At the risk of disappearing down a rabbit hole (which I’ve always liked the idea of…) I’ve come across an amazing late 14th-century manuscript of Dante’s Divine Comedy, beautifully photographed and available online. It is just incredible.
Here are a few pictures: it goes well with my short and very general introduction to Dante. Remember this parchment (Pergamon) was hand-written – that’s what manu-script means – literally written by hand. It was also illuminated (illustrated by hand). Quite incredible. I am featuring four pictures here. Dante himself at work at his desk, nestled in a large letter N. His flowing gown and hat clearly typical of Dantesque clothing. Then a painting of Virgil (Dante’s guide) leading him through a landscape similar in style to a Giotto fresco. Then finally into the ‘inferno’ hell in other words. Where souls are tortured, dismembered, and thrown into burning flames as punishment for their behaviour on Earth. Lastly Cerberus, the three-headed wolf-dog who guards the entry to the underworld. In the case of Dante – Cerberus guards the ‘Third Circle of Hell’. Virgil and Dante can only get past him by throwing earth into each of his three mouths. This superb manuscript is available online and has been lovingly digitised, making it accessible to all of us. Civica Biblioteca Guarneriana and Biblioteca Guarneriana – what an amazing treasure trove and what a superlative job of making these unique and priceless manuscripts available to all.