Where Athens and Jerusalem Meet: Why Dante Chose Virgil as his Guide

Louis Markos June 28, 2014

Presented at:
SCL Conference 2014


Dante’s Divine Comedy, perhaps the single greatest expression of the human imagination, sets itself the daunting task of embodying in verse the full medieval vision of God, Man, and the Universe. However, when he chose what great figure of the past would function as his guide through Hell and Purgatory, the Catholic Dante chose not Peter or Paul, not Augustine or Aquinas, but the pagan poet, Virgil. To understand why Dante chose Virgil as his guide is to plumb not only the soul of Dante but to grasp and appreciate the Italian, Roman Catholic legacy at its fullest and most profound. It is to understand as well Virgil’s multiple status as the greatest epic poet, as the most noble of Romans, as the exemplar of human reason and classical virtue, and as a proto-Christian whom God used to prepare the ancient world for Christ’s coming.


Literature Theology Virgil


Louis Markos
Louis Markos holds a BA in English and History from Colgate University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Michigan. He is a Professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, where he teaches courses on British Romantic and Victorian Poetry and Prose, the Classics, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and Film.

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