Sunday, May 12, 2013

Amos Nattini and the Comedy

Amos Nattini (1892 - 1985) 
Canto XXVII of 'Inferno': The Fraudulent Advisers
112 x 80 cm
Biblioteca del Centro Studi Danteschi, Ravenna

In 1921, the Istituto nazionale dantesco in Milan  commissioned Amos Nattini (1892 - 1985) to produce the illustrations for a special commemorative edition of Dante`s La Divina Commedia

It was to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the great work by Dante

Nattini was to produce one plate per Canto illustrating the events described in that Canto. There were one hundred Imagini
For Nattini it became a major work which for twenty years consumed his attention

The third and final volume was only completed in 1941

Nattini’s work was much acclaimed in Paris, Nice, and The Hague, thanks to its innovative techniques and highly original figurative approach. Instead of  black-and-white drawings, colour  (watercolour and oil) was used.  

His paintings were minute and delicate, and betrayed a divisionist influence

A relatively unknown and regrettably undervalued work especially outside Italy

The image illustrates the Eighth Circle of Hell in the morning of Holy Saturday. 

In that circle are the advisers who offer advice "full of fraud": either in what they say to their hearers or by inciting or assisting others in fraud

The main figure whom Dante meets in this Canto is Guido da Montefeltro (1223 – September 29, 1298). 

He  was an Italian military strategist and lord of Urbino. He gave up his temporalities and  became a monk late in life

As a Franciscan monk he is called to advise the then Pope Boniface VIII, the arch-enemy of Dante

Boniface wished to crush the Colonna family.They had opposed his election of the Papacy after the abdication of Celestine V. Their stronghold was the fortified town of Palestrina

Boniface wants to know what he has to do to take the city. He promises absolution to Guido if he does

Tempted, Guido succumbs and advises Boniface to promise the Colonna safety and then when they have surrendered to slay them and capture the city

Boniface does as suggested and captures the city

A great scandal: Christians defrauding other Christians to their death

Thinking that he has been promised absolution, Guido does not repent before death. On death he is thrown to Hell not withstanding the mighty intervention of the great St Francis himself

Dante points out the invalidity of Boniface`s promise, since absolution requires contrition, and a man cannot be contrite for a sin at the same time that he is intending to commit it

In other words, the Pope conned the conman as well as the Colonna
"The crowned prince of the new Pharisees — 
Going to war close to the Lateran 
And not against the Saracens or Jews 
"(Since every enemy of his was Christian 
And not one of them had gone to conquer Acre 
90 Or been a trader in the Sultan’s country) — 
"Ignored the high office and holy orders 
Belonging to him and ignored the cincture 
Which once made men — like me — who wore it leaner: 
"But just as Constantine sought out Sylvester 
95 On Mount Soracte to heal his leprosy, 
So he sought me to act as his physician 
"To help heal him of the fever of his pride. 
He asked me for my counsel — I kept quiet 
Because his words seemed from a drunken stupor. 
100 "Then he said, ‘Your heart need not mistrust: 
I absolve you in advance and you instruct me 
How to knock Penestrino to the ground.  
" ‘I have the power to lock and unlock heaven, 
You know that, because I keep the two keys 
105 For which my predecessor took no care.’ 
"His weighty arguments so pressured me then 
That silence seemed the worse course, and I said, 
‘Father, since you cleanse me of that sin 
" ‘Into which I now must fall — remember: 
110 An ample promise with a small repayment 
Shall bring you triumph on the lofty throne.’  
"Francis — the moment that I died — came then 
For me, but one of the black cherubim 
Called to him, ‘Don’t take him! don’t cheat me! 
115 " ‘He must come down to join my hirelings 
Because he offered counsel full of fraud, 
And ever since I’ve been after his scalp!  
" ‘For you can’t pardon one who won’t repent, 
And one cannot repent what one wills also: 
120 The contradiction cannot be allowed.’ 
"O miserable me! how shaken I was 
When he grabbed hold of me and cried, ‘Perhaps 
You didn’t realize I was a logician!’  
"He carried me off to Minos who twisted 
125 His tail eight times around his hardened back, 
Then bit it in gigantic rage and blared, 
" ‘This is a sinner for the fire of thieves!’ 
So I am lost here where you see me go 
Walking in this robe and in my rancor."  
130 When he had finished speaking in this fashion, 
The lamenting flame went away in sorrow, 
Turning and tossing its sharp-pointed horn. 

Pope Francis said recently:
"Oftentimes we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaners to get out a stain, but it isn’t. It’s an encounter with Jesus who waits for us to forgive us and offer salvation” 
One of the many allegations being thrown about by the press about the Church in Scotland concerns confession:
"Lenny recalls being a young priest, accompanying an older priest who would rise to great heights in the church. The older man was drunk and was ranting about men who left the priesthood. Why leave to have sex? Why didn't they just visit a sauna and go to confession in the morning?"
Hopefully this is only a fabrication.

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