With this year commemorating Italian Poet Dante Alighieri’s 750th birthday, everyone in the world recognizes the Italian poet’s contributions, with The Divine Comedy as his greatest gift. The epic poem may be a lengthy read, but it has one simple but strong message. “He’s [Alighieri] telling us that while we encounter challenges in our life, we have the choice to do what is right or what is wrong,” said Alessandro Iellamo, chairman of Societa Dante Alighieri Manila.
“[Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is] a plea for social justice as well as for self-examination,” Ateneo Professor Jonathan Chua adds, emphasizing that Alighieri’s greatest work is a sufficient guide in understanding what the Philippines is facing, from corruption to laglag bala.
The Divine Comedy remains relevant, even our National Hero Jose Rizal is inspired by it! “Dante’s [Alighieri’s] insights are identical to that of Rizal’s,” said Prof. Paul Dumol, who has been studying on Alighieri’s works for several years.
“Para kay Rizal, kailangang magbago ang tao,” Dumol further explains, as both Rizal and Alighieri focus on the importance of values.
Here are a few ways The Divine Comedy is relevant to Filipinos:
“Consider your origin. You were not formed to live like brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge.”
Even if you are well-accomplished in life, it really helps to stay down-to-earth and be open to learning new things. Being a true Filipino means showcasing Filipino values like being hospitable and being resilient, two key traits that best define what it means to be a Filipino.
“It’s useless to talk about other ways of improving society if you do not go back to the basics,” Dumol said.
In addition, anyone who has made it big in their lives are mindful of their humble beginnings, just like how some personalities give back to those who raised them. Because one can’t be successful in life if they do not acknowledge those who help them from the start.
“The more a thing is perfect, the more if feels pleasure and pain.”
Whether it involves finding a moving movie storyline or the perfect way to move on, everyone undergoes challenges and struggles, and yes they can sting once in a while. The key to do great in life? By overcoming these struggles and proving that you can be better!
Think of it this way: there are times that we do get hurt or scarred, yet we would still carry on because at the back of our heads, these wounds will help us to be stronger and more prepared in life.
“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”
As Alighieri points out in The Divine Comedy, it is up to us to make the right choices in order to arrive at our desired outcome. The same goes if we decide to do bad things, making us end up with a miserable life.
“It has to be character!” Dumol exclaimed on how people can make the right decisions in life, a statement both Alighieri and Rizal pointed out in their works.
Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy may look complex at its first impression, but in reality, it has a simple message anyone can relate to, and that is to focus on making the person’s character right before making other changes. “Dante [Alighieri] speaks to everyone, including the vendor,” Iellamo said.