The face of the man who created our vision of Hell is revealed after 700 years

2024-02-28 13:55:39 / MISTERE&KURIOZITETE ALFA PRESS

The face of the man who created our vision of Hell is revealed after 700 years

Dante Alighieri became an icon of Western literature with his writing, and his masterpiece was the Divine Comedy, which depicted a journey through heaven, hell and purgatory.

His description of hell is now the standard - a hell of nine rings where the worst offenders are confined to the deepest reaches and sinners receive ironic punishment for their misdeeds.

However, despite his lasting legacy, the artist's true face is shrouded in mystery, with the best-known paintings of his likeness created long after his death.

Now a new study has revealed what the writer looked like, using Dante's skull to digitally recreate the literary icon's appearance.

The face of the man who created our vision of Hell is revealed after 700 years

Brazilian graphics expert Cicero Moraes, lead author of the study, described why traditional depictions of the poet were short.

He said: "Most are based on information contained in the biography of Dante written by the writer Boccaccio.

Namely, that he was an individual of medium height, somewhat stooped, with a long face, an aquiline nose, and eyes larger than small.

However, Boccaccio did not know Dante personally and collected reports from people close to the poet and who lived with him.

"All approximations seem to follow Boccaccio's descriptions, but we seek to do strictly what the bones indicate."

The authors began by digitally recreating the Italian poet's skull, using a 1921 analysis of his bones, augmented with data from a 2007 article about his face.

Moraes said: 'We then proceeded with the facial approximation.

"This consists of making a series of projections based on statistical data derived from tomography and ultrasound analyzes and cross-referencing them with anatomical deformation."

The face of the man who created our vision of Hell is revealed after 700 years

Anatomical deformation is when the digitized face of a living donor is distorted until it fits the skull in question, revealing "a face compatible with that of the poet in life," Moraes said.

He continued: 'Two sets of images were created, one with an objective approach, in greyscale, without hair and with eyes closed.

'And another with color and subjective elements, such as the color of eyes, skin and clothing, according to the most popular images.'

Moraes said the face they had created revealed a troubled man.

"It shows a brilliant man but embittered by exile," he said.

The project also found that Dante – who is often hailed as the father of the Italian language – had a larger than average skull.

Moraes said: "There is a great deal of debate about a larger brain being endowed with greater intelligence.

"Even if we ignore this approach, it is a fact that Dante's work was that of a genius individual.