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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jerusalem Super-Exalted

- click to enlarge -


Tasso possibly thought that his Jerusalem-poems were the supreme poetical glorification of the Holy City; but, according to an independent Dante scholar of the mid-19th century, Fortunato Lanci, the Divine Comedy made much more than Tasso: it placed Jerusalem at the center of the whole universe. Lanci summarized his insights in the plate reported here (Fig. = figura, picture).

Fig. III   A general map, from above, of Dante's routes in Inferno (a-b), Purgatorio (c-d), and Paradiso (d-m). The h-h line indicates the Jerusalem-to-purgatory meridian. 

Fig. I   The "planets" (Sun included) rotate around the Earth center in point B, in accordance with the Ptolemaic cosmology, but the celestial spheres rotate around the city of Jerusalem in point A. As a consequence, the motion of each planet within its respective sphere is slightly eccentric.

Fig. II   The spheres of the 9 angelic choirs turn around the 9 celestial spheres, but on a perpendicular axis, namely the one whose extremities are Jerusalem and purgatory.

Fig. IV - V   Dante, while standing on the firmament (starry sphere), sees the angelic choirs as circles (not spheres) which look smaller and smaller (instead of larger and larger, as they are). This might be a perspective effect caused by a cone-shaped light ray coming from God, point A in picture IV, to Dante, in point B.

Lanci's book is also interesting because of other minor interpretations, as well as from a cultural point of view. For example, he detects two kinds of damned souls in hell's vestibule. And he is puzzled because, according to Dante, usury is worse than homosexuality. But more significant is the following remark: "A special folly, which clouds the French brains in our century, tries to turn Dante, at all costs, into a rebel against the Holy [Catholic] Church, as the author and champion of doctrines in accordance with their own heterodox communities . . .  defining him heretical, revolutionary, and socialist." About this, I take the liberty to link to my Dante book.


De' spiritali tre regni cantati da Dante Alighieri nella Divina Commedia. Analisi per tavole sinottiche di Fortunato Lanci [The three spiritual realms sung by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. An analysis through synoptical plates, by Fortunato Lanci], Rome, "a spese dello autore" [printed on demand], cm 28 x 39 x 2.
Actually, it consists of two books bound together: Degli ordinamenti onde ebbe informata Dante Alighieri la prima Cantica della Divina Commedia, investigazioni di F. Lanci [On the organization according to which Dante A. shaped the first Canticle of the D. C., the researches by F. L.], 1855, 28 pages + 2 plates; and Degli ordinamenti ond'ebbe conteste Dante Alighieri la seconda e la terza Cantica . . ." [On the organization according to which Dante A. wove the second and third Canticles . . .], 1856, 66 pages + 4 plates.