Troia capit):  Aeneid 9; Iliad 10.239-end (the Doloneia).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Do you think that Turnus interprets the omen of the metamorphosis of the ships correctly?  How does Vergil characterize Turnus?  Is he an effective leader?  2.) Do a close comparison of the Nisus-Euryalus episode with the Doloneia in the Iliad.  Consider, in particular, a.) motivation of the heroes, b.) role of the gods, c.) the overall emotional tone, and d.) the outcome.  3.) What is Vergil’s judgment of Nisus and Euryalus?  What is your judgment?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 162-77.
R Feb 27 Reading (fata viam venient):  Aeneid 10 & 11, Iliad 22.1-89.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Is Jupiter’s first speech intentionally misleading?  If so, why?  2.) Compare and contrast the simile for Aeneas’ shield (375-81) with the simile for Achilles’ appearance in Iliad 22.  How do Turnus and Priam react?  What do you think accounts for their different reactions?  3.) Consider Aeneas’ reaction to Pallas’ death.  Do you think that Aeneas is now justified in his anger and treatment of suppliants?  4.) Even though Mezentius is presented as one of the Aeneid’s most despicable characters (e.g., 8.649-656), do you feel sympathy for him after his reaction to Lausus’ death?  Do you think that Aeneas will honor Mezentius’ dying request?  Why do you think Vergil ends Book 10 in this manner?  5.) Consider the speeches of Latinus, Drances, and Turnus in the Latin assembly.  What is the motivation of each speaker?  6.) Do you find Camilla a sympathetic character?  What kind of reaction to Camilla’s death do you think Vergil intended from his audience?  What is her undoing?  Presentations:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 178-94 & 195-209.
M Mar 3 Reading (ast illi solvuntur frigore membra / vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras):  Aeneid 12; Iliad 6.556-74 & 24.550-end.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Consider the death of Turnus.  Is Aeneas justified in killing Turnus?  How do you think Vergil wants us to react?  How did you react?  Is Turnus a sympathetic hero?  Is Aeneas?  Is Turnus’ death a triumph for pietas or furor.  (Be sure to include a discussion of Jupiter’s use of the Dira and his accomodation of Juno.)  2.) As you have seen, the Aeneid owes a great deal to the Iliad and Odyssey.  How does Homer’s presentation of Achilles and Odysseus affect your view of Aeneas?  What are some of the key similarities and differences between Aeneas and his Greek counterparts?  Presentation:  Perkell, Reading Vergil’s Aeneid, pp. 210-30.
R Mar 6 Catch up and wrap up.
M Mar 10 NO CLASS (Spring Break)
R Mar 13 NO CLASS (Spring Break)
M Mar 17 Reading (Nel mezzo del cammin):  Inferno I-VII; Matthew 5; 1 John (the entire first Epistle of John, not the first chapter of the Gospel of John); and Mark Balfour, “Francesca da Rimini and Dante’s Women Readers” (on eReserve).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Why is Francesca in hell?  Did you find her a sympathetic character?  What does Balfour’s article tell us about Francesca’s sin?  Do you agree with Balfour?  If reading and writing in the vernacular for women is so dangerous, why does Dante write the Divine Comedy in the vernacular?  2.) Why is Virgil (the character) in hell?  How does what Virgil says about Limbo and what we see in the castle of light relate to what 1 John and Matthew 5 say about sin and light?  What does being a Christian seem to mean to Dante?  How does a Christian differ from a pagan?  Why is a Christian better in Dante’s eyes?  Presentation:  Teodolinda Barolini, “Dante and Francesca da Rimini:  Realpolitik, Romance, Gender,” Speculum 75 (2000), 1-28 (in the periodical stacks of our library).
W Mar 19 TAKE-HOME MIDTERM DUE.
R Mar 20 Reading (ci๒ c’ha veduto pur con la mia rima):  Inferno VIII-XIV; Aeneid 6.331-852 and 3.28-101; Jacoff and Schnapp, The Poetry of Allusion, pp. 45-61 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  How do the episodes recounted in these cantos relate to Vergil (the poet)?  Focus especially on the Styx, the gates of the City of Dis, and/or Pier della Vigna.  How does Dante’s portrayal of Virgil (the character) reflect on Vergil (the poet)?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the character Virgil?  Are those the strengths and weaknesses for the poet Vergil (maybe as Dante perceives him)?  How does Dante rewrite the various images he borrows from the Aeneid (e.g., Aeneid 6.331-852 and 3.28-101)?  How does Dante’s use of Vergilian images reflect on Vergil (the poet)?  How does it reflect on Dante (the poet)?  Presentation:  Simone Marchesi, “The ‘Knot of Language’:  Sermocinatio and Contrapasso for the Rhetoricians in Dante’s Inferno” (on eReserve).
