Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm going to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

Our girls love history, so we continue wading forward through the map of time, reading, crafting and exploring. We're moving into the Middle Ages now, St. Augustine to Descartes. But what shall I do when we get to Dante's Inferno? Some who are into classical education say third grade is the time to read The Inferno aloud, but it's a VERY dark poem, wouldn't you say? (Chime in anytime here, Grandpa Doug!)

Somehow I just don't think I can bring myself to do it at this juncture...or perhaps ever.

In my online research, I've found some fun stuff, though. According to the Dante's Inferno Test, I'm going to the First Level:

"You are one of the lucky ones! Because of your virtue and beliefs, you have escaped eternal punishment. You are sent to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!

"Charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, whereabout many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad."

So, do we read it aloud or not? Somehow I think this one can wait, but I look forward to my faithful readers chiming in here. Please leave a comment (or send me a private e-mail if you don't want to share here).


  1. I would definitely wait til they are older and in process of forming their own beliefs and able to think critically about it. Dante is not in line with a Biblical worldview, obviously, so I guess it depends on which worldview you want to shape at this time. gotta run, lots of unfinished projects...

  2. Inferno is a book about The Damned and what led them into eternal damnation. I think that part of it is way too dark for 3rd graders.

    I would be reluctant also to introduce the girls to Dante’s first vision of Christ in earthly paradise at the top of Mount Purgatory (the subject of Purgatorio), personified by a 10-year-old blonde, green-eyed girl named Beatrice from Dante’s childhood. Some of our neighbors might want to subject Dante to Megan’s law!

    Reading Dante’s Commedia really requires appreciating the politics that inspired it. This first work of Renaissance literature is about why the Church should always separate itself from the State.

    By the way, the evil-doers in the Commedia are the Church, the Nobility, and the Bankers!


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