The Geological Features That Inspired Hell In Dante’s Divine Comedy

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“For a long time, the inner earth was a mysterious place – supposedly the reign of demons, home to ancient gods (like Pluto) and place of eternal damnation. Italian poet Dante Alighieri imagined an especially elaborate version of Hell in his Divine Comedy. He included in his description the nine circles of Hell, with Lucifer residing in the lowest, real landscapes and geological features. According to author Marco Romano, in the description of Dante’s Inferno we find earthquakes, rivers, mountains, landslides, a desert of scorching sand and even some types of rocks (like the famous marble of Carrara).

“Dante imagined Hell like an inverted cone, with its circles gradually becoming smaller nearer to Earth’s core. Each circle was dedicated to a sin and the sin’s related punishment. This image is based on calculations of Greek philosophers, like Eratosthenes of Cyrene or Claudius Ptolemy, who argued that Earth is a sphere. Hell, as part of earth, would have to be cone-shaped. Dante even gives an exact value of Earth’s radius of 3,250 miles (it’s actually 3,959 miles).” — David Bressan, Forbes, July 16, 2016

Read the full article here.

Robot Dante’s Voyage

“Following in the fictional footsteps of the poet Dante, who descended into hell in his Divine Comedy, a robot also named Dante will later this month descend into the inferno of Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica. The eight-legged, spider-like robot, developed by two American universities and NASA, will gather data and samples from the hostile environment inside the volcano’s crater. At the same time, robotics researchers hope to gain valuable experience about how to build robots to explore the surfaces of other planets.” — Jonathan Beard, New Scientist, December 12, 1992

Read more of this article here.

“‘Dante’s Inferno’ in Chile: All-Time National Heat Record Smashed by 6°F”

Dantes-Inferno-in-Chile“The first all-time national heat record of 2017 was set in spectacular fashion on Thursday in Chile, where at least twelve different stations recorded a temperature in excess of the nation’s previous all-time heat record—a 41.6°C (106.9°F) reading at Los Angeles on February 9, 1944. According to international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the hottest station on Thursday was Cauquenes, which hit 45.0°C (113°F). The margin by which the old record national heat record was smashed: 3.6°C (6.1°F), was extraordinary, and was the second largest such difference Herrera has cataloged (the largest: a 3.8°C margin in New Zealand in 1973, from 38.6°C to 42.4°C.) Herrera cautioned, though, that the extraordinary high temperatures on Thursday in Chile could have been due, in part, to the effects of the severe wildfires burning near the hottest areas, and the new record will need to be verified by the weather service of Chile.” — Jeff Masters, “‘Dante’s Inferno’ in Chile: All-Time National Heat Record Smashed by 6°F” for wundergroundblog.com

Engraved Wall Murals and Sculpture Garden at Casa Galiano, NJ

engraved-wall-murals-casa-galiano“Now on exhibit is an engraved marble wall mural of Dante Alighieri’s INFERNO based on 70 images by nineteenth century French engraver Gustave Doré. Accompanying each scene is a corresponding verse and title in Italian with English translation. The pictorial images and lettering were burnt into the surface of black marble tiles using a laser engraving machine. The mural covers 205 square feet , the main section being 8′-6″ high by 22′-0″ long and consists of marble tiles mounted on sixteen removable wood panels. Located at Casa Galiano (the artist’s residence in East Brunswick, NJ) the mural hangs on the east wall of an art gallery addition. Each image has a specific verse chosen to best describe the scene. The mural is presented in chronological order from left to right so that the viewer can follow Dante’s journey from the dark wood to the frozen Satan. It is the artist’s intention to showcase the imagination, language and poetry of Dante’s INFERNO fused with the dramatic visual detailed artwork of Gustave Doré.”    –Dino Galiano

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“A sculpture garden features high relief marble carvings depicting scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The centerpiece is a solid marble sculpture entitled, The Commedia Block, which is carved on all four sides showing the divisions of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso as well as portraits of Dante, Virgil and Beatrice.”    —Casa Galiano

See Casa Galiano to learn more and see additional photos.

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Contributed by Dino Galiano

Eataly NYC’s Gluttonous Rooftop Beer Garden

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Eataly’s Birreria
, New York City

Photo contributed by Steve Bartus (Bowdoin, ’08)

John Kinsella, “Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography” (2008)

john-kinsella-divine-comedy-journeys-through-a-regional-geography-2008“This mammoth new volume from Australia’s Kinsella (Doppler Effect) takes its template and three-line stanza from the three books of Dante’s epic, out of order: first Purgatorio, then Paradiso, then Inferno. Each of the three works, made from dozens of separate poems, joins allusions to Dante with sights, events and memories from Kinsella’s Australia, especially the farming region outside Perth, where he grew up and sometimes lives. The poet’s wife, Tracy (his Beatrice, he says), and their toddler, Tim, play roles throughout. Mostly, though, the poems concern places, not people; their ground note is ecological, with nature taking many forms (locust wings… at sunrise over shallow farm-dams steaming already) set against the ballast/ of cars and infrastructures that endangers it all. That motif of eco-protest dominates the Inferno (last blocks of bushland// cleared away to placate the hunger/ for the Australian Dream), but it turns up in all three of these (perhaps too similar, and surely too long) sequences. Like his compatriot Les Murray, Kinsella can sound uncontrolled, even sloppy. Yet he can turn a phrase (Who describes where we are without thinking/ of when we’ll leave it?). Moreover, he means all he says and never exhausts his ideas or ambition.”    –Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

Dante Park, Columbus Ave and W 63rd St., NYC

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(photo by Steven Maginnis)

“The New York branch of the Dante Alighieri Society had intended to erect a Dante monument on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Italian unification in 1912. Carlo Barsotti, editor of Il Progresso (the first Italian daily newspaper in the United States), urged subscribers to contribute towards the creation the statue. . . The monument was dedicated that year, which was the 600th anniversary of Dante’s death. . .In 1921 the south portion of Empire Park was officially renamed by the Board of Aldermen for Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).” [. . .]    —NYC GovParks

“The Divine Therapy”

divine-therapy-new-york-times“‘It’s an inferno in here,’ yelled a middle-aged woman as she plunged into a foul-smelling hot spring in central Italy. She wasn’t the first to compare these scorching sulfur baths to Hell. In Canto XIV of Inferno, Dante wanders past a pool oozing with boiling red water and is reminded of these thermal spas about an hour north of Rome ‘whose waters are shared with prostitutes.’ . . .
That may explain why spas like Bulicame seem to hold more appeal for the locals. In addition to being free, its commercial-free atmosphere and ancient Roman ruins infuse the bath with history. Besides, Dante’s journey through Inferno and Bulicame eventually led him to Paradiso.” []    –David Farley, The New York Times, August 26, 2007

Jean-Luc Godard, “Notre Musique” (2004)

jeanluc-godard-notre-musique-2004“The 73-year-old director’s serene meditation on Europe’s landscape after battle has an unusually obvious triptych structure, with each panel (or act) named for one of Dante’s three ‘kingdoms.’ The central, hour-long ‘Purgatory’ of a writers’ conference in Sarajevo bridges the opening 10-minute ‘Hell’ and a concluding 10-minute ‘Heaven.'” [. . .]    –J. Hoberman, The Village Voice, November 24-30, 2004


“Dante’s Inferno” Iris

For more info on the Tall Bearded Iris known as “Dante’s Inferno,” see the Irises Database.