M Mar 24 Reading (Siete voi qui, ser Brunetto?):  Inferno XV-XXI; Brunetto Latini’s opening to Il Tesoretto; Burger and Kruger, Queering the Middle Ages, pp. 57-86 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Is Brunetto Latini gay?  If not, what is Brunetto’s real sin?  Why is he in hell?  If Brunetto is gay, might his homosexuality also still be a metaphor or symptom of a deeper sin?  If so, what is that deeper sin?  2.) Why does Dante keep putting his literary mentors and precursors in hell?  Is Dante perhaps making a comment on their poetry as much as on their morality?  What comment might Dante be making about Brunetto’s poetry (e.g., about the opening of Il Tesoretto)Presentation:  Peter Armour, “Brunetto, the Stoic Pessmist” (on eReserve).
R Mar 27 Reading (fatti non foste a viver come bruti):  Inferno XXII-XXVIII; Acts 2; Larry Peterman, “Ulysses and Modernity” (on eReserve); Goldin, Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouv่res, pp. 224-247 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Is Ulysses a Renaissance man (i.e., like Machiavelli, Petrarch, Columbus, and/or da Vinci)?  Why use Ulysses to symbolize the Renaissance?  How might Ulysses serve to symbolize humanism, modernity, and classicism for Dante’s audience?  What does Dante have against the Renaissance?  How does Ulysses compare to Peter and the other apostles in Acts?  2.) In what ways might Dante be commenting on Bertran de Born’s poetry by putting Bertran in hell?  How does Bertran’s punishment -- his contrapasso -- fit his poetry?  Is Dante making a comment on his poetry even more than on his morality?  Presentation:  Lawrence Warner, “Dante’s Ulysses and the Erotics of Crusading” (on eReserve).
M Mar 31 Reading (Io non pianga, s์ dentro impetrai):  Inferno XXIX-XXXIV; Ezekiel 36:24-32; Psalm 34; Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 7; John 6; Sylvia Tomasch, “Judecca, Dante’s Satan, and the Dis-placed Jew” (on eReserve).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Ugolino della Gherardesca is one of the most memorable figures in the entire Divine Comedy.  Why is he in hell?  What did he do wrong to deserve such a harsh and disgusting eternity?  In the context of the assigned readings from the Bible, what do his own words reveal about his evil?  2.) Was Lucifer an anticlimax for you?  Why might Dante want Satan to be anticlimactic?  What do you make of Tomasch’s claim that Satan is linked to Jewishness and to the absence of any Jews (other than Old Testament figures) in Dante’s poem?  Presentation:  R. A. Shoaf, “Ugolino and Erysichthon” (on eReserve).
R Apr 3 Reading (Per correr miglior acque alza le vele):  Purgatorio I-VII; Romans 2:12-29; Cirigliano, The Complete Lyric Poems of Dante Alighieri, pp. 188-193 (on reserve at the library); Goldin, Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouv่res, pp. 311-315 (on reserve at the library); Barolini, Dante’s Poets, pp. 153-173 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Why begin the Purgatorio with the image of a boat?  What boats do you remember (from Vergil and from the Inferno)?  2.) Why is Cato, a pagan, at the bottom of the mount of purgatory?  Why wasn’t this Virgil’s final resting place?  What function does Cato serve?  Why couldn’t Virgil serve that function?  What do Dante and Casella do wrong that Cato swoops down on them?  Why is Virgil ashamed?  How are we supposed to take Cato’s admonitions against laziness and negligence?  3.) Sordello is our first poet in the Purgatorio.  What do you make of him?  Why is he in purgatory?  What do you make of his reaction to Virgil?  What purpose might such a reaction serve?  Is there anything in Sordello’s poetry that separates him from the poets we met in hell?  Presentation:  Iannucci, Dante:  Contemporary Perspectives, pp. 214-239 (on reserve at the library).
