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Why does Dante use the number "3" mutiple times in "Dante's...

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mijeejo | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) Honors

Posted October 28, 2008 at 9:38 AM via web

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Why does Dante use the number "3" mutiple times in "Dante's Inferno"?

For example the 3 heads, 33 cantos, satan's 3 faces... etc

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM (Answer #1)

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Think in terms of the trinity, and you've got one reason. One of the major mysteries of the Christian faith is how the divinity can be three in one: father, son, and holy spirit. In Satan's three faces, Dante gives us an inverted trinity. Other trios also come from Christian theology. It is not Dante who invented purgatory, which gives a tri-part afterlife, but the larger Christian tradition. Likewise, when he finds himself in the middle of the forest and his life at the start of the poem, he is given a natural triad: the present, the past, and the future.

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tintj | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 11, 2008 at 11:12 AM (Answer #2)

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three is an important number. dante expresses a lot of religious beliefs and 3 stands for the holy trinity! 3 books with 33 cantos plus the 1 canto as a preface equals 100.

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pamfaulkner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 10, 2011 at 12:51 PM (Answer #3)

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Dante also writes in terza rima-verses of three lines with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc.  It's a very difficult rhyme scheme to use in English, but it works well in Italian where so many more words rhyme.


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