Chapter 57

Peccatum The word peccatum is a Latin word meaning sin or wound. In Dante’s Inferno, the letter “P” is carved seven times into Dante’s forehead, representing seven instances of “peccatum” or sin. Dante enters Purgatory with seven P’s on his forehead and each time he moves through one of the seven terraces of purgatory, one of the P’s is erased. Once all of the Ps have been erased from his forehead, Dante is able to move into heaven.

Florence baptistery’s mosaic The Florence Baptistery, also known as “The Baptistry of Saint John” is a religious building in Florence Italy, that has “thestatus of a minor basilica”.  It is located in the Piazza Del Duomo, as well as in the Piazza di San Giovanni. The Florence Baptistery is across the street from the Florence Cathedral and the Campanile de Giotto. It was constructed between 1059 and 1128 and is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. The Baptistery is known for its bronze doors, one set of which contains the Michelangelo’s “Gates of Paradise”. Dante Alighieri, along with many members of the Medici family, was baptized here. The Florence Baptistery contains both mosaic pavement, as well as a mosaic ceiling. The famous mosaic ceiling was completed around the fourteenth century. On the ceiling there are depictions of the Last Judgment and stories from the Book of Genesis, Mary, Joseph, and St. John the Baptist.




Andrea di Cione’s terrifying black demon- Andrea di Cione, also known as “Orcagna” was an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect in Florence. His fresco called “The Triumph of Death” depicts a devil carrying a sinner into hell. In Dan Brown’s Inferno, Robert Langdon presents “Andrea di Cione’s terrifying black demon, its fur soiled with the crimson blood of its victims” in a lecture at Harvard called “Divine Dante: Symbols of Hell” (Brown 248).




Mount purgatory– Mount purgatory is described in Dante Alighieri’s second part of The Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, which was written in the early 14th century. In the poem, Purgatory is depicted as a mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of seven levels of spiritual growth and suffering. At the top of the seven levels of Mount Purgatory is Earthly Paradise. In Dan Brown’s Inferno, Robert Langdon describes Mount Purgatory as a path where one can observe “reprentant souls ascending…each paying an appropriate price for a given sin” (Brown 249).




Gesso– Gesso is a white paint mixture consistingof chalk, gypsum, and pigment. It is used for preparing wood panels, canvas, and as a base paint for sculptures. The traditional gesso is an “Italian gesso”, which is made up of a mix of animal glue binder, chalk and white pigment. Gesso is often used because of its ability to absorb. The texture on the back of Dante’s death mask in Dan Brown’s Inferno “was far rougher than that of the front” (Brown 250). Langdon explains to Sienna that gesso was used

on the back of the mask and that artists “use gesso to clean white toothy surface, and sometimes to cover up unwanted paintings if they want to reuse a canvas” (Brown 251).  Langdon and Sienna then discover writing on the back of the death mask, which had been covered up by the gesso.


Alexandra Fields

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