David Bruce: Dante’s PURGATORY: A Discussion Guide — “Canto 24: Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Bonagiunta da Lucca)”

Canto 24: Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Bonagiunta da Lucca)

  • Where are Forese Donati’s brother and sister?

The Donati family is an important family in The Divine Comedybecause it has members in the three parts of the afterlife: the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. This shows that family connections do not determine where you end up in the afterlife. Instead, what you do with your life does.

Forese Donati has a sister, Piccarda, in Paradise, with whom Dante will speak in the Paradise.

Forese Donati also says when that Corso, his brother, dies (in 1308), he will end up in the Inferno.

  • Which prophecy of Dante’s upcoming exile do we see in this canto?

The poet Bonagiunta Da Lucca prophesies that a woman from his city, which is reviled, will make Dante praise his city.

  • What main topic do Dante and the other poets talk about?

At Dante’s request, Forese Donati tells Dante the names of several poets on this ledge. None of the souls mind having Dante know their names, in contrast to the sinners in the lower circles of the Inferno, who do not want anyone to know their names.

Dante and the other poets — who are near-contemporaries of Dante — on this ledge talk quite a bit about style because innovations in style occurred when these poets and Dante were alive.

  • What does Bonagiunta Da Lucca say about Dante and Dante’s poetry?

A Florentine poet, Bonagiunta Da Lucca, had died three years earlier. Apparently, he was good at poetry and finding rhymes, but he was better at finding wine. He now speaks to Dante, complimenting him on writing better poetry than he (Bonagiunta) had written. Obviously, since Bonagiunta is on the 6th ledge, he has purged himself of pride, which is purged on the 1st ledge.

Dante himself was an innovator of poetry, and Bonagiunta asks him if he is the poet who started a new style of poetry:

“But say if him I here behold, who forth

Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning,

‘Ladies, that have intelligence of love?’”

(Longfellow 24.49-51)

“Ladies, that have intelligence of love” (Musa translates the line as “Ladies who have intelligence of love” in line 51 of Canto 4) is a more recent, better, more spiritual poem than the song that Casella started to sing in Prepurgatory, when Cato the guardian admonished him to keep his eyes on the prize of reaching Heaven after purging his sins.

Dante takes credit for the poem, but he attempts to be modest:

And I to him: “One am I, who, whenever

Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure

Which he within me dictates, singing go.”

(Longfellow 24.52-54)

Dante gives credit to Inspiration for helping him to write his love poetry.

Bonagiunta says,

“O brother, now I see,” he said, “the knot

Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held

Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.”

(Longfellow 24.55-57)

Bonagiunta praises Dante’s “sweet new style” (Musa 24.57), and he says that he was incapable of writing in that style.

  • Are love and writing about love good things?

It depends. Some kinds of love and some kinds of writing about love can be bad.

Remember Francesca da Rimini in Canto 5 of the Inferno? Passionate and adulterous love got her an eternal residence in the Inferno. She blamed her problems on lots of things, including a romance about an adulterous love affair between Queen Guinever and Sir Lancelot.

Dante must be careful to write about love carefully and accurately in The Divine Comedy.

Perhaps Dante needs to Christianize the love he writes about in The Divine Comedy. Statius was able to read Virgil and Christianize the 4th Eclogue. Perhaps Dante needs to Christianize his love poetry when he writes The Divine Comedy.

And yes, we can look at The Divine Comedyas being a huge love poem. Dante expresses his love for Beatrice and for God.

  • Bonagiunta mentions the poet Guittoni. What did he write?

Guittoni wrote a famous poem that was a lament for Florence after the Battle of Montaperti.

Once again, we have a connection of poetry and politics.

In The Divine Comedy, Dante writes much about poetry and especially politics.

  • Does Bonagiunta Da Lucca waste time?

No, Bonagiunta Da Lucca does not waste time. He has spent time talking to Dante, but that is a courtesy that the souls in Purgatory give to Dante. Like the other souls this high up the Mountain of Purgatory, Bonagiunta Da Lucca keeps his eyes on the prize. He tells Dante,

“Now I must leave you. I have lost much time,

walking along with you at your own pace,

and time is precious to us in this realm.”

(Musa 24.91-93)

  • Compare and contrast the tree that appears in Canto 23 with the tree that appears in Canto 24.

The tree in Canto 23 cited examples of self-control, but the tree in Canto 24 cites examples of gluttony.

  • Briefly describe the exempla (examples) of gluttony that are presented in Canto 24.

Dante is finished talking with Forese Donati and with Bonagiunta Da Lucca. Now he, Virgil, and Statius continue walking until they reach a second tree, from which comes a voice citing examples of gluttony:

1) The Drunken Centaursat the Wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia

At the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia, the Centaurs got drunk and tried to rape the bride and other women at the wedding. Theseus and the Lapidae defended the women and killed many Centaurs.

2) Gideon’s Impatient Soldiers

Gideon had many soldiers. When they arrived at a river, they were very thirsty. Gideon, following the advice of God, watched his soldiers. Some put their faces in the water and drank greedily. This was a mistake because they were not on the lookout for danger. Other, more cautious, soldiers cupped the water in their hands and brought the water up to their faces, thus remaining vigilant. Gideon led these vigilant soldiers to victory. This story is told in Judges, chapter 7 (King James Version):

4: And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

5: So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink

6: And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

7: And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

At this point Dante is ready to ascend to the next ledge, which is where the lustful are punished. An angel appears and points the way leading to the next ledge. Dante hears the words of the angels, which are a paraphrase of one of the Beatitudes:

I heard the words: “Blessed are those in whom

grace shines so copiously that love of food

does not arouse excessive appetite,

but lets them hunger after righteousness.”

(Musa 24.151-154)

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PURGATORY: CANTO 23 RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 24 RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 25  RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 26 RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 28 RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 29 RETELLING

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PURGATORY: CANTO 30  RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/dantes-purgatory-canto-30-retelling-forest-of-eden-exit-of-virgil-entrance-of-beatrice/

PURGATORY: CANTO 31 RETELLING

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