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Vertical Readings in Dante's Comedy. Volume 1

George Corbett
Heather Webb


George Corbett et Heather Webb

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  • 1 The title of our lecture series alludes to Cambridge Readings in Dante’s Comedy, ed. by Kenelm Fos (...)

1Vertical Readings in Dante’s ‘Comedy’ has its origin in a series of thirty-three public lectures held in Trinity College, the University of Cambridge (2012-2016).1 Each vertical reading analyses three same-numbered cantos from the three canticles: Inferno i, Purgatorio i and Paradiso i; Inferno ii, Purgatorio ii and Paradiso ii; etc. At a narrative level, each reading considers in parallel the three paths – through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – in the one journey. Although scholars had suggested that there were correspondences between same-numbered cantos that begged to be explored, this approach had never been pursued in a systematic fashion across the poem. Our series was, therefore, an experiment with a clear aim: to see what would happen when we asked scholars to read all the same-numbered canto sets of the poem vertically. This collection – to be issued in three volumes – thus offers an unprecedented repertoire of vertical readings for the whole poem. As each scholar develops his or her own approach, a great variety of different modes of vertical reading and, indeed, of reading the poem in general emerge.

  • 2 As T. S. Eliot argues in a seminal essay, tradition should not consist simply in ‘following the wa (...)

2In bringing together an international team of scholars to provide readings of all hundred cantos of the Comedy, the three volumes contribute to the long and interpretatively rich Lectura Dantis tradition in a complementary and divergent way. In breaking out of the canto-by-canto format, the readings offer new modes of approaching Dante’s poem in its entirety.2 The traditional format has led to readings of immeasurable value in the last seven hundred years and will continue to hold a, perhaps the, central place in public lectures on Dante. At the same time, there are limitations to the canto-by-canto format which, given its prominence (also through the commentary tradition), can skew our interpretations, or impressions, of Dante’s poem as a whole. By inviting the scholar to read each canto in isolation, the traditional format may inhibit an interpretation of longer narrative sequences across cantos (which we might think of as a horizontal mode of reading). Furthermore, the format restricts the reader’s scope to explore the numerous thematic and structural correspondences between the canto in question and cantos in other canticles. A vertical reading invites us to keep the three canticles continually in dialogue with each other.

  • 3 See, for example, Guy P. Raffa, POLITICAL 666, in his The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader’s Guide t (...)
  • 4 For some examples, see, on the Sixes, Camillo Massi, ‘A proposito dei sesti canti della Commedia(...)
  • 5 The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, ed. and trans. by Robert M. Durling, introduction and notes (...)
  • 6 Durling, Preface, in III, Paradiso, p. v.
  • 7 Ibid.
  • 8 Ibid.

3There is, of course, nothing new about pointing out correspondences between specific same-numbered cantos. It has become customary, for example, to refer to the ‘political 666’: the vertical political argument which develops from the civic politics of Florence in Inferno vi, through the regional political perspective of the Italian peninsula in Purgatorio vi, and on to the imperial and global dimension in Paradiso vi.3 There are, as well, existing studies of the Sevens, Tens, Elevens, Fifteens, Sixteens, Twenty-fives, Twenty-sixes and Twenty-sevens.4 As far as we are aware, however, the only attempt to follow this vertical reading through a whole canticle is to be found in the ‘Inter cantica’ notes in the Durling and Martinez edition of Purgatorio (2003).5 The notes provide for each canto of Purgatorio a detailed discussion of allusions to its correspondingly numbered canto in Inferno, as well as to other cantos in Inferno that are linked thematically if not numerically. In his introduction to the Paradiso volume (2011), Durling notes that ‘such references, now involving two cantiche, become particularly dense and frequent’.6 But the editors do not explore these references at length. Rather, they refer to the ‘Inter Cantica’ notes in the Purgatorio volume as a ‘possible model for the exploration of the self-referentiality of the Comedy’.7 These correspondences are, as the editors’ work on Purgatorio demonstrates, ‘extremely illuminating’.8 The time seemed ripe, therefore, to follow up on this initiative and to provide a forum – between 2012-2016 – to explore these correspondences in a systematic fashion across all the canticles.

