Sorry! Italian Town Apologizes for Exiling Dante

Town council of Gubbio asks for pardon for persecuting the poet Dante 700 years ago
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2016 6:25 PM CDT
Sorry! Italian Town Town Apologizes for Exiling Dante
An anonymous 19th century portrait of Dante Alighieri.   (Unkonwn/Wikimedia Commons)

It's never too late to say you're sorry. An Italian town has apologized for sending the nation's most famous poet into exile seven centuries ago, the Telegraph reports. A death warrant hanging over his head, Dante Alighieri fled the city of Florence in 1302, never to return again. The father of the Italian language was charged with fraud and extortion after becoming entangled in a feud between rival noble families. Living most of his remaining years in Verona, Dante's persecution wasn't all bad: It was during this time that he wrote his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, which satirized his enemies and Florentine politics. He died in Ravenna in 1321. It was a magistrate named Cante Gabrielli who had signed the order sentencing Dante to burn at the stake, and now Gabrielli's hometown wants to make up for that fact.

Gubbio, in Umbria, is seeking pardon for its (admittedly distant) role in persecuting Dante because officials feel it is the town's "moral responsibility" to do so, per a spokesperson. The town council voted 19 to five to revoke Dante's exile, and also presented his descendants with its highest honor, the Golden Florin. "We don’t intend this to be a reprisal against (Gabrielli), but rather highlight an event that changed the course of literary history," says Gubbio's mayor. Last year, Italy celebrated the 750th anniversary of Dante's birth, prompting other mea culpas—not all of them welcome. One of Dante's descendants rejected Florence's efforts to present him with that city's Golden Florin, reports the Guardian; Count Pieralvise Serego Alighieri said the Florentines were not sorry enough. There was no word on whether he would accept Gubbio's apology. (More Dante Alighieri stories.)

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