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Italy culture minister says Dante is founder of Italian right-wing thinking

Father of the Italian language is also founder of Italian right-wing thinking, claims Sangiuliano.

Italy's culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano caused a stir on Saturday by claiming that the mediaeval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri was the founder of Italian right-wing thinking.

Sangiuliano singled out Dante for his "vision of human and interpersonal relationships and also for his profoundly right-wing political construction", adding: ""The right has culture, a great culture, it just needs to affirm it".

The minister made his comments during a event in Milan organised by Fratelli d'Italia, the far-right party of Italy's premier Giorgia Meloni, ahead of regional elections in Lombardia.

Reaction

Intellectuals and politicians on the left queued up to scorn the remarks by Sangiuliano, who made headlines recently by claiming that the use of foreign words instead of Italian ones was "radical chic snobbery" and suggesting that the average American family coming to Italy could afford to pay higher entry fees to certain cultural sites such as Pompeii.

The philosopher and academic Massimo Cacciari blasted the minister's comments about Dante as "ridiculous" while Irene Manzi, culture representative of the centre-left Partito Democratico party, described Sangiuliano's analysis as "laughable and caricatured."

"If Minister Sangiuliano has to go and bother Dante to find a cultural reference to the right, the culture minister has some problems with history and Meloni has some problems with the choice of ministers", said Raffaella Paita, president of the centrist Azione-Italia Viva group in the senate.

"We advise the minister to leave Dante alone" - said Green Europe leader Angelo Bonelli - "because the cultural references of the right today are Trump and Bolsonaro."

Dante Alighieri

Born in Florence in 1265, Dante wrote his verses in the vernacular, opting for Tuscan dialect in an era when poetry was generally composed in Latin, meaning it was only read by the most educated readers.

He is best known for The Divine Comedy, a long narrative poem representing a 14th-century vision of the afterlife, describing a journey through the three realms of the dead: hell, purgatory and heaven.

Dante is celebrated each year in Italy on 25 March with Dantedì, a national day dedicated to the poet who died more than 700 years ago in exile in Ravenna.

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