| (ANSA) - Rome, January 31 - Dante could have been
tripping on psychedelic drugs in his loftiest poetic flights, an Italian
expert said Tuesday, commenting on cheeky speculation by eminent British
Dantist Barbara Reynolds. "It's not just possible but probable," said
Giulio Leoni, a scholar who has written three 'cowl and dagger' thrillers
featuring Dante as an imaginary detective.|
In her latest book,
Dante: The Poet, the Political Thinker, The Man, the 92-year-old Reynolds
provocatively suggests cannabis or aloe could have fuelled some of the
Divine Comedy's visionary moments.
The Dantist establishment has
turned up its nose at the idea - based on an episode in the epic poem
where a character becomes a sea god after sniffing a herb - as an
entertaining but unsubstantiated wheeze.
But Leoni, whose Dante
jaunts have been translated into ten languages including English, French,
Spanish, Russian, Slovakian and South Korean, claims there's a good basis
for Reynold's apparently playful suggestion.
"People have been
speculating about this for 100 years," he claimed.
forced to become a member of Florence's Herbalists' Guild as a way into
city politics. "He shows elsewhere that he had a solid knowledge of herbal
remedies and knew what plants to use for remedies.
he have tried out other plants to give his imagination a
"For some time now, Dante's traditional image has been
challenged," Leoni went on.
"Reynold's provocative remark should
keep the process going".
But Italy's Dante Association was sniffy
about the idea, saying "this is not a credible hypothesis".
has recently been a widespread and regrettable tendency to project all our
vices onto Dante, even the guiltiest ones," said the association's
president, Guglielmo Gorni.
One of Italy's two great Dante
popularisers, scholar and broadcaster Vittorio Sermonti, called the notion
of an acid-dropping Dante "completely idiotic".
The other one,
filmmaker Roberto Benigni, told an audience for his regular Dante reading
and stand-up show Tuesday night: "People today take heroin to write a rock
song. What was Dante supposed to do?"