Is Dante ever NOT relevant?

Who’d have thought that when Dante wrote his wonderful (and very long…) Comedy back in the early 1300s, we’d still be using it as a model of morality and behaviour over seven hundred years later? Well friends, it’s true.

I was madly reading the news this morning (adding fuel to the fire of my already-manic levels of anxiety about the state of the world), when I stumbled across an article about Greece. Now I don’t need to fill you in on what’s been occuring in Greece of late; we all know they’re in a pretty shoddy way. But what I was most shocked by (and quite amused, to be honest), was the author’s comment that “it is natural to interpret Greeks as modern versions of Gluttons, and see the troika – that is, economic advisers from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – as a modern version of Cerberus”. He (Costas Milas) is referring, of course, to the third circle of Dante’s Inferno, wherein “Cerberus, a mythical hound with three heads, prevents the Gluttons, the greedy eaters, from escaping”.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the comparisons between the current economic catastrophe and the Inferno; I especially love the imagery of the European Central Bank as a three-headed dog (made famous, of course, by ‘Fluffy’ in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), but isn’t it just a little bit far-fetched to argue that Dante wrote the Commedia with the Greek debt crisis in mind? Milas reckons not. I’m not going to argue with him because he’s a professor (of finance at Liverpool University’s Business School), but I’d like to know who’s playing the role of Dante in this economic farce. I’d be up for auditioning for the role of Beatrice for sure, but I find Inferno and Purgatorio just a little bit too scary to play the main man…

Sarah x

Costas Milas, ‘Can Greece Avoid a Descent into Hell?’, Public Service Europe, 07/11/11


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