“Such a world, naturally, produced every manner of sin imaginable, and all these sins are carefully chronicled in Dante’s descent into the Inferno. The nine circles of the infernal city are, as Dorothy Sayers reminds us, Dante’s picture of human society in decay; the further Dante and Virgil descend, the more radically corrupt and degraded the society becomes. The pilgrims pass relatively quickly through first seven circles of hell. All the sins of appetite and violence are contained in the first half of the cantica. Then the travelers reach the Great Barrier, and here the poem slows down. Dante and Virgil plunge into the abyss of the eighth circle, which houses the fraudulent. Alas, the various sins punished here read like a cross-section of our ruling classes in Washington, New York, and Hollywood: we meet pimps and seducers, flatterers, hypocrites, and thieves, bribe-taking officials, false counsellors, and sowers of discord. They come at long last to the tenth and final ditch of the eighth circle. Here we find the liars—those who perpetrate the purest form of fraud, the one that unites all the others. Their stench is overwhelming.” [. . .] –Ben Reinhard, Crisis Magazine, September 21, 2020.
“Regarding “In aftermath of MetroLink guard’s murder, Bi-State CEO sticking with policing strategy” (Feb. 3): If it wasn’t so tragic and pathetic, one would almost have to laugh at Bi-State Development Agency President and Chief Executive Taulby Roach’s intention to keep MetroLink’s “revamped security system.” What security system? Security guards and contracted employees can’t carry deadly weapons, but the man who allegedly killed that young security guard had a weapon — possibly stolen or illegal. Riding MetroLink is like a descent into “Dante’s Inferno”: shouting, smoking, drug use, fights, robberies, murders. If it’s not safe for the security guards, who is safe? What a shame MetroLink has plunged into Dante’s hell.” [. . .] — Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 7, 2021.
“‘The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,’ Trump told supporters at a rally in Wisconsin last month. He has repeatedly made versions of that claim, at one point exhorting North Carolinians to monitor polling sites and ‘watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing’ by Democrats, who will work to lift Biden to victory by ‘doing very bad things.’
“And it’s a perfect example of Trump’s tendency to assign his own motives and methods to others. He worries that they’ll cheat because he has always cheated — on his taxes, on his wives, in his business dealings, in his philanthropy. He imagines them cheating because he actually is cheating.
[. . .]
“But Trump’s cheating is its own virus, infecting everyone around him. Trump’s cheating is its own ecosystem. Abandon all scruple, ye who enter here.” — Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules,” New York Times (September 19, 2020)
Contributed by Dan Christian
In May 2020, Paolo di Stefano interviewed Teodolinda Barolini for the Corriere della Sera, on how and why to read Dante in the 21st century. Below, an excerpt from the interview, which can be read in full here:
Corriere: “Secondo lei quale aspetto di Dante può affascinare di più un lettore giovane del nostro tempo?”
Barolini: “Il fatto che Dante è un uomo che ha voglia di capire, come Ulisse. Mentre Virgilio nel II libro dell’Eneide squalifica Ulisse come fraudolento, Dante trova il lato positivo di Ulisse in Orazio e soprattutto in quella bellissima espressione di Cicerone che, nel De finibus, definisce la sua discendi cupiditas. Il Convivio comincia con la frase di Aristotele: ‘Tutti li uomini naturalmente desiderano di sapere.’ Ecco, è la brama di sapere il vero motore di Dante.”
Corriere: “Come leggere Dante a scuola?”
Barolini: “Il modo più utile è prendere il testo alla lettera. Basterebbe far leggere ai ragazzi il racconto, avendo fiducia nella narratività della Commedia. Io mi dispero quando arrivo a Petrarca per far capire ai giovani quanto siano squisite quelle poesie, questo sì è un problema. Ma non ci si può disperare di fronte alla Commedia che è un grande motore narrativo che trascina tutti con sé.” — “Dante, un ribelle. Ora leggiamolo.” Interview of Teodolinda Barolini by Paolo di Stefano. Corriere della Sera (May 31, 2020)
“Twitter profile dedicated to Dante Alighieri (@Dante_Aligheri) managed by Matteo Maselli, which periodically publishes original material related to the Italian poet: reports of Dantean cultural events, open-access educational material, breaking news. The profile was opened to make available to Dantisti and scholars in general an open space for free consultation and exchange of ideas.” — Contributor Matteo Maselli
Contributed by Matteo Maselli (Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, 2017)