Crown and Crozier

Popes, Politicians and Patriots in Dante’s “Inferno” ~ Dr. Anthony Esolen

June 26, 2021 Season 1 Episode 9
Crown and Crozier
Popes, Politicians and Patriots in Dante’s “Inferno” ~ Dr. Anthony Esolen
Show Notes

Ordained by God and gifted to man, both the Church and the Empire help human beings attain peace in this life and beatitude in the next.  So argued Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet and author of the epic The Divine Comedy.

With 700 years having passed since his death in 1321, this year has been branded as l’anno di Dante – “the year of Dante.”  Joining us to mark the occasion is Dr. Anthony Esolen, renowned translator of The Divine Comedy and Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. 

Our conversation with Dr. Esolen focuses on Inferno, the first installment in Dante’s three-part masterpiece.  In our journey through the underworld, we examine several of the timeless themes explored by the Supreme Poet – rendering unto God and Caesar; the nature of authority and the consequences of its abuse; the virtue of neighbourliness; patriotism; and, above all, the boundless, beatific love of God, who grants us for all eternity that which we seek in this world.

0:00 - Introduction
3:45 - 2021: a year for reading Dante
7:05 - Writing in the language of the people
9:00 - Inferno as a meditation on love and beauty...oh, and it's about Hell, too
13:00 - The complicated days of Dante: Emperors and Popes
17:35 - Politics as family warfare in medieval Florence
19:00 - Sweeping claims of papal authority in Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam
22:25 - Excommunication and penance: the drama of Ambrose and Theodosius
25:00 - First stop in the underworld - hating thy neighbour in the (anti) city of Dis
30:15 - The vision of Purgatory
32:25 - Pursuing the Good without charity - a ticket to everlasting condemnation
37:40 - Punishment for the Pope who pimped out the Bride of Christ
42:30 - Traitors to Church and Empire in the lowest circle: Judas, Brutus, Cassius
46:30 - The virtue of patriotism and its practice in exile
49:30 - The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord
54:40 - Conclusion

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Documents/Websites referenced 

Kevin J. Jones, “Why 2021 is the Year of Dante,” Catholic News Agency (January 21, 2021)

Anthony Esolen (Wikipedia page) 

Dante Alighieri, Inferno (translated by Anthony Esolen)

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

Anthony Esolen, The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord  (2019)

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Please note that this podcast has been edited for length and clarity.