It is amazing how Dante Alighieri uses numerology in his poem The Divine Comedy. He also uses them in a sequencing order in this hot Inferno. The structure of the poem is quite complex, with mathematical and numerological patterns. He is also fascinated with the number 3; along with the numbers 7 and 9 are throughout the poem. My focus is on how he uses these numbers in sequencing order and the way he used the numbers.
I came across an essay i wrote in college regarding this Italian epic poem. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature and is seen as one of world's greatest literature. It is an allegorical vision of the after life. It is Dante's imagination of hell. So many meanings to this poem. I got an A on this paper and loved my review and wanted to share it with any Dante fans.
The number 3 was prominently used in his poems. Here is an example of how many times the number 3 is shown in the poem: 3 beasts (lion, leopard, she wolf), the 3 realms of the dead, during Easter 1300, Dante was 35 years old, 33 cantos in each book, 34 cantos is in the Inferno, the devil has 3 faces (red, black and yellow), 3 ladies who pray for him (St. Lucia, Virgin Mary and Rachel), the trinity of 3 (God appears as 3 equally large circles father, son and holy spirit) , the last world in each of the 3 parts of the Devine Comedy is “stars” and also the 3 rhymes mean every imperfection can become perfection which seem in totally. The other numbers included and some are actually connected with the number 3: 9 circles of Hell, the 7th circle is divided into 3 rings, the 8th circle is divided into 10 bolgie, the 9th circle is divided into 4 zones, 4 intended levels of meaning (narrative, allegorical, moral and anagogical), in Purgatory an angel uses his sword to draw the letter “P” 7 times on Dante’s forehead, the angel uses 2 keys to open the gates, Dante goes through 7 terraces of purgatory, 7 deadly sins and 9 spheres of heaven.
The Devine Comedy is composed of 3 canticas: Inferno (Hell), Purgutorio (Purgatory) and Paradisco (Heaven) (33 cantos). He wanted the reader to see this as parts of the universe arranged in concentric circles using this structure. For example instead of seeing the people in hell all mixed up together (also in heaven and purgatory), they are arranged in the order of how they chose to lead their lives according to the extent of their sin. It is marked step by step in a numerical order.
When Francesca speaks to Dante, she uses “3” part formula that reveals she is part of the courtly love tradition (as mentioned in class the 3 loves):
Love which is gentlest treats teats will
Love permits no loved one not to love…
Love led us to death
The verse scheme used, terza rima, is hendecasyllable (line of 11 symbols) with the lines composing tercets according to the rhyme scheme ABA BCB CDC…YZY. This was a little difficult for me to understand the formula so I educated myself on poetry by looking into it further for an explanation. Here is a great example on how it is used:
Dante writes The Inferno and the Divine Comedy so that the reader can read it logically, in a sequential and chronological systematic or it can be read horizontally across. I think you can read it this way because the numbers should still find a thematic connection.
Dante’s poem would not have been complete if this type of planning and fashion was not part of writing The Divine Comedy. To me it all fits like a puzzle which interlocks together perfectly. People tend to like things neat in their lives (such as myself) so that could be the reason why it was popular. The uniqueness of his writing is amazing; I never read anything like this before.