“Dante’s Florence was a circle of intrigue between the Holy Roman Catholic Church and Firenze’s powerful political parties. Dante, as a young Italian, became part of the struggle to keep the city for the people. He lost. He was exiled. He wrote The Divine Comedy, starting with The Inferno. Mirroring through reflection.
“I begin to understand the infernal map Dante had drawn. Florence itself is the paradigm for the nine circles of the inferno. The city is ringed around by streets that all move toward its center. In the time of Dante, the city had been a series of expanding fortresses, enlarging as the population and wealth increased. But the structure — the ringed city — with its quarters defined and stationary, is still in place. And the Arno River is one of its boundaries. Dante used Florence to define the parameters and structure of Hell — a spiraling atlas of infernal distances.
“Dante’s cosmos is just that: What one does is immediately mirrored in life and in death. As are Beatrice’s thoughts and actions; her awareness brought her closer to that state of unconditional awareness, one that sees more of the whole, the holy. The creatures in the inferno fell in love with the lesser good — money, food, fame, a lover —and staying loyal to that lesser love brings the limitations, the fragmentation of the whole. The lesser holds the whole, but the lesser is unable in its separateness from the whole to maintain the weight of all that is.” [. . .] –Sarah Odishoo, The Smart Set, August 22, 2021 (retrieved April 12, 2022)
Read Odishoo’s full essay about her journey to and within Florence here.