Professor Mary Watt examines Columbus’s absorption and adaptation of the prevailing cosmology of the fifteenth century in creating a world model that bears a striking resemblance to that proposed in Dante’s Divina Commedia. Professor Watt considers why Columbus preferred a literary model to that of the “hard scientists” of his time, and suggests that Columbus, like Dante, saw the world as having both literal and allegorical significance. In support of this argument she examines Columbus’s own writings, most notably his Book of Prophecies, (El Libro de las Profecias) together with Columbus’s extant letters and diaries and concludes that Columbus not only saw his journey as the fulfillment of medieval apocalyptic prophecy but also that he believed that what he had “discovered” was indeed Earthly Paradise perched, like Dante’s Earthly Paradise, atop the western antipodal landmass.
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