Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

The Divine Comedy was probably written before 1310, previous to the chronology hypothesized by the studious until now. It is one of the most significant clues that emerge from the current study being done by the Centro Pio Rajna on the “Officiolum”, written by Francesco da Barberino, the first witness to the Divine Comedy. A reproduction is now available from the Salerno publishing house.

The precious document, lost and then re-found in 2003, was presented in Tuscany for the first time a few weeks ago: it was then given to the president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.

Francesco da Barberino (1264-1348), was a Ghibelline jurist, poet, and writer of treatises. He was the first to mention the Divine Comedy and to attest to the knowledge of the first canticle when the poem was still being composed. “L’Officiolum” was edited and decorated by him between 1304 and 1309 and is the oldest prayer text known to be produced in Italy.

It contains text in Latin and the vernacular illustrated by a refined iconographic apparatus, where we can see hints of 2 great contemporaries of Francesco… Dante and Giotto. The loss of the manuscript had been mourned for a long time, until the propitious finding in the spring/summer of 2003.

It uncovered new horizons in middle Italian high culture (Tuscany-Emilia Romagna-Veneto) between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th. It focuses on illustrious names like Giotto for figurative art and Dante for the linguistic and literary.

The reproduction in facsimile, faithful to the original, offers a precious documentation open to the perusal of the public, of the most spectacular iconographic invention of miniature art between the 1200’s and 1300’s. The masterpiece, unpredictable in its magnificence, shows the work of an extraordinary intellectual of the autumn of the middle ages.