Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dante by numbers

Podcast favourite In Our Time this week discusses Dante's Inferno. After ten minutes Melvyn Bragg asks Claire Honess, Senior Lecturer in Italian at the University of Leeds, why there are nine circles in Hell. I was surprised by her answer ("I don't know"). Isn't it common knowledge (among Dante readers) that the poem is structured in honour of the Trinity - nine being the square of three? William Anderson explains in more detail in Dante the Maker, a book not included in the further reading guide. Nor, incidentally, are two of the best books on Dante: Freccero's The Poetics of Conversion and Barolini's The Undivine Comedy. However, it redeems this by providing a useful link to the Leeds Dante Podcast.

Meanwhile, lurking numerologists might like to explore Dante's Commedia's Mathematical Matrix.

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