Entering the Fourth and Eighth Rings of Hell, Dante and Virgil, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rectangular Pillow

Regular price $29.00 Sale

In a scene from Dante Aligheri’s 14th-century poem, the Divine Comedy, Dante and Virgil enter the Fourth Circle of Hell (Prodigals and the Wrathful) on one side of this pillow, while on the other side they enter the Eighth Circle (Adulterers, Seducers, and Flatterers). They're just visiting.

The pillow measures 20 x 12 inches. The fabric is pre-shrunk polyester — soft and durable, with a moisture-resistant coating. The pillowcase is machine washable, with a concealed zipper. The resilient polyester filling insert retains its shape, and can be washed by hand. Made in USA.

The Divine Comedy

Dante’s journey through the World of the Dead was entertaining, but not that funny – so why is it called a comedy? Because the poem ends with Dante experiencing a vision of God — that’s the mix of happy ending and Godly influence that qualified as a comedy in those days. In fact, Dante originally called it just Comedy, but a later editor changed it to “Divine Comedy”, I guess so people didn’t get the wrong idea.

These gorgeous and inventive illuminations of the Divine Comedy were produced between 1444 and 1450 — more than a century after Dante wrote it. The work was split between two artists: Priamo della Quercia took Hell and Purgatory, while the more well-known Giovanni di Paoli di Grazia illustrated Heaven.

The book originally belonged to Alfonso V, king of Aragon, Naples, and Sicily. His great-grandson, Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, donated it to a convent in Valencia in 1538. In 1901, it was bought by Henry Yates Thompson, who donated it to the British Museum in 1941.

Dante’s companion through hell and purgatory is the Roman poet Virgil. But Virgil is a pagan, so cannot enter paradise. Thereafter, Dante is accompanied by Beatrice, based on a girl he met when she was nine years old and fell instantly in love with. He saw her again only once more, nine years later — she was a banker’s daughter and married to another banker — but she was a huge influence on Dante, as his muse.

The Divine Comedy is over 14,000 lines long, and very intricately constructed. To see the original poem, and translations, and commentary, and context, visit the delightful site Digital Dante, from the Columbia University Center for Digital Research and Scholarship.


Original art for Dante and Virgil Enter the Fourth Circle of Hell.

Original art for Dante and Virgil Enter the Eighth Circle of Hell.

Thanks to the Public Domain Review and the British Museum for making these pixels accessible for public use.

See more items on Anomaly Panoply that feature Dante-related art.