Within the Danteum the Poet’s meanings lurk in solid form. An example: the Danteum design does have spaces literally associated with the Comedy–the Dark Wood of Error, Inferno, Purgatorio, and the Paradiso–but these spaces also relate among themselves spiritually. Dante often highlights a virtue by first condemning its corruption. Within Dante’s system Justice is the greatest of the cardinal virtues; its corruption, Fraud, is the most contemptible of vices. Because Dante saw the papacy as the most precious of sacred institutions, corrupt popes figure prominently among the damned in the Poet’s Inferno. In the Danteum the materiality of the worldly Dark Wood directly opposes the transcendence of the Paradiso. In the realm of error every thought is lost and secular, while in heaven every soul’s intent is directed toward God. The shadowy Inferno of the Danteum mirrors the Purgatorio’s illuminated ascent to heaven. Purgatory embodies hope and growth where hell chases its own dark inertia. Such is the cosmography shared by Terragni and Dante.
In this postscript I intend neither to fully examine the meaning nor the plan of the Danteum, but rather to evince the power that art has acted as a catalyst to other artists. The Danteum, a modern design inspired by a medieval poem, is but one example. Dante’s poem is filled with characters epitomizing the full range of vices and virtues of human personalities. Dante’s characters come from his present and literature’s past; they are mythological, biblical, classical, ancient, and medieval. They, rather than Calliope and her sisters, were Dante’s muses.
‘La Divina Commedia’ seems a natural candidate to complete Project