Lecture: Studying Dante’s Religious Culture and the Problem of the Beatific Vision

A lecture by
Zygmunt G. Barański, University of Cambridge / University of Notre Dame

In recent years, increasing academic attention has been paid to Dante’s religious culture. The lecture examines the unsystematic and skewed contribution that Dante scholarship has made to the issue since the mid nineteenth century, and addresses some questions of method relating to the analysis of the poet’s engagement with contemporary religious ideas and practices. In particular it focuses on the poet’s treatment of heavenly beatitude, a problem that Dantists have studied somewhat reductively by concentrating exclusively on the pilgrim’s union with God in the Commedia’s final canto, and by interpreting the experience in ‘intellective’ Aristotelian and Thomistic terms. The presentation highlights instead the ‘affective’ character of the viator’s beatitude, as well as the several other passages in the Paradiso in which the poet treats the visio Dei —passages that, surprisingly, Dante scholars have largely ignored.


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