Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dante and the Human Body: Eight Essays

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Dante and the Human Body: Eight Essays

Article excerpt

Dante and the Human Body: Eight Essays, ed. J. C. Barnes and J. Pétrie (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007). 224 pp ISBN 978-1-84682-090-8. £51.99. An apparent paradox of Dante's account of his journey in the afterlife is the 'corporeality' of the souls, i.e. the fact that these can suffer physical punishment and react to external conditions such as illnesses and starvation. Dante's answer - a doctrinal digression on the relations between body and soul from conception till after death, when the soul radiates an 'aerial body' - constitutes one main point of intersection for this collection of essays, whose considerations span embryology to theology and literary theory. The subject matter is one well known to Dante scholars, having been previously discussed in seminal studies by Nardi, Gils on, and Boyde. Yet this volume is a welcome addition since it revitalizes the debate, bringing fresh historical material and theoretical insights presented from a variety of perspectives. The first part of the volume, namely the studies by S. Gilson, V. Nutton, J. Ziegler, and S. De Angelis, explores a wide range of medical and physiological issues, including terminology and dietetics. Most of the discussion revolves around Dante's philosophical account of human embryology, which reflects Galenic ideas possibly mediated by Albert the Great's commentaries on Aristode's De anima and De animalibus. …

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