"Between forest and stars"
The itinerant performance produced by the Uffizi Galleries and put on in the Boboli Gardens on 6 September 2021, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante's death.
The Gate of Hell. Paolo and Francesca
The Gate of Hell warns sinners. It was created by God and is still without doors because Christ unhinged it when he went down to Limbo to bring out the biblical patriarchs. In the circle II, on the other hand, the lustful, those who have subdued reason to their senses, are punished. They are doomed to be dragged by an endless storm from one side of the circle to the other. Among them also those who died a violent death for love, including Paolo and Francesca.
Harpy and the hanged man
Circle VII, Ring II. In the forest of suicides, the Harpies tear apart the "violent against themselves" and the profligates
The sodomites, politicians and captains: Iacopo Rusticucci, Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi
Circle VII, Ring III. The "violent against nature" are condemned to be burnt by a firestorm
The usurers: Reginaldo degli Scrovegni
Circle VII, Ring III. "The violent against art" are those who operated aginst work and honest jobs protected by God. They crouch down under a rain of fire carrying around their necks a bag with their families' coat of arms depicted on them
The simoniacs: Pope Nicholas III
Circle VIII, Bolgia III. The simoniacs are those who bought or sold Church offices or pardons. In the Inferno, their attachment to earthly possessions is punished by stuffing them upside down into the ground with a halo of fire burning their feet.
The grafters: Ciampolo
Circle VIII (Malebolge), bolgia V. The grafters (also the historical Dante was unjustly accused of such crime) are immersed in boiling pitch and tormented by black devils (Malebranche) who tear the flesh of the damned with their hooks
The thieves: Vanni Fucci
Circle VIII (Malebolge), bolgia VII. The thieves run naked and terrified in the midst of horrifying snakes of all kinds, whose monstruosity is unknown on Earth. They tie their hands behind their backs, wrap with their coils around the bodies of the damned and then knot on their bellies while those undergo horrible transformations
Sowers of discord and Schismatics
Circle VIII, Bolgia IX. "The disgusting mode of the ninth Bolgia" consists in torturing those who worked to tear apart the given order (religious, social or political). As in life they dedicated themselves to "divide", their punishment now is to be "divided", mutilated, gutted and eviscerated by a Devil with a sword.
The traitors to their kindred: Camicion de'Pazzi and Sassol Mascheroni
Circle IX, Caina region. The damned in the first part of the circle, called Caina after the name of the Biblical fratricide, are condemned to be imprisoned in the frozen lake of Cocytus from which only their heads come out, facing downwards.
The traitors to their country: Bocca degli Abati
Circle IX circle, Antenora region. Those who made an agreement with enemies against their own party or country - as the Trojan Antenor did with the Achaeans and Bocca degli Abati did with the Guelphs - are forced to be stuck in the frozen Lake of Cocytus with their heads up high so that an icy wind can cause them even more pain.
The Shores of Purgatory. The penitents' souls and Casella
The Canto II of Purgatory begins with the Celestial Pilot who ferries the souls of the dead in the grace of God, from the mouth of the Tiber to the beach of Purgatory, from where the penitents will begin their ascent to the mountain. Here Dante meets his friend Casella, a musician that sings to him the renowned verses of a song.
The contumacious and excommunicated: Manfredi
At the foot of the mountain Dante meets the souls of those who have died after being excommunicated and have to wait thirty times the time they have been rioting against the Church before purifying themselves
Those who died by violence, but repentant: Iacopo del Cassero
On the second spur of the Antepurgatory, those who repented immediately before being killed sing the Psalm of Miserere pleading for God's mercy and ask Dante to talk about them to the living
Those who died by violence, but repentant: Bonconte da Montefeltro
In the second spur of the Antipurgatory, Dante also meets Bonconte da Montefeltro whose corpse, mortally wounded in the Battle of Campaldino, was disputed between an angel and a devil, and then dispersed by a devil's storm in the Arno River, where he was never found
Those who died by violence, but repentant: Pia de'Tolomei
Among the repentant who died by murder, there is also Pia de'Tolomei, defenestrated, according to tradition, by her husband, perhaps to punish her alleged infidelity or perhaps to be free to marry another woman as his second wife
The Negligent Princes: Corrado Malaspina
In the valley of the negligent princes, Dante meets rulers and lords, who, in their lives, neglected their spiritual duties and political mission towards their subjects because of their lust for power and earthly things. They sing "Hail Holy Queen" in a single voice awaiting purification. Corrado Malaspina predicts that Dante will be acquainted with his family's fame directly at his former Court in Lunigiana. In fact, during his exile, Dante was hosted by the Malaspinas in October 1306, an event that was celebrated in a 19th-century fresco still on view in the Castle of Fosdinovo.
