Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 June 2022
There is a tendency, at least among secular readers, to bracket off Dante’s faith as something no longer true, something to which we no longer subscribe. Yet that would seem to miss not just an aspect of the Divine Comedy, but its central point. The episodes in the Inferno this volume focuses on, paradigmatic for the whole work, point to a problem of faith – lack of a shared belief, misreadings of important stories, failed allegiance, and broken promises. But it is the choice of Virgil as a guide, lost because of his belief in “false and lying gods,” that teaches us how to read ancient books whose culture we no longer share. How indeed can we believe in them?