Click on the images to see them bigger.
In this project I interpret the verses of the Divine Comedy of Dante in a modern key using symbols and objects to tell it. I believe that there are still several verses today that are more than current, although written in 1300.
I want to reinterpret them in a modern key, with modern objects and symbols.
SI PERDEA LA SENTENZA DI SIBILLA (THE SIBILLA PHRASE WAS LOST)
PARADISO – CANTO XXXIII Verses 164-166
Così la neve al sol si disigilla;
così al vento ne le foglie levi
si perdea la sentenza di Sibilla
Like the warmth of the sun that devoured the snow, melting it, with its ephemeral compactness, and the wind reflux, disparaging the light leaves on which the Sibilla Cumana had written the words of his oracular responses, rendering them indecipherable, will perhaps fall into the fervid fervor of memory that alters and confuses images in an attempt to evoke them. Of course, the beauty of these verses is frightening.
The Latin phrase “ibis redibis not morieris in bello” is, traditionally, the response given by the Sibylis to a soldier who went to consult the oracle on the future outcome of his mission. The phrase, like all oracular responses, is deliberately ambiguous (“sibillina”) and offers a double interpretation, depending on how you want to use punctuation.
If, in fact, you put a comma before “no” (ibis redibis, do not morieris in bello), the meaning of the answer is “You will go back, you will not die in war”. Therefore, becoming the equivalent of “ibis redibis numquam peribis”, or “going to return you will not die”, prefigures a successful outcome of the mission;
If, instead, the comma is moved after negation (ibis redibis not, morieris in bello), the way changes to its exact opposite: “You will not return, you will die in war.” The poor soldier’s mission, in that case, will have a totally negative outcome.
GALEOTTO FU IL LIBRO E CHI LO SCRISSE (CONVICT WAS THE BOOK AND WHO WROTE IT)
INFERNO – CANTO V Verses 127-138
Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.
Per più fiate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
Quando leggemmo il disiato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu ‘l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante».
It tells the story of Paolo and Francesca and why they are now in hell. Francesca tells that one day, for leisure, without being suspicious of any presentiment, she and Paolo were reading a French novel together telling the love story of Lancillotto del Lago and Ginevra the Beautiful, wife of King Arthur. More than once the reading forced their eyes to cross, their faces to discolor, but to overwhelm them was a page, a verse. When they read Lancillotto’s kiss to Ginevra, they too were overwhelmed by the passion and kissed. The reading was interrupted by the cripple husband and the double murder that caused the death of Paolo and Francesca.
NEL MEZZO DEL CAMMIN DI NOSTRA VITA (IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WAY OF OUR LIFE)
INFERNO – CANTO 1 Verses 1-6
« Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita. »
Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
che nel pensier rinova la paura!
Dante is telling us that, at half the way of human life (of ours, not just of his own), he realized that he had been in a gloomy wilderness, having lost the main way. It’s night, and it’s a full moon night. Dante finds himself, at the age of about 35, in the dark forest. It is a Good Friday (the date was obtained from the year of Grazia which is 1300 and from the date of Dante’s birth that is 1265). What is still discussed is whether the Good Friday in 1300 fell on April 8 or on March 25. It’s anyhow close to the spring equinox.
PARADISO – CANTO XV Versetti 31-36
Così quel lume: ond’io m’attesi a lui;
poscia rivolsi a la mia donna il viso,
e quinci e quindi stupefatto fui:
chè dentro a li occhi suoi ardeva un riso
tal, ch’io pensai cò miei toccar lo fondo
de la mia gloria e del mio paradiso.
NAVE SENZA NOCCHIERE (VESSEL WITHOUT HELMSMAN)
PURGATORIO – CANTO VI Versetti 76-78
Ahi serva Italia, di dolore ostello,
nave senza nocchiere in gran tempesta,
non donna di province, ma bordello!
This post is also available in: Italian