M Apr 7 Reading (Cos์ ha tolto l’uno a l’altro Guido / la gloria de la lingua):  Purgatorio VIII-XV.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) What do we learn about Dante’s perception of the relationships between authors from his encounter with Oderisi da Gubbio?  How might Dante’s treatment of other authors as characters in his poem reflect his perception of how authors relate to one another?  When Dante says that he doesn’t fear the Terrace of the Envious as much as he fears the Terrace of the Proud (Purgatorio XIII.133-138), is he telling the whole truth?  Why draw attention to his pride and away from his envy?  What effect does Dante’s confession of his pride have?  Does Dante perhaps intend that effect?  2.) Compare Sap์a da Siena and Francesca.  Why is Sap์a in purgatory and Francesca in hell?  What separates them?  How are they fundamentally different?  Wasn’t Sap์a far more evil in life than Francesca?  Presentation:  Teodolinda Barolini, “Re-presenting What God Presented:  The Arachnean Art of Dante’s Terrace of Pride” (on eReserve).
R Apr 10 Reading (Per te poeta fui, per te cristiano):  Purgatorio XVI-XXII; Barolini, Dante’s Poets, pp. 256-269 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  Why is Statius saved and Virgil damned?  Is Christianity all that separates the two?  If so, what does Dante understand Christianity to be?  Why does it have the power to save someone?  What does Statius have that Virgil doesn’t?  What is Dante saying about reading and interpretation by having Statius (mis)read Vergil’s poetry and end up blessed with salvation as a result?  What is Dante saying about reading and interpretation by willfully misreading Statius himself and making Statius a Christian?  What, for Dante, is the purpose of reading and interpretation?  What is the purpose of writing?  What is wrong with Virgil?  Why might Dante need Virgil (but not Statius) to be damned?  What does Virgil have that Statius doesn’t?  Presentation:  Franke, Dante’s Interpretive Journey, pp. 191-224 (on reserve at the library).
M Apr 14 Reading (I’ mi son un che, quando / Amor mi spira, noto, e a quel modo / ch’e’ ditta dentro vo significando):  Purgatorio XXIII-XXIX; Goldin, Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouv่res, pp. 189-201, 209-223 (on reserve at the library); Smith and Gioia, Poems from Italy, pp. 66-71 (on reserve at the library); Barolini, Dante’s Poets, pp. 85-114 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Why does Dante put Bonagiunta da Lucca, Guido Guinizelli, and Arnaut Daniel in purgatory?  Virgil is condemned to hell, but these poets are allowed the honor of getting into heaven eventually.  Why?  Then again, why aren’t they in heaven already?  What does Dante’s placement of these poets tell us about how he viewed their poetry?  How did he view their poetry in relation to Vergil’s?  How did he view it in relation to his own?  Is their placement in purgatory perhaps a comment on a perceived flaw in their poetry (rather than a judgment on their moral character)?  What flaw?  As poets, what do Bonagiunta, Guido, and Arnaut lack in Dante’s eyes?  Why might Dante perhaps need them to lack something?  At the same time, why might he want to exalt them over Vergil?  2.) Who or what is Matelda?  Why does Dante place her in the earthly paradise?  What purpose does she serve?  Why didn’t Dante use a more famous, real-life person?  Why does he choose a woman to greet him?  How does she relate to the other women we have seen in the Divine Comedy thus far?  What effect does Matelda have on us when she appears?  How does Dante react to and interact with her?  Presentations:  James J. Wilhelm, “What Dante May Have Learned from Arnaut Daniel” (on eReserve); Jacoff and Schnapp, The Poetry of Allusion, pp. 181-201 (on reserve at the library).
R Apr 17 Reading (Volgi, Beatrice, volgi li occhi santi):  Purgatorio XXX-XXXIII; Paradiso I-IV; Jacoff and Schnapp, The Poetry of Allusion, pp. 113-130 (on reserve at the library).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Virgil leaves the poem, never to be seen again.  How are we supposed to feel about his departure?  Why replace Virgil with Beatrice?  What is Beatrice like?  Who does she remind you of?  How does she compare to Dido and/or Juno in the Aeneid?  How does she compare to Francesca in the Inferno?  2.) What do we learn about Dante’s vision of his purpose in writing his poem from the invocation to the Paradiso?  What does the combination of images here (e.g., the laurel, Marsyas, a Roman triumph, and the spark) seem to be trying to convey?  Look at the opening of Paradiso II as well.  What does the image of the boat there remind you of?  What other boats have we seen this semester?  What is Dante trying to say to us here at the beginning of the Paradiso by telling us to take our little boats and go home?  3.) Compare Piccarda to Francesca.  What do we learn from Piccarda that helps us better interpret and understand the Francesca episode in the Inferno?  Why is Piccarda in heaven and Francesca in hell?  Presentation:  Jacoff and Schnapp, The Poetry of Allusion, pp. 202-213 (on reserve at the library).
