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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Visiting Naim in the 11th century (2)

The episode in the Gospels the text refers to is Luke 7: 11-17.

But especially, in these six verses, at least four - direct or indirect - quotations from Dante can be detected. First of all, the "dolce raggio" (sweet [sun] beam) seen by the resurrected boy recalls Dante's "dolce lome" (sweet light) in Inferno 10: 69, also dealing with a young man who had recently died. Second, Dis - after Dante - has become the name of a place, instead of the name of a guy (Hades). Third, Pluto's rage makes us think of that mysterious but well-known cry in Inferno 7: 1, "Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe!" though with the basic difference that Pluto in the Divine Comedy is introduced as 'one of' the devils calling his king Satan, while Tasso simply identifies him with Satan himself.

But the most important link lies in the "bigger damage" the devil is afraid of in seeing Jesus' miracle. In fact, a much more powerful resurrection and victory against hell will occur in the Holy Sepulcher, the very center of Tasso's narrative. Describing Christ's resurrection as a triumphant descent into hell belongs to the theology of the Church Fathers and the Orthodox Churches, see their sacred icons; but also Dante, who mentions this episode (just alluded to in the New Testament) quite often. Tasso uses it as one of the main keys to his poem.