This lecture deals primarily with Cantos XIX and XXVI of Inferno. Simony, the sin punished in Inferno XIX, is situated historically to point out the contiguity of the sacred and the profane and its relevance to the prophetic voice Dante established in this canto. The fine line between prophecy and profanation is shown to resurface in Inferno XXIV and XXV, where the poet falls prey, as did the pilgrim in Inferno IV, to poetic hubris. Once again, the dangers of Dante's poetic vocation are dramatized in the canto that immediately follows. In Inferno XXVI, Dante's tragic revision of the journey of Ulysses is shown to offset his own poetic enterprise, while acknowledging its risks.
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