Flash or Effulgence? Mental Illumination in Dante’s Paradiso 33.141
Medieval studies are largely based on texts. Medievalists consequently rely on editors, and especially philologists, to provide accurate, correct texts as the indispensable foundation on which to build any interpretation. But, paradoxically, such is not always the case, for sometimes context overrides text, as when a translator follows the sense of a whole passage and ignores the literal meaning of an inconvenient word. Although word-loving editors are, of course, quick to cry “Traduttore—traditore!” sometimes they are wrong because their text has given the wrong word. The present note documents just such a case, in which a crucial word at the end of Dante’s Divine Comedy (henceforth abbreviated in text as Comedy) has long been tacitly and correctly emended by translators in defiance of the established text.
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