DANTE ALIGHIERI

Regarded as one of the most prominent poets of all times and the creator of the universally known epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri stands out among all poets. Undoubtedly, this man is considered to be the greatest Italian poet. His name is listed proudly with the names of Petrarch and Boccaccio. He was called “il somma poeta,” what means supreme poet. Many think of him as being the best poet Western civilization has ever produced. The imagination of Dante Alighieri demostrated in his works still impresses people through centuries. He was a poet and philosopher whose world-known trilogy – The Divine Comedy – has contributed greatly to both literature and theology.

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 to a family involved into some political issues. His mother died early, several years after Dante`s birth. Little is known to us about his education. Some claim that he gained formal basic instructions concerning grammar, language, and philosophy at one of the city schools. From his childhood, Dante was keen on literature, showing high interest and expanding his knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Being a child, he passionately fell in love with a girl, whose name was Beatrice. It was love at first sight – a strong lifetime feeling. They knew each other for years, however rarely spoke. Unfortunately, Beatrice died in 1290. It was a turning point in Dante`s life. Five years later, Dante published Vita Nuova (The New Life), where the tragic love to Beatrice is described in details. It was the first Dante`s effort to show her as the highest symbol of love, beauty, and purity. One interesting fact about it is that the poem was written in Italian, while the traditional writing language of that time was Latin. It goes without saying, that this love to the neighbor girl Beatrice inspired the poet a lot. He developed a new original style of writing with the central theme of love.

Then Dante found himself involved in the machinations of the Florentine political situation. One of the prominent political bodies accused him of corruption regarding political treachery. As a result, Alighieri was forced to leave his native city. It was only the beginning of his most flourishing artistic period. Written while he was in exile, the Divine Comedy, which consists of three parts, has become a true masterpiece of all times. It caused an immediate sensation within society. Each part of the poem was aimed to refer to something important to all humans. In general, this poem symbolized personal eternal transformation and changes of the poet, and the journey of the lost human soul. The wayfarer from the Divine Comedy, guided by Virgil and Beatrice, goes through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, which are hell, heaven’s waiting room and heaven respectively. Inferno is the most popular part of the poem, which is widely studied by researchers. Dante travels through various parts of Hell, seeing how people suffer because of their sins. Those who recognize their faults get a chance to continue the purification in Purgatorio. The final and most desirable destination, where people meet God is Paradiso.

The Divine Comedy is an allegory of life, which is shown as an afterlife trip. This trip is considered to be a warning to the society that lives in total corruption. It is one of the most amazing works of literature. Many scholars worked very hard to translate Dante`s Italian into English.

Alighieri used his own life as the basis of the poem. It helped him to create a sincere and wisely written masterpiece. The Divine Comedy helps the people of our time to understand the personality of Dante as well as themselves.

The pilgrim in the Divine Comedy journeys through

  • Inferno (hell),  
  • Purgatory, which in Catholic theology is a sort of heaven’s waiting room, and
  • Paradiso (heaven, where he is reunited with God and Beatrice).

Dante’s poetry is for everyone who has ever been in love, who has ever felt lost, who has ever felt betrayed or  incredibly grateful that everything worked out well. In other words, Dante’s poetry is for everyone.

DANTE ALIGHIERI CITATIONS

1 Martha Bayles, “Dante’s Inferno,” Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week228/feature.html, Accessed 31 July 2009.

2 R.W.B. Lewis, Dante (Lipper/Viking: 2001), 25.

3 R.W.B. Lewis, Dante (Lipper/Viking: 2001), 84.

4 Robert Pinsky, “The Personal Was Political,” New York Times, 29 July 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/29/books/the-personal-was-political.html?pagewanted=2, Accessed 31 July 2009.

5 Dante Alighieri, The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky (The Noonday Press: New York),

6 R.W.B. Lewis, Dante (Lipper/Viking: 2001), 188

7 Robert Pinsky, “The Personal Was Political,” New York Times, 29 July 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/29/books/the-personal-was-political.html?pagewanted=2, Accessed 31 July 2009.

8 Dante Alighieri, The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky (The Noonday Press: New York), 207.

9 Dante Alighieri, The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky (The Noonday Press: New York), 175.

10 Dante Alighieri, The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation by Robert Pinsky (The Noonday Press: New York), 355.

11 “Dante’s Burial,” GreatDante.net, http://www.greatdante.net/dust.html, Accessed 30 July 2009.

12 Wen Stephenson, “Poetry, Computers, and Dante’s Inferno: An online conference with Robert Pinsky,” The Atlantic Online, 19 April 1995, http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/aandc/trnscrpt/pinsky.htm, Accessed 31 July 2009.

13 Diana Jean Schemo, “Bringing Dante Into the Realm of Contemporary English,” New York Times, 31 January 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/31/books/bringing-dante-into-the-realm-of-contemporary-english.html, Accessed 31 July 2009.

14 Diana Jean Schemo, “Bringing Dante Into the Realm of Contemporary English,” New York Times, 31 January 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/31/books/bringing-dante-into-the-realm-of-contemporary-english.html, Accessed 31 July 2009.

15 Diana Jean Schemo, “Bringing Dante Into the Realm of Contemporary English,” New York Times, 31 January 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/31/books/bringing-dante-into-the-realm-of-contemporary-english.html, Accessed 31 July 2009.

16 R.W.B. Lewis, Dante (Lipper/Viking: 2001), 58.

17 Shmoop Editorial Team, “Suffering Quotes: Purgatorio,” Shmoop.com, Shmoop University, Inc., https://www.shmoop.com/purgatorio/suffering-quotes.html, Accessed 5 August 2009.

18 Shmoop Editorial Team, “Fate and Free Will Quotes: Paradiso,” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., https://www.shmoop.com/paradiso/fate-free-will-quotes.html, Accessed 5 August 2009.

19 Dante Alighieri, “All My Thoughts Can Only Speak of Love,” Dante, Lyric Poems: A New Translation by Joseph Tusiani, SUNY Stony Brook, http://www.italianstudies.org/poetry/vn7.htm, Accessed 5 August 2009.

20 Dante Alighieri, “Since Love Has Parted Company With Me,” Dante, Lyric Poems: A New Translation by Joseph Tusiani, SUNY Stony Brook, http://www.italianstudies.org/poetry/ex1.htm, Accessed 5 August 2009.

21 Diana Jean Schemo, “Bringing Dante Into the Realm of Contemporary English,” New York Times, 31 January 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/31/books/bringing-dante-into-the-realm-of-contemporary-english.html, Accessed 31 July 2009.

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