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Pleasant afternoon stroll in the underworld

The Divine Comedy Inferno - Dante Alighieri, Ian Thomson

Dante's lively, conical hell is vivacious, and his story is presented as history, allowing its spiritual and philosophical significance to emerge unforced. It offers a nuanced view of human action, thought, character and judgement, as well as the role of divine justice.

All this might seem unappealing to an atheist like me, but its clarity makes this book easy and enjoyable to read, and Dante is clearly more interested in crafting a fanciful vision of hell and in the diversity of human foibles than in moralising.

I read elsewhere that Italian is the only language that was chosen by its speakers, because among all the dialects of the newly united and delimited country's city-states, the Florentine vernacular used by Dante was deemed to be most beautiful and was therefore officially adopted.