Sei sulla pagina 1di 5

E di ciò non è l'uomo da biasi-

mare, chè non esso fu di questo difetto fattore: anzi


fece ciò la Natura universale.
"non da noi ma dalla universale natura" (convivio)

Io son, cantava, io son dolce serena,


che’ marinai in mezzo mar dismago;
tanto son di piacere a sentir piena!

Poi che fu piacere de li cittadini de la bellissima e famosissima figlia di Roma, Fiorenza, di gittarmi
fuori del suo dolce seno (convivio)

Interpretazione di Dante: Dante spiegato da Dante


Di Giuseppe Pastina

Secondo Cicerone, il canto delle Sirene nell’epopea omerica è una promessa di conoscenza:
Odisseo non fu attratto dalla soavità del loro suono, ma dal desiderio insaziabile di apprendere (De
finibus bonorum et malorum V, 18).

Sembra che le Sirene non fossero solite richiamare coloro che passavano di lì grazie alla soavità
delle voci o ad una certa novità e varietà del canto, ma poiché dichiaravano di sapere molte cose,
cosicché gli uomini si incagliavano ai loro scogli per bramosia d’imparare. Così infatti invitano
Ulisse

ANNA DOLFI IL CANTO DI ULISSE:


OCCASIONE PER UN DISCORSO
DI ESEGESI DANTESCA ---
Ulisse ha detto le verità più sacrosante e solenni per indurre a un' azione non giusta.

Dante non ammira, condanna sempre la colpa, ma consente con quella forza che avrebbe potuto non
degenerare. Condivide il discorso di esaltazione dell'amore di Francesca e l'invi to alla virtù e
conoscenza di Ulisse perché essi non sono in sé
colpevoli, anzi sono forze che l'uomo dovrebbe perseguire e seguire. Ma nel momento in cui
consente con la loro definizione
teorica, ne condanna la degenerazione nel personaggio. L'orazione di Ulisse è in sé giusta, ed è
condivisa da Dante, ma per
Ulisse diventa fonte di dannazione perché male utilizzata nella
direzione del consiglio fraudolento ---

Ferrante p. 74,76 351

gabriel pihas ---

Seneca's letter to Lucilius (letter 88) is the main source of inspiration


for the canto of Ulysses and perhaps for the opening of the Divine Comedy
itself. The passage in the letter that has attracted the most scholarly attention
is the one most literally close to the content of the canto. In it Seneca
attacks the liberal artists who study literature, and who were curious about
the ending of Ulysses' story:
QuaerisU lixes ubi erraveritp otius quam efficiasn e nos semper erremus?N on
vacat audire utrum inter Italiam et Siciliam iactatus sit an extra notum nobis
orbem . . . tempestatesn os animi cotidie iactante t nequitiai n omnia Ulixis mala
inpellit. Non deest forma quae sollicitet oculos, non hostis; hinc monstra effera
et humano cruore gaudentia, hinc insidiosa blandimenta aurium, hinc naufragia
et tot varietates malorum. Hoc me doce, quomodo patriam amem, quomodo
uxorem, quomodo patrem, quomodo ad haec tarn honesta vel naufragus
navigem.
Do you seek out where Ulysses' wanderings took him more than try to end our
own perpetualw anderings?W e don't have the leisure to hear whether it was
between Italy and Sicily that he ran into a storm, or somewhere outside the area
of the world we know, . . . when everyday our souls are running into our own
storms, and driven into all the evils that Ulysses ever knew. We are not spared
those beautieso r enemiest hata ttractt he eyes. We too have to contend in various
places with savage monsters rejoicing in human blood, insidious voices that flatter
our ears, shipwrecks and all manner of misfortune. What you should be teaching
me is how I may attain such a love for my country, my father, and my wife, and
keep on course for those ideals even after shipwreck.
The obvious significance of Dante's potential
falling is that his own curiosity is similar to that of Ulysses and almost
brings about his literal downfall, just as it does Ulysses' own. The danger
of contagion in this canto is high, but simply because of what Dante
always does in every level of hell - namely, he looks.

In going to great lengths to emphasize the intensity of his curiosity, Dante


creates a curiosity in the reader to know why he is so intent on speaking
with Ulysses

But althoughD ante takesS eneca'sa rgumenta s the basisf or Infern2o6 ,


there is an important difference between them: for Dante, curiosity has a
deep significancef or politicsa nd politicalr hetoric.D ante presentsc uriosity
in Infern2o6 and 27 in connectionw ith fraudulenpt oliticalc ounselors,
clever men who use their intellect to convince themselves and other men
of imprudent (i.e., immoral) actions. In contrast, Seneca never even mentions
politics in his letter. (In this political element we may detect the
traditionalv iew of Ulysses in Latin epic, especiallyt he well-established
presencei n Dante's text of Ovid's manipulativeU lysses, describedi n the
debateo ver the armso f Achillesi n the MetamorphosesF.1o6r) S eneca,c uriosity
is most dangerous when it perverts our philosophical capacity. In
contrast,f or Dante, the improperr elationshipt o languagei n curiosityi s
most dangerousw hen the clever dialecticiant urnst o politicalr hetoric,a s
in Ulysses' speech (the "orazion picciola", Inf. 26. 112-120).

