Dante Alighieri: the great poet and esotericism

Dante Alighieri is widely considered the father of the Italian language, his fame is eminently due to the paternity of the Comedìa , which later became famous as the Divine Comedy , universally considered the greatest work written in Italian and one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature.

Expression of medieval culture, filtered through the lyric of the Dolce stil novo , the Comedy is also an allegorical vehicle of human salvation , which is expressed in touching the dramas of the damned, the purgatorial pains and the celestial glories, allowing Dante to offer the reader a profile of morals, ethics and esoteric teachings …

Important linguist, political theorist and philosopher, Dante Alighieri space within the human knowledge, profoundly marking the Italian literature of the following centuries and Western culture itself, so much so that he was nicknamed the “Supreme Poet” or, the “Poet” par excellence.

Dante was able to bring out psychological introspection and autobiography,

Dante is therefore the first among the Italian writers to “break down” between the ” self ” as a character and the other ” I ” as a narrator of his own events. Thus Contini, taking up the thread traced by the American scholar Charles Singleton, speaks of Dante’s poetic and narrative operation:

” The American Italianist Charles Singleton should be mentioned as honor, who in one of his penetrating essays … noted how in Dante’s ego … man in general converge, subject of living and acting, and the individual historian, owner of a specific experience hic et nunc, in a certain space and in a certain time; I transcendental (with a capital), we would say today, and I (with a lowercase) existential. 
– (Gianfranco Contini, Dante’s idea, pp. 34-35)

Fundamental influence was also that exercised by literary production belonging to Christianity and, to a certain extent, also to the Islamic religion. The Bible is certainly the book from which Dante draws most: we find echoes, in addition to the many in the Divine Comedy , also in the Vita nova (for example, the episode of Beatrice’s death follows that of Christ on Calvary ) and in De vulgari eloquentia ( the episode of the Tower of Babel as the origin of languages). In addition to strictly sacred production, Dante also drew on medieval religious production, taking inspiration from the Visio sancti Paulifrom the 5th century, a work narrating the ascent of the apostle of the people to the 3rd heaven of Paradise.
In addition to Christian literary sources, Dante would have come into possession, on the basis of what the philologist Maria Corti wrote, of the Libro della Scala , an Arab eschatological work translated into Castilian, old French and Latin.

A concrete example is found in the Islamic concept of the spirit of life ( rūh al hayāh ) which is considered as ” air ” that comes out of the cavity of the heart. Dante in this regard writes: “… spirit of life, which dwells in the very secret chamber of the heart ” …

Several authors have dealt with the esoteric aspects of Dante’s works, perhaps determined by the now ascertained adhesion to the sect of the Fedeli d’Amore . The scheme and the very contents of the Divine Comedy would bring out clear references. In this respect, René Guenon’s work “Dante’s esotericism ” and Luigi Valli’s text, “ The secret language of Dante and the Fedeli d’Amore ” are of considerable importance .

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We can say with certainty that the esoteric culture of the great poet was complete and he was lucky enough to have been co-opted by the Fedeli D’Amore who introduced him into the infinite world of esotericism.
Almost all the researchers considered the society of the Fedeli d’Amore of Templar extraction and therefore in strong suspicion of heresy for the church.

The Fedeli d’Amore were a traditional initiatory organization born in the thirteenth century.
In that historical period the power of the emperor had faded in Italy, in its place, in the complex Italian political situation, the temporal power of the Church infiltrated, which with its dogmatism, torture and the fires of the inquisition, s’ quickly seized power.

Some academics have questioned the existence of the Fedeli d’Amore, but Dante himself speaks of them in his work ” Vita Nova “.
Despite the indifference of clerical academic critics, personalities such as Ugo Foscolo, Maria Filelfo, Antonio Maria Biscione, Giosuè Carducci, Giovanni Pascoli, Luigi Valli, Gabriele Rossetti and René Guenon have dedicated themselves to the study of this association .
This association made use of the Dolce Stil Novo , the famous Italian poetic movement of that period, becoming a refined research that differs from vulgar Italian, bringing tradition towards a refined and stately language.
The stilnovist poetics acquires an intellectual character and makes use of metaphors and symbolisms of multiple meanings.

