17 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 indented by Dante to represent a sort of invocation (and ...
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12 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,...
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  • 1,818
11 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 ...
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9 votes

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 ...
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  • 91
8 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 ...
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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 ...
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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-...
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  • 3,253
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 ...
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  • 38.8k
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....
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7 votes

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 ...
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  • 917
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 ...
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5 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, ...
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  • 196
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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 917
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: ...
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4 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 ...
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  • 228
4 votes
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Numbering of Petrarch's sonnets

tl;dr Depends on how and what you count, yo. Do non-sonnets count? Background (can be safely skipped) Petrarch worked on his sequence to Laura, variously referred to as Il Canzoniere ("The ...
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  • 15.2k
4 votes
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How can I understand the second book of "Jerusalem Delivered"?

To read a poem like this you'll need: A comprehensive dictionary, so that you can look up words like ‘argument’, ‘will’, ‘would’, ‘fact’, ‘gan’, ‘tofore’, etc, and find out what they meant in 1600. I ...
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4 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 ...
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  • 917
4 votes

What is meant by "traffic" in this list of men's activities?

Here is the original text in Italian (bold mine): [...] il che degli innamorati uomini non avviene, sì come noi possiamo apertamente vedere. Essi, se alcuna malinconia o gravezza di pensieri gli ...
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  • 917
4 votes

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 ...
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4 votes
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Was the Canterbury Tales directly inspired by the Decameron?

The short answer is yes. I found two resources worth investigating if this interests you, but I really don't have the background or the time to pursue them much deeper at the moment: First there is an ...
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4 votes
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How much of the English history in this Decameron story has any basis in fact?

One of the notes to number 14 in BUR version of the Decameron (Italian original), edited by Amedeo Quondam, Maurizio Fiorilla and Giancarlo Alfano, explains that the first of your points refers to the ...
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  • 917
3 votes

Where did Boccaccio refer to Dante's Comedia or Commedia as the Divine Comedy?

Boccaccio used the title Divine Comedy for the first time in a work that has variously been called Vita di Dante ("Life of Dante") or Trattatello in laude di Dante ("Short Treatise in ...
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3 votes

What does the poet's introduction in Dante's Inferno mean?

The passage contains a number of curious anachronisms. It seems that Virgil was born in the village of Andes, near Mantua. Mantua is now the capital of Lombardy, but that name did not come into ...
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  • 38.1k
3 votes

Reference for Dante Quote

If the quote comes from Dante, its most likely origin would be the first part, Inferno, from the Divine Comedy. The Italian text of the Divine Comedy or Divina Commedia is available online (also in ...
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  • 38.1k
3 votes
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Free will in Dante's Divine Comedy

The following lines in Canto III of Paradiso appear to discuss this (quoted from the translation provided by WorldOfDante): The essence of this blessed life consists in keeping to the boundaries of ...
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  • 38.1k
3 votes

Dante Alleghieri's Divine Comedy "has been translated into the most languages in the world & top printed work after the Bible"?

The "[second] most translated book after the Bible" apparently depends on whom you ask. According to Professor Alfredo Moro, the 17th-century noel “Don Quijote de la Mancha is the second most ...
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