Giant Towers…

I’ve been working on a new project which started when I read Dante’s Inferno. One Canto struck a cord with me and I’ve been trying to visualise it for a while – that of Canto XXXI, where Dante is taken to the last circle of Hell by Virgil. It is here that he meets the giants…

Short while my head turned thitherward I held
When many lofty towers I seemed to see,
Whereat I: “Master, say, what town is this?”
And he to me: “Because thou peerest forth
Athwart the darkness at too great a distance,
It happens that thou errest in thy fancy.
Well shalt thou see, if thou arrivest there,
How much the sense deceives itself by distance;
Therefore a little faster spur thee on.”
Then tenderly he took me by the hand,
And said: “Before we farther have advanced,
That the reality may seem to thee
Less strange, know that these are not towers, but giants,
And they are in the well, around the bank,
From navel downward, one and all of them.”

(for full text, click here)

In my mind, I see it as a though they form part of the rock and are slowly absorbed by the surrounding cliff – almost as if those who had been there the longest were more rock than human and the new comers legs had seized to the rocks with their hands wrapped to their sides and were constantly trying to wriggle away.

Gustave Dore and Botticelli have both illustrated Inferno, but for me, neither illustration was physical enough – they lack the texture and animation which I can see. I am going to try and work this up with some sculpture and illustration to try and communicate what I am thinking…

Gustave Doré: Illustration of Canto XXXI

Gustave Doré: Illustration of Canto XXXI

Gustave Doré: Illustration of Canto XXXI

Botticelli: Illustration of Canto XXXI