The Faithful of Love as a social goal set out to bring the Church back to the teaching of Christ, and the clergy to a morality and spirituality that they now considered lapsed and muddy.
Jacopo da Lentini, Pier della Vigna, Guido Guininzelli, Guido Cavalcanti, Cino da Pistoia, Cecco d’Ascoli and Dante contributed to concealing an esoteric message in the language of the Dolce Stil Novo .
René Guenon was a convinced supporter of the Templar root of the Fedeli d’Amore, he remembers that they boasted the same colors and the title of Kadosch, (Saint), which was conferred to the high ranks of the institution.
He also points out that behind the apparent doctrinal differences emerges an essential unity which is substantiated in metaphysical thought which is neither pagan nor Christian, nor is it exclusive to another tradition, it is instead universal, in fact it is also contained in the Indian Vedas .

Beatrice meant initiatory wisdom, woman to define initiates, crying meant simulating fidelity to the Catholic Church, stone or black stone to define the corrupt church, greeting to define the act of initiation, are just some names of a very vast lexicon.
Cavalcanti distinguished himself in this initiatory society, he was the one who initiated Dante and wrote poems and sonnets of high esoteric content.
It seems that this initiatory school had 7 degrees like the liberal arts. Dante wrote sonnets and songs of great initiatory value for the Fedeli d’Amore, his best talent expressed in Vita Nova, where he described his second birth, the initiatory one.
The poet, due to his rebellious character, had misunderstandings with the leaders of this organization and was abandoned. To be accepted again he wrote the song “Women who have intellect of love”, which thrilled for its high esoteric value, was then “awakened” (welcomed) and placed among the high ranks of the institution.

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The poet with the theory of the two suns, metaphorically also symbols of the papacy and empire, both necessary for humanity and autonomous from each other, contrasted the bull of Boniface VII which claimed to subject any earthly authority to the pre-eminence of the Church.
They attempted to involve him in a black magic trial, which investigated the attempted assassination of Pope John XXII.
Dante ended his wanderings in Ravenna where he found asylum with Guido Novello da Polenta, lord of the city. He went to Venice as an ambassador and on the return journey through the marshy valleys of Comacchio, he contracted malaria and died in Ravenna on 14 September 1321.

Dante shared the thought of the philosophers and great masters of antiquity, not to divulge the esoteric teaching to everyone , in the sense that certain highly spiritual concepts cannot be fed to those who cannot (yet) understand them.
Homer already said: The teacher must not throw his own words.
They must fall only into the ears of people capable of assuming their own responsibilities, which the Truth entails.
Plato in the seventh letter says:Every serious man must with great care avoid ever feeding serious things, writing about them, to envy and the inability to understand of men …. … but I don’t think that putting his hand, as they say to these topics it is good for men, if not for a limited number of people capable of coming to themselves through a minimum indication .

Aristotle clarified that ancient philosophy does not aim at a wisdom aimed at the things of this world, which are changeable , but at a supreme wisdom, the Sophia , the contemplation of eternal things and invites those who seek it to strive towards the acquisition of a almost divine wisdom.
From this concept arises the consideration that this teaching is not for everyone, because ultimately few are interested in this sublime goal, not easy to achieve, which requires all one’s intelligence, one’s courage and the awakening of the superior intuition.
It is said that a follower of the Pythagorean school, Hippasus, was sentenced to death by Pythagoras for having divulged the discovery of irrational numbers; which according to the teacher threatened the harmony of mathematics and never accepted its existence.
This extreme confidentiality in the Middle Ages changed little, it was allowed to write about these things, but only through a code that functions as a filter for readers .
This method was, and still is often applied, also for magic, alchemy and astrology.

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Silvia Pierucci

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Dante in the thirteenth letter addressed to Cangrande della Scala affirms that in the Divine Comedy there is not only one sense to interpret it …
It can be said to be polysemy :

O you who have healthy intellects, look at
the doctrine that hides
under the veil of strange verses.

