We shall move on to the Danteum such as to identify if there is an explicit overlap between, Islam, Commedia and architecture. If Terragni’s intention was, as he put it in his “Relazione sul Danteum”, that of “creare un fatto plastico di valore assoluto, vincolato spiritualmente ai criteri della composizione dantesca”18i, then it seems possible that parts of the inherited Islamic heritage of the Divina Commedia, were unknowingly incorporated in the three-dimensional translation of the book.
3.1. Terragni, Lingeri, Bontempelli and Sironi, a joint venture of the arts. Often presented as an architectural gesture exclusively, the Danteum was in truth a multidisciplinary venture at the intersection of literature, sculpture and architecture. Ideated by Rino Valdameri, the Director of the Accademia di Brera in Milan and president of the Società Dantesca Italiana, strongly supported as well as partially funded by the steel-magnate, Count Alessandro Poss, the building became a fertile playground for eminent literary figures such as Massimo Bontempelli.19 Bontempelli is in fact in great part responsible for theorising the framework of the translation, from text to built-object, that Terragni was going to adopt. For Bontempelli, Fascism was the product of an “era of the people”, and the role of architecture was to guide the arts towards a modernity that took the masses into consideration. But as a poet, he was interested in looking at architecture as a form of language – a remarkably progressive take on architecture given that the application of a semiotic lens to architectural discourse only really became popular in the 1970’s.20 The artist Mario Sironi was called upon to adorn the Danteum. His mission, however, remained rather contained and the integration of his art into the greater scheme was somewhat restricted to the rhetoric of the Third Rome – he would only produce “bassorilievi” for the building. Reinstituting a sense of “Romanità” was a standard architectural move under the regime – a rather ironic one in this context though, given that Sironi would have ended up depicting a medieval tale in Roman style and with Roman techniques, creating a bizarre chronological collage.