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Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri, depicts the journey of a soul through the various circles of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. It is generally considered one of the greatest works of world literature ever written. Another work of his is La Vita Nuova. An interesting fact about Dante is that he had deep but unrequited love for a woman named Beatrice, who served as his muse and even appears near the end of the Divine Comedy.   

Who Was Dante Alighieri?

Dante Alighieri, often referred to as simply Dante, was a prolific Italian poet during the Middle Ages. His most famous work, Divine Comedy, especially Inferno, is considered the greatest literary work ever composed in the Italian language and is widely thought of as a masterpiece of world literature. Called il Sommo Poeta (the Supreme Poet) in his home country of Italy and is also considered the Father of the Italian language. He, Boccaccio, and Petrarch are referred to as ‘the three fountains’ and ‘the three crowns’. He is revered as one of the greatest writers of all time.

Notable Works

Dante Alighieri’s most famous work is the Divine Comedy, which describes the journey of through the afterlife, including hell, purgatory, and paradise, much like Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. The Divine Comedy’s part on hell is vivid, but takes patience and knowledge of the subject for the modern reader to be able to appreciate and understand it. For purgatory, the writing is much more human and lyrical in order for the reader to relate. Later, the section on paradise is heavy with religious motifs and themes with mystical and beautiful passages in order to describe the divinity of heaven that Dante himself admitted he could not properly convey. Some of his other works include Convivio, a collection of his longest poems complete with commentary; Monarchia, a dissertation of Latin political philosophy that was condemned and destroyed after his death; De vulgari eloquentia, inspired by the Razos de trobar; and La Vita Nuova, a story for his love Beatrice.

Dante's Unique Writing Style

Dante Alighieri utilized a writing style of rhyme known was terza rima, meaning triple rhyme. Each stanza in triple rhyme consists of three lines. The first and third lines rhyme. The second line rhymes with the first and third line of the next stanza, and it continues on in that fashion. The pattern goes: ABA, BCB, CDC, DED, etc. The tone is monotonous but beautiful. The triple rhyme is significant to Dante because of the holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

More About Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri claimed that he and his family were decedents of ancient Romans, though he did not name anyone specific earlier than Cacciaguida of 1100. Because his family were White Guelphs but suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines victory in the Battle of Montaperti, indicating that his family had status and prestige. 

Dante's great love was Beatrice, whom much of his work was inspire by or written for. At the time of his youth, it was not uncommon for children to be promised in marriage. When he was twelve, he was promised to the daughter of a member of a very powerful family in Italy. However, since their meeting when he was nine years old, he was hopelessly in love with Beatrice. Though he was still forced to marry the other woman, he loved Beatrice from afar and wrote her many sonnets. 

Along with Dickens and Hemingway, Dante Alighieri is one of the most easily recognized names in literature, His work, The Divine Comedy is perhaps one of the most easily recognizable works. He expertly tailors his writing to more effectively communicate his message and make his writer have the emotional connection with hi work that he wants them to have. His proficiency in language and literature truly make him a master.

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