Up until this point I had avoided drawing Dante and Virgil because they simply didn’t interest me. But my illustrations had progressed to the point where this was an unsupportable luxury. To move forward I would have to design my two main protagonists, “The Poetic Duo”.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Sunday, April 3, 2022
Dante and Virgil are now in the 6th Circle of Hell, the round of the Heretics. They pass a graveyard and and open tomb. Farinata, a partisan on the opposing side of the Florentine civil war, stands into view and starts trading insults with Dante. Then another shade pops up. He is Cavalcante, father of Guido, a poet ex-friend of Dante’s whom Dante caused to be exiled from Florence, leading to Guido’s death. The sight of his betrayed friend’s Dad causes Dante to feel guilty. I’m not sure what this has to do with heresy.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Virgil and Dante are saved by an Angel, who contemptuously taps the barred gates of Dis with a wand. The gates fly open. The Hellish Host has vanished. Dante and Virgil enter, unmolested, free to explore ever more nether regions of the Netherworld.
Thursday, March 31, 2022
I will be performing open-mic surgery again tonight at The Jeweled Universe. at 1017 Mission Blvd. South Pasadena, CA 091030. The event is scheduled to begin at 7:30 PM. I’m not sure which 2 songs I’ll be performing. This will be my 5th open-mic in the last month and a half, so maybe I’ll be able to make it through my songs without blowing the chords on my guitar.
Here are my sketches from last week’s (March 24th) open-mic. I’ll be posting them alphabetically, by first name.
Virgil and Dante have reached the gates of Dis, and find themselves dissed. The city gates are locked and demons and fallen angels on the other side won’t let the poetic duo enter. Oddly, Virgil’s usual ploy (telling the recalcitrant locals “We’re on a mission from God”) isn’t working. The Hellish Host even trots out Medusa to petrify our hapless human. Virgil uses his arm to shield Dante’s eyes. #dantealighieri #dantesinferno #virgil #dante #dis #thegatesofdis #bradleycrader #artisiticrader #medusa #thegorgon
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
As Virgil and Dante reach the border between Inferno Circles Three and Four, they are confronted by Plutus, the God of Wealth, clucking gibberish at them. Virgil cries, “Be quiet, cursed wolf of Hell: feed on the burning bile that rots your guts”, continuing that they are on mission from God. “As sails swollen by wind, when the ship’s mast breaks, collapse, deflated, tangled in a hep, just so the savage beast fell to the ground.” (Mark Musa, “The Portable Dante”.)
Monday, March 28, 2022
We now visit the Circle in Hell devoted to gluttons, though the word is misleading. “What this round is really about is greed and, in a specific sense, materialism. Its spirit is the conviction that life can only be satisfied by more and more stuff.” (Mark Vernon: Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey)
These shades are mired in filthy muck and are eternally battered by slimy, frigid rain. They are savaged by Cerebus. “In classical mythology Cerebus is a fierce three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld. He is the prototype of the gluttons, with his three howling, voracious throats that gulp down huge handfuls of muck. He has become Appetite and a s such he lays and mangles the spirits who reduced their lives to a satisfaction of appetite.” (Mark Musa, “The Portable Dante”)
Sunday, March 27, 2022
This is the second circle of Hell, where the love-obsessed are consigned. ‘These hapless shades are caught in an infernal storm. A relentless wind tosses them up and down, around and about. They loved in life, only it was blind love. It swept them along then, it sweeps them along now”. (Mark Vernon, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey’) The hapless shades shown here are Francesca and Paolo. They fell ardently in love while reading about Lancelot and Guinevere, another story of overpowering love. Their sin wasn’t that they were in love with each other, but “in love with love”. (Born too soon for ‘Sex Addicts Anonymous’.)
