Tag Archives: Dante Alighieri

“I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost.”

In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost. It is a hard thing to speak of, how wild, harsh and impenetrable that wood was, so that thinking of it recreates the fear. It is scarcely less bitter than death: but, in order to tell of the good that I found there, I must tell of the other things I saw there.

I cannot rightly say how I entered it. I was so full of sleep, at that point where I abandoned the true way. But when I reached the foot of a hill, where the valley, that had pierced my heart with fear, came to an end, I looked up and saw its shoulders brightened with the rays of that sun that leads men rightly on every road. Then the fear, that had settled in the lake of my heart, through the night that I had spent so miserably, became a little calmer. And as a man, who, with panting breath, has escaped from the deep sea to the shore, turns back towards the perilous waters and stares, so my mind, still fugitive, turned back to see that pass again …

— from Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, 1321 (Canto I)



Gustave_Doré_-_Dante_Alighieri_-_Inferno_-_Plate_1_(I_found_myself_within_a_forest_dark...)

Gustave Dore, 1857

It would be a hell of a lot of fun.

My latest brilliant idea — somebody should make a board game based on Dante’s Inferno. Like a send-up of Monopoly or Sorry.

Hell, you wouldn’t even need advertising art. All those Gustave Dore illustrations are in the public domain.

RUN WITH THIS, people.

 

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Pictured: fun.

 

 

Illustration of Canto 7 of Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” by Gustave Dore, 1892

The artist died in 1883.  The date above refers to the illustration’s publication by Cassell and Company in its 1892 edition of Dante’s Inferno.

The caption reads, “Now seest thou, Son!/ The souls of those, whose anger overcame. — Canto VII, Lines 118-119.”

Inferno_Canto_7_lines_118-119

Illustration of Charon for Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” Gustave Dore, 1857

Engraving.  Plate IX: Canto III: Arrival of Charon. “And lo! towards us coming in a boat / An old man, hoary with the hair of eld, / Crying: ‘Woe unto you, ye souls depraved!'” (Longfellow’s translation) “And, lo! toward us in a bark / Comes an old man, hoary white with eld, / Crying “Woe to you, wicked spirits!”

 

Charon_by_Dore

Eggsbenedict Londontumbler reads Dante Alighieri.

Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch reading excerpts from Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”  (I’m sorry; I cannot resist making fun of this man’s name.)  I don’t know how Cumberbatch’s quotes were compiled for this … Maybe they were taken from a documentary about the “Divine Comedy” that he narrated?

By far the most interesting is the quote from Canto 3 of “The Inferno.”  It’s compelling in light of what’s transpiring in America, and it reminds me of my favorite quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer — “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”

Canto 3 in its entirety is below:

“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”
And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them –
even the wicked cannot glory in them.”
And I: “What is it, master, that oppresses
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?”
He answered: “I shall tell you in few words.
Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.
The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass.”

 

First sonnet of Dante Alighieri’s “La Vita Nuova,” translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

This is me reading Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s stylized translation of “La Vita Nuova,” by Dante Alighieri.

 

To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,

And unto which these words may now be brought

For true interpretation and kind thought,

Be greeting in our Lord’s name, which is Love.

Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,

Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought,

When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught

As may not carelessly be spoken of.

He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had

My heart within his hand, and on his arm

My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;

Whom (having wakened her) anon he made

To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.

Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.