Holding divine intervention responsible for political and military success and failure has a long history in western thought. This book explores the idea of providential history as an organizing principle for understanding the divine purpose for humans in texts that may be literary, historical, philosophical, and theological. Divine Providence shows that, with Virgil and the Bible as authoritative precursors to late antique views on history, the two most important political thinkers of the late antique Christian world, Orosius and Augustine, produced the theories of Christian politics and history that were carried over into the first and second millennium of Christianity. Likewise, their understanding of how the history of the late Roman Empire connects to God's plan for humankind became the background for understanding Dante's own positions in the Monarchia and the Commedia. Brenda Deen Schildgen examines Dante's engagement with these authoritative sources, whether in Biblical, ancient Roman writers, or in the specific legacy of Orosius and Augustine.
Brenda Deen Schildgen is Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis, USA. She is the author of five books, including Power and Prejudice: Reception of the Gospel of Mark (Wayne State University Press, 1999), which was the recipient of a Best Academic Book Choice award, Pagans, Tartars, Jews, and Moslems in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (University of Florida Press, 2001), Dante and the Orient (University of Illinois Press, 2002), and Heritage or Heresy: Destruction and Preservation of Religious Images and Artifacts in Europe (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2008). She is also the co-editor of five books, including Other Renaissances (co-edited with Zhou Gang and Sander Gilman, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006).