Interstellar Journey: Dante’s “Divine Comedy” ascends to heaven


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ROME (Reuters) – The journey that Italy’s greatest poet Dante chronicled in his “Divine Comedy” appears to be fulfilled, in part, on the 700th anniversary of his death.
The epic poet Dante divided his work, which is considered one of the most famous literary works in the world, into three sections, the first being Hell, the second Purgatory, and the third Paradise. The allegorical story told by the Divine Comedy depicts the soul’s journey back to the Creator.
And now a complete copy of the Divine Comedy, engraved with fine writing on tablets made of an alloy of titanium and gold, will be sent into space to swim in the interstellar heavens of Dante.
Dante concluded each of the three parts with the word “stella,” including the famous last line in which he said that God is “the love that moves the sun and all the stars.”
“We knew there would be many special editions of The Divine Comedy on the 700th anniversary of his death, and we wanted to do something completely different,” said Giorgio Amaroli, president of the Bologna publishing house Mannet.
Dante Alighieri lived in the Republic of Florence, and his works helped establish the Tuscan dialect as the dominant Italian language. Dante was exiled for political reasons and died in Ravenna in 1321.
For the project to launch the Divine Comedy into space, the entire work, consisting of 14,200 lines containing about 32,000 words, will be engraved on each of two panels measuring 29 centimeters by 43 centimeters and folded on four sides in the form of an accordion.
The panels will be launched aboard the Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station in the fall. One tablet will be launched into space, and the other will be signed by astronauts and returned to Earth next year.
A facsimile of the second tablet will become part of a traditional large-format print of the Divine Comedy and is sold as a special limited edition of only 700 copies in the number of years since Dante’s death. “Soyuz officials told us that the paper version will not live long in space, so they suggested an alloy of titanium and gold,” Amaroli said. He added that a prototype had been sent to Kazakhstan for examination.
Amaroli’s project was inspired by Section 22 of the Paradise section, in which Dante swims in interplanetary space and peers down at the Earth, fascinated by its diminutiveness.
He said that launching the two tablets into space would cost the publishing house more than 150,000 euros and that the price of each copy would be around 6,000 euros.
The publishing house is no stranger to spectacular show projects. In 2017, she worked with the Vatican Museums to produce a three-volume set of Michelangelo’s drawings, on the ceiling of the life-size Sistine Chapel. The price of Dante’s book represents a golden opportunity compared to the price of Sistine Chapel volumes, which amounted to 15,000 euros.


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