Questa èrelazione è stata presentat a Amsterdam, a Vrije Universitet il 2005 marzo alla Conferenza sul Evil in religion
THE HERMENEUTIC OF EVIL IN THE AGE OF DANTE
I will follow the conflict of interpetation around the problem of the Evil and God in 12th century accross Divine Comedy of Dante, especially accros the inscription on the gate of the Hell.
At the end of XII th century the cathars and other gnostic-dualistic contemporary movement make in crisis the church that must to take a clear position about Evil.
The gnostical dualism explains the origin of evil with the existence of two principles, a Good God of the Light and a Evil God of the Darkness The least create the world and for that the world is impure. Against this theory the catholic church reaffirmed the existence of a One God, sustained the wellness of the world, and explained the Evil with human wickedness. For controled the heresy the latheran council impose the obligation of all faithful to make a yearly confessions. But trough this decision he gave in the hand of every faithful the way for their salvation, that became individually, and the sins too.
The other two solutions of the problem of Evil are represented by Saint Francesco and by Saint Thomas of Aquinas whose theory became fondamental (theoreticaly) for the church. They both sustaine the wellness of all creation, of all human and natural desire and the individual capacity of decision.
Why Dante and why the Middle Age
When I saw for the first time a roman church I was surprised by the monsters, animals and other very plastic figures that orned the curch. What do the monstrer in the church ? What is this dangerous, inhuman element in religious experience? Now I know their monstrousity not represent the fear from the strangers , but a fear from the inner world perils, the dangers that our soul could meets in this or in the other world, in his way to salvation. After I discover one of the greatest book of medieval culture - the Divine Comedy which is full of monsters, of suffering, of philosophy, of legends - a really surprise for a twenthy centuries person who believed that his age ‘s imagination is the maximum of horror.
How represent this poem the Evil: the Hell, Satan, the suffering and how is theirs relations with God, with God intentions? For understand this, we stop a little before the gate of the Hell and read:
Justice urged on my high artificer;
My maker was divine authority
The highest wisdom, and the primal love
Before me nothing but eternal things
Were made, and I endure eternally
In Divine Comedy Dante describes a journey through the three realms of death. Lost in the dark forest he meet the ancient roman poet Virgilius who will be his guide. They descend in the Hell, they go up on the Purgatory mountain, just in the earthly Paradise. With Beatrice Dante continue the ascension in the skies of heaven until in the Divine Empire where he had a vision of Trinity.
The role of souffering
All levels of the Otherworld of Dante are structured by moral point of wiew. Dante looks in the Hell the pains of the damned souls souffering in different more and more cruel manner – they turn into a snake, go around with their head in the hand, they become the blooding trees, without any hope that theirs sufferings will end. This is the dark part of the world where are not more the Grace of God - this is the Hell, where the only sign of his presence is the hierarchy of the monsters and the order of the sins.
On the Purgatory he met another souls who purg one of the seven deadly sins. The avars stay with face laydown on earth, the sloths run. Their pains are more reasonable, they don’t lose their dignity. Just because this is the only place where there is time like in human life, stars- signs of presence of God that calls our hope.
We can distinguee between the human suffering in the purgatory and the monstruosity of the pains in the Hell. For faithfull remain to choice between the two type of suffering, the human or the demoniac one.
The body or is a prison of the soul, is an instrument of evil –for cathars, his role is to suffering. For orthodoxy, the cause of evil on the world is our originary sin. Our suffering is a consequences of the greatness of God who punished us. The disease of the body may be the sign of the sin. Therefore the Fourth Latheran Council declare that is not permit to the doctor to cure the sick without the permission of the church, the flagelants marching in procession and scourging themselves for their sins and for the sins of the world because the suffering is the way of the purification of the spirit and is a source of life and salvation.
Lucifer and other demons
At the deep bottom of the Hell, in the center of Earth Dante and Virgilius met Satan, so, in the deep of the created world roole the spirit of the Evil. But He is inert, without desire and without will- like a dead that, like a nonexistence. The mouvement of his his three enorms wings send forth freezing, iced, immobilize. He is the origin of every sorow (Inf, XXXIV,37). Dante combine the ortodox theory of evil like nonexistence with the dualist gnose mithology.
Some of cathars believe in a malefic trinity. Also in Dante the Satan has tree head(XXXIV, 39), like a anthitesis of a Trinity too, he is immobile, but “every sorow has its source in him” (Inf XXXIV,37). And before meet Lucifer they met the three Giants that were power , revolted against the God. There is intelligent, arrogant, pride, the efective evil in act(Inf XXXIII 55-57).
But in Divine Commedy Evil has no pover only because God permit it- like in moderated catharism with only difference that for him the hell is this and not the other life. The personal of hell know that they are the instruments of a God will is subordinated of the Heaven’s authority Dante can passed everywhere, with Virgilius, when he refers that it is in the Heaven where is decided that he can passed. Cause the Justice of God rule in the Hell too.
The statute of created world
I want to underline that, if today the problem of Evil in religion is related with the fear from the Different in the Age of Dante the crucial aspect of the problem of Evil was the ontologycal statute of created world. All great religion accord to accept that man is fallen, he not live his really life but he shuted from paradise in a strange world, a valley of tears, a place of sufference. In every monotheism became a problem the place of Evil, of sufference, of originary falls in God’s intentions.
Or must to presupose two fundamental principles – a good and an evil one - like in dualism- we must to integrated the place of Evil in the Unique God representation - like try to make the catolic ortodoxy.
The Dualistic Gnose
The problem generaly is that we can’t make peace between the existence of a Good God- like primal Love, the Summum Bonum and the existence of suffering, of the evil.
If we accept that in god everything is pure, luminous, good, perfect- how make a dualistic gnose- we must to presupose that there are too a different Principle, who create the Evil and rule in the world.
At the beginning was not an only God, supreme, good, perfect entity, but there are two fundamental principles of the world: one, God of the Good or the Light, the other God of the Evil or the Darknesses, in eternal fight between them. The spirit of darkness created our body, while the spirit of the light is the origin of our soul. We must fight against all that is body- matter, desire, pleasure, and dying of our body the soul will be saved and return to its Divine, Pure, Luminous Original Place.
The more important dualism in the century of Dante in South of France and North of Italy was the catharism.
The radical catharism presupose that the Evil principles is uncreated, coeternal with God. The moderate catharism considers that Evil conduct this world but he serves God’s intentions. The really God was Good, but the Arteficer of this world, the Satan, the fallen Angel accros a trick create this world and emprisoned our souls in earthly bodies. In his falling he cause the shut of numberous stars and angels
A latent dualism have ever existed in the popular level, a common dualism who give to the ruler (Saints, kings, bishops) the capacity to win the Evil and to assure the colective salvation of the people, to be the symbol of a Good that must to protect us to Evil, to fight with it.
One representation of this fight is symbolized with the play of light and darkness- present as in the gothic cathedral as in Divine Commedy. In the Hell is fog or absolutely darkness. In the Purgatory , there are the stars, the constelation, and there is the hope. But only in the light of a day is possibly the mouvement, cause only the Grace permits the salvation. There is the light in Purgatory, but the penitent couldn’t look it. In Paradise the light became more and more power. Dante’s view must to change for can seeing since he at the end of his ascension wiew the Highest Light, the Trinity. In gnose Light is good, Darkness is the evil but in the Commedy there are not only Light and Darkness but also numberous intermediary position- fog, light of stars, the different graduation of light in heaven- forever sign of presence or absence of Grace of God.
The aim of the existence is the final triumph of good over evil realized in or out of the history. The waiting for the Last Judgements, is a returning theme in romanic-gothic culture. For Dante the role of emperor to save and restaurate the world from because the church was traited the original teaching. In this he is according with moderate cathars. The end of time is not far . And after this end as the joy in Paradise as the sufference in Hell will be perfectionated.
The Fourth Lateran Council about Evil .1215
The ortodox position tries to protect the wellness of created world. Just for that is important to affirm, in 1215 at Fourth Latheran Council, after the first victory in the massacre of cathars (1208-1244) that all the creation is good. Only the man is wrong, because is prompting of the devil, to decrete that, the devil and other demons were created by God naturally good, but they became evil by their own doing. The nature of creation is good. This council imposed the obligation of a yearly confession of sins for all the faithfull.
The ortodox tradition considers that there is a unique God, the creator and the Evil is an absence of good is a non-existence. God made all things good. Evil was either the absence or perversion of the good that exists.
