In his prefatory letter to Cristoforo Landino's commentary to the Comedy, Marsilio Ficino presents a dramatic encounter between Dante and Florence. The city's lament over Dante's long absence moves Apollo to command Mercury to possess the “pious“ mind of the “divine poet” Cristoforo Landino. Mercury then assumes Landino's countenance, arouses Dante from his sleep with a life-giving wand, and transports him to Florence. There, Dante is gloriously crowned as he prophesied in Paradiso 25.1-12. The significance of this elaborate mythological sequence is obvious: through the merits of Landino's commentary, Dante is honorably restored to Florence after an exile of almost two centuries.
Ficino's high expectations of the commentary's favorable reception were not unfounded. Presented to the Florentine Signoria on 30 August, 1481 in a sumptuous edition with engravings now attributed to Botticelli, Landino's commentary rapidly won the esteem and admiration of his contemporaries.