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Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Medieval Worldview: An Interview with Louis Markos

“I really do think we have taken the awe out of the universe.”

In our post-Enlightenment world, we are constantly analyzing, scrutinizing, and seeking answers to the universe. Rather than celebrating it, we often try to treat the human spirit as a problem that needs to be solved. Dr. Lou Markos, professor of English at Houston Baptist University, believes that there is a lot we can learn from the Middle Ages-especially from Dante’s Inferno.

“What’s more important than that is not just that they put the earth at the center-it was that their vision of the universe was much more beautiful, much more poetic than our own,” explains Dr. Markos. “They believed that they lived in a sympathetic universe, not just something, you know, dead and cold that we study, but something that we were in sympathy with, so that the movement of the planets actually exerted an influence on our world. So what I’m gonna do in the first lecture is take everyone to really step back and sort of map out the universe, so we can see not only what it would look like, but what it felt like to live in that universe.”

Dr. Markos will be teaching a 2-part seminar this upcoming fall on Dante’s Inferno, the role of ancient religion in medieval and modern conceptions of mind and spirit, and how looking to the Middle Ages can redefine our present-day view of the human condition.

“Things like business, medicine-these things have survival value. But things like the humanities, the kind of lectures you have at the Jung Center, give value to survival.”


Full interview transcript