Dante's Idea of Friendship: The Transformation of a Classical Concept

By Filippa Modesto

© 2015

In the ancient world, friendship was a virtue of great philosophical importance. Aristotle wrote extensively about it, as did Cicero. Their conception of friendship as a relationship based on reason and virtue was transformed by Christianity into a connection based on the mutual love of an individual and God.

In Dante’s Idea of Friendship, Filippa Modesto offers sharp readings of the Commedia, Vita Nuova, and Convivio that demonstrate Dante’s interest in that theme. Drawing on a lucid and wide-ranging examination of the literature on friendship, she shows how he weaved together the contradictory classical and the Christian concepts of friendship into a harmonious synthesis in which friendship became a handmaiden to salvation and happiness. A fresh, perceptive interpretation of Dante’s works, Dante’s Idea of Friendship will engage medievalists, classicists, and scholars of friendship throughout the ages.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004055

  • PUBLISHED OCT 2015

    From: $60.75

    Regular Price: $81.00

    ISBN 9781442650596
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2015

    From: $60.75

    Regular Price: $81.00

Quick Overview

In Dante’s Idea of Friendship, Filippa Modesto offers sharp readings of the Commedia, Vita Nuova, and Convivio that demonstrate Dante’s interest in that theme.

Dante's Idea of Friendship: The Transformation of a Classical Concept

By Filippa Modesto

© 2015

In the ancient world, friendship was a virtue of great philosophical importance. Aristotle wrote extensively about it, as did Cicero. Their conception of friendship as a relationship based on reason and virtue was transformed by Christianity into a connection based on the mutual love of an individual and God.

In Dante’s Idea of Friendship, Filippa Modesto offers sharp readings of the Commedia, Vita Nuova, and Convivio that demonstrate Dante’s interest in that theme. Drawing on a lucid and wide-ranging examination of the literature on friendship, she shows how he weaved together the contradictory classical and the Christian concepts of friendship into a harmonious synthesis in which friendship became a handmaiden to salvation and happiness. A fresh, perceptive interpretation of Dante’s works, Dante’s Idea of Friendship will engage medievalists, classicists, and scholars of friendship throughout the ages.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘This is a fascinating study… The book marks an important contribution to the historiography of architecture and urban planning… It offers perspectives that can inform the study of other cities.’


    Jason Houston
    H-Italy, H-Net Reviews May 2017

    ‘A solid contribution to Dante studies… It carefully explores a topic at the heart of classical and Christian understanding of the good life but which is usually neglected in criticism of Dante’s works.’


    Stan Benfell
    Speculum vol 93:02:2018

    “At the heart of Filippa Modesto’s book lies a passion for this rare gift known as friendship, and this passion expresses itself both as a love for the concrete quality of Dante’s poetic vision and his linguistic inventiveness and as gratitude for her own friends. What gives a persuasive unity to her critical musings is her decision to map the shift from the classical, pagan understanding of the virtue of friendship to the Christian re-interpretation of it. The importance of the topic can hardly be exaggerated, and Modesto develops it with delicacy, gracefulness, and modesty.”


    Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor of Humanities for Italian, Yale University
  • Author Information

    Filippa Modesto teaches at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
  • Table of contents

    1. Introduction

    2. Classical Friendship: Aristotle and Dante’s Convivio

    3. Cicero’s De Amicitia and Dante’s Convivio

    4. Christian Friendship

    5. The Vita Nuova: Dante’s Friendship with Guido Cavalcanti and Others

    6. Amor and Amicizia in Inferno 2

    7. Friendship in Purgatorio 30 and Purgatorio 31

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