A petition for a public reading of Dante

philobiblonia

Image result for dante commedia 14th century manuscript Dante’s Commedia. Manuscript on paper, in Italian. Tuscany (Florence?), late fourteenth century.  On sale for $2,000,000 

When’s the last time a group of local residents petitioned the government to arrange for a public reading of Dante’s Commedia? The answer to that question is: the summer of 1373. In the summer of that year, a petition was presented to the Signoria of Florence, on behalf of a number of Florentine citizens, asking that a salaried lecturer might be appointed to expound publicly, in Florence, on the Commedia, so that the unlearned may profit from its ethics and beauty. The unlearned were not necessarily illiterate, but rather those who didn’t read Latin. According to John Ahern, these would have been the dyers, the drapers, the grain merchants, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, ass drivers. In the 1330s, one Florentine in eight who attended elementary school went on to Latin school, of which…

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