Has anybody here read the Divine Comedy?


Either all of it or a large part of it?

Would you consider it worth reading? Did you glean spiritual insights off of it, or would you consider it more in line with works such as the Odyssey?

I’m thinking of putting it on my reading list.


I like it. But there are very many allusions to historical events and persons that the average arm chair reader will not be familiar with.

I like the Inferno best.


Yes, I read it and had to work with it at university. I liked it very much, sometimes with some Hieronymus Bosch paintings coming in my mind while reading. There are so many fine humoristic and political points regarding the era of the author within, but, beside this, it is one of those human masterpieces in literature that will never be outdated…


There are several translations available. I would definitely recommend the Dorothy L. Sayers translation, for two reasons. First, the translation itself, which is in a very readable kind of light verse. Second, the notes. All the characters and allusions are explained, without being overdone. Not too little and not too much.


I am currently reading it for the second time :slight_smile:
My favorite book ever :slight_smile:
It’s definitely worth reading, and yes it offers plenty of spiritual reflections. It’s not just an entertainment book. I’m not sure however how entertaining it can be if you don’t read it in Italian…
Btw, if I can recommend another Italian literature classic from a very good Catholic author , check out Manzoni’s ‘the betrothed’ :slight_smile:


I read the Inferno in high school as part of a class assignment. i found a copy at the library that had summary’s before each canto which i found helpful. I enjoyed it but never read the other two.


Thank you for the suggestion. :slight_smile:


I just read ‘The Inferno’ for the first time last month. I enjoyed it and certainly understand why it is considered a cornerstone of Western literary culture. Since I know a little Italian, I feel like I should try to read it in its original version to get the full effect of Dante’s genius. (It’s hard to replicate his rhyming triplets in English.) I was surprised at how many figures of classical mythology made appearances (centaurs, Cerberus, and don’t let’s forget Virgil) and also at the number of personal axes Dante seemed to have to grind; he is constantly coming upon Florentines who have or had some tangential relationship to the warring political sects of his native Florence, and he assigns these people who he presumably knew in real life to various circles of hell for their sins. Also the book is intended as an allegory so that the reader is invited to contemplate higher levels of meaning to the actions going on in the narrative; thus Virgil represents Reason and Beatrice Faith, the various monsters also represent allegorical meanings … There’s a lot going on beyond the plain meaning on the page.


Yes, I have read it. It is worth reading for several reasons:

  • If you are able to read Italian it is the first serious work to be written in the ‘vulgar’ venacular.
  • It gives an insight into the state and politics in Italy at the time of writing.
  • It reveals a lot of common theological thinking at the time.
  • It shows that nothing has really changed.
  • There is a huge amount of hope to be gained from it.
    Perhaps the most striking part is that Satan is not enthroned and powerful but rather lethargic and melancholic; the battle is definitely over and we know who the victor is!


I read The Inferno for fun in high school. I tried reading the rest of the Divine Comedy, but I had to stop when Virgil leaves and Beatrice takes over his role. I just found her to be so mind-numbingly boring. I need to check it out again one of these days to see if I’d be able to finish this time around.


It has been a long, long time since I read any of it. But I liked the opening so much I memorized it (I think) in Italian. It does seem somehow better in Italian. But what a powerful opening, and description of the human condition. I think about it a lot.


Amen to that. :sunglasses:


I had to read it and study it for three years in high school in Italy!


I’d like to read the Dorothy Sayers translation sometime and see what was taking up her time instead of writing more Wimsey stories. :slight_smile:

I’ve read a modern re-telling of the Inferno, just for fun, because our library happened to have it. It’s not a translation as much as it is a pastiche-- taking prominent figures of the modern era and substituting them for all the names you’d need footnotes for. So you see figures like Pol Pot, or Wilt Chamberlain, or Saddam Hussein-- and you know why they’re there, rather than having to look up who Rinier Pazzo or Tegghiaio Aldobrandi were.

Definitely read the real thing. But you might give this one a try just for recreational light reading.


I read that translation when I was much younger and had no idea about Sayers’s been a novelist as well. I unfortunately can’t read Italian well enough to read it in the original and many English translations drop the rhyming scheme which destroys the rhythm apparently. I read Inferno and some of the other books but that is many years ago and when my views of my intellect were perhaps a little bit at odds wit the reality of it. I enjoyed it although bits of it passed completely over my headed, but I viewed it ultimately as a work of pious fiction with a lot of politics crowding in on the story.


After i read Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle circa 1976 whe)n I was a junior in High School I sort of managed to get through that part of the DC. (Escape from Hell is also quite good

I now have a copy of Longfellow’s translation with Durer woodcuts and am meaning to get through all of it when I have a spare year of time or two


Try the Dorothy L. Sayers translation instead. It’s much more fun!


Along with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Virgil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Goethe’s Faust, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Dostoyevski’s Crime and Punishment, Joyce’s Ulysses, and a handful of other great literary works, Dante’s Divine Comedy is one of humanity’s great works and should certainly be read, in Italian or a good translation, by anyone who considers themselves educated.


I lost my recent copy of “How to master Italian in a day”.
Italian is like a cheat code for rhyme because so many words have the same ending.

Fun fact: Don Quixote is the most sold book in history excluding the Bible. There’s something about attacking a windmill with a lance that appeals to us, deep down inside.

Anyway, I’ll have to see if my library has the right copies. I only selectively buy books otherwise it would cost as much as picking up smoking.


I read this many years ago, and recently listened to an audio version of it.
It is worth the read for sure.

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