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

Comitatus 42:89-114 (2011)
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.
Keywords Dante Alighieri  Inferno  Divine Comedy  Scholasticism  Scholastic Economics  Usury  Economic History  Medieval Usury Prohibition  Medieval Literature  Medieval Theology
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