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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Essay on Dante's Monarchy

In this book, Dante tacked the connection between the power of the Church and the power of the monarchy. The Church is represented by the Pope while the monarchy is represented by the emperor. Dante criticized the Church for enabling the Pope to have so much power to the point that his authority was more powerful than that of the emperor (Alighieri 10). This implied that the Pope also had the power to get involved in the decisions being made by the emperor and influence the monarchy altogether. 

It is not surprising for Dante to write a book that is connected to politics and religion because he is a well respected Italian poet of his generation. The Monarchy is not even his most famous or successful work. It is the Divine Comedy which is considered as the best literary masterpiece ever made by an Italian poet. This literary piece talked about the afterlife and made its discussion more controversial yet funny at the same time. This provided the inspiration and motivation for Dante to also write the Monarchy especially when Florence, the city where he was living, was being pressured by then Pope Boniface VIII to follow his commands. While Dante knew that he had no power or authority to openly criticize the Pope for his wrong decisions, he knew that he could use his literary prowess to make sure that the Pope and the entire Italy would know his opposition to the Pope’s tremendous powers that exceeded more than the power of the emperor. He wanted to make sure that through the publishing of the Monarchy, he could also inspire other poets and writers in Italy during that time to also support his opinion by also launching their own books and texts. Dante thought that it was unfair for the Pope to have so much power to control the entire Italy that the emperor was rendered almost useless.

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Instead of giving so much power on the Pope, Dante suggested that there had to be a difference in priorities for the Pope and the emperor. After all, people had to take care of the fulfilment of their earthly life and their eternal life. Dante mentioned that it would be better for the Pope to concentrate on teaching the people how to achieve happiness and fulfilment in their eternal life, while the emperor would concentrate on guiding the people on how to achieve happiness and fulfilment in their earthly life. Because there are already different priorities between the Pope and the emperor, Dante believed that neither of them should interfere with one another’s responsibilities (Cassell 6). In order for Italy to be productive and prosperous, the Pope and the emperor should mind their own responsibilities and avoid causing unnecessary conflicts and disagreements.

It was also in this book that Dante aimed to explain that the Pope and the emperor were both human beings, and their power was a gift from God. To explain this, Dante pointed out that it was important to think that man was the only creature capable of dealing with corruptibility and incorruptibility at the same time. He mentioned that because the human body was made of flesh, human beings can be considered as corruptible. However, because human beings also had a soul, this component made them incorruptible. Thus, since the emperor and the Pope were merely human beings, they deserved to have equal power. God is more superior to the emperor and the Pope because He made all human beings just like the emperor and the Pope. Only God had the authority to judge the Pope and the emperor because He was the one who gave power to both of them to effectively rule in their respective realms.

Cited Works

Alighieri, Dante. 2009. On World-Government Or De Monarchia. New York, NY: Wildside Press
Cassell, Anthony. 2004. The Monarchia Controversy. Washington, DC: CUA Press

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