  • 9 See ‘Parallel Cantos in Dante’s Commedia’, in Richard Kay, Dante’s Enigmas (Aldershot: Ashgate, 20 (...)
  • 10 See Amilcare A. Iannucci, ‘Autoesegesi dantesca: la tecnica dell’“episodio” parallelo’, Lettere It (...)

4But are we lining up the right cantos for a vertical reading? Richard Kay argues for an alternative mode of vertical reading. He considers Inferno i to be a prologue, and therefore aligns Inferno ii, Purgatorio i and Paradiso i; Inferno iii, Purgatorio ii and Paradiso ii; and so forth.9 Kay’s method yields interesting results, and it also raises a broader question about whether we should be lining up single cantos at all, instead of larger groups of cantos. This possibility is partly suggested by the Durling and Martinez ‘Inter cantica’ readings which analyse correspondences both between same-numbered cantos and between the broader episodes of which they are a part. In his essay ‘Autoesegesi dantesca: la tecnica dell’“episodio” parallelo’, Amilcare Iannucci emphasises the parallels between episodes that seem consciously connected in the poet’s self-exegesis, but that do not necessarily correspond to cantos of the same number. This notion of the ‘parallel episode’, Iannucci points out, has a crucial point of reference for Dante in Biblical exegesis.10

  • 11 See Simone Marchesi, ‘Fatherlands: Inferno xv, Purgatorio xv, Paradiso xv’, (...)
  • 12 Esperimenti danteschi (published by Marietti in 2008, 2009, 2010) based at the Università degli St (...)

5The Vertical Readings series has raised, and played with, these tensions in the text. Indeed, many readings push the limits of the numerically vertical cantos to explore larger architectural or thematic patterns that extend between the canticles. Our focus on same-numbered cantos, in other words, has been generative of readings that flow both within and far beyond this restriction. Simone Marchesi and Manuele Gragnolati address this issue in their readings of, respectively, the Fifteens and the Sixteens.11 They explicitly question the degree to which a single canto, or three same-numbered cantos, may be read in isolation from the cantos that precede and follow it. In this volume, Paola Nasti suggests that the poem ‘requires horizontal, vertical and, more often, diagonal, back-and-forth movements from its readers’. As with the traditional Lectura Dantis format, we see the pressure of the ‘horizontal’ dimension stretching out beyond the narrative unit of a single canto, a tendency which arguably becomes ever more pronounced through the poem as a whole. And it is interesting that two recent, and ongoing, Lectura Dantis series have sought ways to incorporate these wider narrative episodes: Esperimenti danteschi chose to work on ‘horizontal’ groupings of cantos; the Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana has highlighted this same ‘horizontal dimension’ by presenting four lectures on four successive cantos over the course of a morning and afternoon.12

  • 13 See Richard Shoaf, Dante, Chaucer and the Currency of the Word: Money, Images and Reference in Lat (...)

6What, then, is the most effective terminology for our own mode of reading three same-numbered cantos together? The term ‘vertical reading’ is used by Richard Shoaf in his discussion of the Thirties (1983), by Victoria Kirkham in her essay ‘Eleven is for Evil: Measured Trespass in Dante’s Commedia’(1989) and by Christopher Kleinhenz in his essay ‘On Dante and the Visual Arts’(2003).13 But, arguably, ‘parallel’ readings might have worked just as well. In this volume, Zygmunt Barański points out that Dante normally encourages us to look backwards, whereas the term ‘vertical’ might suggest a forcing of readerly attention upwards. Simon Gilson, who likewise highlights Charles Singleton’s ‘The Vistas in Retrospect’, contextualises vertical reading within the much wider, and venerable, tradition of ‘reading Dante with Dante’.

  • 14 There are, of course, readily available A3 prints of the poem which illustrate this.
  • 15 Kleinhenz, p. 282.
  • 16 Ibid.
  • 17 Ibid.

