GENOA. Republic. Period of the Consuls (1139-1339), grosso worth 4 denarii (1.40 g), Castle gate; below, sphere. Reverse/ cross. Length: 3. AR, RARE.
For the 700th anniversary of Dante's death (1265-1321), Catawiki dedicates to the 'Sommo Poeta' an auction focusing on the coins of that period and the ones dedicated to the characters of his Divine Comedy.
DANTE AND GENOA
Dante, as it is known, was not sympathetic to the Genoese. "Different men of every costume and full of every flaw" was how he defined them and for the time it was not really considered a compliment. Let's try to understand why the great poet was so angry with the Superba.
When Dante sent the Genoese to Hell.
When in the 33rd canto Dante arrives in the ninth and last circle of Hell, he discovers a large frozen lake in which the guilty of treason atone for their sins in various ways. In the Caina the traitors of the relatives are punished, in the Antenòra there are the traitors of the homeland, in the Tolomea the traitors of the guests, in the Giudecca there are the traitors of the benefactors.
Arriving in Tolomea, Dante meets an illustrious Genoese, Branca Doria, a member of one of the noblest families of the city and an important politician of his time. Wanting to extend the family's domains in Sardinia, Doria had first married Caterina Zanche, daughter of an important feudal lord governor of Logudoro and then had his father-in-law assassinated during a banquet to which he had invited him.
The amazing thing is that, when the poet meets the Genoese nobleman, he is still alive and Dante does not fail to point out to his guide:
"I think, said I, that thou deceivest me, for Branca d’Oria is not dead as yet, but eats, drinks, and sleeps, and dons his clothes."
Virgil's response is ready to reveal the mystery. Branca's crime was so serious that his soul was immediately thrown into Hell, while on Earth the traitor's body is animated by a demon. In short, a sort of medieval zombie:
"Above us, in the Malebranche’s ditch, he said, there, where the sticky pitch is boiling, not yet had Michel Zanche’s soul arrived,
when in his stead this fellow left behind a devil in his body, as did also one of his kinsmen, who with him performed the treachery."
The story could also end here, but Dante still allows himself the time to launch a harsh invective against Genoa, home of treacherous people:
"Ah, Genoese! ye men estranged from all morality, and full of every vice, why from the earth are ye not wholly driven?".
What did the Genoese do him so much to deserve such a curse.
According to the chronicle of a 16th-century scholar, Oberto Foglietta (Eloggi degli Huomini Chiari della Liguria), published in Genoa in 1584, Dante's anger towards Branca Doria and his fellow citizens can be explained in this way. Dante would have stayed in Genoa and there he would have put himself in contrast with the Dorias. The events are thought to have occurred between 1311 and 1312. The Tuscan poet, a guest of the Lucca merchant community, would have stayed in via dei Malocelli, between Vico dei Parmigiani and the place of Mortedo near Acquasola, where the Umiliati cloister once stood. Here he would have been attacked and beaten by Branca Doria's friends and servants.
There are several versions of the fact: some say that Branca himself would have faced him on the street and publicly slapped him. Others think the attack was organised by Branca's son, Bernabò, lord of Sassello and Calvi, who allegedly had him attacked by his servants.
- Italy, Genovese Republic
- Repubblica. Periodo dei Consoli (1139-1339)
- Grosso da 4 Denari
- Precious metal