(ANSA) - Rome, January 31 - Dante could have been tripping on psychedelic drugs in his loftiest poetic flights, an Italian expert said Tuesday, commenting on cheeky speculation by eminent British Dantist Barbara Reynolds. "It's not just possible but probable," said Giulio Leoni, a scholar who has written three 'cowl and dagger' thrillers featuring Dante as an imaginary detective.
But Italy's Dante Association was sniffy about the idea, saying "this is not a credible hypothesis".
"There has recently been a widespread and regrettable tendency to project all our vices onto Dante, even the guiltiest ones," said the association's president, Guglielmo Gorni.
One of Italy's two great Dante popularisers, scholar and broadcaster Vittorio Sermonti, called the notion of an acid-dropping Dante "completely idiotic".
The other one, filmmaker Roberto Benigni, told an audience for his regular Dante reading and stand-up show Tuesday night: "People today take heroin to write a rock song. What was Dante supposed to do?"
If drugs aid in the creative process, then one would think that the songs coming out today would be a whole lot more interesting. Maybe, just maybe, Dante was just a really intelligent guy with insights most people will never have, even if they dope up.