TEI for the Divine Comedy Soul: The World of Dante

Through the TEI projects portal, I came across The World of Dante created by the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities, University of Virginia. The site is dedicated to the study of the Divine Comedy through multimedia research tools such as interactive maps, diagrams, music, and a timeline. The project uses a combination of SGML and XML and states that translators had to make compromises but their hope is that any loss in translation can be made up by the other data available on the site that is not found elsewhere online (Parker, The World of Dante).

The site offers a variety of viewpoints into Dante’s World but some aspects seem odd and hard to maneuver. For example, Interactive view of Botticelli’s Chart of Hell  is at first unclear as there are no instructions on how manipulate the map nor what you are seeing (or that could just be me). The timeline is an interesting feature that uses XML and gives documentation and source code for those wishing to build their own timelines. Each book is edited in XML that is indexed and searchable throughout the site. The layout of each canto is Italian on the left and English translation on the right. XML tags are visible in a column on the right and are divided into: people, places, creature, etc. Selecting an option brings up a new window with the tag used displayed in the header and a description of that selection. For example, in Canto 2 of Inferno under the People tag, if Enea is selected, a window opens with the header “Person”, a “Name” tag, “Description” tag, and “more information” link. Clicking on the link will show more tags associated with the person such as, gender, nature, etc.

Inferno, Canto 2
The World of Dante: Inferno, Canto 2

The site offers a detailed description of the editorial process and some of the challenges with translating poetry. It gives some editorial guidelines for tagging and what decisions were made about relevant data such as persons, mythical creatures, etc. It mentions the use of software for the project, but does not name it. Consequently, it does not make its code available for others to use or view. Overall, the site is a good resource for those looking to engage with The World of Dante, offers open access to literary texts, and makes good use of XML for presentation and searchability of material.


The World of Dante. University of Virginia. Accessed February 2, 2016. http://www.worldofdante.org/

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