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"Per tremoto o per sostegno manco"; the geology of Dante Alighieri's Inferno

Marco Romano
"Per tremoto o per sostegno manco"; the geology of Dante Alighieri's Inferno
Italian Journal of Geosciences (February 2016) 135 (1): 95-108


The purpose of the present paper is to analyse the geological elements and references found in Dante Alighieri's Inferno, which have never been treated in complete and comprehensive manner. Dante used wisely and in a unique manner the elements of nature, especially of landscape, to build the material foundation on which the fiction of the underworld journey is based. Specific kinds of rocks, steep cliffs, landslide bodies, lakes of hydrothermal water, waterfalls, become basic material in the hands of the Florentine poet, on which to base metaphors and similes. In Dante's Inferno there are references to hydrogeology, earthquakes, mountain structures, deposition of travertine, landscape modelling, meteorological phenomena, structure of the Earth and of the entire cosmos. The grandeur and mastery of Dante lies in being able to communicate, in short lines, the strong separation between scientific facts of natural phenomena and their use for aesthetic, poetic, political, and even ethical purposes. In dealing with complex issues such as the "geophysical equilibrium" and the reason for the current distribution of land and ocean, Dante does not simply accept the theories of Aristotle (as stated by several exegetes) but shows a critical and deep analysis in the field of geology sensu lato, considering and preferring the phenomenal datum to the abstract theories. The work of Dante and his contemporaries did not impersonate the "dark period" for science, as found in many interpretations of the Middle Ages, but the cultural context where those questions were posed which served as foundation and propellant for the subsequent "scientific revolution".

ISSN: 2038-1719
EISSN: 2038-1727
Serial Title: Italian Journal of Geosciences
Serial Volume: 135
Serial Issue: 1
Title: "Per tremoto o per sostegno manco"; the geology of Dante Alighieri's Inferno
Author(s): Romano, Marco
Affiliation: Sapienza Universita di Roma, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Rome, Italy
Pages: 95-108
Published: 201602
Text Language: English
Publisher: Societa Geologica Italiana, Rome, Italy
References: 75
Accession Number: 2016-016627
Categories: Miscellaneous
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: Italy
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Societa Geologica Italiana. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201609
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