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January/February 2023 Issue – Famous or Forgotten: Poets Everyone Should Know

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One With the Eternal Good: The Harmony of Faith and Reason in Dante’s Quest for Truth

Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, should not be understood as a fanciful work of fiction about a man travelling from Hell to Heaven. Rather, the intended aim of the poem is to show us how to get to Heaven; it is meant as an allegory for the epistemic and spiritual quest we all must undergo if we wish to attain beatitude. When asked what has led him to salvation at the end of The Paradiso, Dante replies, “By the arguments of philosophy / and by authority that descends from here, / such Love has clearly stamped its seal upon me.” Dante acknowledges he has come to this place in Heaven because of the way he has brought the natural wisdom of classical philosophy into a dialectic with the supernatural wisdom of Christian Revelation. This is likewise how we are encouraged by Dante in The Divine Comedy to pursue Truth and hope for salvation throughout the journey of our own life.

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