The Reading Room

Dante at 700: What the Supreme Poet can teach us about work, love, art, and life: Inferno Canto V Part 2: Be Discerning in Your Reading

A Reading Room series on The Divine Comedy
By Daniel Ross Goodman
Dante makes out three individual “carnal malefactor” shades coming toward him, lamenting and being born along by the relentless hurricane. “Master,” he asks Virgil. “Who are these people, whom this black air castigates so?”
The first of them, says Virgil, is Semiramis, who was an empress of Assyria during Dante’s time and had a reputation for being so extraordinarily licentious that “the lustful she made licit” in her realm’s laws. The next is Dido, Queen of Carthage, who fell in love with Aeneas and killed herself when he abandoned her. The third is “Cleopatra the voluptuous,” legendary for having been the last monarch of Egypt, and perhaps even more legendary for her notorious love affairs with Antony and Caesar. 

Older posts:

D. H. Lawrence and Tabloids of Compressed Liberty

by Scott W. Klein

“Knowledge is, of course, liberty,” said Mattheson.
“In compressed tabloids,” said Birkin, looking at the dry, stiff little body of the Baronet. Immediately Gudrun saw the famous sociologist as a flat bottle, containing tabloids of compressed liberty. That pleased her. 

Viva Dante 700: Che può insegnarci il Sommo Poeta sul lavoro, l'amore, l'arte e la vita : Inferno, Canto IV: Sii discernimento nell'amore

Una serie di Reading Room su La Divina Commedia
di Daniel Ross Goodman

Dante e Virgilio lasciano il Limbo e si fanno strada nel secondo girone dell'Inferno. Questo cerchio è di dimensioni più piccole del primo (l'Inferno di Dante ha la forma di un cono rovesciato, in modo che ogni cerchio occupi meno spazio di quello sopra di esso) ma <<tanto più grande nel dolore>>, perché il primo cerchio dell'Inferno era semplicemente Limbo; il secondo cerchio è dove iniziano davvero le vere punizioni dell'Inferno.

Revisiting Washington's Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport

by Russ Roberts

In August of 1790, George Washington made a trip to Newport, Rhode Island shortly after Rhode Island had agreed to the Constitution and to join the United States. Washington was greeted by various leaders of the city including a representative of the city’s synagogue (the “Hebrew Congregation”), Moses Seixas.