Canto 2 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 501

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Beatrice: Woman who begs Virgil to rescue Dante (Heavenly Wisdom)

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St. Lucia: Messenger from the Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary: Sends the messenger St. Lucia to Virgil

Aeneas: A character from Virgil’s Aeneid; author of “young Silvius’ birth”

St. Paul: One who, like Dante, writes of his view of Hell

Friday has almost ended. Dante and Virgil have been climbing most of the day. Dante begins to question whether he should continue the journey. Dante remembers that Aeneas and St. Paul traveled to Hell and he feels inferior to both of them. Dante asks who said he should go to this place and what would happen if he should fail.
Virgil tells him that an angelic spirit named Beatrice had concern for Dante. The Virgin Mary sent Beatrice to Virgil through St. Lucia, her messenger, to ask Virgil to bring Dante from his wandering.

Virgil tells Dante to be brave; three women in Heaven are concerned for him. Dante confesses that his courage is now stronger. Virgil moves on and Dante follows him.

Discussion and Analysis
Aeneas was a Trojan prince and the hero of Aeneid, written by Virgil. In Aeneid, Aeneas, the father of Silvius, goes to Hades, guided by the Sibyl, and returns safely; while there, he visits his father Anchises and learns that he is to be the ancestor of the Romans. St. Paul also visits Hell through a vision. Dante feels inferior to St. Paul and the great writer Virgil; yet he, too, is getting ready to make the journey to view Hell. This journey may be the one that the main character Dante will make, but it may also be a reference to the journey that Dante the writer will make as he records The Inferno on paper. Dante is probably comparing himself unfavorably with St. Paul, Virgil, and Aeneas and comparing his writing skills unfavorably with those of St. Paul and Virgil.

Virgil tells Dante how the Virgin Mary, the messenger St. Lucia, and Beatrice had concern for Dante. Mary is the vessel of Divine Grace; her name and the name of Christ are never spoken in Hell. St. Lucia is the patron saint of those with weak sight; it is appropriate that her name be mentioned since Dante has been lost. The third image of Divine Grace is Beatrice, a woman whom Dante had known since he was 9 and she was 8; even though Beatrice married another, Dante never ceased to love her. Beatrice died in 1290 at the age of 27. The character of Beatrice is a reference to this sacred love of Dante’s life; her very existence is a reminder to Dante of the presence of God. Throughout The Inferno no one ever mentions either her name or the name of Christ in Hell; their names are too sacred to be profaned by their mere mention in Hell.

Virgil’s story causes Dante’s courage to blossom as a flower, and they are able to continue their journey in confidence.

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