Indice Literature Articles


"You were not made to live like brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge." - Dante, Canto XXVI of Inferno, Divine Comedy
Dante Alighieri portrait
Dante Alighieri: life, works, poetics

The entire cultural tradition of modern Europe looks to the person of Dante and his Comedy as the highest point of maturity of thought ever reached in human history: he is the only poetic thinker capable of rising up in the face of the past millennium and summing it up with creative originality in a new thought to give it back to the following centuries, up to us. But who is Dante?

sky and stars
Dante: from the stars of his birth to the origin of his name

What was Dante's sign of the zodiac and how did he, as a man of the Middle Ages, experience his relationship with the stars? And the origin of his name, a simple paternal attribution or a prophetic omen of future virtues? Who is Dante, once he has put down the laurel wreath? There has always been a lot of talk about the most famous Italian literary figure in the world, but almost always in relation to his greatest masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, with the result that the profile of the 'person' has gradually been reduced in favour of that of the 'poet'.

Dante Alighieri portrait
Dante's nose: anecdotes and legends about the Supreme Poet

Alongside the rich manuscript and critical tradition linked to the name of Dante, there is another equally copious one of a strictly anecdotal nature, which undoubtedly has the merit of contributing in the first place to increasing the already considerable importance of the figure of the Florentine Supreme Poet.

Giovanni Pascoli signature
Giovanni Pascoli: life, works, poetics

Together with, but unlike, D'Annunzio, Pascoli was the representative of Decadentism in Italy, the last great voice of Italian literature at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries before the advent of the crepuscular and avant-garde crisis. Pascoli's name was to be the signature of a long-lasting poetic legacy and teacher for most generations of poets and writers throughout the 20th century.

Giovanni Pascoli portrait
Pascoli and onomatopoeia

Thinking about Pascoli's poetry inevitably brings to mind a whole series of lyrical images of great visual and sound suggestion. But how the 'child poet' arrives at these extremely fine elaborations is a subject that is little discussed and, in reality, very important: the music of the words, the phonic and analogical links that weave between them, the visionary dynamics that spring from them, are at the basis of Pascoli's poetic discourse that rests on this dense network.

The Parnasse (detail of Apollo) by Raffaello
Introduction to the metrics of poetry

When it comes to metrics, the first impression is almost always that of a tedious technical approach, debasing the artistic beauty of a poem. And yet studying and applying metrics to the texts being read is fundamental if they are to be appreciated in their entirety: ignoring the metrical aspect in fact deprives one of total possession of a composition in the same way as what happens when one does not know the language, the author or the historical-cultural context.

painting with angels
The division into syllables

The fundamental principle, in all regular Italian versification, which is looked at in relation to the definition of the measure of a verse, is based on the syllable, or rather, on the number of syllables. But what is a syllable, how is it defined? And how is it identified? But above all, how is metrication carried out?

portrait of the lady of Monza
The Nun of Monza from The Betrothed according to the 20th century

The character of Gertrude is undoubtedly one of the most complex and enigmatic in Manzoni's entire novel. The Milanese author carried out such painstaking work on her and such psychological expertise that he succeeded in producing, with undoubted portraiture skills, an image skilfully modelled by a chiaroscuro of a certain depth and without precedent.

Roman floor mosaic illustrating the myth of Romulus and Remus. Discovered at Aldborough (Isurium Brigantum) near Leeds, North Yorkshire (formerly West Riding), UK. Exhibited at the Leeds City Museum
Homo homini lupus est: origin and meaning

This famous and lapidary sentence is said to derive from a line in the Asinaria, a comedy written by Plautus at an unspecified date between 211 and 206 BC. It is pronounced by the merchant who appears on stage in Act II: the latter, having to settle a debt with the wife of the old Demenetus, is joined by the latter's servant, Leonidas, who orders him to hand over the sum.