M Apr 21 Reading (Ecco chi crescerเ li nostri amori):  Paradiso V-XII; Goldin, Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouv่res, pp. 277-283 (on reserve at the library); Barolini, Dante’s Poets, pp. 114-123 (on reserve at the library); Theresa Kenney, “From Francesca to Francesco:  Transcribing the Tale of Passion from the Inferno to the Paradiso, or Thomas Aquinas as Romancier” (on eReserve).  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Why is Folquet de Marseilles in heaven?  We’ve met a lot of poets in hell and purgatory.  We aren’t going to meet very many of them in heaven.  So, why Folquet?  What do Folquet’s life and poetry represent for Dante?  Why does Dante honor Folquet by putting him firmly, unequivocally in heaven when he didn’t give that same honor to Virgil, Statius, Guido Guinizelli, Arnaut Daniel, or almost any other poet?  2.) Compare Thomas Aquinas and Brunetto Latini.  What in the appearance and behavior of Aquinas reminds you of Brunetto?  What is different?  Why is Aquinas in heaven and Brunetto in hell?  Presentation:  Dronke, Dante and Medieval Latin Traditions, pp. 82-102 (on reserve at the library).
R Apr 24 Reading (e lascia pur grattar dov’ ่ la rogna):  Paradiso XIII-XIX.  Response Paper and Discussion:  Cacciaguida is clearly an important figure in Dante’s poem (since Dante spends 3ฝ cantos on him).  While speaking with Cacciaguida, Dante touches on a number of subjects -- pride of blood, the past virtue of Florence, Dante’s future.  In a sense, past and future meet in Dante and Cacciaguida.  What purpose does this episode serve in Dante’s poem?  What do we learn about how Dante perceives his poem?  What do we learn about Dante’s purpose in writing it?  In essence, Dante implies that Cacciaguida commissioned him to write what he has written.  So, what kind of character is Cacciaguida?  How does Dante’s poem show Cacciaguida’s influence?  Why would Dante want to portray his poem as having Cacciaguida’s commission and blessing?  Presentation:  Raffa, Divine Dialectic, pp. 147-164 (on reserve at the library).
M Apr 28 Reading (come parvol che ricorre):  Paradiso XX-XXVI; Romans 2:12-29.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Why are Trajan and Ripheus in heaven?  They’re pagans like Virgil.  How did they get to heaven?  Did Virgil lie in the Inferno when he said that he was damned only because of his pagan beliefs?  Was the possibility of getting to heaven open to all pagans?  What does Scripture tell us about the just pagan?  Why would Dante bring the issue of pagan salvation to the fore in the sphere of Jupiter?  2.) What do you make of Dante’s smile when he looks back on the earth from the constellation of Gemini?  If Dante cares so little for “the puny threshing-ground that drives / us mad,” why did he write the Divine Comedy?  Why include this little episode?  Why have it happen in the constellation of Gemini (Dante’s birth sign)?  What does it add to Dante’s journey (and ours) through the poem?  3.) What do we learn about Dante (the character) from his examination by Saints Peter, James, and John?  What does it remind you of?  What is happening to Dante’s character?  How does Dante behave in relation to the three apostles and, perhaps more importantly, in relation to Beatrice?  What kinds of images are used to describe Dante’s behavior and feelings?  Why are those images appropriate?  What does Dante’s behavior and demeanor remind you of?  Presentation:  Christian Moevs, “Miraculous Syllogisms:  Clocks, Faith and Reason in Paradiso 10 and 24” (on eReserve).
R May 1 Reading (l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle):  Paradiso XXVII-XXXIII.  Response Paper and Discussion:  1.) Go back and review Inferno II.  What role did the BVM (the Blessed Virgin Mary) play in initiating Dante’s journey through the afterlife?  How does Dante’s salvific experience in his poem relate to the song that Bernard sings to Mary as we near the end of the Paradiso?  How does the presence of the benevolent BVM in Dante’s world affect the way the world works?  How does Dante’s world differ from Vergil’s, for example?  2.) How does the end of the Paradiso compare to the end of the Inferno?  Are the final visions anticlimactic?  Is God anticlimactic?  How does Dante deal with the impossible task of describing God?  Presentation:  Molly Morrison, “Looking at God:  Imagery for the Divinity in Dante’s Paradiso” (on eReserve).
Finals Week FINAL EXAM and FINAL PAPER

