La Divina Mimesis: Art in the Terrace of Pride in Divina Comedia


La Divina Mimesis

Art in the Terrace of Pride in Divina Comedia

Thu Truong, Yale-NUS College ‘17

(Initially published in YNUJ Volume 1, 2016)


In Divina Commedia, the nature of art and the artist is discussed most thoroughly in the terrace of Pride (Purgatorio 10-12), as the pilgrim navigates through the divine art which is in turn portrayed by the human poet. In creating a mimesis that transcends reality, Dante complicates the roles of creator and imitator, and with that, the relationship between presentation and re-presentation. On the one hand, God—the ultimate Author—takes on the conceit of the artist, as humans, nature, and eventually reality are shown to be magnificent works of divine art. On the other hand, the human poet, who merely imitates, slowly assumes an auctoritas (“authority”) as he proves his own capacity for realism. The tension between Arachnean1 and divine art leads to the discourse on the didactic nature of God’s creation, which is a teaching to the human artist as he goes through the terrace of Pride.

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