The Sandman and Dante’s Inferno

“The angelic appearance of Lucifer in Sandman #4 (April 1989), entitled ‘A Hope in Hell,’ features the Wood of Suicides from Dante’s Inferno (Canto XIII), the great expanse of which provokes comment from the titular character as he seemingly accidentally breaks a branch and allows the suicides, imprisoned in the form of barren trees, to speak. Despite this, the issue and The Sandman in general have more to do with previous DC comics than with Dante. Indeed, the issue features Etrigan, a colorful rhyming demon created by Jack Kirby for the inventively titled comic The Demon. At the issue’s conclusion, Lucifer swears Dream’s destruction, a move by writer Neil Gaiman to establish plot threads for subsequent issues.

[. . .]

Perhaps the inconsistency of Gaiman’s three versions of Lucifer should not surprise us. After all, Satan has always been a particularly malleable figure, changing even in his religious depictions over time. Huge gulfs exists between the serpent of Genesis, the prosecuting angel in Job, the Bible’s brief and vague references to a fallen angel, and the vaguely Manichean personification of evil in the New Testament, who were not even intended to be the same characters and were only united by exegetic interpretation. Equally, Dante’s bloated, immobile Satan is a world away from Milton’s deft, self-damned, self-hated rhetorical master.

In other words, Gaiman’s three Lucifers may not be consistent, but then, Lucifer never was.”    –Julian Darius, Sequart Organization, May 20, 2002

American Horror Story: Dante’s Inferno Theory Explained”

“Ryan Murphy’s long-running horror anthology series, American Horror Story, has no shortage of fan theories surrounding it; one suggests that the first nine seasons correspond with the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

[. . .]

Inferno is part of a 14th century epic poem by Dante Alighieri, the first part of the Divine Comedy. The concept of nine circles – or layers – of hell has been utilized many times throughout horror’s cinematic history, as it addresses sin, purgatory, and serves as a journey into the dark underworld. This theory surfaced long before all nine seasons of American Horror Story aired, and clever fans have been able to make each circle work to correspond with a different season of the show. While there are theories as to which season best suits a specific circle, they are all represented by Inferno in some way; everything is neatly accounted for.

In 2014, the theory surfaced, and in 2017, Murphy posted a list on Instagram that brought the theory back to life; he assigned seven of the nine seasons to specific circles, which has become the accepted ‘norm’. Since then, seasons 8 (Apocalypse) and 9 (1984) have aired; they also fit the remaining two circles, interestingly enough. The nine circles of hell discussed in Dante’s Inferno are: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. While these are listed in order, the seasons do not correspond with each circle sequentially. The commonly-accepted connections are: Murder House (limbo), Asylum (fraud), Coven (treachery), Freak Show (greed), Hotel (gluttony)Roanoke (anger), Cult (heresy), Apocalypse (violence), and 1984 (lust).”    –Jack Wilhelmi, Screen Rant, June 2, 2020

Day-to-Day Dante: Exploring Personal Myth Through the Divine Comedy

Day-to-Day Dante: Exploring Personal Myth Through The Divine Comedy (2011) is a series of meditations, one for each day of the year, using between 6-9 lines of the poem for each entry. The book is comprised of approximately 121 entries for each of the canticas Dante created: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Following each quote from the poem is a short summary of what is taking place at this moment in the pilgrimage. Then follows a reflection on what this might have to do with our lives today. At the bottom of each page is a Writing Meditation in which the reader is invited to journal how this passage might apply to them now or in his/her past. Through these writing meditations, the reader will uncover parts of his/her personal myth.”    –Dennis P. Slattery, dennispslattery.com, January 28, 2011

La Divina Commedia (2015) – Paolo Di Paolo

“A 750 anni dalla nascita di Dante, è possibile raccontare ai ragazzi La Divina Commedia? La sfida è stata accolta da uno scrittore come Paolo Di Paolo che, accompagnato dalle splendide illustrazioni di Matteo Berton, ci fa rivivere lo straordinario viaggio di Dante.”    —La Nuova Frontiera Junior, July 30, 2015

Dante’s Inferno in Antrum (2018)?

“The allegedly cursed supernatural found footage film, Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made, recently released for viewers that want to tempt fate. It contains over a hundred sigils and countless references to demonic entities, deities, and spiritual practices. The most captivating aspect of the film are the five layers that siblings Oralee and Nathan go through as they dig deeper towards the pit of hell.

In Antrum, the two siblings venture to the forest to free their dog Maxine from hell. The location is known for keeping evil demons from escaping and the exact spot where the devil landed when he was banished from heaven. It is where the devil placed the gates to hell and, in order to get to its core, the characters must go through the layers that separate them from it.

Their exploration in the supernatural forest resembles one that 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri wrote about in his the Divine Comedy, better known as Inferno.  Which brings up the question: are Oralee and Nathan going through the layers of hell depicted in Dante’s Inferno? Here are all of the clues that the two are in the hell described by the poet nearly 700 years ago.”    –Marian Phillips, Screen Rant, April 30, 2020

“The Dante Code”

“Renaissance art fans will note that this sketch evokes Botticelli’s famous 1495 portrait of Dante Alighieri, the medieval author of the Divine Comedy. In this cornerstone of Italian literature, Dante describes his mythical journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise, guided first by the shade of the Roman poet Virgil and later by the ghost of Beatrice Portinari, the girl Dante loved in childhood but never married. Among other things, the Divine Comedy is an allegory of Christian suffering and redemption, a romantic love story, a veiled account of Dante’s political exile from his beloved Florence, and a cultural manifesto that established the Italian language as a legitimate literary alternative to Latin. There are no obvious references to Iceland in the Divine Comedy, an epic poem of more than 14,000 lines whose original manuscript has never been found, or in any of Dante’s other works. Nowhere in the various accounts of Dante’s life is it mentioned that he ever visited Iceland. So why are we here?

