Today the professor discussed:
--The Donation of Constantine, a document forged by the Church legitimizing its power as granted by Roman Emperor Constantine when he converted to Christianity and retired to Byzantium, which became Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey. The Church used this document as its excuse to exist and amass wealth and power, leading to the Vatican of today. Its power and influence diminished greatly in the nineteenth century.
--Italian politics of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Guelfs represented the papacy, whereas the Ghibbelines represented the Italian State. They struggled for power, and the Guelfs eventually won, but immediately split into two factions of their own, at war with each other: the Whites and the Blacks. Dante, a White, wanted to see the power of the papacy curbed. His depiction of Lucifer represents a commentary on the divisions of church and state (the professor didn't say how, leaving us to discover this on our own).
--Dante's peace mission (as a prior of Florence) to Pope Boniface to mediate the dispute. Boniface appoints a false arbitrator, who is bribed to side with the Blacks. With the aid of the French, the Blacks overwhelm the Whites. At the end of his life, in letters to the public urging peace, Dante declares he is a man of no party, he is his own party.
--Dante dies of malaria in his fifties.
--Canto 27: the case of Guido, who Boniface bribed with a pardon in advance for sinning for him. Boniface wanted to know how to defeat a political enemy, so he went to Guido and asked, "What can I do to capture Palestrina?" Guido said, "If I tell you, I'll be sinning." Boniface said, "I can take care of that. Because I am the Pope, I can pardon your sin. Now go right ahead." But sins cannot be pardoned in advance; they can only be pardoned after the fact in response to sincere repentance.
This is the opposite of what a pope should be doing: exploiting believers rather than shepherding them wisely.
This Guido is a case of a person who never repents. His nephew, depicted in Purgatory, is a case of a person who repents late, but who repents.
--four students read papers
--Cato: killed himself. Why is he the greeter at the gate of Purgatory, instead of with the other suicides in Hell? The professor did not tell us, or, if he did, I missed it.