Human wickedness is the only thing that is called evil. Since Adam chose sin in the Garden of Eden, mankind is born with a corrupt and sinful nature, which renders him unable to desire righteousness. The salvation depends only of the Grace of God.
San Francesco and San Tomasso will reform from this tradition inside of church.
Saint Francis from Assisi, sustained more purely than other the wellness of the created world. The nature is not a danger, a dark, heavy part of the world. It’s really that the originary sin introduced the Evil in the world and changed the nature of the things but Jesus wash the sins of the world and repurified the nature.
His dialogue with the Woolf is significant especially cause in Middle Age the wolf was a really personification of the Evil. But when Saint Francesco ask to the Brother Wolf , why is he cruel and wick, the wolf explain that, he make wrong between humans animals only cause of his hungry, only cause of his lack. Because any creature is not naturally wrong. After this peace of Gubbio, the wolf became good and peaceful.
Even if Dante admire very San Francesco he return of a more ancient image of justitiary God.
Divine Wrath and Love
Returning to the portal of the Hell I want to observe that the Hell exist before the Creation and will exist after the end of the world, after the Last Judgemnet, is eternal. Why exists the Hell before the fall of Satan?!
The Hell was created by God the Justice and by Primal Love when any other thing not was yet created? Or exist eternally?. But what is the signification of eternity of this place? It isn’t just the eternity of evil?
Why prepared the Eternal love before creation, before any shut. In cathar cosmogony too the Hell was before the fallen of Satan whose fall cause the fall of noumberous angels.
It is possible that God created the fire in the centre of the earth since any moral end. But the Justice created it, and the love. No, Dante is not dualist. For him is the Unique God who create this place of sufference, God whose authorithy is present here like wrath judge.
One of more important traits of God is his Justice, and his Authorithy. Grace of his Divine Authority God is God. We must understand an esential element of God’s representation in this age: the”Divine Authorithy” underline the justitiary, trmendous part of God, and this part is his infernal face- the great judge before who nothing remain unavenged, the tremendous King how wrote Thomasso Celano in Dies Ire in the same age. This authorithy it must to be recognized for salvation cause only his grace could save. Dante suffer some time when meet his master or Paolo e Francesca, or Ulise in the Hell, but he sustaine the hollyness of the Authorithy and of Justice made by this. Here Dante is very medieval, he believe in yhe holliness of real pover, so on authorithy.
But God is the primal Love too. The Divine Love shine on everybody, any creature is whithout love (Purg 17,91-93). Any originary sin only an originary love caracterize a human being. And by following this natural love (Purg 17, 94), we could lead to our aim –to transform us from worms and born to form the angelic butterfly that soars, without defenses, to confront His judgment?” (Purg 10, 124-125)
But we must to turn, whit our mind and our free will this love in the just direction toward the First Good. (Purg. 17,99-101) and with a measure toward the earthly goods. If we don’t use correctly this love, by example lovig more the earthly things or loing other thing s that we can we make a sin. In our free will and in our intelectual decision could be the sins
I want to underline that as in Paradise, as in Purgatory as in Infern there are persons who lived for love, or for desire for excellency and we can say that for all the passion. But Paolo e Francesca, in their adultery love forgets the grace of God, and for that they must to fly on the wing of the strom for all eternity. The same passion for love we meet in Purgatory and in Paradise in the Venus sphere. Here are those who did well out of love. Cause not in our passions is the evil but in the unmeasured or wrong oriented passion.
We can understand that just the good or the bad economy of the same feeling or thinking send us or in Heaven, or in Hell, or in Purgatory because is our free will to decide on the desires (Purg 17, 60-66).
I showed that the center of the problem of evil in the age of Dante was the role of the created world, the matter, the body in the economy of the Holly. The different interpretation play around the absolutely wellness or absolutely madness of creation. The Divine Comedy reflect this conflict of interpretation . I showed the various representations of evil in Dante’s poem and theirs relation with God: the structure of Hell, the souffering, Lucifer, related the inscription on the portal of the Hell who show the role of the Hell in Divine intentions. We could say that the Divine Comedy is played for us by God. He show his diabolic face in the Hell, his human face in Purgatory and his divine face in Paradise - and behind this aparent he remain the same unique God- creator, punisher, wise and Primal love, who shining on everybody.
DANTE Alighieri, Divina Commedia (1308-1321), for english quote I used, Dante Alighieri ,The Divine Comedy.,
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