Dante can only have had very vague notions about the countries in the Far East. Apart from anything else, although a contemporary of Marco Polo (1254 – 1324), the poet must have had very little interest in the latter’s travels and the related tales in Milione, tales which Dante perhaps found hardly credible despite the interest which they had aroused in people’s collective imagination at the time. As for Japan, then, it is not surprising that it is never mentioned in Dante’s works; in his [...]
In the Divine Comedy France is often cited by means of frequent references to the political events in France in Dante’s time and to the historical events occurring in the immediately preceding centuries. However, Dante did not have much sympathy for the political personalities in France in his time nor, even less, for the French royal family for which he had a cordial and immovable dislike which reached unusual heights in the case of Philippe Le Bel. On the other hand Dante greatly appreciated the [...]
The word “Korea” is derived from the name of the Goryeo (or Koryŏ) dynasty which reigned over that country from the end of the 10th century up to 1392. In the first years of the fourteenth century, when Dante was a grown up man and was writing his Divine Comedy, Korea was reigned over by the sovereign Chungnyeol of Goryeo after he ascended to the throne in 1274 by which time the Korean dynasty had been for some years a vassal of the Mongol emperor, [...]
The Basque language (the Basque name is èuskara) is an isolated language which appears to have no relation to any other language and has been spoken since time immemorial in the north of Spain in the region of the Pyrenees (Spanish Basque country: a region of Navarre and the other contiguous provinces) and of the extreme south-west of France (the département of the Atlantic Pyrenees). In Dante’s time Navarre was governed by the counts of Champagne and was an autonomous and flourishing region. It had [...]
It seems that Dante could not have known about the existence of the Albanian people who were at that time subjugated by the Byzantine empire.
The first Milanese folksong that has reached us goes back to the days of Frederick Barbarossa and was written by the Humiliati of Brera, after the destruction of the city by the Emperor (1162). The words appear in the historical novel of Margherita Pusterla (1838) by Cesare Cantù: «Come diruto Mediolano – de Barbarossa com la mano. – Li militi se botano a Maria – ke laudata sia». Dante mentions the terrible destruction of Milan in Purgatory when, having arrived in the circle of the [...]
In the IX Canto of Dante's Inferno the tombs of an ancient burial ground of Pola (Pula) and the Roman tombs of Arles are compared to the many fiery graves of the sixth ring, where the heretics lie. The comparison provides the poet with the occasion of defining the boundaries of the Italian region lapped by the waters of the Kvarner Gulf. Here are quoted the original verses and the translation in Istrian by Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi (Hell, IX, 112-117). - Sì come ad Arli, ove [...]
The abbot Joachim of Fiore, who was born near Cosenza (Calabria) around 1130, the founder of the monastery of San Giovanni in Fiore on the Sila mountains , is one of the blessed spirits of the Sky of the Sun, who are headed by St. Bonaventura da Bagnoregio. This holy soul introduces each one of his companions to Dante. The last ones being named by him are those who are respectively on his right and on his left: Rabano Mauro, most learned archbishop of Mainz [...]
In a flowery valley of Antipurgatorio Dante and Virgil, led by Sordello, see the souls of the negligent princes. Here Dante mentions Bohemia for the first time, pointing it through the names of its two rivers Vltava and Elbe (in Czech, Labe). When Dante meets the soul of King Ottokar II of Bohemia, he presents him next to his former enemy Rudolf of Hapsburg, showing that in Purgatory every earthly passion disappears. In fact, the two antagonistic princes even take comfort in each other in [...]
Translation in blank verse by the poet and literary critic Jacqueline Risset (Besançon 1936 – Rome 2014), Professor of French literature at the university of Roma Tre. Edition published at Paris in 1992 (first edition of Inferno 1985). Jacqueline Risset’s translation of the Divine Comedy, the most appreciated in France, contributed enormously to making Dante known and loved in the French-speaking world.