Dante's Cosmos

Bernardo Lecture Series, No. 6

By John Freccero

Subjects: Italian Studies, Medieval Studies, Classics
Series: The Bernardo Lecture Series
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781883058500, 22 pages, January 1998

Freccero argues that the Paradiso may be considered a medieval version of science fiction.


Dante's Cosmos is the sixth in a series of publications occasioned by the annual Bernardo Lecture at the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) at Binghamton University. This series offers public lectures which have been given by distinguished medieval and Renaissance scholars on topics and figures representative of these two important historical, religious, and intellectual periods.

In this intricate but highly readable account of Dante's cosmology, Freccero notes that the Paradiso may be considered a medieval version of science fiction. However, whereas modern writers of science fiction tend to select a theme which will best illustrate a particular scientific theory, Freccero argues that, "Dante chooses his science to fit his theme. " While Dante incorporates many elements from ancient and medieval cosmology, his structuring of the universe is ultimately determined by his theological beliefs and narrative goals. Freccero elucidates these particular beliefs and goals as he demonstrates their relevance to the geometry of Dante's cosmos. In addition, Freccero explores the notion that Dante's conception of a finite but boundless universe anticipates modern theories of the cosmos.

John Freccero is internationally renowned for his scholarship on Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, and other authors. Currently Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at New York University, he has also taught at Yale University, Stanford University, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins University. The numerous honors he has received include Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships and awards from the city of Florence and the Republic of Italy. His publications include articles on film, philosophy, and literature of virtually all time periods, as well as Dante: The Poetics of Conversion.