Dante as Science Writer

The Radio branch of Italian Rai 3, offers a podcast exploration of Dante’s knowledge of science (called “natural philosophy” in his time) and how excellent a science writer he was, and how effectively he communicated scientific ideas in his works.  (In Italian)

“Conosciamo Dante Alighieri come raffinato poeta, teorico della politica, esperto di linguistica, scrittore e filosofo. Ma forse molti si sorprenderebbero se lo definissimo anche come un grande divulgatore scientifico. In effetti le sue opere trattano molte questioni di filosofia naturale, che spaziano dalla cosmologia alla geografia, dall’ottica alla geometria. Ma Dante, da assertore di un’idea di accesso universale al sapere, tratta questi temi rivolgendosi non solo ai dotti del suo tempo, ma anche ad una platea più ampia. Lo sottolineava Pietro Greco in uno dei suoi ultimi libri, Homo. Arte e scienza (Di Renzo, 2020), e ce lo ricorda oggi lo storico della scienza Gaspare Polizzi, dell’università di Pisa. Non solo: le sue concezioni cosmologiche sono di una sorprendente modernità, come ritiene Marco Bersanelli, astrofisico all’università statale di Milano, e autore di Il grande spettacolo del cielo (Sperling e Kupfer, 2016).”    —Rai Play Radio, Radio 3 scienza, March 25, 2021

Contributed by Carmelo Giunta

Dantedì and the Italian Migrant Crisis

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“Among supporters for the Dante day is Italy’s minister for foreign affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who recently expressed his enthusiasm for the project in an article penned for Corriere. ‘Dante is fully and pervasively part of the genetic code of what it is to be Italian,’ Moavero Milanesi wrote. Given that Dante’s poem is heavily Catholic, and shows Prophet Mohammed split in half by a demon for ‘sowing schism,’ conflating Dante with modern Italian culture reflects ideas that are outdated – and nationalistic.

“This uncritical celebration of the past diverts attention from the dark conditions on Italy’s shores. While Dante’s pilgrim makes an arduous but enlightening journey towards paradise in order to escape the inferno, Moavero Milanesi and Salvini would prefer that the migrants remain in limbo. Rather than supporting their assimilation, Moavero Milanesi has laid out a plan that advises migrants against attempting the crossing. [. . .]   –Emma Leech, “A campaign to commemorate Dante distracts from a crisis on Italy’s coastline,” The New Statesman (July 30, 2019)

Marinella Senatore, illustrations (2021)

“For the 2021 event Dante Days in Foligno, Italy, Marinella Senatore has illustrated the anastatic copy of the first printed edition of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy […which was] was published on 11 April 1472 in Foligno, Italy, by Johann Numeister and Evangelista Angelini, in the worksop of Emiliano Orfini. The city of Foligno is therefore inextricably linked to the name of Dante and his universally celebrated poem.

“Since 2006, works by international artists such as Mimmo Paladino, Omar Galliani and Ivan Theimer, have been created for the occasion of the annual Dante Days. Each artist has produced an engraving, usually in lithographs or woodcuts, for the three main canticas: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise).

“This year, Marinella Senatore has created five original subjects that gracefully illustrate Dante’s epic allegory, printed by hand through photolithography technique.”  […]   —Artvisor, April 13, 2021

Click here for the recording of Marinella’s livestream.

“Naples Celebrates Dante With Giant Easter Egg”

naples-celebrates-easter-with-giant-easter-egg-2021“Naples continues to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri, the Father of the Italian language, in its own unique way. After creating Dante figurines for Christmas cribs, the southern Italian city is now devoting an out-sized Easter tradition to the Supreme Poet, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Master chocolatiers at the historic Gay-Odin factory in Naples have created a two-metre high Easter egg decorated with a portrait of Dante along with some verses from The Divine Comedy. The mediaeval poet and philosopher is portrayed on the enormous egg – which boasts 300 kilos of chocolate – in his traditional red robes and laurel wreath, based on the fresco in the Duomo in Florence.” [. . .]    —WantedInRome, March 21, 2021.

“Dario Cecchini on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’”

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“For many visitors to Tuscany, their first taste of Dante’s verses came with their first taste of bistecca alla Fiorentina, crowded around the boisterous restaurant tables of local butcher Dario Cecchini. In Panzano in Chianti, surrounded by art and memory, Dario recites Dante by heart, towering over the modest shop display of carefully chosen cuts. There is a verse for every moment, from love to crisis, and the energy that comes with a celebration of life.” [. . .]    –Marisa Garreffa, The Florentine, March 24, 2021.

Suzanne Branciforte, “Dante’s March”

“[. . .] According to most scholars, Dante is referring to Vernaccia delle Cinque Terre from Liguria (sorry, Tuscans from San Gimignano!) Perhaps he became familiar with this wine during his stay in Lunigiana, in the first part of his exile from Florence.

“It is in that very same Lunigiana where Dante lived that Cantine Lvnae di Bosoni created a spectacular red wine in Dante’s honor. Verba Dantis, a blend of two native Ligurian grape varieties, Massaretta and Pollera Nera, is a full-bodied red wine reminding us of Dante’s intense and passionate personality.”   –From “Dante’s March,” Suzanne Branciforte’s Italian Grapevine (March 30, 2021)

Read the full blogpost, which lists a number of wines commissioned to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the sommo poeta‘s death, here.

Contributed by Suzanne Branciforte

9 di Dante’s Inferno Vermouth

“Inspired by Dante’s La Divina Comedia and his journey through Hell, this Vermouth di Torino Superiore defies the traditional boundaries of Italian Rosso Vermouths. Blended from equal parts Dolcetto Red and Cortese White Piedmont wines, we have developed this orginial recipe to deliver a modern an intriguing taste. You will be seduced by its intense ruby red colour and its fruity nose with hints of red berries, cherry and orange. Its bold personality will provide a rich and full bodied experience with well balanced herbal and citrus notes and a fresh and mildly bitter finish.”   –Description from the 9 di Dante website

See also Suzanne Branciforte’s blogpost “Dante’s March” (March 30, 2021).

Two essays by Lorenzo Coveri on Dante reception

Matteo Berton per La Divina Commedia raccontata da Paolo Di Paolo, La Nuova frontiera Junior, 2015.

For Andersen: Il Mensile di Letteratura e Illustrazione per il Mondo dell’Infanzia, Lorenzo Coveri wrote “Dante700: di tutto un pop” March 25, 2021, with many references to Dante’s reception in 20th century Italian culture.

For Mentelocale, he wrote “Dantedì 2021. Cantare Dante, da Petrolini a De André, da Jovanotti a Fedez, tra rock e poesia,” March 25, 2021.

An imaginary interview with Dante on the ills of today’s world (2021)

Ritratto di Dante Alighieri di Attilio Roncaldier (1801-1884) Ravenna, Museo Dantesco

“Signor Alighieri, è un onore poter scambiare alcune battute con lei all’inizio di questo 2021 in cui si celebrerà la ricorrenza dei 700 anni dalla sua morte. Ci saranno convegni, festival, ma ahimè mi tocca dirle che tutto avverrà sotto l’incognita di una pandemia. “Uhm… Mentre scrivevo la cantica terza de la Commedia, un’immagine mi turbò: vedevo la terra, da lontano. Era come una picciola aiuola, che ci fa però così feroci…”  –Stefano Massini, La Repubblica, March 24, 2021

Detective Dante Comics (2005-2007)

“The comic book series Detective Dante is loosely based on the Divine Comedy. Not only is the protagonist named Dante, but the whole series is divided into three parts called Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. The first issues in particular contain many references and textual quotations of Dante’s poem.”   –Contributor Alessio Aletta

The series was created by Lorenzo Baroli and Roberto Recchioni. It was published by Eura Editoriale from 2005-2007.

See the gallery of cover images on the Grand Comics Database.

Contributed by Alessio Aletta (University of Toronto)