Sztuka Boga i jej metapoetycki charakter w Boskiej Komedii Dantego

Maria Maślanka-Soro


God’s Art and Its Meta-Poetic Character in Dante’s Divine Comedy

In this study, Maria Maślanka-Soro discusses the problem of meta-poetic themes in the Divine Comedy, focusing in particular on Dante’s message about his own work in connection with the topos of Deus Artifex popular in the Middle Ages. The aim is to read this message, referring to the relationship between word and image, in the context of the impression caused by the sight of rock reliefs on the terrace of the proud in the Purgatorio, where the poet, presenting and imitating the art of God, in fact shows the mastery of his own art. In other words, Dante suggests an analogy between the reliefs carved with the “hand” of God, which are vibrant with life and meaningfully called visibile parlare (“visible speech”), and the earthly and extra-terrestrial reality presented in the Divine Comedy with equally great power of expression. The relationship between God’s art and Dante’s art is presented as part of a more general reflection on the analogy that exists between nature, which is the expression of divine art, and the artistic creation of man. This analogy is based on a similar modus operandi, that is giving the matter a proper form, both by nature, which imitates the creative power of the Prime Mover, and by the artist. The issues outlined above are analysed in here on the basis of relevant fragments of Dante’s poem, especially songs X and XII of Purgatorio and some fragments of Paradiso, where the role of Deus Artifex seems to be particularly emphasised. It should be noted that while there are various analyses of songs X and XII of Purgatorio, none of them stops at the meta- poetic function of bas-reliefs on the terrace of the proud.

The paper begins with a brief reminder of the Deus Artifex topos in mediaeval culture and especially in the Divine Comedy, where this metaphor is enriched with an element of God’s love for his own work. Then, the different shades of meaning of the concept of arte in the Divine Comedy and the hierarchical relationship between God, nature, and art are briefly discussed. Next, the considerations focus on the concept of arte limited to artistic creativity sensu stricto, which takes place on the terrace of the proud. There, penitents contemplate the examples of humility and pride carved on the walls and on the rock path, which are the perfect work of God-the Artist, a work of miniature size when compared to its macroscopic version, which is the Universe created by him. Further analysis leads to the conclusion that the extremely suggestive depiction of the scenes on reliefs, vibrant with life and involving almost all the senses of the viewer, acquires a meta-poetic character in relation to the analogically “living” and “real” episodes presented by Dante in his great poem. The poet implicitly expresses the view that in the works of every great artist, that is, in his understanding, an artist who derives heavenly inspiration, the distance between art and life is blurred.

Słowa kluczowe: Dante, Divine Comedy, Deus Artifex, meta-poetry, art, ekphrasis, Ovid, Metamorphoses

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