Diving Into Dante’s “Divine Comedy”: A look at the world-wide “100 Days” event with the medieval Florentine poet.

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself…” in a college dorm room watching a video lecture about Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Yes, these haunting, yet compelling opening lines are from Dante’s “Inferno”—minus the college dorm room part.

Baylor University’s Honors College has partnered with Eastern’s Templeton Honors College and other schools across the country to bring fans of the “Divine Comedy” together. Self-proclaimed as “the world’s largest Dante reading group,” 100 Days of Dante is bringing readers of the 1300s poet together for a 100 day journey through the classical narrative. The project also includes schools such as the University of Dallas, Gonzaga University, Biola University and Whitworth University.

From Sept. 8, 2021 to Easter 2022, various teachers passionate about the “Comedy” will provide lectures for each canto in “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso.” They are covering three cantos a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) with videos to complement each one. Readers are encouraged to enjoy the cantos of the “Divine Comedy” at their own pace, watching the videos when and if needed.

“For our project, we decided to move at a slightly slower pace, hopefully to allow everyone more time to enjoy reading each canto,” Hilary Yancey, 100 Days of Dante Project Manager, said in an intro video by Baylor Honors College.

Along with providing ways to access the videos, 100 Days of Dante also has a translation of the text on their website. This makes reading the “Comedy” even more accessible if you don’t have a copy or don’t want to buy one. However, if you prefer a certain translation (I’m reading the Mark Musa, Penguin Classics translation), you are encouraged to read what you are comfortable with and will enjoy.

Eastern’s Templeton Honors College has been asked to take part in the 100 day event, with various professors asked to contribute canto videos to walk readers through interpretations of the text. For many, this is a chance to revisit the classic poem not only with one professor, but with several.

“If you or anyone has wanted to (re)read the “Comedy” and be taken through it by thoughtful guides (like Mr. P, Dr. Cary, Dr. Smith, Dr. Boyer, Dr. Anika Prather, etc.), now is your chance,” Dr. Williams, Dean of Templeton Honors College, said in his “Dean’s Weekly” email sent to members of the college.

Gaining insight from professors of different schools is a valuable experience as well. Dr. Ralph Wood, Dr. Fred Sanders, Dr. Jane Kim and Dr. Theresa Kenney are some of the other guides that were highlighted thus far.

If you are interested, you can subscribe to the “100 Days of Dante” email list, where you will receive Canto videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 100daysofdante.com has a “subscribe” button that pops up after the “Welcome” screen as soon as you enter the site. If you want to watch the videos through their website, they are all archived as each video comes out.

It’s never too late to begin reading the “Divine Comedy” and follow along with the videos. The cantos are short and easy to read, and the flexible structure of 100 Days of Dante makes catching up a breeze. “Abandon every hope, all you who enter” this dark and mysterious Inferno, and read some Dante!

Sources: Baylor Honors College, “Dean’s Weekly,” The Divine Comedy (Penguin Classics), 100 Days of Dante

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