Giulio Acquaticci (b. Treia, 1846 d. Macerata, 1919) was
an Italian provincial intellectual, poet and Dantophile, who distinguished
himself above all as a collector of editions of the Divine Comedy
and of critical works about Dante. The bulk of Acquaticci's Collezione
Dantesca, with the exception of the precious Renaissance editions purchased
by John A. Zahm in 1902, is today found in the Municipal Library of Macerata.
In addition to his activities as a collector, Acquaticci made a name for
himself as a popularizer of Dante. He published several works in this vein,
including Le gemme della Divina Commedia ("Gems of the Divine
Comedy" Cingoli, 1895) which gathered together and illustrated
what Acquaticci judged to be the finest of Dante's similes.
In 1896 Acquaticci authored a stultifying Esposizione sommaria della
Divina Commedia ("Summary Exposition of the Divina Commedia
Cingoli, 1896) which was intended, ironically, to restore the Divina
Commedia to the popularity which it had in the 14th century when professorships
were instituted to explicate it to the people. Acquaticci also published
two editions of the poem (Foligno, 1898; and Macerata, 1905), both accompanied
by his own commentary and graced with idiosyncratic variant readings culled
from the printed editions in his collection.
Acquaticci's Gnomologia della Divina Commedia ("Gnomology of
the Divina Commedia Macerata, 1903) is a collection of maxims and
memorable sayings from the poem, according to the order of the three cantiche.
Each passage is followed by a paraphrase and moral commentary by Acquaticci
beneath rubrics ranging from "The Good Use of Time," to "Shameless
Women," to "Vainglorious Preachers." In a final chapter appended
to this work on "The Orthodoxy of the Divine Comedy," Acquaticci
may allude to the visit of Monsignor Denis O'Connell (on behalf of J. A.
Zahm, to examine the books in Acquaticci's collection) when he speaks of
"...an erudite monsignor who marvelled to me that Dante's effigy appears
in the national monument to Luther at Worms, and he asked me for an explanation