Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza“ din Iaşi, Facultatea de Filosofie şi Ştiinţe Social-Politice “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Faculty of Philosophy
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7 / 2012
Purgatorio 28-33: Matelda
In Purgatorio, Canto 28, Dante meets the beautiful Matelda. The feeling the poet gets is strange and hard to explain. It is not about veneration, even though Matelda does take Virgil’s place and becomes the guide of the pilgrim in Eden, but of a feeling that is almost erotic in nature. The poet describes the woman’s beauty in pagan terms: she is being compared to the nymphs, Venera or Proserpina. But is it truly an erotic love? Some experts strongly disagree with this assumption. Dante cannot feel passion. Others consider that the tercets that speak of Matelda, do not have a literal meaning, but an allegoric one. Lastly, some are of the opinion that Matelda portrays a real person, and they allude to St. Matilda in the Christian calendar. It is wrong to make these kind of assumptions. Matelda is Matelda (a being made out of words) and not the lyrical image of some historical characters. Therefore, which is the simplest interpretation of the poet’s meeting with Matilda in the terrestrial paradise? The following study offers an answer.
Keywords: hermeneutics, principle of simplicity, alegoric interpretation, literal interpretation
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