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Posts Tagged ‘Divine Comedy

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way”*…


Michelangelo Caetani’s “Cross Section of Hell,” an illustration of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and part of Cornell University’s P.J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography (“more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information”).

An enlargeable version of the Cross Section is here; browse the full collection here.

* Robert Frost


As we ruminate on repentance, we might note that today is the Feast Day of  Lucifer– more properly, of St. Lucifer of Caligari.  At least, it’s his feast day in Sardinia, where he’s venerated.  Lucifer, who was a 4th century bishop fierce in his opposition to Arianism, is considered by some elsewhere to have been a stalwart (if minor) defender of the orthodoxy; but by more to have been an obnoxious fanatic.

“Lucifer” was in use at the time as a translation of the the Hebrew word, transliterated Hêlêl or Heylel (pron. as HAY-lale), which means “shining one, light-bearer.”  It had been rendered in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally “bringer of dawn,” for the morning star.  The name “Lucifer” was introduced in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, roughly contemporaneously with St. Lucifer.  The conflation of “Lucifer” with “Satan” came later.




Written by LW

May 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way…”*

Surely the best-known artist to illustrate The Divine Comedy, Dante’s tour of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, was Gustave Doré, whose iconic folio was published in 1861.  But countless artists– from Botticelli to Dali– have been inspired by the poet’s visionary allegory.  The image above is from Jean-Édouard Dargent (also known as Yan’ Dargent), a rival of Doré’s, who also published (in 1870) a book illustrating Dante’s epic.  Instead of Doré’s polished, classical nudes and precise lines, Dargent strikes a more primitive, violent tone, a little rough around the edges.

See more of his Divine work at “Amazing 19th-Century Illustrations of The Divine Comedy“; and see (even) more of the images in larger format here.

*Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, I found myself within a shadowed forest,
ché la diritta via era smarrita. for I had lost the path that does not stray.
Canto 1, 1


As we pack for an extended journey, we might send a witty birthday sketch to Aubrey Beardsley; he was born on this date in 1872.  An artist and illustrator, Beardsley was (with James MacNeil Whistler and Oscar Wilde, whose work Beardsley illustrated) a leading figure in the Aesthetic Movement.  His career was short– he died at 25 of tuberculosis– but his work was a formative influence in the development of both Art Nouveau and Poster Style.

“The Peacock Skirt”, for Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé (1892)



Written by LW

August 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

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