The New Dante Day in Italy

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Berlin · 2021  Uwe Topper topper

The New Dante Day in Italy

Our reader jk reports that the Frankfurter Rundschau published an article by Arno Widmann on March 26th, 2021 about the new holiday in Italy: March 25th was declared Dante Day. In fact, the Italian daily "Corriere della Sera" had suggested a Dante day shortly before Dante's 700th anniversary of his death, which was enthusiastically followed.
Traditionally, March 25th was the day of the Incarnation of God, also called the Annunciation, on which Maria received Jesus. (Following nine months later is his birth: Christmas on December 25th.) In many cities in Italy (e.g. Florence and Pisa) this day was celebrated as New Year (World Creation Day, formerly the equinox of spring). Dante's Divine Comedy begins on March 25th, a Good Friday in the year AD 1300. For compelling reasons I postponed this date by 200 years (to around 1500; see my previous five articles about Dante's time :

Now Italy celebrates its Dante day on March 25th.

Arno Widmann compares Dante's journey through hell, purgatory and paradise with the French travelogue of the Venetian Marco Polo through Asia, which he dictated in prison in 1298–1299, that is, just the same supposed moment when Dante wrote his comedy in Volgare. With other reasons I had to redate Marco Polo's report to around 1500, which now fits well with Dante's postponement, also by 200 years.

The comparison of the two writers may be surprising, but Widmann says: "But it is important to remember one with the other, or one would get the idea that Dante's religious obsession was a characteristic of an epoch," which in my opinion, this is definitely the case if you place the two chronologically correctly (not around 1300 but around 1500).
Widmann continues: The poet T. S. Eliot published a small treatise on Dante in 1929, in which he compares the poet with Shakespeare (which many felt entitled to do, especially since the meaning of Dante's surname Alighieri can be interpreted as Shakespeare in English). Eliot, however, meant the metaphors of the two poets. Widmann rejects this comparison because of the very different moral attitudes of the two.
A portrait of Dante is catching your eye at the head of the article, depicting him as if he had been painted alive. It dates from the 16th century (in Ambras Castle in Tyrol?).

Reference: Widmann, Arno „GÖTTLICHE KOMÖDIE“ Dante: 700 Jahre nach Dante: Erinnerungen, nicht zufällig an einem 25. März, der in Italien Dantetag ist. Frankfurter Rundschau, 26.3.21, -

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