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Purgatory and Dante's Divine Comedy - DANTE COLLECTION at NOTRE DAME

In this image we see a page from Gregorio de' Gregoriis da Forlì’s 1515 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He, unlike other printers, only produced one edition of Dante’s famous work.

Do you see those pointing fingers in the margins? That’s how people, during the Renaissance era, marked-up their books. What are the highlighted words? Virgil's words:  "... sitting on down or under coverlet, no one comes to fame (47-48)"; and "... a fit request should be followed by the deed in silence" (77-78). Image online, courtesy Notre Dame University Library.

 

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.

  • 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

  • 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.

Dante fell out of favor 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 about.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Jun 23, 2019


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