“The Wines of Dante’s Inferno”

“We, the Ancient Wine Guys (Dr. Dana DePietro, Dr. Jeff Pearson, Ti Ngo, and Ryan Wihera), are thrilled to be collaborating once again with renowned winemaker and chef Pietro Buttitta of Prima Materia Winery to present the latest in our ongoing series of wine lectures and S.H.A.R.E. fundraisers: The Wines of Dante’s Inferno. In a unique retelling of this classic and foundational text, we follow Dante Alighieri and his guide, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil), as they journey through the Underworld and meet a litany of unfortunate souls condemned there to atone for their sins. The evening will feature nine unique and delicious wines (one for each level of hell!) inspired by Dante’s text and world, along with three full courses of food pairings created and professionally prepared by Pietro. We hope you can join us for this special summer evening of literary, oenological, and culinary exploration!”   —S.H.A.R.E. Ticketing Page

The sold-out event will be held on July 30, 2021, at the Prima Materia Winery (Oakland, CA). All proceeds benefit the Society for Humanitarian Archaeological Research and Exploration (S.H.A.R.E.), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that uses archaeology as a tool to promote peace and dialogue in Israel/Palestine.

Contributed by Rachel Duke (Florida State University)

Jews in Dante


“This year, commemorations of the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, have scarcely addressed the subject of how Dante wrote about Jews.

“Dante places a number of Old Testament Jews, including Abraham, Sarah, Rachel and Joshua in Paradise. Because some of the limited space is left empty there for Christians, the complement of Jews who prefigure the New Testament is full; so there are, at least temporarily, more Jews in Dante’s Paradise than Christians.

“Dante’s Purgatory includes the story of Mordecai and Haman to decry the sin of anger, whereas Daniel is praised for his temperance. In his Paradise, Dante likewise lauds Joshua and Judas Maccabeus as combatants for righteousness, while King David and Hezekiah from the Second Book of Kings and Second Book of Chronicles are exalted as just monarchs.” […].   –Benjamin Ivry, The Forward, July 18, 2021

See the rest of this essay for many more references to Jews in Dante’s works, and Jews who have cited Dante as inspiration for their work and thought.  It is debatable, however, that there are no Jews in Inferno.

Messiah IV: The Harrowing (2005)

“The 2005 4th season of the BBC drama series Messiah: The Harrowing focuses on a serial killer who takes inspiration from Inferno to punish his or her victims.”    —Wikipedia

Guide to Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell

“Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy is considered an epic masterpiece and a foundational work of the Western canon. We offer this short guide to the nine circles of Hell, as described in Dante’s Inferno.

“First Circle: Limbo
The first circle is home to the unbaptized and virtuous pagans. It’s not Heaven, but as far as Hell goes, it isn’t too bad: It’s the retirement community of the afterlife. Hippocrates and Aristotle will be your neighbors, so any attempt at small talk will probably turn into Big Talk in a hurry. You’ll have television, but all of the channels will be set to CSPAN.” [. . .]    –Matt Staggs, Penguin Random House

Trump and his Enablers belong in Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell

each-betrayal-begins-with-trust-martin-luther“If Dante’s deepest circle of Hell did exist, it would be reserved for Trump and his enablers. It would be reserved for those who betrayed our country and this beautiful blue world for profit. It would be reserved for those who allowed a pandemic to take tens of thousands of lives and affect millions. It would be reserved for those who are silent about the bounties placed on our active duty troops’ heads, who disparage our military, intelligence agencies, our scientists, and health care professionals. It would be reserved for those who place all that we love in danger.

“It would be reserved for those who supposedly care for us, but expect silence about their support of Trump or of those who support him.

“The list of betrayals in my life is long and old.” []    –Onomastic, Daily Kos, September 15, 2020

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

France Štiglic’s The Ninth Circle (1960)

“After the qualification of the digitally restored Štiglic’s film The Valley of Peace (1956) for the 2016 Cannes Classics competition, the celebration of the 60th anniversary of its making, and its Cannes premiere, the same director’s film The Ninth Circle (1960) was the third work of his that was screened in Cannes (the first one had been the 1949 film On Our Own Land).” [. . .]    —The Film New Europe Association, July 28, 2020

IKEA: The 10th circle of hell

Ikea

“It’s fitting that IKEA stores are organised in a series of winding circles with no easy escape. It’s not unlike the circles of hell that the protagonist of Dante’s Inferno must wander before heading on to Purgatory and then Heaven.

“But unlike the soul in Dante’s epic poem, you never get to Heaven. What awaits you once you’ve managed to locate and then purchase your Tuffing and Malfors is yet another circle of hell. This one is in your own home and the instrument of torture is an Allen key.” [. . .]

–Kasey Edwards, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 15, 2019

India’s Covid Wards are Like Scenes From Dante’s Inferno

covid19-patients-in-india

“Ward rounds are now scenes from Dante’s Inferno. Row upon row of patients waging a desperate struggle to breathe, their cries for help often falling on deaf ears as overworked medical staff struggle just to keep going.” [. . .]    –Zarir Udwadia, The Financial Times, April 29, 2021