by Ami J. Sanghvi
*** All quotations in this article are pulled from the Oxford World’s Classics 1992 edition of Vita Nuova, translated by Mark Musa.
The first time I ever read Vita Nuova, I came away from it with two major thoughts:
1) Dante is SUCH a solid writer.
2) This dude’s Venus was TOTALLY in Leo.
Additional readings only served to confirm this suspicion. But first, let’s take it from the top.
Vita Nuova, first published in 1294, is a vastly dramatic, enamored, and yearnful poetry-prose collection Dante Alighieri wrote about Beatrice — the woman he considered the love of his life, and later made transcendent in Divine Comedy. While there are, of course, arguments to be made regarding the prominence of Dante’s Leo Venus in Divine Comedy, they pale in comparison to certain instances present in his lesser known, but still renowned, L O V E collection.
For those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Zodiac, a person whose Venus is in Leo generally has a fiery, intense, and extremely overdramatic approach to romance. Phenomenally, and when it comes to Dante, this description of Venus in Leo is an understatement.
Listen — the levels of chaotic bisexual energy radiating off this man are already absurd. Throw in a Leo Venus, and it’s over for us all. Relatedly, someone PLEASE find Dante’s spirit some bisexual lighting or something. Virgil knows he needs it.
Here — let me put my money where my mouth is. Below are five instances in Vita Nuova where there is no denying that Dante’s Venus in Leo (with very necessary modern-day translations that I, for some reason, felt deeply compelled to write).
And no, I won’t be checking Dante’s birth chart for confirmation. I’m a Leo sun and Leo rising, plus my Venus is in Virgo AND in my first house. Stated otherwise, I’m fabulous and cannot stand to be wrong.
#1. “She appeared dressed in the most noble of colours, a subdued and decorous crimson, girded and adorned in a style suitable to her years. At that moment, and what I say is true, the vital spirit, the one that dwells in the most secret chamber of the heart, began to tremble so violently that even the least pulses of my body were strangely affected; and trembling, it spoke these words: ‘Here is a god stronger than I, who shall come to rule over me.’”
Modern-day translation: Dante finds Beatrice very, VERY hot. The hotness levels are so high that the mere visual of her in that super fabulous dress will likely be the death of him.
Dante finds Beatrice so hot, in fact, that he decides to worship her from afar. Sometimes, when he’s alone, he fantasizes about what it might be like to impress her with the vast range of Pokémon he has listed in his Pokédex, or how hard he goes with Kirby anytime he plays Super Smash Bros. Melee.
In other words, Beatrice is to Dante what Britney Spears is to me.
#2. “While walking down a street, she turned her eyes to where I was standing faint-hearted and, with that indescribable graciousness that today is rewarded in the eternal life, she greeted me so miraculously that I felt I was experiencing the very summit of bliss. It was precisely the ninth hour of that day (three o’clock in the afternoon), when her sweet greeting reached me. And since that was the first time her words had entered my ears, I was so overcome with ecstasy that I departed from everyone as if intoxicated.”
Modern-day translation: Beatrice says hello to some random poetry dude who, unbeknownst to her, has a MASSIVE crush on her. Fortunately for her, random poetry dude is the type of guy who writes sad screamo lyrics in his favorite Kirby notebook rather than harassing strangers he wants to sleep with on Twitter.
Anyhow, said dude absolutely FLIPS upon being acknowledged by Total Hot Girl Beatrice, mentally plans their entire wedding, and jots down potential names for their future children in the back of his journal…
Fine, fine, fine. I’ll admit it:
Maybe, just maybe, Dante had some major Cancer placements, too.
#3. “After that vision my natural spirit began to slacken in its working for I had become wholly absorbed in the thought of this most gracious lady. It was but a short time before I became so weak and so frail that many of my friends were concerned about my appearance; others, fully of envy, were striving to learn about me that which above all I wished to keep secret. Then I, becoming aware of the maliciousness of their questions, by Love’s will, which commanded me according to the counsel of reason, would answer by saying that it was Love that had governed me so. I said that it was Love because on my face so many of his signs were clearly marked that they were impossible to conceal. And when people would ask, ‘For whom has Love so undone you?’ I, smiling, would look at them and say nothing.”
Modern-day translation: All Dante does is watch Nicholas Sparks movies, drink Soylent, and sob over how in love he is. In other words, the dude is lovesick, and refuses to hang out with his bros while he broods and writes sappy sonnets for a woman who’ll probably never read them.
Dante’s friends aren’t even surprised when he doesn’t show up for their annual Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. He’s so in love with some ~mysterious person~ that he pushes Kirby to the wayside. His bros even have him on record saying, “The world’s second most chaotic fluffball will simply have to wait!”
Unfortunately, and as Dante will soon discover for himself, Kirby waits for no one.
#4. “As he said these words, his image faded in my mind, and suddenly Love became so great a part of me that, as if transformed in my appearance, I rode on that day very pensive and accompanied by many sighs.”
Modern-day translation: Total Hot Girl Beatrice is SUCH a babe that Dante has no choice but to befriend Love. Yes, you heard that correctly: Dante befriends Love.
Love and Dante have powerful conversations indicative of potential poly bisexual energy. Later, when Love peaces out for the day, Dante flips his hair and sighs, so everyone knows he’s pensive, broody, and troubled. Add him on Twitter: @AngstLordDante666. You’ll know you found the right account when the pinned tweet reads “love hurts </3,” and below it is a bunch of @FrogAndToadBot retweets.
And yes, that is Kirby in his profile picture.
#5. “Whenever and wherever she appeared, in anticipation of her marvellous greeting, I held no man my enemy, and there burned within me a flame that consumed all past offences; and during this time if anyone had asked me about anything, my answer, with face free of all pride, could only have been ‘Love’. And when she was about to greet me, one of Love’s spirits, annihilating all the spirits of the senses, would drive out the feeble spirits of sight, saying to them, ‘Go and pay homage to your mistress’; and he would take their place. And whoever might have wished to know what Love is, could have done so by looking at my trembling eyes. And when this most gracious one’s salutation greeted me, Love was no medium capable of my unbearable bliss, but rather, as if possessed with an excess of sweetness, he became such that my body, which was completely under his rule, often moved like a heavy inanimate object. Now it is most evident that in her salutation lay my blessed happiness, which many times exceeded and overflowed my brim.”
Modern-day translation: This is the groundwork that eventually led to Dante writing Divine Comedy. Completed only a year before his death, his epic and most famous poem serves to eternalize the late Beatrice. However, we’re not at that point in Dante’s life just yet. Here, he’s still young, foolish, and drinking White Claw out of a coffee mug because he believes it’s sophisticated.
Here’s the thing —
Dante is not simply infatuated. He’s an utterly fabulous poet whose Venus is quite clearly in Leo. You know as well as I do that it’s undeniable. In fact, that’s why Dante does stuff like pound energy drinks, write emo love poems, squeal anytime Beatrice likes one of his memes on the ‘gram, and pray he’ll someday be worthy of sliding into her DMs — because he’s a Kirby-loving poet whose Venus is in Leo.
There is absolutely no other explanation.
Sometimes — with his Venus in Leo and what not — Dante finds himself so lost in love that he has no choice but to ask himself,
What would Kirby do?
Sadly, he never finds any answers. That starship has long since sailed.