Piri Reìs - Map of Malta - 1525

The Maltese language is a semitic language and, more specifically, a dialect of Arabic derived from Sicilian Arabic, which in its turn was connected to the dialects spoken in North Africa, but of course enriched by loans from the Sicilian language.

Various Maltese scholars took an interest in Dante and his Comedy in the course of the twentieth century: Arturo Dimech, Robbie Mifsud Bonnici and Erin Serracino Inglott, the last of whom published a translation of Hell in blank verse in 1964.  The only complete version, in tercets, is that of Alfred Palma in 1991.


Dante was barely 17 years old when Malta, like Sicily, had come under Aragonese rule in place of that of the Angevins following the War of the Sicilian Vespers in 1282.  A few years later, in 1296, King Frederick III of Aragon decided that Malta should come under the control of the County of Modica, one of the most important fiefdoms in southern Italy.  The County of Modica had come into being in 1296 as a result of the charter of investiture awarded by the Aragonese sovereign to the first of the counts of Modica, Manfredi I Chiaramonte, who had then died in Palermo in 1321, the same year that our poet died.  But, apart from this chance coincidence, there is no link between Dante and the Maltese islands.