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TAKE-HOME MIDTERM EXAM

Write an essay on ONE of the following topics (be sure to support your argument with evidence from the text):

  1. Is Aeneas’ victory over Turnus a victory for the forces of order (as represented by Jupiter and Aeneas) over the forces of chaos (as represented by Juno and Turnus), the opposite, or somewhere in between?
  2. “It is the paradox of the Aeneid... that a poem which celebrates the achievement of an exemplary hero and the founding of Rome itself should be a long history of defeat and loss.”  What does Aeneas achieve, what does he lose, and to what extent is he aware of his achievements and losses?
  3. With the first words of the Aeneid -- arma virumque cano [“I sing of warfare and a man at war”] -- Vergil not only echoes the main themes of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey respectively, but also signals a departure from them by announcing a double theme.  Select two or three episodes from the Aeneid that are based on similar episodes in the Iliad or Odyssey (feel free to use any episodes from the syllabus), discuss the key similarities and differences, and elucidate the significance of those similarities and differences for the Aeneid.
  4. Choose either Dido OR Turnus and consider the issue of responsibility.  What role do the gods play?  Can you discern any actions that either character initiates on his/her own and speculate as to how they might have acted without divine interference?  Do you think that the narrator wants us to sympathize with either character (be sure to mention any suggestive apostrophes and/or similes)?  Do you sympathize with either character?

Essay Guidelines

  1. Essays will be 5-7 pages.
  2. Essays must have
    1. One inch margins for sides, top, and bottom.
    2. Separate cover page with title (be sure to mention the chosen topic), name, course name, and date.
    3. Numbered pages (not including cover page).
    4. 12-point font.
    5. Double-spaced lines (for exceptions, see 3b below).
    6. Stapled pages.
  3. Rules for quotations and citations:
    1. As I am very familiar with all of the material, you will not need to use many direct quotations in your essay.  In most cases, a citation will be sufficient.
    2. If some quotations are essential to your argument, you may quote them in full.  A quotation that is a few words (or up to three lines) may be incorporated into the body of your paper with quotation marks and a citation at the end.  A quotation that is longer than three lines must be indented, 1.5 spaced, without quotation marks and cited at the end.
    3. If you quote or refer to any secondary material, it must be footnoted (not end noted) with author, title, and pages referenced:  e.g., S. Mack, “The Birth of War:  A Reading of Aeneid 7,” 134.

Final Paper

Choose one of the following topics for your paper.  Your paper should be 8-12 pages.  You may use outside sources for the paper, but research is not required.  If some of the secondary readings for class (from Perkell or the various articles on Dante) are helpful to you in thinking about your paper, you are welcome to use them, but in the end, we are interested primarily in your own ideas on these topics rather than in the ideas of others.

  1. Explain the relationship between Vergil and Dante.  Choose one image or passage from Dante that we did not discuss in class. The image or passage that you choose from Dante can be one in which Virgil (the character) figures prominently, one that seems to be based on an image or passage from the Aeneid, and/or one that you just think exemplifies the similarities and differences between Vergil and Dante. Focusing on the image or passage you have chosen from Dante, explain how that image or passage illustrates Dante's attitude toward Vergil (the poet), Dante's characterization of Virgil (the character), Dante's closeness to Vergil (the poet), or Dante's difference from Vergil (the poet). Why does Dante imitate Vergilian material or include Virgil as a character in his poem? Why does Dante change his Vergilian material or portray Virgil as he does? In the end, how similar is Dante to Vergil as a poet? How different is he from Vergil?
  2. Compare and contrast the relationship between Vergil and Dante on the one hand with the relationship between Vergil and Homer on the other. Focus particularly on one passage from Vergil that is related to Homer and one passage from Dante that is related to Vergil.  (NOTE: At least one of these passages should be one that we did not discuss in class). Does Dante imitate and respond to Vergil in the same way as Vergil imitates and responds to Homer? If so, how would you characterize each poet's relationship to his predecessor? If not, how are Dante and Vergil different in their relationship to their predecessors?

In terms of format:

  1. Essays must have
    1. One inch margins for sides, top, and bottom.
    2. Separate cover page with title (be sure to mention the chosen topic), name, course name, and date.
    3. Numbered pages (not including cover page).
    4. 12-point font.
    5. Double-spaced lines (for exceptions, see 3b below).
    6. Stapled pages.
  2. Rules for quotations and citations:
    1. If some quotations are essential to your argument, you may quote them in full.  A quotation that is a few words (or up to three lines) may be incorporated into the body of your paper with quotation marks and a citation at the end.  A quotation that is longer than three lines must be indented, 1.5 spaced, without quotation marks and cited at the end.
    2. If you quote or refer to any secondary material, it must be footnoted (not end noted) with author, title, and pages referenced:  e.g., S. Mack, “The Birth of War:  A Reading of Aeneid 7,” 134.

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