March 05, 2008


The theme at Goat Rope this week and last is Dante's Divine Comedy. El Cabrero's hope is to encourage you, Gentle Reader, to give it a try. It's well worth it. You will also find links and comments about current events. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts.

Yesterday's post mentioned some points of interest in his Inferno. Here are a few more:

*First, here's what the "Welcome to Hell" sign says in Canto III:

THROUGH me the way is to the city dolent;
Through me the way is to eternal dole;
Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;
Created me divine Omnipotence,
The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,
Only eterne, and I eternal last.
All hope abandon, ye who enter in !

(That was from Longfellow's translation.)

*Second, some of the damned aren't even cool enough to make it into hell. They included humans and angels who remained neutral in a time of grave crisis and are driven like dust in the proverbial wind and tormented by gadflies and wasps. Of these, Virgil tells Dante,

This miserable measure the wretched souls maintain of those who lived without infamy and without praise. Mingled are they with that caitiff choir of the angels, who were not rebels, nor were faithful to God, but were for themselves. The heavens chased them out in order to be not less beautiful, nor doth the depth of Hell receive them, because the damned would have some glory from them....mercy and justice disdain them. Let us not speak of them, but do thou look and pass on.

*Third, an interesting feature of the Inferno has to do with what the damned know and don't know. In general, they have some knowledge of the past and future--it is in Inferno that Dante the pilgrim learns that he is destined to be exiled--but they have no knowledge of the present. They frequently ask Dante about current events. But when the Last Judgment comes, there will be no future and they will know only their present misery. That'll be a downer.

*Fourth, the worst part of hell, which is reserved for those who betray, isn't hot: it's very cold. At the very bottom is Satan, who has three mouths in a grotesque parody of the Trinity. In each mouth, he chomps on a different traitor: Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus; and Cassius and Brutus, who betrayed Caesar.

*Finally, when you go so far down, the only way out is up. Dante knew the world was round and thus Satan is placed where he landed when cast out of Heaven. Dante and Virgil crawl down past the devil and wind up on the far side of the world, at an island in the south seas where Purgatory is. Purgatory is where souls that will be saved undergo the spiritual equivalent of a root canal to get in shape for Heaven.

About which more tomorrow.

THE COST OF THE IRAQ WAR is the subject of this sobering discussion of the UK Guardian with economist Joseph Stiglitz.

BUSH AND THE ECONOMY. In the spirit of fair play, President Bush doesn't deserve all the blame for the tanking of the economy--but he should get his fair share. Here's Dean Baker on the subject.

SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION REDUX. Candidate John McCain supports President Bush's failed effort to privatize Social Security, according to the Wall Street Journal.

PROPOSED CORPORATE TAX CUTS under consideration in the legislature could cost over $500 million over the next several years. This is money that would otherwise go to education at all levels, social services, etc.

MORE ON MISANTHROPY. Marshall's decision to accept big bucks from BB&T to teach the ideology of Ayn Rand has generated some ink in and out of WV. This is from AP, this is from the student paper The Parthenon, and this is from Inside Higher Education.

END OF AN ERA. Here's an item from Slate on the demise of William F. Buckley and (maybe) his brand of conservatism.

NOT A DINOSAUR BUT INTERESTING ANYWAY. Scientists have found the remains of an ancient one-ounce primate in Mississippi. Dating from around 56 million years ago, it's the earliest primate found in Europe or America.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: why don't they make songs like "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" anymore?


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