Dante’s inferno: phenomenology of a strange passion

Roberta de Monticelli

pp. 182-190

Dante’s Inferno presents us with a spiritual adventure where the experience of wrath plays a crucial role. The infernal pilgrim’s ‘passage through wrath’ is their only access to the lower part of Hell. Wrath – and the place where it is punished as a vice – occupy a very central position in the moral topography of Dante’s Inferno: the Stygian Marsh, which defends the heart of Hell, its stronghold, and makes it inaccessible. Wrathfulness is situated at the borderline between ‘carnal’ and ‘spiritual’ sins, higher and lower Hell, weakness and wickedness of the will. What is the meaning of this situation? How is the sin of wrathfulness related to wrath as an expression of just indignation? How can the same passion have an angelical and an infernal face? What is anger’s relation to reason? Does the trial gone through by the two pilgrims teach us something on the nature of this passion? Here are some questions which this paper tries to answer, thereby outlining a phenomenological theory of those passions which might be called ‘dynamic’.

Publication details

DOI: doi:10.1159/000029141

Full citation [Harvard style]:

De Monticelli, R. (2000). Dante’s inferno: phenomenology of a strange passion. Psychopathology 33 (4), pp. 182-190.

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