This series aims to introduce the beauty, complexity and continuing significance of Dante’s Divina Commedia through readings of the text, in the original and in translation, and through commentary on it. The readings are accompanied by a rich visual display of medieval illuminations whilst the commentary explores and invites discussion of some of the leading ideas of the poem. Each session will begin by displaying a different printed edition from UCL’s rare-book collections.

The series is organised and presented by Alessandro Scafi (Warburg), John Took (UCL) and Tabitha Tuckett (UCL Special Collections) in a partnership between the Warburg Institute and University College London.

In 2022-2023 the series will be delivered online via Zoom. You may book for the whole series or for individual sessions using the booking links below.

Autumn 2022 & Spring 2023: Tuesday evenings from 7.00-8.30pm online via Zoom.

  • 1 November - Introducing Dante: his world, life and works. BOOKING
  • 8 November - Inferno, Canto I. The dark wood and wild animals. The appearance of Virgil. BOOKING
  • 15 November - Inferno, Canto V. The lustful. Paolo and Francesca. BOOKING
  • 22 November - Inferno, Canto XIII. The suicides. Pier della Vigna. BOOKING
  • 29 November - Inferno, Canto XXVI and Canto XXVII. The evil counsellors. Ulysses and Guido da Montefeltro. BOOKING
  • 6 December - Inferno, Canto XXXIII and Canto XXXIV. Count Ugolino and Centre of Hell. Lucifer. BOOKING
  • 10 January - Purgatorio, Canto XVI.58-105; Canto XVII.91-105; and Canto XVIII.13-75. The moral structure of Purgatory; the nature of love and its relation to free will. BOOKING
  • 17 January - Purgatorio, Canto I and Canto II.106-132. Dante and Virgil emerge from the abyss of Hell on the shore of Mount Purgatory. Cato. The ritual of purification. Casella. BOOKING
  • 24 January - Purgatorio, Canto X.1-45 and Canto XI.1-117. The First Cornice: the proud. The Lord’s Prayer;  Omberto Aldobrandeschi; Oderisi da Gubbio. BOOKING
  • 31 January - Purgatorio, Canto XXX. Appearance of Beatrice on the chariot of the Church. BOOKING
  • 7 February - Purgatorio, Canto XXXIII. Beatrice’s prophesies. The final ritual of Dante’s spiritual cleansing. BOOKING
  • 21 February - Paradiso, Canto I. Ascent to the heaven of fire. BOOKING
  • 28 February - Paradiso, Canto III. Heaven of the moon. Piccarda Donati. BOOKING
  • 7 March - Paradiso, Canto XI. Thomas Aquinas. Francis of Assisi. BOOKING
  • 14 March - Paradiso, Canto XVII. Heaven of Mars. Cacciaguida. BOOKING
  • 21 March - Paradiso, Canto XXXIII. The Empyrean. The vision of the Trinity. BOOKING

NEW! Spring 2023 Seminars: Wednesday evenings from 6.00pm IN PERSON.

Further to our virtual sessions we are holding a new short series of face-to-face meetings with a view to discussing together issues arising from the text in any of its theological, philosophical, poetic and bibliographical aspects. The meetings MUST BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE and will take place as follows:

  • Wednesday 8 February 6-8pm (Warburg Institute Lecture Room): InfernoBOOKING
  • Wednesday 29 March 6-8pm (Warburg Institute Lecture Room): Purgatorio. BOOKING
  • Wednesday 10 May 6-8pm (Warburg institute Lecture Room): Paradiso. BOOKING
  • Wednesday 17 May 6-7.30pm (University College Library): Dante in Print: Rare Books from UCL's Dante Collection. A display of editions from the 1400s to the 1900s from the University College London special collections, and a talk on the bibliographical tradition of Dante. BOOKING ON EVENTBRITE


A preliminary reading list:

Translations into English of the Divina Commedia

  • The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by Charles Eliot Norton, 3 vols, Boston and New York: The Riverside Press, 1892 (various reprints). 
  • The Divine Comedy, Italian text with translation by John D. Sinclair, 3 vols, New York: Oxford University Press, 1939 and 1961 (with reprints). 
  • The Divine Comedy, translated with a commentary, by Charles S. Singleton, 6 vols, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970 (published in England by Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971). 
  • The Divine Comedy, translated by Allen Mandelbaum (with an introduction by Eugenio Montale and notes by Peter Armour), New York, London and Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. 
  • The Divine Comedy, translated with an introduction, notes and commentary by Mark Musa, Bloomington: Indiana University Press,1997–. 
  • The Divine Comedy, translated by Robin Kirkpatrick, 3 vols, London: Penguin Books, 2006- (combined in one volume with a revised introduction, 2012).

Introductions to Dante’s life and work

  • Barbi, Michele, Life of Dante (translated and edited by Paul G. Ruggiers), Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954 (originally Vita di Dante, Florence: Sansoni, 1933 and 1965).
  • Bemrose, Stephen, A New Life of Dante, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000 (with a revised edition in 2014).
  • Hainsworth, Peter and Robey, David, Dante: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Hawkins, Peter S., Dante. A Brief History, Malden (MA) and Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
  • Hollander, Robert, Dante. A Life in Works, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001.
  • Holmes, George, Dante, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.
  • Santagata, Marco, Dante. The Story of his Life, translated by Richard Dixon, Cambrige, Mass.: Harvard University Press (the Belknap Press), 2016 (from the Italian Dante: il romanzo della sua vita, Milan: Mondadori, 2012).
  • Scott, John Alfred, Understanding Dante, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004.
  • Shaw, Prue, Reading Dante. From Here to Eternity, New York: Liveright, 2014.
  • Took, John, Why Dante Matters. An Intelligent Person’s Guide, Bloomsbury Continuum: London, 2020.