Dante Alighieri’s Inferno playing cards

I must admit that writing about this deck is a little bit beyond me. Reason being I did not do well in literature when I was in school and to further complicate matters, Italian literature is definitely not something I dabbled with in school. I did not really want to write an article since I know next to nothing about Dante Alighieri and his opus magnum, Divina Commedia or Divine Comedy in English. However, it stirred enough interest in me to write something about it.

When I heard about Divine Comedy, I was thinking that it is a play or a book depicting a very comical situation or act. How wrong was I when I did some search on wikipedia and google. So back in Dante’s time (14th century AD), a comedy wasn’t a word used to classify a funny art performance. Back in Dante’s time, poems were classified generally either a tragedy or a comedy. A tragedy is where a play begins pleasantly and nice but ends badly like the hero dies whereas in a comedy a play starts off difficult and harsh but ends on a happy note. There you have it, a useless piece of information that can impress people but does nothing else significantly.

Back to the Divine Comedy, it is written into three parts, Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory) and Paradiso (paradise). It is a description of Dante’s own journey through the aforementioned three stages. It is an allegory of his own spiritual journey from hell to heaven. I will not delve too much into it and you can read more here under Project Gotunberg.

This playing cards will touch on the Inferno stage which Passione Team did 2 years ago in Avernum. The artwork in Avernum shows a more sketchy artwork which Passione Team explained “was meant to signify the beginning of the Inferno project.”

DAI Avernum and Inferno.png
Comparing artwork of Avernum (left) and Inferno (right)

This Inferno playing cards is meant to show that the Inferno project is complete with full artwork drawn for the court cards.

The concept of the seven deadly sins is covered in Dante’s Infern. Quite coincidentally, this coincides with Thirdway Industries’ launch of SINS. More on the Inferno project, it offers two decks, Dite, which is a “city in hell where sinners are punished with flames and extreme temperatures.” Explaining why the tuck box is red in colour and covered with flames. The back of the card is red with a circle in the middle of the card surrounding flames. The two joker cards in Dite can be joined to form a scene where Dante meets Virgil who guides him through hell. Lastly, I would like to point out that the Inferno decks will be manufactured by Legends Playing Card Company (LPCC).

The Cocito deck refers to the frozen lake located at the bottom of Dante’s Inferno which is where the worst sinners are kept. Who does Dante consider the worst sinner? Traitors apparently. Devoid of fire and burning flame, Cocito is cold as ice and the tuck box will be in blue colour to depict coldness together with the card back which is in blue with a cirle in the middle surrounding ice spikes. The two joker cards will form a picture of Lucifer (the Devil, morningstar and fallen Angel)

Two colours will be used for the suits. Red for Hearts and Diamonds to represent sins committed by passion. Black for Clubs and Spades to represent sins committed by intent or purpose.

DAI Diamonds Court
Left to right: Cleopatra, Pluto and Caronte

 

DAI Hearts Court
Left to right: Semiramide, Minosse and Minotauro
DAI Clubs Court
Left to right: Arpie, Gerione,Giasone
DAI Spades Court
Left to right: Taide, Malacoda and Count Ugolino
DAI 4 Aces
Left to right: Paolo & Francesca, Ulisse & Diomede, Cerbero, Erinni

This is a deck that is worthy of collection based on the artwork and the fact that this is inspired by Dante’s Inferno which is considered a masterpiece.


Sources

Dante’s Inferno Playing Cards (Kickstarter project)

Dante’s Inferno (Gutenburg Project)

Passione Playing Cards

Wikipedia (various links)