The interesting thing about Dante’s Inferno, according to Mark Vernon, is the the denizens of the various circles are self-consigned, not sent there by a punishing God. Their torments are a symbolic replication of their negative patterns in life. That’s deeply insightful, both on Dante’s part (for seeing life and the afterlife in psychological term, and Vernon’s (for pointing it out). I have one major quibble: nobody is all one thing. We all have our shit and our sunshine in turn. Who is it to say what is the most important single thing about a person, the thing that damns them to an eternity of torture? I suppose this is why “The Divine Comedy” should be treated as poetic metaphor, not as a rigid statement of fact.
Friday, March 25, 2022
In Canto 4, Virgil guides Dante through the first circle of Hell, known as “Limbo”. (This is to be differentiated from Purgatory, which we’ll get to later.) One of the highlights is the Seven Sided Castle, home to the VIRTUOUS PAGANS. The sides are symbolic of the “seven moral and speculative virtues”, i.e., Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, Intellect, Science, and Knowledge.
Foremost among the VPs are the four greatest pagan poets (other the Virgil), Homer, Horace, Ovid and Lucan. Also on the scene are Aeneas, Caesar, Saladin, Aristotle, Plato, Orpheus, Cicero, Avicenna, and Averroës, to count the most recognizable.
This Canto is exemplary of what I find most alienating about Christianity: Its practitioner’s assumption that they and only they have lucked onto the one true cosmology and that all other beliefs lead to Hell. So impolite. Rude, even. And arrogant, entitled, proud, complacent, etc, etc.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
We’re not even in HELL yet, technically speaking, and already the fun begins! The Poetic Duo have to cross the river Styx to enter, and to do THAT, they have to catch a ride with Charon, who ferries deceased sinner across on a continuous eternal schedule. Charon balks at having to transport a living soul, but Virgil dresses him down, pointing out the Virgil and Dante are on a Divine Mission.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Dante's Inferno, Canto 2: “But the PILGRIM begins to waver; he expresses to Virgil his misgivings about his ability to undertake the journey proposed by Virgil. His predecessors have been Aeneas and Saint Paul, and he feels unworthy to take his place in their company. But Virgil rebukes his cowardice and relates the main of events that led him to come to Dante. The Virgin Mary took pity on the Pilgrim in his despair and instructed Saint Lucia to aid him. The Saint turned to Beatrice because of Dante’s great love for her, and Beatrice in turn went down to Hell, into Limbo and asked Virgil to guide her friend until that time when she herself would become his guide.”
Mark Musa, “The Portable Dante”
I had an aversion to drawing Dante and Virgil, minimizing them or avoiding them altogether until mid-way through “Inferno”. This left me with nothing left to draw but depicting Dante’s angelic attractors, Mary, St. Lucia and Beatrice. Since the goad driving Dante on his quest is Eros, I chose to play that aspect up instead of pretending chastity.
“Midway along the journey of our life
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
for I had wandered off from the straight path.
“How hard it is to tell what it was like,
this wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn
(the thought of it brings back all my old fears)
“a bitter place! Death could scarce be bitterer.
But if I would show the good that came of it
I must talk about things other than the good”
Dante Alighieri, translated by Mark Musa
I was turned on to Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in a pod-cast convo twixt Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon. They were discussing Mark’s new book, “Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Seeker. They
had me from the moment they quoted the “Midway through my life I got lost in a dark wood” line, because that’s exactly where I am these days.
Vernon bemoaned the tendency of people to get stuck on the “Inferno” section of the epic poem, overlooking “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso”, which describe the journey out of the darkness, into the light. Since this, in my desperation, is what I’m attempting also, I thought I would give it (Mark Vernon’s book, and his preferred translation of the original work) a go!
Stay tuned for thrills and chills as you accompany me on this journey!
In this canto, Dante, lost in a dark wood, finds his way to the light at the top of the hill by a leopard, a she-wolf and a lion! Luckily, the Roman poet Virgil steps in to be Dante’s guide.
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- March 24th 2022 Open-mic Night at Jeweled Universe
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto VIII
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno Canto VII
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto VI
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto V
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto IV
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto III
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto II
- Dante's Divine Comedy; Inferno: Canto I
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