For Aquinas all knowledge in itself is good. The sin of curiositasis instead
an ill-advised appetite for knowledge. In the Summa Theologiae, he
divides such appetite into two kinds, intellectual and sensual (S. T. II- II
q.167 a.l and a.2.). Intellectual curiositasi s further divided, on the one
hand, into an appetite for knowledge that is evil only on account of the
consequences of the appetite; these consequences include pride (and
hence original sin) and the ability to commit other sins which knowledge
brings, e.g., to know how to lie. The second aspect of intellectual curiositas,
on the other hand, is the appetite which is a sin in itself. Aquinas
divides this essentially sinful form into four traits: (i) zeal for the useless
(his examples are comedy and love poetry19), (ii) interest in the illicit (i.e.,
demonology, fortune telling, magic, superstition), (iii) desire for knowledge
of creatures without reference to their end in God, and (iv) interest
in what is beyond our capacity to know. On the other hand, sensual
curiositaiss sub-divided into "speculative" and "practical". The "speculative"
part is the desire to have sense-experiences which are useless distractions;
the "practical" part is a desire for harmful end-directed sensual
pleasures (Thomas' examples are the erotic curiositast hat makes a lustful
man desire to look at a woman, and the desire to know about the affairs
of others so as to speak badly of those others). In opposition to all of these
forms of the sin, Aquinas sets a virtue, studiositas (studiousness, earnestness).
20S tudiositasi s thoughtfulness about the appetite for knowledge. It is
the virtue that sees the goals towards which knowledge must be aimed
and around which the sciences must be organized. It is the mean between
curiositaas nd mental complacency. (It is essential to note that what we call
"curiosity" today would include both curiositasa nd studiositas,)T homas
does not subdivide studiositasa s he did curiositasa, nd hence is not explicit
about the relation between studiositasa nd literature. However, given that
literature is the object of curiositaws hen useless, one would expect that it
could lie in the ambit of studiositasw hen useful. Hence, for example, the
knowledge of literary aspects of sacred scripture (or even of secular literature)
that aid one toward salvation would be the object of studiositas.

Dante's importance in the tradition of literary realism is tied to his selfconscious


ambivalence about curiosity expressed in the figure of Ulysses.
Dante's new interest in the concrete historical individual in the Divine
Comedy, which Erich Auerbach saw as Dante's great achievement,35 owes
something, perhaps not directly to Thomas' particular arguments against
Averroes, but to the suspicion of the identity-less knower that underlies
them.

We should add Latini's


and Thomas' words: Ulysses resembles Dante very closely, as "a vice
thatr esemblesa virtue",o r as curiositarse sembless tudiositaWs. hen Benedetto
Croce made Ulysses into a trace of the "poetry" that overcame
Dante's rigid "theological" tendencies, he was simply unaware that late
medieval ethics was as subtle as Latini and Aquinas are on this point.

Of course, the ambiguity of vice and virtue is not a problem limited to


the sin of Ulysses.I n the InfernoD, ante presentss omethingv ery similari n
his treatmento f Cavalcanted i CavalcantiP, aolo and FrancescaP, ier della
Vigna, BrunettoL atini,a nd Ugolino, to namej ust a few.42W 42W hat appeals
about them is the way Dante lets us see many vices that come so close to
resembling his own virtues, and lets us see the vices to which he himself
had been prone ----

Varco folle di ulisse (paradiso)

Considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza. (vv. 118-20) «Ma
questo è Aristotele bell’e buono nell’Etica Nicomachea», esclamava Maria Corti, rinviando a temi distintivi di
quell’opera, «il paragone con l’animal brutum, il suggerimento della operatio boni e della cognitio veri»25.

Sull’assenza, nell’«orazion picciola», di ogni inquinamento di frode cfr. ora T.


Zanato, Inferno XXVI, in Lectura Dantis Bononiensis, a cura di E. Pasquini, C. Galli, IV,
Bononia University Press, Bologna 2014, pp. 109-42, alle pp. 117-19. Per la dimensione (e la forza) retorica, si veda S.
Carrai, Retorica epica nell’orazione di Ulisse, in Id.,
Dante e l’antico. L’emulazione dei classici nella «Commedia», Edizioni del Galluzzo, Firenze 2012, pp. 31-41

Proviamo a
riassumere questo meccanismo tropico con le parole di un recente commento: «La sete di conoscenza di Ulisse ha per
oggetto il mondo […]. Il
suo piano non è propriamente la scienza, ma l’esperienza (vv. 98 e 116),
la “conoscenza del particolare”». A rigore, dunque, il titolato protagonista di Inferno XXVI dovrebbe ricadere nel
novero degli empirici, i quali
inseguono il che senza attingere il perché, si affacciano agli effetti e non
risalgono alle cause, come vuole Aristotele nella Metafisica (I, 1, 10-11).
Nondimeno, «l’eroe greco può rappresentare, per una forma di sineddoche, il desiderio umano di conoscenza, come
principio radicale e naturale, al di qua di ogni specificazione»29.
In un passo famoso