We’re here because Gianazza has spent the past decade trying to prove his theory that the Divine Comedy is not a mythical story about the afterlife but rather a factual, albeit coded, account of a secret journey to Iceland Dante made in the early 1300s. Why would Dante shlep all the way from exile in sunny Ravenna to a cold, foggy island populated by Scandinavian farmers and their livestock, and not tell anyone? Gianazza believes that Dante was following in the footsteps of medieval Christian warriors called the Knights Templar. He hypothesizes that these knights had visited Iceland a century earlier carrying a secret trove that they concealed in an underground chamber in the Jökulfall Gorge.

The Templars picked Iceland for their hiding place, Gianazza believes, because it was one of the most distant and obscure places known to medieval Europeans, who sometimes identified it with the frozen, semimythical Ultima Thule of classical geography. The Templars calculated the exact coordinates of the chamber and identified landmarks to orient future visitors. Years later Dante acquired the secret knowledge, made a pilgrimage to the site, and then coded the directions into his great epic so that future generations might follow in his footsteps. Like Dante before him, Gianazza is searching for what some might call the Holy Grail, a term that he avoids. Having cracked Dante’s code, he expects to find early Christian texts and perhaps even the lost original manuscript of the Divine Comedy, all sealed in lead to guard them from the damp Icelandic weather. Gianazza launched his quest several years before Dan Brown published The Da Vinci Code, but in some ways he’s a more cautious, real-life version of symbologist Robert Langdon, the hero of Brown’s best-selling thriller.”    –Richard McGill Murphy, Town & Country, January 18, 2013

Per le rime: Beatrice risponde a Dante by Enrico Bernard

“Una nuova forma di saggio sperimentale presentato come monologo lirico-drammatico sul più grande rapporto d’amore della letteratura mondiale. Fu vero amore? Oppure Dante si prese qualche licenza poetica e qualche libertà espressiva? Un divertente cavalcata al femminile nei canti del Paradiso che vengono smontati e ridefiniti dalla protagonista stessa, Beatrice, che finalmente fa sentire la sua non più flebile, ma dura e contestatrice voce.”    –Enrico Bernard, Amazon, December 1, 2016

Waiting for Dante by Roger Williamson

“It was then she appeared, Beatrice, she who would show me, just in time, the illusion of the beast and the spell to return it to the glass.

Virgil, who was able to bring me into this world but not out of it, because of his own self imprisonment in it, began to fade from view and as he paled so Beatrice seemed to absorb his substance and morphed into my new guide.”    –Roger Williamson, Saatchi Art, October 24, 2015

Hogwarts and Dante – Empyrean Heaven

“In our little excursion through centuries spanning medieval classic to contemporary literature we come now to an end that is really the beginning. Piccarda explained as early as Canto 4 of Paradiso that everywhere in Paradise is Paradise. Yet as a concession to the limited human understanding Dante is introduced to a split up version where the blessed are categorized like in a lexicon.

One could also say the blessed were planted like lovely flowers into different beds of the same garden. The original Hebrew version of the Bible speaks of the Paradise as ‘gan’ what means garden. Only when translated into Greek gan became paradeisos. And as already stated in the very beginning the Greek word paradeisos deceives from a Persian word meaning ‘walled-around place’.

So, the question remains: Is Hogwarts just another ‘walled around place’? Or is Hogwarts Paradise?

[. . .]

Hogwarts is the solid ground that gives the students a home in the outside world as well as in their mind. Only if the students lower their protection and that of the school, Voldemort and the ideas he stand for have a chance to cling to the minds. Otherwise, Hogwarts and his inhabitants are a patch of outer and inner eternity, a temenos, a gan, a paradeisos, the same place Dante saw on Good Friday 1300. Was Dante perhaps truly magical?”    –Aviva Brueckner, Stranger Between Worlds, July 10, 2011

“Il Dante di Pupi Avati”

“Da studiosa del tardo medioevo letterario, nonché da appassionata di cinema, trovo molto interessante l’idea di Pupi Avati di costruire un racconto cinematografico sulla vita dell’Alighieri prendendo le mosse dal Trattatello in laude di Dante di Giovanni Boccaccio, che è – come si sa – la biografia più antica sulla prima corona della nostra letteratura. Si tratta di un’idea senza dubbio originale e, nel contempo, difficile.

[. . .]

Il Trattatello in laude di Dante è il risultato di un’instancabile ricerca di notizie e documenti recuperati dal Certaldese in diversi luoghi della nostra penisola (soprattutto fra Toscana e Romagna) e grazie alla diretta testimonianza di amici (Giovanni Villani, Cino da Pistoia e Dino Perini), discepoli (Pietro Giardini), parenti del poeta (Andrea di Leone Poggi) e di familiari della stessa Beatrice (la cugina Lippa de’ Mardoli). Una parte degli elementi biografici è poi da lui desunta naturalmente dalle opere letterarie dell’Alighieri, comprese le sue epistole.”    –Monica Berte, Insula Europea, January 30, 2020