7The very choice of term raises, in this way, thought-provoking questions about how we automatically or self-consciously construct spatial maps of Dante’s text. ‘Vertical reading’, in this sense, might make us imagine the three canticles of the Comedy inscribed one above the other in bands so that we could literally read either horizontally (each canto in turn) or vertically (upwards from Inferno to Paradiso, and downwards from Paradiso to Inferno).14 As Christopher Kleinhenz argues, this kind of parallel structure may have come to Dante ‘forcefully from his looking, since the time he was a small boy, and ever with love, upon the mosaics in the cupola of the Florentine Baptistery’.15 In the ‘great artistic program of the Baptistery’, five zones of the eight-sided cupula contain ‘fifteen episodes in four separate “storylines”, and these are arranged so that they can be read both horizontally (that is, in their individual chronology) and vertically (in their typological and allegorical relations, whereby the meaning of one enhances and explicates that of another)’.16 It is not difficult to imagine how Dante might have created in the Comedy ‘a parallel structure, by which the poem may be read not only horizontally or linearly (that is, each canticle in itself), but also vertically (each canticle holding up foil-mirrors to the others)’.17 As Kleinhenz suggests, the pervasive use by medieval artists of vertical parallels between Scriptural (and indeed Classical and mythological) events and personages through different visual media, from mosaics and frescoes to the architecture and sculptures of churches and cathedrals, simply highlights a familiar medieval exegetical practice. Our preference for the term ‘vertical reading’ derives in part, then, from this allusive analogy with the arrangement of horizontal and vertical story-bands in the Florentine Baptistery.

8‘Vertical reading’ is not, however, the only contentious term. Unsurprisingly, this interpretative exercise has tested scholarly vocabulary, leading to the coining of new terms, such as Marchesi’s neologism ‘conumerary’ for ‘same-numbered’, or to interesting analogies, such as Vittorio Montemaggi’s analogy of the vertical musical chord. It has been one of the pleasures of the project that even its title and its terminology have led to profound reflection on the fundamental construction and nature of Dante’s poem. As Barański suggests, one of the most rewarding aspects of this mode of interpretation may be that it gives us ‘highly alluring glimpses into how Dante may have woven the fabric of the Commedia’.

9This leads to the thorny question which circled our project from its inception: did Dante intend his poem to be read in this way? Although we did not want to evade this question entirely, we were keen to put it on hold or, at least, to keep it open. This cycle is an experiment. No one has ever read the whole poem ‘vertically’, and our cycle is just a first attempt. We were thus cautious of reaching a conclusion either way prematurely. Moreover, although the cycle should enable any scholar to reach a more informed opinion on the matter, its primary goal is not to establish once and for all whether or not such vertical correspondences were intended by their author (even were this possible to discern definitively). The question of intentionality does matter but, for us, what matters much more is the interpretative fertility of vertical reading: this is what makes applying it to the whole poem, and discovering many different approaches within the method, so important. What is striking, on this front, is how some of the most experienced Dante scholars in our series, who have studied the poem continuously for their whole careers, have informed us that, in preparing their vertical reading, they discovered not only many intriguing correspondences between the three cantos under consideration but, also, new readings of each canto which, without this vertical perspective, they might well have continued to miss.

10But even if the question of intentionality is of secondary importance to our series, it inevitably underlines, implicitly or explicitly, all of our speakers’ contributions. In exploring correspondences between conumerary cantos, the scholar cannot but wonder whether Dante established them on purpose. In individual readings, therefore, the question tends to be: did Dante intend this set of three cantos to be read vertically? While there is significant scholarly consensus that Dante must have intended the Sixes to be read in parallel, it does not, of course, follow that he had such a plan for every canto set. It is immediately apparent that the correspondences and parallels are more marked, although not necessarily more important, in some sets of cantos than in others. In no case so far have there been no connections at all. But, again, this does not imply authorial intention. As John Marenbon suggested in the spoken version of his lecture, any Dante scholar worth his or her salt could happily connect any three cantos of the poem in some way!18

11With regard to intentionality, what emerges from the series thus far, then, are attempts to distinguish different kinds of correspondences and to gauge whether certain kinds are more likely to suggest authorial intentionality than others. In this volume, Gilson emphasises that a ‘thematizing reading’, however interpretatively productive, is unlikely to give clear indications of intentionality because of ‘the poem’s capacity for retrospection at multiple points outside the vertical line’. His own reading of the Sevens explores, by contrast, ‘precise verbal echoing, image patterns, situational parallels and [...] prominent intertexts’. Barański warns against the danger of the ‘vertical reading’ prioritising the obvious. In his reading of the Nines, he gives less weight to clear narrative similarities (points of ‘entry’; three prominent reader addresses; parallel themes) and more to the formal, but less evident, similarities (rhymes and rhyme words). As he points out, medieval vernacular poets used shared rhymes and rhyme words as a sophisticated technique to suggest ‘affinities between texts’. K P Clarke’s reading of the Tens accepts this invitation. Although he notes several levels of thematic correspondence, he focuses precisely on the use of one distinctive rhyme set (parte: parte: arte) which is repeated in exactly the same order across the Tens. Paola Nasti’s reading of the Elevens explicitly probes authorial intention, and she presents a catalogue of different kinds of correspondence.

12The issue of intentionality raises a further interrelated question: if Dante did have vertical correspondences in mind, did he have these in mind from the first canto of Inferno or did he begin working them in later on in the poem? And this, in turn, raises a still broader question about Dante’s compositional procedure: to what extent did Dante have a plan of the whole poem at its inception, with particular characters or themes assigned to particular canto sets? To what extent did he develop its structure as he went along? Our responses to these subsidiary questions might, in turn, suggest different starting points for our vertical readings. If we were to believe that Dante began to think more extensively about correspondences within his poem as it went on, then it might be more logical to perform a vertical reading by beginning with the canto from Paradiso, then Purgatorio, then Inferno. Conversely, if we believed that Dante planned the correspondences in advance, it would be equally logical to start with Inferno. This volume illustrates the full range of approaches. Marenbon starts with the problem of the virtuous pagan posed in Inferno iv; he then sees what a ‘vertical perspective’ brings to the issues it raises. Somewhat to his surprise, he finds that the vertical reading of Limbo in Purgatorio iv and Paradiso iv yields new perspectives on the passages and on the question as a whole. Brenda Deen Schildgen, inversely, starts from a series of important themes crystallised in Paradiso viii, and this provides a retrospective vista in which to consider Purgatorio viii and Inferno viii. Claire Honess, taking the via media, starts her reading of the Sixes in the precise middle, the central terzina of Purgatorio vi, and this becomes the central axis for her reading of Paradiso vi and Inferno vi. As these readings show, ‘vertical’ does not necessarily imply movement ‘upwards’ and, as Gilson highlights, Dante’s poem more often than not asks us to move ‘di qua, di là, di sù, di giù’.

  • 19 Giuseppe Ledda kindly invited us to publish the text of our dual vertical reading of the Ones afte (...)

13In opening the series with a dual vertical reading of the Ones, we aim to illustrate that vertical readings are not exhaustive, and that for any set of three same-numbered cantos there is a range of possible hermeneutic stances.19 George Corbett’s reading, ‘Pagan Dawn of a Christian Vision’, interrogates the presence of pagans and classical philosophy at the opening of each canticle, from Virgil’s self-presentation, to Cato’s mystifying presence, to Beatrice’s philosophical discourse on the order of the world. Heather Webb’s reading, ‘Orientation’, explores the discussions of spatial orientation in the Ones, from the light behind the hill in Inferno i, to the stars of Purgatorio i, to the expanse of light to be entered into in Paradiso i. Thus, the two readings separately explore distinct but not unrelated threads.

14For the Twos, Matthew Treherne’s ‘Reading Time, Text and the World’ examines moments of transition, including the evocation of Beatrice’s commission to Virgil, Casella’s song and Beatrice’s explanation of moon spots, that are figured in each of the cantos. Treherne argues that each instance contains hermeneutic surprises or problems that can only be resolved by horizontal investigation, in this case by reading through the subsequent cantos. There is, then, an interplay between the horizontal and vertical axes, in which the vertical reveals an emphasis on considerations of temporality and particularly the possibility of reading time through Christ. The Twos, Treherne suggests, show how the text distinguishes between different kinds of readers, offering different modes of engaging with the text, including, most importantly, an Incarnational mode.

15Vittorio Montemaggi’s ‘The Bliss and Abyss of Freedom: Hope, Personhood and Particularity’ focuses on the re-orientation of expectation that is caused by a consideration of freedom in these three cantos. He emphasises key moments in the text such as the inscription on the gates of Hell, the appearance of penitent souls in Ante-Purgatory who are likened to sheep (the group from which Manfred emerges) and the meeting with Piccarda in Paradiso. Freedom is continually redefined in this analysis, coming to signify fully only when it is understood through the dynamics of community. The essay ends with a link to Giuseppe Verdi’s Ave Maria, an example of musical verticality, in which four voices find meaning in their interaction with one another.

16John Marenbon’s ‘Virtuous Pagans, Hopeless Desire and Unjust Justice’ structures a consideration of the Fours around Dante’s treatment of the virtuous pagans in Limbo – a real crux of the poem as a whole. He examines Dante’s divergences from medieval theologies of Limbo, and the various theological modes of dealing with the salvation or damnation of virtuous pagans. Dante’s own position appears inconsistent unless, Marenbon argues, we understand the clear demarcation of the spheres of reason and faith which Dante inherited from a school of thinking he labels, with some qualification, Latin Averroism. With regard to Purgatorio iv, Marenbon contrasts Belacqua and Virgil and also draws on Purgatorio iii to provide a retrospective analysis of the Limbo dwellers. He argues that Paradiso iv reveals that Dante held an intellectualist understanding of the will (again a sign of his propensity for Averroist positions) and that the ‘unjust justice’ reflects precisely the two separate spheres, of earthly and heavenly values, operable in the poem.

17Robin Kirkpatrick’s ‘Massacre, Miserere and Martyrdom’ works through the Fives by beginning, for the first time in this volume, with Paradiso rather than Inferno. He claims that Paradiso v is one of the most ‘humane’ cantos of the poem, presenting Beatrice’s discourse on vows not as harsh, but as offering up a fullness of freedom. From there, Kirkpatrick moves to Inferno v and the slippery quality of Francesca’s much-celebrated language. Purgatorio v, from this vantage point, provides a striking contrast in terms of style and content, a contrast that is all the more evident given the obvious textual parallels, such as murdered wives and violent storms. It is outside of Inferno v that embodiment is shown to be truly powerful, in Buonconte’s final salvific gesture and Beatrice’s luminous smile.

18Claire Honess’s chapter on the Sixes, ‘Divided City, Slavish Italy, Universal Empire’, provides a new view of verticality by emphasising the circular. It is the first vertical reading in this volume to begin in the middle canticle, rather than in Inferno or Paradiso. It begins, furthermore, at the centre of canto vi of Purgatorio, using that halfway point to reflect on cantos vi of the other two realms. Moving from the invective against Italy that is placed there, Honess examines Dante’s political thought as it is articulated across the Comedy and beyond. The three main protagonists of her analysis are Sordello, Ciacco and Justinian, but she works seamlessly from these three to the presence of that protagonist who always hovers at the edge of Dante’s text, Henry VII. Ultimately, she argues, Henry’s death led to a realignment of Dante’s political ideal upwards – to the heavenly city where all the souls will only what God wills for them.

19Simon Gilson’s ‘The Wheeling Sevens’ begins with a review of the history of practices of reading parallel cantos and other forms of ‘reading Dante with Dante’, and a discussion of what such readings might offer. He argues that we should ultimately place any vertical reading within a broader reading that is fully attentive to textual cues that might send us in multiple directions. His analysis of the Sevens puts this approach into practice, looking within the cantos numbered vii, but also outside them to other intercantical references. Gilson investigates several formal links, including the invented languages that open Inferno vii and Paradiso vii. This leads to a discussion of thematic links, from reflection upon language to circular movement to fortune, providence and angels.