Dante in a very explicit way tells us that under the veil there is hidden, for those who are able to reveal it, a strictly doctrinal hidden meaning:

Here, Reader, sharpen your eyes to the truth,
that the veil is now so thin, of
course, that the passing inside is light

In the second verse the poet explains to us that, by proceeding on the path of initiation, the obstacles fall and the candidate gradually acquires the ability to see (and consequently understand) the Truth.
Many commentators on the poet’s works have expressed their convictions, but Dante clarifies in his Convivio , that the sacred writings can be understood and interpreted with four senses of reading that do not conflict, but must complement and harmonize with each other.
It will be worth listening to him because he is certainly the most qualified to make us understand his thoughts.
Dante speaking to Cangrande says:We have a first literal sense, which functions as a veil and narrates the poet’s imaginary journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, it does not go beyond fictitious words as do poets in fairy tales.

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A second allegorical that reveals the meaning that is hidden under the mantle of these fables. Dante says: It is a truth hidden under a beautiful lie . The poet gives the example of Ovid who illustrates the work of Orpheus, who tamed the beasts with the lyre. This fable alludes to the ability and wisdom of Orpheus to convert the soul of those who can be redeemed.
A third moral concerning the ethical meaning, by studying the sacred scriptures humanity can achieve happiness.
In this third sense, Dante also recalls the need for confidentiality, and gives the example of Christ who, climbing the mountain of the transfiguration, did it with three apostles and not with twelve, because secret things must be done with little company.
A fourth analogical sense arises when the spiritual level is sought in the scriptures using the “metaphysical and initiatory” method, which leads to the understanding of the supreme things.
The poet gives the example of the Prophet who narrates the exit of the people of Israel from Egypt:

At the exit of Israel from Egypt,
of the house of Jacob
from among a barbarian people,
Judea becomes a sanctuary,
Israel and its domain

If these verses are read literally, we are informed of the exit of the children of Israel from Egypt in the time of Moses.
If they are read in an analogical way, it means the exit of the soul, its conversion from corruption and sin, the return of the soul to glory, purification, freedom and eternity. This fourth sense is the most difficult to understand because it is reserved for those who have been initiated, it coordinates and unifies the other senses and leads to the highest understanding of the divine Work.

The description of the structure of the cosmos which is divided into 3 worlds is consistent with tradition: the overworld, the earthly world and the underworld.
These worlds belong to the same cosmic structure, which seems to base the entire universe on the law of ternary equilibrium .
The narration of the cosmic structure, time and space, the mineral, vegetable and animal world immediately appears.
In the Comedy the numbers that emerge in a symbolic key appear forcefully, charged with an initiatory message, the poet was a profound connoisseur of numerical symbolism.

Dante’s Astronomical Code
The forbidden knowledge of the Divine Comedy
Chiara Dainelli

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Another curiosity is that Dante, while writing in triplets, never uses a number divisible by three, the final number of each song is equal to a multiple of 3 + 1.
In the Egyptian culture 111 represents the divine, if in 111 we remove a one remains 11, evil.
Three numbers appear in the songs of hell: 1-4-7. The number 1 indicates the creator God, the Monad; the number 4 symbolizes the four elements, namely earth, water, air and fire , where the adept is initiated; the number 7 the union of man with God, after purification from sins.

Maintaining an allegorical function, Dante interposes a numerological value to the figure of Beatrice. It is in fact at the age of 9 that he meets her for the first time, then in the ninth hour a subsequent meeting takes place. He will also say of her: “He does not suffer from being in another number if not nine “. Dante kills Beatrice on 9 June (although it is actually 8) by writing about her: ” the perfect number was accomplished .”

