This lecture focuses on the cantos of Cacciaguida (Paradise XV-XVII). The pilgrim's encounter with his great-great grandfather brings to the fore the relationship between history, self and exile. Through his ancestor's mythology of their native Florence, Dante is shown to move from one historiographic mode to another, from the grandeur of epic to the localism of medieval chronicles. Underlying both is the understanding of history in terms of genealogy reinforced and reproved by Dante's mythic references to fathers and sons, from Aeneas and Anchises to Phaeton and Apollo to Hippolytus and Theseus. The classical and medieval idea of the self's relation to history in terms of the spatial continuity these genealogies provide is unsettled by Cacciaguida's prophecy of Dante's exile. The very premise of the poem's composition, exile is redeemed as an alternative means of reentering the world of history.
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