Journey through the Dante Urbinate: Canto I, Dante meets Virgil

After exploring the history of the manuscript of the Dante Urbinate, today we finally begin our journey into the Divine Comedy itself, and the best place to start is in the “dark wood” that opens the poem.

Here is where Dante first meets the poet Virgil, lit by the rising sun which bathes the entire scene in a golden light. To the right, the three wild beasts, the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf representing the three cardinal sins of lust, pride, and avarice are blocking the way to salvation.

Have you noticed that, unlike the way we are used to seeing him portrayed, Dante is seen wearing a blue cloak and hat? Virgil, on the other hand, is dressed in yellow, with a pink mantle and a red hood with an ermine fur border. Remember this detail to recognize our two poets during the journey of the Divine Comedy. In all of the miniatures that decorate this edition, this is how they will be dressed.

Source: Federica Toniolo, Description of the miniatures, Inferno, The Divine Comedy of Federico da Montefeltro, the Dante Urbinate, commentary.

Illumination from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, Ms. Urb. lat. 365, f. 1r, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

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