Dante Alighieri’s COVID-19

person-wearing-mask“‘Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch’entrate.’ Abandon all hope, ye who enter.

“The words inscribed on the gates of hell, according to Dante Alighieri in the Divina Commedia, could be the best way to describe the tumultuous year we have experienced so far…

“The COVID-19 world crisis has shed light into how broken some systems are, how a social net would have helped the ‘most developed country in the world’ be the hero it is in the Hollywood movies.

“Instead, residents of the United States find themselves trapped in a hell only known to them and a select group of countries, like Brazil and Mexico. We currently have no Virgil that will guide us through the complex planes of hell. At this rate, Dante would have never gotten out of the Inferno to ever meet the concentric circles of the Paradiso.” []    –Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo, Iowa State Daily, July 30, 2020

William Barr’s Circle of Hell

bill-barr

[. . .] “There are circles of hell for men such as Trump, and also for their enablers. For people who ought to know better but who go along with the inane, violent, crooked impulses of The Boss for reasons of political expediency. Barr is one such man.

“Dante reserved an entire section of hell for opportunists. Such people would, he wrote, be condemned to chase banners, and in turn to be chased by hornets and wasps, for all eternity.

“And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.
No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.”    –Sasha Abramsky, The Abramsky Report, April 27, 2019

COVID-19: Indians Going Through Nine Circles of Hell

“Akin to how characters in Dante’s poem paid for their sins in hell, Indians are paying with their lives during a pandemic for electing a government that is utterly incompetent and bigoted. [. . .]

“Dante and his imaginary guide Virgil were travelling through nine circles of hell on their way to heaven. Hell was used as a metaphor for human suffering for sins committed on earth. Although the punishment was severe, Dante’s poem portrayed them as fair and proportionate to the sins committed. The sufferings in India are not imaginary, but real, taking place while people are still alive, and most importantly, whatever their sins are, the fairness and proportionately of the punishments are definitely questionable. Yet the reference is fair and this column is designed to explain why.

“India is now in the proverbial ‘Ante-Inferno’ with a clear inscription written all over her, ‘Abandon all hope, you who enter here.’ India is now the case study of ‘what not to do’ in a pandemic, thanks to the conceit, egotism, and self-approbation of the Modi government.” [. . .]    –Debasish Chakraborty, The Wire, May 20, 2021

Rodger Kamenetz, “Dante at the Gates of Hell”

“From time to time I will be offering examples of encounters with images from poetry.  The point is to show what we might learn from the poets about how to better engage with images in our dreams.

“In the opening of Canto III of Inferno, ‘Dante’ and ‘Virgil’ stand before the gates of hell. The first nine lines are in capital letters.

PER ME SI VA NELLA CITTÀ DOLENTE
THROUGH ME ONE ENTERS THE CITY OF WOE..

“The gate itself is speaking to the poets (and to us the readers).

“This gate has spoken to me for 47 years, since I took the Italian to heart–memorized the lines in a language I do not really know. But I loved Dante and loved the sound, and I think part of the beauty of reading in a foreign language is you slow down, you don’t read it like you read the newspaper or the internet, you take time to translate the words and feel them.

“There is another language that has become foreign for too many of us, the language of images. We have forgotten how to read images, how to respond to them. To gain benefit from our dreams, we must learn how to stand before the images.

“I believe reading poetry written at a high level can teach us how to do this.  That is what I hope to show in this series.” […]    –Rodger Kamenetz, Encountering Images, Series 1: Dante at the Gates of Hell, December 23, 2020

Deirdre Bennett’s Oil Paintings

Deirdre Bennett is a contemporary mixed-media artist, several of whose works are inspired by Dante’s Inferno. To the left is pictured her oil painting Apathy and Non-Committal, which she describes thus on her site: “In Canto 3, Verse 55 Dante is confronted by the apathetic, cowards and non committals. They are drawn by a white banner, worms at their feet and forever tortured by hornets and wasps. I feel apathy is a terrible plague of our century.”   —Deirdre Bennett Fine Art

See other pieces from Deirdre Bennett—including her City of Dis, Paolo and Francesca, and the Malebranche—on the artist’s site here.

Theo Wujcik’s “Gates of Hell” (1987)

“One of Tampa Bay’s best-known artists, Theo Wujcik (1936-2014), spent a decade creating a series drawn from the dark and profound literary classic, Dante’s Inferno. Now, those extraordinary paintings are the theme for Theo Wujcik: Cantos, a special exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. This exhibition celebrates the work of Theo Wujcik (1936–2014), with a focus on the literary references in his work. A fixture of the Ybor City art scene, Wujcik was an accomplished master printer and painter whose expansive practice engaged deeply with art historical tradition and the global contemporary art world.

“This exhibition will premiere the Museum’s newest accession of Wujcik’s work, the diptych Gates of Hell (1987), which complements Canto II (1997), also in the collection. Both of these paintings are based on Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s (1265–1321) Inferno, the first part of the epic poem Divine Comedy. Also featured will be selections from the artist’s personal notebooks, collage studies, and a number of select loans.”  —Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, 2019

Learn more about Theo Wujcik’s exhibition here.

“Newly Uncovered DNA Evidence Frees Thousands Of Damned Souls From Hell”

“Hear how justice was finally served for those wrongfully accused of greed, gluttony, and premarital sex.”   —The Onion, 2020

Listen to the full podcast here.

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A.J. Hackwith, The Library of the Unwritten (2019)

A Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith tells the story of a librarian and her assistant from the ‘Unfinished Book’ wing of the library of Hell tracking down escaped characters from the books, attempting to meet their authors or change their stories. Towards the beginning of the story, as they are about to depart the library of hell for Earth so they can track down an escaped character, a figure appears and quotes most of the inscription which is written on the gate of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.”   –Contributor Robert Alex Lee

Here is the synopsis of the 2019 novel, from Penguin Random House: “In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

“Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

“But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.”   —Penguin Random House

Contributed by Robert Alex Lee (Florida State University ’21)

Taemin, Music Video for “Want” (2019)

“At the end of the ‘WANT’ music video (3:03-3:19) by K-pop artist Taemin, the choreography takes place in front of [Rodin’s] gates of hell.”   –Contributor Parker Ridaught

“Want” was the title track and first single from Taemin’s second album, released in February 2019. The full video is available to view on YouTube.

Contributed by Parker Ridaught (Florida State University ’20)