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Journey to God in Two Different Eras: Dante's Divine Comedy and Virgil's Aeneid

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Latin texts have always touched on the topic of “afterlife” due to the close knitted relationship with God and Christian belief. The Underworld, Heaven and Hell have always been interpreted in different ways, each influenced by contextual ideologies or religious factors within those preceding times. One can determine the Divine Comedy’s significant societal expectations through close comparison between Virgil’s The Aeneid. The contrasting time difference between these two sources portrays tremendous differences in society’s views about Christianity beliefs and afterlife. Virgil’s Aeneid was written during the Golden Age of the Roman Era, thus was heavily saturated with Catholic Viewed within pre Christian Society whereas the Divine Comedy was written during the late Middle Ages, which was considered “an intense struggle for religious authority and political power within the Church”. Virgil’s narration of Aeneas’s visit/journey to the Underworld written in his sixth volume of Aeneid is most significant in portraying enigmatic religious aspects. Through analyzing distinct similar and contrasting biblical representations and structural imagery within the two texts written almost 1400 years apart, one can pinpoint contextual change from Pre-Christian society to Late Middle Ages and their beliefs of the afterlife and Church.

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Firstly, as mentioned above, the aspect of creating literature based around the topic of death and life after death is the first similarity between The Divine Comedy and Book IV of Aeneid. Both sources includes a “journey” that the individual follows in order to achieve enlightenment. Virgil describes the journey of Aeneas and his mission in creating a new city which leads him to finding the Underworld. (insert quote of him entering the afterlife). The Divine Comedy revolves around one’s journey through Hell and its different levels. Both of these texts since involving the motif of a journey is a Epic as it includes all the characteristics including a Hero, Superhuman Courage, vast setting and supernatural forces.

However both these texts although portraying a physical journey throughout Heaven and Hell metaphorically symbolizes one’s allegorical spiritual journey towards God and understanding the idea of “sin and punishment”. The similarity of both texts focusing on consequences within their lives even after death rather than believing that there is another world beyond death introduces the never changing strong belief on the idea of sin and punishment for every action for Christians. It highlights the didactic nature of these texts therefore proving the significance of Christian literature in educating and keeping order within religious society. Virgil’s story however is more informative and is not inclined towards Christian beliefs. He describes classical theories of afterlife. He reveals the practiced idea of fair judgement without self bias or mythical motifs. Dante’s Divine Comedy presses normality of his descriptions of harsh punishments through self revelation and internal journey thus revealing the harsh within Christianity during the Middle ages.

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Journey to God in Two Different Eras: Dante’s Divine Comedy and Virgil’s Aeneid. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Journey to God in Two Different Eras: Dante’s Divine Comedy and Virgil’s Aeneid.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
Journey to God in Two Different Eras: Dante’s Divine Comedy and Virgil’s Aeneid. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
Journey to God in Two Different Eras: Dante’s Divine Comedy and Virgil’s Aeneid [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Feb 01 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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