20Brenda Deen Schildgen’s ‘Civitas and Love: Looking Backward from Paradiso viii’ sets the Eights within a triptych vertical reading of the Sevens, Eights and Nines of each canticle, emphasising their structural enjambment. The focus on Carlo Martello (as an ideal monarch) – including his discourse on citizenship, genealogy and divine order – provides a retrospective vista from which to view the concerns of Purgatorio viii and Inferno viii. Schildgen draws parallels between the meeting with Carlo Martello and the meetings in Inferno, with Filippo Argenti, and in Purgatorio, with Nino Visconti and Corrado Malaspina. In her vertical reading of the three cantos, she reveals how the opposition in the Heaven of Venus between two kinds of love (‘folle amore’ and ‘l’amor che il ciel governa’) is, in its social dimension, a contrast between the immoderate desires of individuals who shatter the common good and the love which binds citizens together.

21In ‘Without any Violence’, Zygmunt Barański offers, first, a series of cautions about vertical readings and, second, a vertical reading that uncovers an unexpected insight that, without the vertical approach, might not have come to light. Barański focuses on the theme of violence that stretches across the Nines, arguing that each of the cantos repeatedly refers to acts of violence. But, he suggests, the poet exercises extreme restraint in his depiction of violence, in stark contrast to his contemporaries and his sources. Dante’s description of the crucifixion, his mention of Can Grande’s slaughter of the Paduan Guelphs and his allusion to the barbaric story of Procne and Philomela are all examples of moments when the poet chooses to avoid extended or graphic portrayals of violence. Such discretion is, for Barański, evidence of a strand of Christian pacifism in Dante’s thought.

22K P Clarke’s ‘Humility and the (P) arts of Art’ begins with a discussion of verticality in the Comedy in terms of manuscript layout in single or double columns, with emphasis thus placed on the line endings and the terza rima that carries the poem upwards and onwards. The reading focuses on the rhyme parte: parte: arte that appears in each of the Tens, arguing that the vertical is expressed not only thematically but also technically. The parte: parte: arte rhyme thus transports us from the partisan politicking of Inferno x, to the navigation of terrain and text necessary in Purgatorio x, to the divine art of Paradiso x.

23Paola Nasti’s ‘The Art of Teaching and the Nature of Love’ examines the practice of philosophical teaching as it appears in the Elevens. Each of the Elevens treats the relationship between human arts and the Bible, one fallible and the other the ultimate source of truth. She argues that a vertical reading reveals a rationale for Dante’s rhetorical choices across the cantos. Each of the cantos exhibits the various writing genres used for commentary and, more broadly, for pedagogical purposes. In the final analysis, the movement across all three cantos, culminating in Thomas Aquinas’s preacherly, or Biblical, account of the life of Saint Francis, places emphasis on charity as that which should properly form the core of all human activities.


1 The title of our lecture series alludes to Cambridge Readings in Dante’s Comedy, ed. by Kenelm Foster and Patrick Boyde (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), a published selection of seventy-two Lecturae Dantis held during the Lectura Dantis Cantabrigiensis (1970-1981). In making the lectures freely viewable online (at, we were inspired by the pioneering Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana, which will become the first complete Lectura Dantis of its kind held in the UK. See

2 As T. S. Eliot argues in a seminal essay, tradition should not consist simply in ‘following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes’ (Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Frank Kermode (London: Faber & Faber, 1975), p. 38). Eliot also gives an eloquent, albeit indirect, defence of the traditional Lectura to his predominantly English-speaking public. He writes that we can get as much out of just one of Dante’s hundred cantos as ‘from the reading of a whole single play of Shakespeare’ (‘Dante’, in Selected Prose, pp. 205-30 (p. 211)).

3 See, for example, Guy P. Raffa, POLITICAL 666, in his The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader’s Guide to the Divine Comedy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009), pp. 245-46.

