Category Archive 'Dante Alighieri'

11 Jul 2021

British Nun Identifies 700-Year-Old Manuscripts in Dante’s Handwriting

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Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit, Scholar, Custodian of Florence’s Victorian ‘English’ Cemetery.

Most news reports are behind paywalls, but the Daily Mail comes through for us again:

A handwritten manuscript by Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, Italy’s ‘national poet’ and father of modern Italian, has been discovered by a nun.

Dante was born in 1265 in Florence and was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, but nobody has seen his handwriting in centuries.

This new discovery was found by a Florence-based researcher turned nun, who claims to have stumbled on the work hidden away in two libraries, according to a report in The Times.

They date to his time as a student in Florence when he was copying out works on the art of government, and were found in both Florence and the Vatican.

Julia Bolton Holloway taught Medieval studies at Princeton University in New Jersey, before becoming a nun and running the English cemetery in Florence.

She said the writing was ‘schoolboy-like’ but in excellent Tuscan, which provided the blueprint for Italian and covers ideas that show up in Divine Comedy.


25 Sep 2020

Universities Today

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One of the whips of the Culmstock Otter Hounds holds up a 22lb otter they killed on 13 September 1934, at Taunton Castle, Somerset.

A Medieval Studies Professor forwarded the following:

A student describing the ethical system of Dante’s Inferno noted that the first ring of the 7th circle encased those who committed violence against otters.

26 Jul 2015

International “Scientific” Human Rights Organization Demand That Dante’s “Divine Comedy” Be Banned

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Detail: Dominico di Michelino, Dante and the Divine Comedy, fresco, Florence Cathedral, 1465.

The Telegraph‘s reportage demonstrates that the organized Left’s hankering to eradicate history is international in scope and goes much farther than the Confederate flag.

[Dante’s] classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president.

Divided into three parts – Hell, Purgatory and Heaven – the poem consists of 100 cantos, of which half a dozen were marked out for particular criticism by the group.

It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.

“The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment – his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.

Homosexuals are damned by the work as being “against nature” and condemned to an eternal rain of fire in Hell.

“We do not advocate censorship or the burning of books, but we would like it acknowledged, clearly and unambiguously, that in the Divine Comedy there is racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic content. Art cannot be above criticism,” Miss Sereni said.

Schoolchildren and university students who studied the work lacked “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and were being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism, the group said.

It called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.

Complete story.

Gherush 92 indictment (in Italian).

12 Feb 2013

Dante Would Not Approve, And Now the World Is About to End

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Lightning strikes the Vatican after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Dante Alighieri took a dim view of Papal resignation, consigning Pope Celestine V, who resigned his office after serving only five months in 1294, to the anteroom of Hell.

Virgil describes the residents of that region of the Underworld:

Questo misero modo
tegnon l’anime triste di coloro
che visser sanza ’nfamia e sanza lodo.

Mischiate sono a quel cattivo coro
de li angeli che non furon ribelli
né fur fedeli a Dio, ma per sé fuoro.

Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli,
né lo profondo inferno li riceve,
ch’alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d’elli. …

Poscia ch’io v’ebbi alcun riconosciuto,
vidi e conobbi l’ombra di colui
che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.

“This miserable state
Holds the sad souls of those
Who lived without infamy or praise.

Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.

The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermost abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them.” …

When some among them I had recognized,
I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
Who made through cowardice the great refusal.


The (regarded by the Church, and scholars generally, as apocryphal) Papal Prophecies allegedly received in a vision by St. Malachy, 12th century Bishop of Armagh, interestingly predict that there will only be one more pope after Benedict.

The next pope will preside over the Church in a time of persecution. The city of Rome will be destroyed, and the Last Judgment will arrive.

The prophecy says (in Latin):

In psecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit.

Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis ciuitas septicollis diruetur, & Iudex tremendus iudicabit populum suum. Finis.

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will preside. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are completed, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End.”


I thought I was pretty much the only pedant likely to know about the Prophecies of St. Malachy, but I found that the Irish Central was up on all this, and actually beat me to the punch in informing contemporary mankind on the world’s imminent end.

Kudos, Irish Central!

21 Aug 2012

Pop Inferno

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Elissa Schappell, in Vanity Fair, welcomes the appearance of Mary Jo Bang’s freewheeling and irreverent approach to Dante: Inferno: A New Translation

[T]he only good Hell to be in right now is poet Mary Jo Bang’s innovative, new translation of Dante’s Inferno (Graywolf), illustrated with drawings by Henrik Drescher. Bang’s thrillingly contemporary translation of the first part (the juiciest part) of Alighieri’s 14th-century poem The Divine Comedy is indeed epic. While staying true to Alighieri’s interpretations of religious faith, the bounds of morality, and the soul’s journey toward God, Bang’s sin-soaked voyage through the circles of Hell teems with references to such latter-day personages as John Wayne Gacy, South Park’s Eric Cartman, Stephen Colbert, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and the Rolling Stones.


Bomb magazine has a not-very-exciting excerpt, consisting of Satan himself at the very bottom of Hell’s abyss. Only the usual Judas, Cassius, and Brutus appear, alas! I had been hoping to find the Archfiend this time munching on Andrew Sullivan, while making a mess of David Frum, Charles Johnson, and John Cole, but I suppose Mary Jo Bang doesn’t personally care about defectors from the political right, and all those guys are alive anyway.

If you want a serious translation of the Inferno, I would recommend the version by John Ciardi.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

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