In 1723 the canon Anton Maria Biscioni, in his “Dante Studies”, returns to deny the physicality of Beatrice and makes her a symbol of wisdom, comparable to Solomon’s Wisdom. But it is Gabriele Rossetti, Carbonaro and Rosacroce (1783-1854), a man of letters and poet, who was the first to set the problems relating to Beatrice and all the Dolce Stil Novo in overall terms, interpreting them in an allegorical key. His Dante studies are collected in the Analytical Commentary on the Divine Comedy of 1826-27, and in Dante’s Ragionamenti sulla Beatrice of 1842, which he published in London where he was exiled from Naples following the repression of the riots of 1821. supports Dante’s membership in the secret sect of the Fedeli d’Amore.

Using a particular lexicon, called “of the Gaia Science”, and simulating Platonic love for as many women, these poets (and the Provençal troubadours before them), had made their own an ancient secret wisdom, or rather the tradition of a wisdom occult dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks and continued by the Manichei, Patarini and Sicilian poets of the court of Frederick II.

Guénon accentuates Dante’s allegorical and anagogical interpretation, relating it to various esoteric traditions and, in particular, to Templarism. He remembers that the Museum of Vienna [or rather of Vienne, in France?] Holds two medals: one depicts Dante, the other the painter Pietro da Pisa; on the reverse of both are engraved the letters FSKIPFT, which he interprets as Fidei Sanctae Kadosch, Imperialis Principatus, Frater Templarius . Dante, according to him, was probably one of the leaders of the secret society of the Holy Faith (equivalent to the Fedeli d’Amore del Valli), a Tertiary Order of Templar affiliation, whose dignitaries bore the nickname of ” Kadosch“, Hebrew word meaning” holy “or” consecrated “(and still preserved today in the high degrees of Freemasonry). Not surprisingly, for Guénon, Dante takes as his final guide in the “Paradise”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux: the one who had been the inspiration of the Rule of the Templars . Fascinating pages also writes Guénon about the chronology of Dante’s otherworldly voyage, in the chapter “ The cosmic cycles”, Which we do not explain in detail due to their extreme astronomical and mathematical complexity. In them he argues that the date of the journey described in the Comedy, 1300, is placed in the “great year” (halfway through a complete cycle of the precession of the equinoxes), that is the time that the ancients considered to be equidistant between two successive renewals of the world. And he continues: “Placing oneself at the center of the cycle therefore means placing oneself in the (…) divine place where – as Muslims say – contrasts and antinomies are reconciled; it is the center of the wheel of things, according to the Hindu expression, or the invariable center of the Far Eastern tradition, the fixed point around which the rotation of the spheres takes place, the perpetual mutation of the manifested world. Dante’s journey takes place according to the spiritual axis of the world; only from there, in fact, can we see all things permanently, since we too are free from change, and consequently have a synthetic and total vision of it ”.

One thing is certain: Dante’s thought, like that of other greats, once “institutionalized” has undergone a progressive process of ” normalization “, by removing those aspects that can cause more scandal or deeply undermine some of our certainties, starting with that of having understood it .
Dante, already in life – let us never forget – was an extremely uncomfortable, almost embarrassing character. And certainly not only because he wanted to write his masterpiece in the vernacular, but precisely at the level of his political and religious thought. An attempt was made to imply him, just to name one, in a sensational judicial case: a trial by black magic that saw him, one would say today, “a person informed on the facts” about the assassination attempt of John XXII (French Jacques Duèse or D’Euse) by Matteo and Galeazzo Visconti, in 1319-20. And that’s not enough. A few years after the poet’s death, the French cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto (nephew of the Pope) burned Dante’s book “De Monarchia” in a public ceremony; and he would have liked to have the body of his author dug up and sent to the stake. Dante,

We therefore conclude our article by saying that:

the subject of Dante’s Comedy is man , his regeneration, his metamorphosis into an angelic butterfly. It is therefore the same subject of the mysteries. Not the only moral qualities change: Dante purifies himself, evolves, from degree to degree, passing through various crises and consciences, falls as a dead body, faints, comes to, falls asleep, revives in Eunoè , his mind goes out of itself itself, it passes to the divine from the human, to the eternal from time, and finally disconnects the soul from every cloud of mortality. This is not a moral improvement, but a real rebirth of the whole being that takes place in the symbolic journey .


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