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Dante, Augustine, and the Body of Christ in the Commedia



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Graff, Thomas 


In this thesis, I investigate the figure of Christ in Dante’s Commedia as the redemption of human relation, realized in and as the mystical body of Christ. If, as is claimed in the Paradiso, what it means to inhabit beatitude is so fully to practice justice and mercy as to be able to speak I and we simultaneously, then the redemption of self and other in Christ is inextricably linked, and oriented towards the ever-greater opening out of this redemptive life not only to those who have abandoned hope, but also to those of whom one abandons hope of eternal life. It is towards this radical soteriological vision of the “redemptive communality” of the body of Christ that Dante can be seen most concertedly and profoundly to engage with Augustine. Dante’s predominant interest, as I hope to show, lies in Augustine’s theology of love, and takes the form in the present argument of a tripartite meditation on the reality of love as irreducible, as effusive, and as incorporative, offering critical, constructive, and meta-textual modes of articulating the redemptive communality of Christ, respectively. Throughout, I argue that Dante can be seen to adopt Augustine’s theology of love in order ultimately to “redeem” it, regarding the premature limits it sets upon its redemptive remit, with regards not only to the civitas terrena, but ultimately to its eschatological fulfillment in the massa damnata.





Williams, Rowan
Waller, Giles


Augustine, Authorship, Christology, Dante, Hell, Justice and Mercy


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Trinity College Internal Graduate Studentship