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  4. 'Dante started rightwing thought in Italy' says culture min

'Dante started rightwing thought in Italy' says culture min

'You were not made to say poppycock' says one critic in row

(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 16 - Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano has caused a political and literary flap in Italy by saying the country's greatest poet Dante was "the founder of rightwing thought in Italy".
    The political opposition immediately sprang to the defence of the national Supreme Poet saying the conservative culture minister's characterisation was "a caricature" of the immortal poet and religious philosopher's work and thinking.
    Many on the left and centre produced quotes from Dante's masterpiece the Divine Comedy to criticise and mock Sangiuliano, a member of Premier Giorgia Meloni's rightwing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.
    "You were not made to say poppycock" said one critic echoing the famed line by Ulysses to his men in Inferno: "You were not made to live like brutes but to pursue virtue and knowledge".
    Another said "don't mind him, but walk on by", an echo of Roman poet Virgil's exhortation to his medieval heir not to led too much attention to the damned.
    Another said that "Dante would put this government among the slothful", the idle and weak-willed also condemned to eternal damnation, while another wag said "With Dante, the trains would run on time," along the lines of the saying "Mussolini may have done some bad things, but at least he made the trains run on time".
    Sangiuliano, who stressed that he thought Italy should not replace leftwing critical hegemony with a rightwing one, but only make culture "free", on Monday rowed back his statement as a "provocation" meant to ignite fruitful cultural debate.
    The minister was appointed by the new conservative government after the September 25 general election after serving as news chief on the conservative-leaning Raidue channel of state broadcaster Rai. (ANSA).


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