Grateful for Dante
How the Great-Souled Tuscan Saved My Life
On a warm October day in Ravenna, the ancient Roman imperial capital on the Adriatic, I walked down a street that runs by the Franciscan basilica and dead-ends at a small neoclassical monument topped with a dome. This is the Tomb of Dante, erected in the city where the fourteenth-century poet spent the final years of his life, and died. I entered the shaded portico quietly and stood to the side, waiting for German tourists to finish their inspection of the sarcophagus. Then, alone at the grave of the man whom God had used to deliver me from my own dark wood, I fell to my knees and prostrated myself in gratitude.
This is not the kind of place a middle-aged man from a small Louisiana town finds himself, nor is making a full prostration the normal thing that Dante admirers do at his tomb. But I needed to do this as an act of pietas. The wandering Tuscan had saved my life. He saved me from what the Welsh call hiraeth, defined as "homesickness for a home to which you cannot return; the nostalgia, the years, the grief for the lost places of your past."
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Rod Dreher is a contributing editor to Touchstone. He is a senior editor and blogger at the American Conservative and author of How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, and Live Not by Lies: A Survival Manual for Christian Dissidents. He is Eastern Orthodox and lives with his wife, Julie, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They have three children.
more on literature from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives