“An Architect’s Vision of Dante’s Hell”

“Based in Campinas, Brazil, Paulo de Tarso Coutinho is a professional architect with a passion for Dante who created the following videos to visually represent the spatial issues in play in the Dantean conception of hell. Drawing on the early modern reception of the Commedia, including Antonio Manetti (1423-1497) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Coutinho incisively reads Dante’s infernal journey in architectural terms and shows how the form of the spiral is a necessary solution for the way that the space of hell is narrated in the poem. In similar fashion, his video of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445-1510) illustration of hell puts an emphasis on the concrete, creating a cross-section of the globe to put this infernal model in real space and highlighting Botticelli’s idiosyncratic use of staircases to think through the mechanics of Dante’s descent. Coutinho’s work is an important way of showing the degree to which Dante’s poetry was infused by the real, martialing mathematical and scientific currents to narrate a space that would inspire the sort of reception by later artists and thinkers who sought to map it in precise geographical and spatiotemporal terms. As Coutinho shows, that process continues still.”   –Akash Kumar, Digital Dante, 2018

Check out the Digital Dante site to view the videos.

The Dante Alighieri Diploma (2020/21)

“To celebrate the genius of Dante Alighieri, experimenter of the language and recall his gaze always turned beyond the borders, the sections of Ravenna, Florence and Verona of the Italian Radio Amateurs Association (ARI), organize, as part of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death, the ‘Dante Alighieri Diploma.’

“Participation in the diploma is open to all radio amateurs and SWLs in the world. The diploma will be awarded to radio amateurs or SWL who will connect or activate ‘Dante places.’
Dante places are defined as:

  • Places related to the life of the poet (birth, residence, death, travel)
  • Places expressly mentioned in the Divine Comedy or in other Dante compositions
  • Places not explicitly mentioned, but whose identification is possible through periphrases or adjectives and which are normally accepted by Dante’s criticism.

“The Dante Places were identified using the database developed by Prof. Andrea Gazzoni of Pennsylvania University who surveyed over 300 geographic references in the Divine Comedy between cities, regions, rivers, mountains and nations.

“Prof Gazzoni’s database can be consulted on the website www.mappingdante.com.

“The diploma will begin on September 1, 2020 and end on September 30, 2021.”   –“Introduction,” Diploma Dante Alighieri

Contributed by Andrea Gazzoni

Mapping Dante’s Inferno, One Circle of Hell at a Time

“I found myself, in truth, on the brink of the valley of the sad abyss that gathers the thunder of an infinite howling. It was so dark, and deep, and clouded, that I could see nothing by staring into its depths.”

“This is the vision that greets the author and narrator upon entry the first circle of Hell—Limbo, home to honorable pagans—in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his 14th-century epic poem, Divine Comedy. Before Dante and his guide, the classical poet Virgil, encounter Purgatorio and Paradiso, they must first journey through a multilayered hellscape of sinners—from the lustful and gluttonous of the early circles to the heretics and traitors that dwell below. This first leg of their journey culminates, at Earth’s very core, with Satan, encased in ice up to his waist, eternally gnawing on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius (traitors to God) in his three mouths. In addition to being among the greatest Italian literary works, Divine Comedy also heralded a craze for “infernal cartography,” or mapping the Hell that Dante had created.

“This desire to chart the landscape of Hell began with Antonio Manetti, a 15th-century Florentine (like Dante himself) architect and mathematician. He diligently worked on the “site, form and measurements” of Hell, assessing, for example, the width of Limbo—87.5 miles across, he calculated. There are several theories for why it was so important then to delineate Dante’s Hell, including the general popularity of cartography at the time and the Renaissance obsession with proportions and measurements.” […]    –Anika Burgess, Atlas Obscura, July 13, 2017

Yahoo! Movies: “Did Inferno Get Dante Right? We Asked an Expert”

inferno-dante-tom-hanks-deborah-parker“In Inferno, based on the Dan Brown novel, the only thing that stands between humanity and a devastating plague is Robert Langdon’s knowledge of Dante’s Inferno. In reality, if you were trying to outsmart a Dante-obsessed bioterrorist, you’d probably want to ring up Deborah Parker before you called in Tom Hanks. A professor of Italian literature and art at the University of Virginia, Parker is the general editor of the website The World of Dante, a multimedia resource for studying Dante’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy (of which Inferno, the author’s imagined journey through the nine levels of Hell, is the first part). She’s also the co-author of Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown, which takes a deep dive into the Dante references in Brown’s novel. On the heels of Inferno’s lackluster opening weekend at the box office, Yahoo Movies spoke with Parker about what the film gets right, what it gets very wrong, and why the Map of Hell on Parker’s website is more authentic than the one in the film.” —Yahoo! Movies, “Did Inferno Get Dante Right? We Asked an Expert” (Oct. 31, 2016)