Dante and Governance

Dante and Governance

Dante and Governance

Dante and Governance


ante and Governance brings to the most grandiose of Dante's messages in the ivine Comedy critical viewpoints whose originality would, at any time, constitute an important addition to Dante scholarship, but the book is also notable for an approach which during the course of its composition spontaneously evolved as pragmatic and historical, particularly when seen against much contemporary Dante cricism. It explores Dante's breathtaking ambition to convince Europe's rulers and their subjects to create and embrace a universal peace, guaranteed by Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, which might afford serenity for mankind fully to develop its wonderful potentialities. In that context, a group of scholars, internationally known for their expertise not only in Dante studies but also in medieval literature and history, was invited to Oxford to discuss the poet's objectives. Each chose to argue a case from a close reading of Dante's own texts, using clear and jargon-free lamguage. Those deliberations created a well-focused and coherent group of papers on a variety of subjects, ranging from an aesthetic appreciation of Dante's depiction of free-will and moral responsibility, to a feminist perception of his attitude to the role of women in fourteenth-century Florentine public life.


No assumptions have been made about our readers' knowledge of Latin and Italian and all quotations have been translated. This may be to the chagrin of scholars who regard such translations as academic betrayals, or as patronizing gestures; nevertheless it is true that outside the peninsula a first-hand knowledge of Italy's cultural heritage, albeit the richest in Europe, has traditionally been restricted to a small band of Italianists, while Latin, alas, has all but disappeared from our schools. A slight move in this popularizing direction may persuade a few more readers to aspire to appreciate Dante's work in Italian.

Such typographical and bibliographical standardizations as are necessary for the collection have been imposed, without descending to pedantry, but within those limits, each contributor has had a free hand; absolute conformity in such a creatively varied group of papers has not been a major criterion.

I am grateful to all my colleagues for their forbearance in accepting my editorial judgements, and thank them for what has been, for me at least, a pleasurable association; in particular I should like to express my gratitude to Professor P. J. Armour for his readiness to help at all times, and to Mr Jason Freeman and his colleagues of Oxford University Press, who have helped in bringing this particular enterprise to a smooth conclusion. Needless to say, I consider myself solely responsible for any editorial short- comings the volume may have.

J. R. W.

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