DANTE #&@%!: Dante's Poetry of Insult

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 8:00am to 9:00am
Helen S. Schaefer Building, home to the UA Poetry Center and the Humanities Seminars Program, 1508 E. Helen Street (at Vine Avenue), UA campus

Dante's Poetry of Insult

presented by Fabian Alfie, Department of French & Italian 

Words are like daggers and Dante knew how to throw them.

Dante engaged in an exchange of poetry (a tenzone) with a distant in-law, Forese Donati. They wrote six sonnets to each other comprised purely of insults. In his poems, Dante depicts Forese’s wife as suffering a cold because he keeps her poorly covered at night; he describes Forese as a terrible glutton, whose excesses cause him to rob passers-by on the streets; and he depicts the entire Donati family as thieves. Forese takes none of this sitting down, of course, but accuses Dante, and the whole Alighieri clan, of behaving in ways unseemly to a medieval nobleman— cowardice, deception, and money-lending. Ultimately, this exchange exemplifies the debates surrounding nobility and poses the question, “Are you and your family really noble?”