Time.news – The inevitable expert arrives and in a German newspaper he informs us that Dante was a fake: the genius was false, the language was false, perhaps he too was a false enemy of a false pope. A mesh that lasted eight centuries. If so, credit to the credit: it has fooled us all for forty generations. Luckily the German expert arrives at the end and explains things to you.
Raise your hand if you have never peeked at your classmate during a class test, or while writing an essay on Dante. Not even specialists and professors, we would swear, have a clear conscience. So why accuse Dante of plagiarism, mental laziness, inability to elaborate and copy, perhaps with the weak affirmation that Mohammed’s journey to heaven (XVII Sura of the Koran, if we are not mistaken) has already spoiled him?
It would be like saying that Goethe is a crap only because he imagines the devil tempting Man (already in the Gospel of Mark, 1, 12-13) or because he reveals to Europe that one can kill oneself for love.
Poor Lotte, you are only one of a thousand, in the midst of the cracks that combine a really big one to make the precious ones. As for German and Italian, they have one thing in common: they are both the synthesis of a hundred languages and a hundred patois, which precede them and survive them. Bring a man from Bergamo to Puglia and let him speak in dialect: everyone will believe he is from Hamburg. Bring a Bavarian to Mecklenburg and have him express it in his vernacular, and everyone will be sure that he comes from Bitonto. The language in which the Frankfurter Rundschau is expressed is also an artfully invented working language at this point.
Now, what is striking in this criticism is not so much the denial of the authorship of the Italian to Dante, because it was a long and difficult birth and Jacopone and Cielo have some merit. If anything, what annoys him is the idea that he had copied, the petty one, perhaps using Google Translate because he was unable to understand Arabic in the original version. Because it’s true, copying is an art and you learn it at school for life, but to say that Dante was copying and pasting the Koran is not only ungenerous: it is absolutely misleading. A Comedy of misunderstandings, perhaps fueled by a judgment which, if pronounced in the Florence of the fourteenth century, would have led to perpetual exile.
If you wanted to find some model, the history of literature is full of them and there was no need to bother the Prophet. We therefore propose ourselves as prompters to the unimaginative expert.
Il Canzoniere in the heart of Anatolia
A contemporary of Dante was, for example, Jalal al-Din Rumi. He lived in central Anatolia a generation before him: just in time to be copied. He wrote in his lyrics that love was the force of creation, and suspicion arises about the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.
In his lyrics (called “the Great Song” and then think of Petrarch: another colossal fake) in his lyrics, we said, we read: “To kiss the rose / that gives splendor to the cup / the world now shows its tongue / like the flower of the lily“. And here the donkey falls: the rose, therefore the Mystical Rose of Paradise; the cup, then Dante’s nods to the grailic culture of Iranian origin on the model of Wolfram; finally, the Giglio, which needs no explanation: they still wear it on their football shirts.
But if you wanted to find a seemingly inconvenient precedent, why was Virgil not thought of? Dante knew it practically by heart and the Aeneid (VI, 637-693) tells us exactly of the descent of Aeneas into Hades. Except that Beatrice brings Dante to God, while Dido, that villain who seduced and abandoned her, sends him more or less to Hell.
Even earlier Ulysses in the Odyssey (X, 562 and following) had done the same, the precursor. So also Virgil was copying. Even Homer. All to make a verse to Gilgamesh, a Sumerian hero, who questions the gods about what the afterlife is and how his companion Enkidu is. He is satisfied in his thirst for knowledge, even if he later realizes that he had better not petulate. Orpheus had better luck in going to recover Eurydice, Proserpina instead re-emerged in the middle of the service, but that Bernini script did the same on a statue. Italians, only good at taking the ideas of others.
The knight’s dream
That says: all true, but one thing is the descent into Hades, another the journey into the Christian afterlife. And no, because here too there is the precedent. It is called “Visio Tnugdali”, and it is so well known that Sellerio published it years ago in Italy. It is the story of Tnugdal, a Celtic knight of Ireland, a great sinner who in the middle of his life’s journey finds himself in a cathartic dream, and sees hell organized in groups on the basis of the various categories of sin committed.
But then you look better and you discover that the journey between the island of the blessed and that of the damned is one of the central points of the wanderings of San Brandano, also Irish, who in turn – some say – resumes narration of Bran the Blessed which then appears in the Mabinogion which in turn contains the first Arthurian tales that help Chretien de Troyes to idealize courtly love which is what forms the basis of Dante’s screen woman. And here the cycle finally ends.
Or not, why it is the eternal history of man and his hope to see the mystical Rose, to make the sun and the other stars move, and maybe even good literature. Everything else is an ephemeral newspaper article.