August 26 | Dante’s Inferno
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As we accompany Dante and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, down through the levels of hell, we will meet remarkable characters, such as Francesca, Ulysses and Ugolino, and hear their stories of passion, pride and revenge. In his vivid descriptions and strong emotional reactions, Dante as author and protagonist challenges us to look at the very core of human behavior and ask: How can we understand the forces of good and evil?
This seminar will be read-as-we-go.
When: Six weekly sessions on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, starting August 26, 2021
Duration: 2 hours per session
Cost: C$350 plus 13% HST (approx. US$273 plus 13% HST)
Group Size: 12-participant limit
How: We meet on Zoom; you will receive joining instructions approx. 3 weeks before the seminar start date. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded. See full conditions at the bottom of this page.
All seminar payments are nonrefundable. All discount codes must be used at time of purchase. If you would like to apply your Toronto Pursuits 2020 deposit to this seminar, please contact us.
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Sean Forester is an artist and lecturer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied at the St. John’s College Great Books Program, Cambridge University and the Florence Academy of Art. Sean lived for several years in Dante’s birthplace of Florence, Italy.
Inferno by Dante Alighieri, translated by Anthony Esolen, illustrations by Gustave Doré
(Modern Library, 2003)
ISBN-13 : 978-0812970067 (paperback)
ISBN-13 : 978-0679642619 (hardcover)
Please be sure to obtain the dual-language translation by Anthony Esolen.
We encourage you to support local bookstores or other independent sellers, especially as alternatives to Amazon.
mi retrovai per una selva oscura
che la diritta via era smarrita.
In the middle of the journey of our life
I awoke within a dark wood
where the straight way was lost.
So begins Dante’s epic journey. As we accompany him and his guide, the Roman poet Virgil, down through the levels of hell, we will meet remarkable characters, such as Francesca, Ulysses and Ugolino, and hear their stories of passion, pride and revenge. They are connected in the vivid and varied landscape of human suffering they inhabit by contrapasso; each sinner’s punishment mirrors the sin that consumed their life. For example, the violent are in a river of boiling blood, treacherous murders are frozen in ice, flatterers are in raw sewage, and those who created hatred and division are cut in half.
Dante is the protagonist of his own poem, reacting with strong and varied emotions to the characters before him as the reader might. His responses raise a true bounty of questions to consider: What are the psychological and social consequences of lust, hatred, violence and fraud? What leads us to these destructive behaviors and keeps us trapped in them? Dante challenges us to look at the very core of human behavior and ask: How can we understand the forces of good and evil?
In writing The Divine Comedy, Dante also created a new poetic form – terza rima. This form interlocks the rhymes from stanza to stanza (each three lines long) in a binding forward movement. As we read Anthony Esolen’s dual-language translation, Sean will help you experience a few sections of the original Italian and thus more deeply appreciate the aesthetic effects of terza rima. Sean will also show visual art inspired by the Inferno.
For T.S. Eliot, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.” A bold and even peremptory claim. What will you make of it, after taking this journey with Dante? And perhaps more interestingly, what place do Dante and his world occupy in your imagination? What does his poetry say to us 700 years later?
All online seminar payments are nonrefundable. All discount codes must be used at the time of purchase; no retroactive discounts will be issued.
Classical Pursuits does not record seminars. By participating in any seminar, registrants agree not to make their own seminar recordings and to abide by the Classical Pursuits code of conduct.
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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit