Dante Alighieri was an important linguist, philosopher and political theorist, known as Il Sommo Poeta, The Supreme Poet. Universally regarded as the father of the Italian language, Dante reached the height of his fame with the famous Divine Comedy, the greatest work of world literature written in the Italian language.
The poet was nicknamed Sommo, in english Supreme, because with his work and his art, he profoundly transformed Italian literature and culture, so much so that he became himself one of the symbols of Italy in the world.
In 2020, the Italian State declared March 25 a national day dedicated to the cult of the Supreme Poet Dante Alighieri. This celebration is named Dantedì, in English Dante Day, and the culture disclosure linked to the poet, is very felt by the city of Naples, through interesting initiatives, all digital this year.
The Dantedì of Naples to celebrate the Supreme Poet
Naples, like all Italian cities, loves the Supreme poet figure of Dante Alighieri, considered the father of the Italian literature. Recently Dante’s figure has increasingly established itself in mass culture. During this day, scheduled for March 25, youtube channels (such as Mibact), facebook lives, TV schedules, such as that of Rai, are dedicated to the poet through the readings of his works and the treatment by experts and scholars. Interesting initiatives are also those of schools and museums such as the Liceo Mazzini project Tra i versi del poeta, “between the verses of the poet”,in Naples and the virtual anticipation of the exhibition Divi na Archeologia. la mitologia e la storia nella Commedia di Dante, “Divine Archaeology. Mythology and History in Dante’s Comedy”, at the Naples National Archaeological Museum or also the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte will quote some verses of the Divine Comedy.
Naples among Dante Alighieri travels
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence on May 29, 1265, at a particular time of the Florentine political situation. From 1250, in fact, Florence was about to become one of the most economically powerful Italian cities, led by bourgeois and artisans. It was then that the florin was minted. Politically those years were marked by the struggle between the guelphs, who believed in the temporal authority of the popes, and the ghibellines defenders and supporters of imperial power.
Dante was born in those years and was present at the definitive victory of the Guelphs. These, however, distinguished themselves into two factions: the White Guelphs who supported papal power but they did not admit total interference that included economic and governmental affairs of the city and the Black Guelphs who supported the full totality of papal power.
In 1925 Dante took part in the guild of doctors, pharmacists and librarians, as a poet and sided with the Whites. Shortly thereafter, he was elected among the six Priors (the highest magistrates to whom the executive power belonged). In those years he was sent to Naples as ambassador of Charles II of Naples, who received him among the halls of the imposing Maschio Angioino.
During his stay in Naples, the poet did not fail to fulfill his artistic and cultural “duties”. He thus found himself visiting the libraries and the main churches of Naples, stopping at the Church of Saint Eligius, San Lorenzo Maggiore and San Domenico Maggiore.
The poet was also present at the papal election of Boniface VIII. He possessed hegemonic tendencies for which Dante, who was a white Guelph, was an uncomfortable character. It was thus that Boniface called the poet to his court in Rome, just during the year in which Charles de Valois came to power in the city of Florence, supported by the black Guelphs.
He was accused of corruption, relieved of his political duties and sentenced to death if he had returned to Florence, his home town. For this reason Dante will hate forever the figure of Pope Boniface VIII who gains a prominent place in the Inferno, the hell of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
He then returned to Naples where, according to the testimony of some chroniclers of the time, he took turns wearing red and white clothes, suffering from the influence of the Order Of The Templars who hosted him at their Templar Commandery of the Port of Naples and Capua.
Because of the exile Dante wandered through the European courts even finding himself in Paris in 1308 to follow the trial against the Templars and finally arrived in Ravenna where he died in 1321.
Naples among the works of Dante
Wandering among the works of Dante Alighieri, we find also mentioned the city of Naples.
First of all, in De Vulgari eloquentia, where the poet makes a comparison between the neapolitan language and that of the caetani (the inhabitants of gaeta) to highlight the linguistic diversity despite the geographical proximity and the same origin.
Naples then also appears in the Convivio, remembered in relation to the noble family of the Piscicelli.
Finally, among the verses of The Purgatory of the Divine Comedy, Naples is reported as the burial place of the poet Virgil (now included in the enchanting Vergilian Park of Piedigrotta), friend and guide in the greatest work of the Supreme poet.