Faithful Heroes: Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri is considered one of the finest poets Italy ever produced, one of the greatest poets of world literature and the “Father of the Italian language”.

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri was born around 1265 in Florence, Italy. He was the son of Alaghiero and Bella, who died when he was about ten years old.

At the age of 12, he was promised in marriage to Gemma di Manetto Donati. The two were married at some point and had at least three children. However, he claimed to meet and fall in love with Beatrice Portinari at first sight. He wrote several poems to Beatrice, but none to Gemma.

By all accounts, Dante never knew Beatrice well and his feelings are the asis for courtly love. He often depicts her in his writings as semi-divine.

He entered the Physicians’ and Apothecaries’ Guild and made various speeches.

He became embroiled in the Guelph–Ghibelline conflict and fought in the 1289 Battle of Campaldino.

Dante Alighieri in Verona by Antonio Cotti

He became a pharmacist and obtained admission in the Apothecaries’ Guild. He also continued as a politician, but accomplished little.

Beatrice Portinari died in 1290 marking a turning point in Dante’s life. He inspired to Christian devotion and poetry. He wrote Vita Nuova {The New Life} to commemorate her death.

Dante was sent as a delegate to bring peace to the military conflict. The other delegates were quickly dismissed by Pope Boniface, but Dante was asked to remain.

Charles of Valois entered Rome and considered him an absconded, ordering him to pay a fine, which he refused believing he had done nothing wrong. He was exiled from Florence and if he returned without paying the fine, would have been burned at the stake.

He grew disgusted with the fighting and went to Verona. He later settled in Lucca and may have visited other areas.

His command of philosophy and literary interest deepened while in exile.

Dante Alighieri

At some point during his exile, he conceived the Comedy. The first part, the Inferno was published by 1317.

Dante’s Divine Comedy describes his journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. The work soon became a cornerstone of the Italian literary language. This work is described as a “great work of medieval literature…and a philosophical Christian vision of mankind’s eternal fate.”

He was one of the first to break free of traditional publishing methods in the Roman Catholic Western Europe.

He died on September 13 or 14, 1321 in Ravenna, Papal.



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