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Ethics, ontology and representation : the virtu-dynamic of Dante's Commedia

Chester, Ruth Marie (2012) Ethics, ontology and representation : the virtu-dynamic of Dante's Commedia. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis explores the conception and representation of virtu in Dante's Commedia. In order to break the existing limited boundaries of the way virtue is read in the Commedia, and to establish a richer sense of the ideas a fourteenth-century poet might have had in relation to the topic, this thesis begins with two chapters which consider notions of virtue in the intellectual and cultural traditions prior to Dante. Chapter One focuses on the philosophical and theological traditions and considers works by Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Gregory the Great and Thomas Aquinas. Chapter Two turns to look at virtue as a prominent theme in a wide variety of popular cultural forms of the medieval period. These include sermons, devotional literature, visual art and poetry. In the light of these two chapters, the thesis proposes a reading of virtu in the Commedia which acknowledges it as a notion which is at a nexus of being and doing, of metaphysical and physical, of idea and representation. What I have termed the virtu-dynamic in the Commedia, is that through which Dante fundamentally connects ethics and ontology, so that human behaviour becomes an expression of an individual's ontological state. The virtu-dynamic is the interaction which the Commedia traces between the creative action of God and the responsive action of man. The final three chapters of the thesis consider this in relation to different aspects of the poem. Chapter Three considers the role Dante gives to virtu in the process of creation and incarnation in his poem. Chapter Four looks at how Dante stages the interactions between God and man which are underpinned by virtu. The final chapter considers how Dante conceives the role of virtu in relation to the experiences and salvation of his own pilgrim-poet self. This analysis is based on a close focus, not only on the abstract ideas of virtu which the Commedia proposes, but on how those ideas are manifested and vivified by the text.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Other academic unit: School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.582745
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2016 13:59
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 13:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11315

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