The Proud: Oderisi da Gubbio
In the first cornice of Purgatory Dante meets the proud, forced to walk in a circle under the weight of huge stones while reciting Our Father. Oderisi from Gubbio, a famous 13th-century miniaturist, remembers that fame, which he sought in his life, is destined to be forgotten among men, a destiny that affects even the greatest, as already occurred to painter Cimabue with Giotto, or to poet Guinizzelli with Cavalcanti.
The avaricious and prodigal: Pope Adrian V
V Cornice. It is the only case in which sinners serve the same penalty albeit for opposite sins. Both the avaricious and the prodigal are bound with their faces to the ground and their backs to Heaven for they were stuck to material goods in their lives. They sing a verse of Psalm CXVIII, and during the day they recount examples of generosity and poverty, while at night stories of punished greed. Among them is Pope Adrian V, whom Dante almost certainly exchanged with the historical figure of Adrian IV, whose proverbial greed was indeed documented.
The glottonous: Bonagiunta Orbicciani
VI cornice. The gluttonous are tormented by a neverending hunger and thirst provoked by the scent of fruits hanging from two trees, and by the gushing of a spring rising from a rock and flowing upwards. Bonagiunta Orbicciani was a poet active in the second half of the 13th century. He represents the initiator of the Sicilian-Tuscan poetic school, who argued about the rising of a new poetry - the so-called Stilnovistic school - in such a way that he even dedicated to its initiator Guido Guinizzelli a sonnet, where he criticized that new poetry's convoluted and abstruse features, which only now, after his death, does he claim to fully understand.
The lustful: Arnault Daniel
VII cornice. Two groups of penitents walk in opposite directions and sing the hymn Summae Deus clementiae along a wall of flames, symbol of the loving passion that consumed them when they were alive. They are the lustful "according to nature" and "against nature", and when they meet, they exchange kisses and caresses, and tell each other stories of chastity and punished lust. Arnault Daniel was a famous Provençal poet who lived between 12th and 13th centuries. He was a master of "trobar clus" ("difficult poetic style"), characterized by metric virtuosity and complex technicalities, referred to as a model by many Stilnovisti poets, including Dante himself who imitate that style in his "Rime Petrose". Daniel's lust is not documented historically. After all, Dante also placed Guinizzelli (and himself) among the lustful, probably alluding to the fact that by simply devoting themselves to love, poets gave evidence of being trapped by earthly pleasure. In the final part of the Canto, Arnault Daniel speaks in his mother tongue, langue d'Oc, which Dante apparently knew very well. It is the only case in the Comedy in which the poet makes a character speak in a foreign language.
The Earthly Paradise: Matelda
After entering the Garden of Eden, Dante sees Matelda on the opposite bank of the Lethe River that is preventing him to go on. Many critics have discussed about the maiden's identity, whilst she may also be an imaginary character. At Dante's request, Matelda explains to him why and how water and wind are generated in the Earthly Paradise. She also recalls the function of the Lethe River, sprung directly from God, which is to make souls forget about their own sins, while the Eunoe River strengthens the memory of good deeds.
The mystic procession and the apparition of Beatrice
At the end of the Earthly Paradise, Dante meets Beatrice, surrounded by ranks of angels and clouds of flowers. She is seated on a triumphal chariot pulled by a griffin at the centre of a mystical procession, where the various figures take on a precise allegorical meaning. Like a mother with a child, Beatrice scolds Dante harshly. She reproaches him for having abandoned himself to worldly affairs after her death, when he tried to recall her by loving other women. To him, her death would instead have been a model that would have shown him how to devote himself to heavenly things.
The Defective Spirits of Paradise: Piccarda Donati
In Paradise, in the first Sphere of the Moon, Dante addresses souls with an evanescent appearance like reflections of water. Among them is Piccarda Donati, a nun who was kidnapped from her monastery by her brother Corso, who, for political reasons, forced her to marry Rossellino della Tosa, one of the most powerful leaders among the Guelphs. Piccarda is therefore one of the defective spirits, that is, those who, under the influence of the changing Moon, did not keep their promises. In fact, she broke her vow of chastity, even though unwillingly. The Poet asks her if enjoying the lowest degree of bliss is painful for her. Yet she replies that in Heaven spirits are always happy because their will is totally consistent with God's one.