My 2016 A to Z theme revealed

atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

It’s time for the yearly A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal! To see all the other theme reveals, click on the button above.

To the high imagination force now failed;
But like to a wheel whose circling nothing jars
Already on my desire and will prevailed
The Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.

My theme this year will be names from The Divine Comedy, one of the greatest works of literature of all time, by Dante Alighieri, the greatest Italian writer of all time. Thus, most of the names are Italian, Latin, and Greek. Since not all letters are represented in The Divine Comedy, or only have names for one sex, I did wildcards as usual for those exceptions. I tried to find Italian, Greek, or Latin names for those wildcards, to fit with the overall theme. In the interest of fairness, I always do both a male and female name each day.

You’ll learn about names including:

Virgil, Dante’s idol and his guide through Hell and Purgatory
Matilda, Dante’s guide through the final leg of Purgatory
Beatrice, Dante’s muse, the great unrequited love of his life, and his guide through Paradise
Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hell
Geryon, a human-faced giant monster who guards the Eighth Circle of Hell
Tomyris, Queen of the Massagetae, who defeated the Persians under King Cyrus
Brunetto Latini, Dante’s guardian after his father’s death, treated more respectfully and lovingly than anyone else who appears in Inferno
Lavinia, wife of Aeneas and ancestor of the Roman people
And Dante himself, of course!

Salutation of Beatrice, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The translation I’ve used is The Portable Dante, from Laurence Binyon, one of the books my parents let me take from their shelves. This volume also includes the autobiographical La Vita Nuova and excerpts from The Rhymes, De Vulgari Eloquentia, De Monarchia, and The Epistles. The original edition was published in 1947, and my edition is a 1969 update, so I’m well aware it’s not exactly the most modern version. It even uses Elizabethan conventions like thee, thou, thine, becometh, and seemeth. I’d like to eventually get a more modern translation, but I’m emotionally attached to this one, particularly the opening lines:

Midway life’s journey I was made aware
That I had strayed into a dark forest,
And the right path appeared not anywhere.
Ah, tongue cannot describe how it oppressed,
This wood, so harsh, dismal, and wild, that fear
At thought of it strikes now into my breast.
So bitter it is, death is scarce bitterer.
But, for the good it was my hap to find,
I speak of the other things that I saw there.
I cannot remember well in my mind
How I came thither, so was I immersed
In sleep, when the true way I left behind.

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8 thoughts on “My 2016 A to Z theme revealed

  1. Awesome! The translation my poetry group is using is the one by Clive James, so it’ll be interesting to look up the fragments you use and compare them / the word choice… We did that with Rilke; we were reading the Edward Snow translation, but someone had an earlier version of it—by Snow himself, but even then it made a pretty significant difference — and started all sorts of discussions on word choices and nuances and… Yeah. I’m a word geek 😀

    Super cool theme, Carrie-Anne. Will be back for more!
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

  2. Brilliant theme, it’ll be interesting learning the meaning behind some of the names of Dante’s most famous characters!
    Debbie

  3. I recently visited Dante’s House and Museum in Florence and became fascinated with all things Dante. I purchased the Divine Comedy in Italian and English, but haven’t managed to get through much of it. Interesting theme–best of luck! Gail at Making Life An Art

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