View Full Version : Question about a quote.
11-29-2000, 03:50 PM
A few years ago, I began seeing signs up around campus with the quote: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." The quote was then attributed to Dante. I went along with this until I read The Inferno, where I could find no mention of any such notion. In fact, it seems to fly in the face of Dante's vision of Hell, in which the neutral seem to get off pretty easily in the first few circles. Determined to find the source of the quote, I scoured the Internet to try to find a source for the quote. Alas, not only did I not find any semblance of the quote in the Dante archives at Gutenberg.net, but when I tried searching for the quote itself, I found that it was being attributed to both Dante _and_ Thomas Jefferson, and that nobody gave a source for it.
So, my question is, where did this quote originate? And how did it end up being attributed to both Dante and Thomas Jefferson?
11-29-2000, 04:17 PM
It is probably Dante anyway. You may not have found this exact quote in an on-line version of the Inferno since translations from the Italian can vary wildly.
I'll poke around...
"When I had traveled half our live's way
I found myself within a darkened wood
For I had lost the path that does not stray." -- Dante, the Inferno.
11-29-2000, 04:28 PM
How's this from here (ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext97/1ddcc10.txt)?
He thus to me: "This miserable fate
Suffer the wretched souls of those, who liv'd
Without or praise or blame, with that ill band
Of angels mix'd, who nor rebellious prov'd
Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves
Were only. From his bounds Heaven drove them forth,
Not to impair his lustre, nor the depth
Of Hell receives them, lest th' accursed tribe
Should glory thence with exultation vain."
This seems to have Dante saying the neutral actually don't go so deep into hell after all....
"In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct" -- Dante, Inferno
11-29-2000, 05:31 PM
I'm familiar with the book, so I know that the quout I mentioned doesn't jive with Dante's vision of hell. I'm almost positive that he didn't say it, so I'm wondering where it actually comes from.
11-29-2000, 05:37 PM
Apologies if this is an obvious question, but when you say you can't find it in Inferno, did you mean all three parts, or just the Inferno part? IIRC, the story has three distinct sections.
11-29-2000, 05:49 PM
I think I've checked all three books (so, yes I'm aware that Purgatory and Paradise also exist), however, it would seem unlikely to me that the vision of Hell which Dante presents in the Inferno (of neutral people not having such a bad time) would be negated in further books.
11-29-2000, 06:10 PM
I found this site (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/3543/Lefebv.htm#True), which attributes the quote to St. Thomas Aquinas. Bartleby's doesn't have it, though.
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