Ethiopia Dante's Encyclopedia

Ethiopia Dante’s Encyclopedia


East African region that can be identified with the vast plateau extending approximately between 4 ° and 18 ° north latitude, narrow to the North, widening towards S. In ancient times the toponym Ethiopia indicated the country south of Egypt and, in a broad sense, all of Africa south of the Sahara; also in the Middle Ages the toponym had a more extensive meaning than the present one (“Ethiopia” and “Ethiopia inferior” of the planisphere of Vesconte; see Revelli, Italy 51).

Atiopia is a vulgarizing Tuscan adaptation of Ethiopia, which occurs in Fiore CLXXXII 12, also carried by the Laurentian codex 40 22, moreover Umbrian-Marches, in If XXIV 89 (latyopia; see the Petrocchi edition): the expression Que ‘ that the tribe ‘n Atiopia wants it is generically interpreted by commentators as “at the end of the world” (Petronius) and the like.

However, an ironic reference to the sexual mores of the Ethiopians, which circulated in the scientific compilations of the time and in particular in the Tresor, a text, as is well known, that widely inspires the Dante’s geography: “E sachiés que les gens d’Etyope e de Garremans ne sevent que mariages soit, ains ont entr’aus femes communes a tous”, etc. (Tresor CXXIV 5, based on Solino 30, 2). In particular, the antithesis “femes communes a tous” / no woman who is his own seems too punctual to be casual. This interpretation assumes an incidental and mainly concessive value of v. 11 for don ched e ‘did of su’ have (in fact absent from the Roman de la Rose). Less likely an direct allusion to the practices of mercenary love connected with the sexual barbarity of the Ethiopians. The rhyme Ethiopia (Laurentian code 40 22 Atiopia) – elitropia is also in If XXIV 89 and 93.

Ethiopia in Dante’s culture. – The siege and fall of Acre in 1291 marked the end of the Eastern Latin Crusades. Then the reconquest projects arose and the gathering of news on the Christian kingdoms south of Egypt intensified, which appeared to be natural allies against the Muslims. Already the information collected by Marco Polo in 1288, the projects presented to Pope Clement V by the Armenian Hayton in 1304, by Marin Sanudo the Elder in 1309, by Guglielmo Adamo, bishop of Antivari in 1317, now gave information on Nubia, then Christian, and now on the Ethiopia whose sovereign was identified with the legendary Priest Gianni. D., who although highly expressed his anger for what seemed to him little interest in the reconquest of the Holy Land (Pd IX136-142), was extraneous to this movement and these concrete projects, as is obvious, given the circumstances of his life. The knowledge that D. has of Ethiopia it is therefore limited to classical sources. Thus it seems that he even ignores the presence of a Christian kingdom south of Egypt, if as a typical one who does not know Christ – and will nevertheless be closer to the Lord than false Christians – he mentions the Ethiopian who, although non-Christian, such a Christian will damn (Pd XIX106-111). THE. it is therefore, for D., part of the torrid zone together with India; and Indo and Ethiopian thirst for cold water, just less than the lustful condemned to the flames of Purgatory (Pg XXVI 21). The quote here from Ethiopia together with India it is characteristic of the geographic knowledge of the medieval schools, when it was considered precisely the Ethiopia territorially united with India, continuing the ancient confusion between Ethiopia and India, which moreover gave, in literature, at least by Virgil, who had said of the Nile: “usque coloratis amnis devexus ab Indis” (Georg. IV293). And the Nile still in its far upper course is held by the Ethiopians, of whom Pliny already said “neighbors sideris vapor torreri adustisque similes gigni” (Nat. Hist. II LXXX 1) and that D. cites precisely as an example of black in the wings multicolored of Lucifer, one of which had precisely the color of those who / go beyond where the Nile avails itself (If XXXIV 44-45).

