Dante’s Divine Comedy is arguably the greatest epic poem ever written. Taking its reader on a journey through the circles of Hell, through the terraces of the Mountain of Purgatory, and through the celestial spheres of Heaven, Dante’s groundbreaking work displays an unparalleled imaginative vision of the Christian afterlife and the human soul. 

What We Will Do:

Dante did not travel through the afterlife alone—he always had a guide. In this Atrium, CiRCE-certified Master Teacher Kristen Rudd will serve to also guide us through the entire Comedy, beginning with pilgrim Dante’s descent into Hell to his eventual ascent into the highest Heaven. Students will learn about classical virtue ethics, the seven deadly sins (and their corresponding virtues), and get an introduction to the Medieval view of the cosmos. 

Dante did not write his astounding work in a vacuum, and we will not read it in one, either. We will also read selections from the Holy Bible and from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to help further our understanding of the Comedy.  

How We Will Do It: 

We will read the Comedy straight through from beginning to end. Before each of our eighteen sessions, students will read cantos from the Comedy as well as any related stories from The Bible and from Metamorphoses. Class, held on the first and third Tuesday of the month, will be a combination of both lecture and Socratic discussion. Between sessions, students will continue the conversation with each other through guided online discussion board posting. 

Who Should Do It: 

This class is for those who have read Dante countless times, for those who only read Inferno that one time in college, and for those who have never had Dante waved in their direction. This class is for those who love Dante, who hate Dante, who are meh about Dante, and especially for those who are absolutely terrified of reading Dante. I see you. This class is for teachers, for homeschooling parents, for students, for all you academic types, and for all you non-academics out there. In short? This class is for you. Classics are better when they’re read in community. What are you waiting for?  

What You Will Need: 

We will read from the following texts: 

  • Inferno by Dante Alighieri (trans. Anthony Esolen) 

  • Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri (trans. Anthony Esolen) 

  • Paradiso by Dante Alighieri (trans. Anthony Esolen) 

  • Metamorphoses by Ovid (trans. Rolfe Humphries) 

  • The Holy Bible (any edition) 

(Links and ISBN numbers to specific editions of the preferred translations will be provided after registration.) 

About Kristen Rudd:

Kristen Rudd successfully homeschooled her two children for 14 years. She is a CiRCE-certified master teacher and teaches online literature and writing classes for both high schoolers and adults. Kristen has written articles for the CiRCE Institute, for the Center for Lit, and for Fathom Mag, and she runs the Classical Educator Fellowship, a convivial group for entrepreneuring classical teachers. She is currently writing her thesis on the Divine Comedy to complete a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Classical Education through the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. 

In her spare time (ha!), Kristen writes fiction and poetry, lifts heavy weights, eats tacos, and defends Dido, Queen of Carthage, to anyone who dares smack-talk her, may her memory be eternal. She lives in Cary, North Carolina. 

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