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Class dates: Tuesdays, January 21 to April 29, 2014
Total classes: 12 Starting time: 10:00 AM Eastern (9:00 Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Prerequisite: The ability to read and enjoy the book. Recommended, but not required: Inferno (Hell) by Dante offered Fall 2013 (see above).
Suggested grade level: 11th to 12th grade
Suggested high school credit: 1 full semester Classical Literature
Fee: $120 if you register on or before Nov. 1, 2013. $140 after Nov. 1st.
Course description: Dante Alighieri is the only “secular” author in praise of whom a Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church has written an encyclical letter. His Holiness Benedict XV’s “In Praeclara Summorum” of 1921 rightly says, “We admire in him not only supreme height of genius but also the immensity of the subject which holy religion put to his hand. If his genius was refined by meditation and long study of the great classics it was tempered even more gloriously, as We have said, by the writings of the Doctors and the Fathers which gave him the wings on which to rise to a higher atmosphere than that of restricted nature.” Simply interpreted, Dante is the greatest author of the greatest book on the greatest subject of any ever written by a man not known by the Church to be directly inspired by God.
Dante teaches us what it might mean to be a Catholic in every element of our thought and culture. His work is not only sublimely beautiful, but filled with the most important truths. He was a complete Catholic in an age of political and heretical turmoils, but an age blessed with the influence--mediate or immediate--of towering saints like Bernard, Francis, Dominic, and Thomas Aquinas. His Divine Comedy intends to teach us how to harmonize the demands of Church and State, community and individual, authority and conscience, divine and natural knowledge, intellect and emotion. The Comedy provides a vision of eternity in order to teach man how to live in time, in his brief excursus before forever. The Inferno provides the greatest examination of our conscience as we come to see our own affinities to the souls who have chosen Hell. The Purgatory shows us how to turn our intellects and emotions toward the good. Finally the Paradiso helps liberate our emotions and our souls toward the beautiful and good. No one can lay claim to liberal arts education until he has made a serious beginning on understanding The Divine Comedy. Again, as Benedict XV wrote, “The more profit you draw from study of him the higher will be your culture, irradiated by the splendours of truth, and the stronger and more spontaneous your devotion to the Catholic Faith.”
Course materials: We will use the Dorothy Sayers edition (click for ordering information). The ISBN number is 0140440461.
Homework: One to one and one-half hours per week. Weekly Quiz, Midterm, and Final. Answer keys provided for parental or self grading.