The second verse of the song ‛petrosa ‘(Rime c) Io son come al punto de la rota also refers to the notions of classical geography. Here the peregrin wind rises from the sand of Ethiopia that the air disturbs (vv. 14-15) due to the excessive heat of the sun; but that wind, passing beyond the Mediterranean, adduces fog and then even resolves itself into snow and boring rain (v. 21). This is the hypothesis of Pliny (Nat. Hist. II XLVII-XLVIII) who believes that the north winds disperse the clouds, while on the contrary “humidi [winds] Africus et praecipue Auster Italiae”. The southern wind is “aestuosus”; but in Africa “noxius et magis siccus, fortassis quia humidus frigidior est”; it is rainy in Italy, where it is also dangerous for navigation (“III I 23), because the rising sun does not fill the whole habitable earth with its rays until “in loco circuli Meridiani et tunc operatio eius fortis est; ideo multum contrahit et elevat vaporm”; but since it does not last in this position, on the contrary “declinat statim a cardine coeli sive a Meridiano, ideo non consumit vapor in illis locis elevatum, sed generantur inde nives et pluviae” (I 24). And so “ventus Meridiei excitat nubes turbidas et aggregat eas when sparsae sunt in coelo et inspissat partes earum” (I 26); and also the Southern wind “cum flat involvit in se partes nubium inventas et generatas its heat in the air in omni via per quam transit” so that the clouds “swell and efficiuntur turbidae et descendentes per pluvias” (I 26).

And perhaps also the passage of the song Three women around my heart have come to me (Rime CIV), where D. says of the traditional Ethiopia in the upper Niliaca valley (vv. 47-48): here where the great light / takes away from the terra del vinco the frond can be traced back to Albert the Great and especially to the brochure De Passionibus aeris (n ° 4): “Et tunc nihil spirat in locis illis de terra sed totum aduritur antequam elevatur”. And D., it should be noted, already cites four works by Alberto Magno in the Convivio.

Finally, the verses of Hell (XXIV 88-90) on the serpents of Ethiopia they are undoubtedly, like the whole episode, to be traced back to Book IX of the Farsaglia di Lucano and to the attack of the snakes of Libya against the Roman soldiers. Specifically, indeed, a similarity of structure was then seen between Dante’s neither many pestilences nor yes guilty / he already never showed with all Ethiopian and Lucanian (IX 805) “Sed maiora parant Libycae spectacula pestes”, even if Lucanus does not obviously refers to Ethiopia while affirming (IX 704) that the snake “Niloque tenus metitur arenas”. Yet the memory of Pliny’s passage (Nat. Hist. VIII XIII 3) does not seem to be excluded in Dante’s triplet: “Generat eos et Aethiopia Indicis pares, vicenum cubitorum. For Ethiopia 2013, please check

D.’s poetry had no echo in Ethiopian literature. On the other hand, visions – total or partial – of the afterlife are not rare in that literature: from the Apocalypse of Mary, apocryphal (of which we have the original Greek and Arabic texts; the Ethiopian is translation) to passages from Vite of Saints such as that of the monk Os of Kuezara (who also sees St. Michael favorably judging souls, moving his wings), of the nun Krestos Samra (to whom St. Michael still shows the devil in vision and negatively solves the problem of the redemption of Satan) and so on. But the only indirect contacts between Ethiopian literature and Dante’s vision instead depend on the diffusion in Ethiopia, from the end of the fourteenth century during the reign of Negus Dawit I, of the European collection of stories from the Book of Miracles of Mary. Thus the episode of Buonconte da Montefeltro (Pg V 100-108) must be reconnected with the contrast between angels and demons at the death of Mary’s devotee, a contrast found in the European collections of the Book of Miracles and, consequently, also in the fourteenth-century translation in Ethiopian. And again, if one ever accepted a hypothesis of Powicke, it would be seen in the grim words of the episode by Raimondo Berlinghieri (PdVI 136-142) an analogy with the story of the courtier falsely slandered in the collections just mentioned, which was also translated into Ethiopian.

Ethiopia Dante's Encyclopedia