Dante's Divine Comedy will float among the stars. Image: Editorial credit: Bill Perry / Shutterstock.com

Dante’s Divine Comedy to float among the stars

Culture News

Italy’s greatest poet, Dante Alighieri, is heading for the heavens 700 years after his death. His epic work, The Divine Comedy, is going into space micro-inscribed on sheets of a titanium and gold alloy.

La Divina Commedia is in three parts – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. It is an allegory representing a soul’s journey to God.

Stars (stelle) is the last word in each of the three parts. The famous last line defines God as “The love that moves the sun and the other stars”.

Now micro-inscribed on sheets of a titanium and gold alloy, the work will float among the stars.

The three parts will travel on a Soyuz mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station in the autumn. One will be released in space. The astronauts will sign the other and it will return to earth in 2022.

Special editions for 700th anniversary

For the space project, two sheets measuring about 29 cm by 43 cm will each have the entire poem of some 14,200 lines containing about 32,000 words inscribed on them.

“We knew there would be many special editions of the Divine Comedy coming out for this year’s 700th anniversary of his death and we wanted to do something totally different,” said Giorgio Amaroli, head of Scripta Maneant, a high-end art publishing house based in Bologna.

A facsimile of the second sheet will become part of a traditional large format printed version of the Comedy. A limited numbered edition of 700 copies are on sale. The books will cost about €6,000 each, Amaroli said.

“The Soyuz people told us that a paper version would not last long in space and so they suggested the titanium and gold alloy” Amaroli said.

The inspiration for the project came from Canto 22 of Paradise, when Dante is among the vastness of the spheres of heaven and the planets. He looks down at earth and is amazed by its smallness.

The special delivery into space will cost the publishing company more than €150,000.

Father of the Italian language

Dante Alighieri lived in the Republic of Florence, until exiled for political reasons. He eventually settled in Ravenna before dying from malaria in 1321.

 His writings established Tuscan as the standardised Italian language.

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