One of the finest rare-book collections in North America, Notre Dame University's Dante Collection includes nearly 3,000 volumes. Almost every edition of The Divine Comedy, published in the 16th century, is included.
Highlights from a previous exhibition are available on-line. We feature some of the most interesting in this chapter.
- Woodcuts illustrating the Purgatorio appear in the 1487 edition produced by Bonino Bonini.
- A beautifully illustrated title page appears in the 1502 Aldine edition.
- Another illumination introduces Dante's Inferno in the same Aldine edition.
- In 1515, the Venetian printer Gregorio de' Gregoriis da Forlì included a drawing which depicts perceived moral layers of Hell.
- Long ago, a Renaissance reader of that same edition flagged the text with a "pointing finger" in the margin. Translated, the highlighted words (spoken by Virgil) are:
...sitting on down or under coverlet, no one comes to fame
...a fit request should be followed by the deed in silence
Dante fell out of favor (scroll down 20%) in Italy during the
second half of the 17th century. Mere disfavor, however, paled in
comparison to the attacks on Purgatory which the Protestant Reformation brought
- A French edition of The Divine Comedy, published by Guillaume Rovilléé in 1551, contains a portrait of Dante.
- A commentary, published in 1578, includes a study (reflected in separate columns) by two different writers (Landino and Vellutello) of Dante's text (segmented between the columns). It was the first time the work of both commentators appeared in the same book. A reader of this copy profusely underlined Landino's analysis.