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Conclusion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2020

George Corbett
Affiliation:
University of St Andrews, Scotland
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Summary

This chapter demonstrates the significance of avarice in Dante’s Christian ethics, and in his own moral biography. As Peraldus’s treatise ‘De avaritia’ demonstrates, the sin of avarice may include a disordered love of power and knowledge as well as of wealth, and its opposing vice of prodigality. In particular, amor filiorum [the love of children] is highlighted as a perilous occasion to avarice.

Amor filiorum is the interpretative key to Dante’s terrace of avarice, which is structured chiastically around the figure of Hugh Capet at its centre (Purg. xx, 40–96). The examples of poverty (16–33) and avarice (97–123) all concern the impact of poverty on family dependents; the shewolf (4–15) and the poor shepherds (124–41) emphasise the failure of the Church’s pastors to protect their flock from avarice; the prologue (1–3) and epilogue (142–51) concern the avaricious desire for knowledge. Hugh Capet’s genealogy of ancestral line (Purg. XX) is framed by the avaricious Ottobono dei Fieschi’s genealogy of popes (Purg. XIX) and the prodigal Statius’s genealogy of ethical poets (Purg. XXI–XXII).

Through his poetic cypher Statius, Dante implies that avarice (in its subspecies, and opposing vice, prodigality) was his own sin, and the cause of his overthrow by the she-wolf in Inferno I.

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Dante's Christian Ethics
Purgatory and Its Moral Contexts
, pp. 204 - 214
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Conclusion
  • George Corbett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  • Book: Dante's Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108776875.009
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  • Conclusion
  • George Corbett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  • Book: Dante's Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108776875.009
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Conclusion
  • George Corbett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  • Book: Dante's Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108776875.009
Available formats
×