Usate La Mascherina!

Dante Alighieri died just prior to the arrival of the Black Death in Italy, but the bubonic plague had afflicted the country in the past, and there were other epidemic contagions with which he would have been familiar: leprosy, smallpox, tuberculosis, anthrax. So he would have understood the need for masks, and according to his epic poem Divine Comedy, there is a special place in hell for the type of people who refuse to wear masks during a pandemic, and we are here to advise.

Attention incoming freshman: Sowers of Discord will be consigned to the Eighth Circle of Hell (Bear Bucks not accepted) where you will be “hacked and mutilated for all eternity by a large demon wielding a bloody sword . . . these are the sinners who are ‘ready to rip up the whole fabric of society to gratify a sectional egotism.'” So wear a mask.

This bronze bust of Dante by Italian sculptor Paolo Abbate scowls at passers-by from above, in front of the John Hay Library on Prospect Street. It was a gift from the Italians of Rhode Island to Brown University to commemorate the sixth centenary of Dante’s death in 1321.


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