You will notice in a moment some very obvious similarities between this common map and the one Dante is constructing for us, even though the latter emerges as something much more sophisticated. Indeed, Dante is, in a sense, adopting such a map as his basic design and extending it. He is taking the reader's understanding of the world and delivering back in an enormously imaginative yet still recognizable form. Such maps were very current even as late as the time of Columbus. It's interesting to note that when he had to give directions on how to get to America, his instructions were to sail south until the butter melts and then turn right; moreover, he believed to the end of his life that he had reached Asia, because in his image of the world there were only three continentsthus, he must have reached the Indies.
Modern maps, of the sort most... [continues]
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