A comparison of the cultural differences between Fourteenth Century Florence and the present as represented by Dante’s characters in hell. Throughout history many aspects of life have changed between the modern day and the Fourteenth Century Florence. These aspects are the political powers, power and freedom of religion, and family bonds; some of these have been for the better while others have not. These three aspects are most prevalent in Dante’s charters in hell. Every one of the souls in hell has at one time gone against one of these powers, and that is the main reason they are in the city of Dis.
In the Fourteenth Century a multitude of political leaders were born into power because of their extreme wealth. Therefore, they passed laws based on what they wanted rather than what the people desired. The other offices were filled with friends and associates of the king or leader. This closely parallels China, a communist government, which gives the people few options in their lives. In the present day the political standings are more people centered rather than money driven.
The leaders are voted in by the people based on their standing on a variety of issues. When they go to pass laws, they have to be approved by a council of representatives, who are also chosen by the people. All other offices are filled the same way that the leader is, elected based on their standings regarding different issues. The souls in hell that represent the political side, the Sowers of Political Discord “â€¦ shall be thrown from their ships into the sea and drown in the raging tides near La Cattolica to satisfy a tyrant’s treachery.” 28.79-81
Closely connected to the government and political standings was the power of religion. They worked as one to pass laws and regulate what needed to be accomplished. Religion was not an option, it was mandatory that the people were Jewish and nothing else would be tolerated. If someone practiced another religion they would be punished. Just when Dante was speaking To Virgil he said: “For you are my true master and first author, the sole maker from whom I drewâ€¦” 1. 82-84 showing his love towards God, Dante was going against all religious beliefs shoved upon him.
In today’s society it is completely opposite. The role that religion has on our government and political standings is obsolete. Religion is an option today unlike in the Fourteenth Century. A person can be whatever religion they want to be, no religion can be forced upon them, and no one can tell them otherwise. The best representation today would be David Koresh, a cult leader who manipulated others into believing that he was Christ.
The importance of family bonds in the Fourteenth Century is also prevalent. People had respect for their family’s bond and history. Families were very close, and all generations had respect for each other. An important object in the family was the crest, which was one of the best representations of a person and their family. This importance is shown in the Usurers as Dante sees in the circle seven, round three “â€¦ I observed that from each neck there hung an enormous purse, each marked with its own beast and its own colors like a coat of arms.” 17. 46-49. In today’s society, this is not quite as prevalent. The bonds between family members are not as strong as in previous cultures. Families are falling apart at an alarming rate. One of the major contributing factors is divorce. Divorce breaks the bonds between family members and ties are lost. When parents a divorce many children lose almost all communication with one side of the family and all bonds built are broken and all ties established are lost.
A good number of the changes from the Fourteenth Century to modern day societies have been for the better or worse. Dante Alighieri would disagree with the power of politics and religion today because of the shift to the individual and the non-existent role of religion and our government as well as the break down of the family unit.
Today’s society has become too relaxed, particularly the government. But on the other hand, many people today think that Fourteenth Century matters were handled too strictly.