Usury In The Inferno: Auditing Dante's Debt To The Scholastics

Comitatus 42:89-114 (2011)
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Abstract
There is a close connection between Dante’’s portrayal of usury in the Inferno and wider scholastic argumentation on the subject. Reading Dante’’s account in light of the scholastic critique of usury reveals a conceptual depth and clarity to the former which has, in the absence of such a reading, remained unfortunately opaque. Dante’’s treatment is informed by three of the four main scholastic arguments against usury, which are cen- tered around the themes of the nature and purpose of money, the relation between labor and a just recompense, and the medieval vision of society as an harmonious whole. Each of these themes are weaved by Dante into his poem in a range of diverse ways, yet the final (social) element is arguably a unifying factor. In this regard, his account of usury can be read in continuity with other critiques of ‘‘bad commerce’’ which are in evidence throughout the Inferno.
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