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Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

The question can be broken down into two subquestions: one about the term "comedy" and one about the adjective "divine". Dante never referred to his own work as the "Divine ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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19 votes
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What did Dante mean by "Papè Satan, papè Satan aleppe" in the Inferno?

There are a nauseatingly numerous amount of theories on what that illustriously ambiguous line could mean. It very well might have merely been invented by Dante to represent a sort of invocation (and ...
Tom O' Bedlam's user avatar
18 votes

Did Dante plagiarize the Divine Comedy from Kitab al-Miraj?

Sources This answer is mainly based on Reginald Hyatte (1997), The Prophet of Islam in Old French: The Romance of Muhammad (1258) and The Book of Muhammad’s Ladder (1264), New York: Brill. This ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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14 votes

Did Dante plagiarize the Divine Comedy from Kitab al-Miraj?

Dante was probably influenced and inspired by various Muslim sources, including the Kitab al-Miraj, but the similarities are not strong enough to claim plagiarism. This conjecture dates from 1919 and ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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13 votes

In Foucault's Pendulum, by what method does the translation choose to keep or translate Italian?

First, it's not true to assume that all foreign bits in Foucault's Pendulum were left untranslated in the English version: However, Latin is more familiar to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese,...
VicAche's user avatar
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11 votes

What is the planet that "leads men straight on every road" in Dante's "Inferno"?

The planet Dante says that the “shoulders” of the hill “glowed” with the planet’s rays. The only celestial bodies bright enough to light up the shoulders of a hill are the Sun and the Moon. The next ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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11 votes

Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

In the introduction by Bianca Garavelli to the Inferno there is a section titled "Il valore del titolo", that is, "The value of the title", in which this is explained in detail: ...
Charo's user avatar
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9 votes
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What is the context and origin of this Dante quote?

The quote comes from Dante's Divine Comedy, more specifically Canto 17 in Paradiso. Dante tells Beatrice that while traversing Inferno and Purgatorio in the presence of Virgil, he had heard grievous ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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9 votes
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Who are these crescent saints?

Although there is a real Saint Crescentius, and a real church of San Cresci in Valcava near Florence, Boccaccio is making a sexual pun. A crescent is so called because it is growing (crescere in both ...
Fabio's user avatar
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9 votes

What does "were with him when Divine Love first moved those fair things" mean in Dante's "Inferno"?

“Him” is the sun. The line means that the “fair things” (the stars) that are “with” the sun now, are the same stars that were with the sun when the Divine Love (God) first moved them, that is, on the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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9 votes
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What does Chapter XLVIII in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, Book I, mean?

Machiavelli says that when Roman senators (almost exclusively patricians) saw that only plebeians were in the running for consular tribune, they maintained patrician monopoly on power in one of two ...
verbose's user avatar
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8 votes
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Who is Gall in Italo Svevo's "Senilità"?

Franz Joseph Gall was a nineteenth century professor of physiology, who is particularly noted for his contributions to founding the pseudo-science of phrenology. From the wikipedia article: Gall ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
7 votes
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What does Dante mean here?

I am working with John Ciardi's translation, New American Library, 1954. There are seven stanzas before this one which give some context to the lines you're asking about. No tortured wailing rose ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
7 votes
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What's the source of Michelangelo's quote: "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle."?

Smiles copied his anecdote about Michelangelo from Charles Colton, who wrote: That writer who aspires to immortality, should imitate the sculptor, if he would make the labours of the pen as durable ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes

Who are "the sons of Brutus" in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy?

It is a reference to the Tarquinian conspiracy. After the overthrow of Tarquinius, the last Roman King, and the founding of the Roman republic, a number of Romans, including two sons and two brothers-...
andejons's user avatar
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7 votes
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How much time did one canto in Dante's Divine Comedy represent (if any)?

The cantos do not have a regular duration, but some elements in the story allow us to create a chronology. There are several sources in Italian, I tried to translate the one provided by the Dante ...
WalterVi's user avatar
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7 votes
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Until what year was Machiavelli's The Prince banned in England?

TL;DR: The English press censorship regime in the Tudor and Stuart periods was not based on a list of banned works, and so the question has no definite answer. In this answer I’m following Cyndia ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
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Is Evil Hole / Malpertugio a realistic name for a district in Naples?

Malpertugio is not only a realistic name but a real name. A footnote in Wayne A. Rebhorn's translation (W. W. Norton, 2016; page 58) explains that, Malpertugio (…) refers to a gap in the city's walls....
Tsundoku's user avatar
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7 votes
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What does "the ass and the wall are quits" mean?

This was indeed an Italian proverb with meant that everyone gets what they deserve or that you will always receive an action similar to what you have done. This is what you can read about this ...
Charo's user avatar
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7 votes

Why the phrasing "where the sun is silent" in Dante's "Inferno"?

The original Italian is "là dove 'l sol tace" and, according to Bianca Garavelli in her notes to Dante's Inferno, it refers to il buio della «selva». L'immagine fonde i due sensi di vista e ...
Charo's user avatar
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6 votes
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What do the names of the Decameron characters signify?

Yes, the names of the ten narrators of the novellas have been chosen by Boccaccio to tell us something about their personality. This is what is said in the note to the text you have emphasized in BUR ...
Charo's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is meant by "traffic" in this list of men's activities?

firstly, what is the intended meaning here From the translation: (...) many things, may hawk, hunt, fish, ride, play or traffic. in the original: (...) molte cose, uccellare, cacciare, pescare, ...
bad_coder's user avatar
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6 votes
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Why are "Ser" and "San" left untranslated to "Sir" and "Saint"?

The introduction to Wayne A. Rebhorn's translation (W. W. Norton, 2016) contains an explanation about "Titles and Form of Address" on pages xlvi–xlvii of the introduction. This includes an ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes

What does Machiavelli mean on page 29 of The Prince?

The context is a paragraph discussing conspiracy against a prince (i.e. ruler). When a conspirator looks for support from other people, anyone who gets involved in the conspiracy is constantly at risk ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes
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What "always was and is the occupation of the Agolanti"?

In the introduction ("introduzione") to the article "Gli Agolanti" by Enrica Guerra you can find that they were usurers ("usurai"): Boccaccio, [...], nel momento in cui ...
Charo's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the provenance of Story 6 in Day 2 of the Decameron, set against a backdrop of 13th-century Sicily?

This is what Vittore Branca explains in the Einaudi version of the Decameron (Italian original) about the antecedents of this novella: Neppure di questa novella si possono indicare antecedenti ...
Charo's user avatar
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5 votes

Who are these crescent saints?

Slightly to my surprise, there is a San Cresci in Valcava which features frescoes depicting the History of the martyrdom of San Cresci. The VillaCampestre website tells us in 'Local History' that: ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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5 votes
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Why is this chunk of the Decameron Day 3 Story 10 left untranslated?

It’s a case of censorship. Translators' handlings of the various stories ten has varied from leaving the work untranslated, bowdlerizing the stories or—my favorite—one early edition translated the ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
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5 votes
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How did Dante know so much about geography and astronomy in his Purgatorio?

TL;DR: Dante read a Latin translation of Al-Farghani, who summarized the work of Ptolemy. Astronomical claims in Purgatory There is a south celestial pole; the stars near it are not visible from the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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