4 For some examples, see, on the Sixes, Camillo Massi, ‘A proposito dei sesti canti della Commedia ’, L’Alighieri 7 (1996), 91-94; on the Sixes and Sevens, see Brenda Deen Schildgen, Divine Providence: A History (London: Continuum, 2012), particularly chapter five; on the Tens, see George Corbett, ‘The Vertical Axis: Inferno x, Purgatorio x, and Paradiso x’, in Dante and Epicurus: A Dualistic Vision of Secular and Spiritual Fulfilment (Oxford: Legenda and MHRA, 2013), pp. 80-85; Simon Gilson, ‘Divine and Natural Artistry in the Commedia’, in Art and Nature in Dante: Literary and Theological Essays, ed. by Daragh O’Connell and Jennifer Petrie (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013), pp. 153-86; on the Elevens, see Victoria Kirkham, ‘Eleven is for Evil: Measured Trespass in Dante’s Commedia ’, Allegorica 10 (1989), 27-50; on the Fifteens and Sixteens, see Richard Kay, ‘Parallel Cantos in Dante’s Commedia ’, Res publica litterarum 15 (1992), 109-13; Simon A. Gilson, ‘Inferno xvi’, in Lectura dantis Andreapolitana, ed. by Claudia Rossignoli and Robert Wilson (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming); on the Twenty-fives, Twenty-sixes and Twenty-sevens, see Heather Webb, ‘Paradiso 25: Hope’, California Lectura Dantis: Paradiso, ed. by Allen Mandelbaum, Anthony Oldcorn, and Charles Ross (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, forthcoming); Franco Fido, ‘Writing Like God – or Better? Symmetries in Dante’s 26th and 27th Cantos of the Commedia ’, Italica 53 (1986), 250-64; William Franke, Dante and the Sense of Transgression: ‘The Trespass of the Sign’ (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 153-86. For a cumulative online index of vertical readings, seenothing

5 The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, ed. and trans. by Robert M. Durling, introduction and notes by Ronald L. Martinez and Robert M. Durling, 3 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996-2011), II, Purgatorio.

6 Durling, Preface, in III, Paradiso, p. v.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 See ‘Parallel Cantos in Dante’s Commedia’, in Richard Kay, Dante’s Enigmas (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), XV, pp. 109-13. See also Paul Shaw, ‘A Parallel Structure for the Divina Commedia ’, Stanford Italian Studies 7:1/2 (1987), 67-76.

10 See Amilcare A. Iannucci, ‘Autoesegesi dantesca: la tecnica dell’“episodio” parallelo’, Lettere Italiane 33:1 (1981), 305-28. See also Kay, ‘Parallel Cantos’.

11 See Simone Marchesi, ‘Fatherlands: Inferno xv, Purgatorio xv, Paradiso xv’,; and Manuele Gragnolati, ‘Politics of Desire: Inferno xvi, Purgatorio xvi, Paradiso xvi’, The published versions of these lectures will be available in Vertical Readings of Dante’s Comedy (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, forthcoming), vol. 2.

12 Esperimenti danteschi (published by Marietti in 2008, 2009, 2010) based at the Università degli Studi in Milan; Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana,

13 See Richard Shoaf, Dante, Chaucer and the Currency of the Word: Money, Images and Reference in Late Medieval Poetry (Norman, OK: Pilgrim Books, 1983), esp. part one; Kirkham, ‘Eleven is for Evil’, 27-50; Christopher Kleinhenz, ‘On Dante and the Visual Arts’, in Dante for the New Millennium (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), pp. 274-92.

14 There are, of course, readily available A3 prints of the poem which illustrate this.

15 Kleinhenz, p. 282.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 See John Marenbon, ‘Cambridge Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy: The Fours’,

19 Giuseppe Ledda kindly invited us to publish the text of our dual vertical reading of the Ones after the public lecture. For this earlier version, see George Corbett and Heather Webb, ‘Three Paths in One Journey: A Vertical Reading of Inf. I, Purg. I, Par. I’, L’Alighieri 41 (2013), 63-81.


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