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"...you must not deny experience of that which lies beyond the sun..."
Having just previously read The Odyssey
, it was quite interesting this morning to read Dante's inclusion of Ulysses (Odysseus) in Inferno
. According to Dante, Ulysses was consigned to hell not because he was a pre-Christian pagan, but because he committed the sin of being a fraudulent counselor. Dante has Ulysses speak
I sailed away from Circe, who'd beguiled me
to stay more than a year there, near Gaeta -
before Aeneas gave that place a name -
neither my fondness for my son nor pity
for my old father nor the love I owed
Penelope, which would have gladdened her,
was able to defeat in me the longing
I had to gain experience of the world
and of the vices and the worth of men.
To Dante, Ulysses was a fradulent counselor because he convinced his underlings not to return home after the victory at Troy, but to venture forth and see the world - purportedly for their own good but in reality (as he admits above) to support his own wanderlust:
'Brothers,' I said, 'o you, who having crossed
a hundred thousand dangers, reach the west,
to this brief waking-time that still is left
unto your senses, you must not deny
experience of that which lies beyond
the sun, and of the world that is unpeopled.
Consider well the seed that gave you birth:
you were not made to live your lives as brutes,
but to be followers of worth and knowledge.'
Go for the gusto, he says - even if the gusto will ultimately kill you. Ulysses was the only one of the entire crew to make it home alive.
August 16, 2013 in Books | Permalink