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Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian
poet A poet is a person who studies and creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be the creator (thought, thinker, songwriter, writer, or author) who creates (composes) poems (oral t ...

poet
, writer and philosopher. His ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...

Divine Comedy
'', originally called (modern Italian: ''Commedia'') and later christened by
Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet ...

Giovanni Boccaccio
, is widely considered one of the most important poems of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
and the greatest literary work in the Italian language. Dante is known for establishing the use of the
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
in literature at a time when most poetry was written in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...

Latin
, which was accessible only to the most educated readers. His ''
De vulgari eloquentia ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (; "On eloquence in the vernacular") is the title of a Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, it abruptly terminates in the middle of the second book. It was probably composed shortly aft ...
'' (''On Eloquence in the Vernacular'') was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. His use of the Florentine dialect for works such as '' The New Life'' (1295) and ''Divine Comedy'' helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language. His work set a precedent that important Italian writers such as
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet of early Italian Renaissance, Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest Renaissance humanism, humanists. Petrarch's rediscov ...

Petrarch
and
Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian people, Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanism, Renaissance humanist. Born in the town of Certaldo, he became so we ...

Boccaccio
would later follow. Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy. His depictions of
Hell In religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that ...

Hell
,
Purgatory Purgatory (, borrowed into English language, English via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christian denominations (mostly Catholic), an intermediate state after physical death ...

Purgatory
and
Heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common Religious cosmology, religious cosmological or transcendence (religion), transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deity, deities, angels, souls, saints, or Veneration of the dead, venerated ancest ...

Heaven
provided inspiration for the larger body of
Western art The art of Europe, or Western art, encompasses the history of art, history of visual art in Europe. European prehistoric art started as mobile Upper Paleolithic rock art, rock and cave painting and petroglyph art and was characteristic of the ...
and literature. He influenced English writers such as
Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet, author, and civil servant best known for ''The Canterbury Tales''. He has been called the "father of English literature", or, alternatively, the "father of English poetry". He wa ...

Geoffrey Chaucer
,
John Milton John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English people, English poet and intellectual. His 1667 epic poetry, epic poem ''Paradise Lost'', written in blank verse and including over ten chapters, was written in a time of immense ...

John Milton
and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the '' terza rima'', is attributed to him. He is described as the "father" of the Italian language, and in Italy he is often referred to as ' ("the Supreme Poet"). Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called the ("three crowns") of Italian literature.


Early life

Dante was born in
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,083 inhabitants in 2016, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.Bilancio demografico ...

Florence
,
Republic of Florence The Republic of Florence, officially the Florentine Republic ( it, Repubblica Fiorentina, , or ), was a History of Italy#Middle Ages, medieval and history of Italy#Modernity, early modern state that was centered on the list of cities in Italy, I ...
, in what is now Italy. The exact date of his birth is unknown, although it is generally believed to be around 1265. This can be deduced from autobiographic
allusion Allusion is a figure of speech, in which an object or circumstance from unrelated context is referred to covertly or indirectly. It is left to the audience to make the direct connection. Where the connection is directly and explicitly stated (as ...
s in the ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...

Divine Comedy
.'' Its first section, the '' Inferno,'' begins, ''"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita"'' ("Midway upon the journey of our life"), implying that Dante was around 35 years old, since the average lifespan according to the Bible (Psalm 89:10, Vulgate) is 70 years; and since his imaginary travel to the netherworld took place in 1300, he was most probably born around 1265. Some verses of the ''Paradiso'' section of the ''Divine Comedy'' also provide a possible clue that he was born under the sign of Gemini: "As I revolved with the eternal twins, I saw revealed, from hills to river outlets, the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious" (XXII  151–154). In 1265, the sun was in Gemini between approximately 11 May and 11 June (
Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Roman consul Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. It was designed with the aid of Greek mathematics, Greek mathematicians and Ancient Greek astronomy, as ...
). Dante claimed that his family descended from the ancient Romans (''Inferno'', XV, 76), but the earliest relative he could mention by name was Cacciaguida degli Elisei (''Paradiso'', XV, 135), born no earlier than about 1100. Dante's father,
Alighiero di Bellincione Alighiero di Bellincione ( 1210–1283) was the father of Dante Alighieri. Life Alighiero was born around 1210, the son of Bellincione di Alighiero. He was a member of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, Guelph party and was probably a moneylender. Ali ...
, was a White Guelph who suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines won the
Battle of Montaperti The Battle of Montaperti was fought on 4 September 1260 between Republic of Florence, Florence and Republic of Siena, Siena in Tuscany as part of the conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. The Florentines were routed. It was the blood ...

Battle of Montaperti
in the middle of the 13th century. This suggests that Alighiero or his family may have enjoyed some protective prestige and status, although some suggest that the politically inactive Alighiero was of such low standing that he was not considered worth exiling. Dante's family was loyal to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the
Papacy The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Cathol ...
and that was involved in complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as the Roman-German Emperor since the early modern period ( la, Imperator ...
. The poet's mother was Bella, probably a member of the Abati family. She died when Dante was not yet ten years old. His father Alighiero soon married again, to Lapa di Chiarissimo Cialuffi. It is uncertain whether he really married her, since widowers were socially limited in such matters, but she definitely bore him two children, Dante's half-brother Francesco and half-sister Tana (Gaetana). Dante said he first met
Beatrice Portinari Beatrice "Bice" di Folco Portinari (; 1265 – 8 or 19 June 1290) was an Italians, Italian woman who has been commonly identified as the principal inspiration for Dante Alighieri's ''La Vita Nuova, Vita Nuova'', and is also identified with t ...
, daughter of Folco Portinari, when he was nine (she was eight), and he claimed to have fallen in love with her " at first sight", apparently without even talking with her. When he was 12, however, he was promised in marriage to Gemma di Manetto Donati, daughter of Manetto Donati, member of the powerful Donati family. Contracting marriages for children at such an early age was quite common and involved a formal ceremony, including contracts signed before a
notary A notary is a person authorised to perform acts in legal affairs, in particular witnessing signatures on documents. The form that the notarial profession takes varies with local legal systems. A notary, while a legal professional, is disti ...
. Dante claimed to have seen Beatrice again frequently after he turned 18, exchanging greetings with her in the streets of Florence, though he never knew her well. Years after his marriage to Gemma, he claims to have met Beatrice again; he wrote several sonnets to Beatrice but never mentioned Gemma in any of his poems. He refers to other Donati relations, notably Forese and Piccarda, in his ''Divine Comedy.'' The exact date of his marriage is not known; the only certain information is that, before his exile in 1301, he had fathered three children with Gemma (Pietro, Jacopo and Antonia). Dante fought with the Guelph cavalry at the Battle of Campaldino (11 June, 1289). This victory brought about a reformation of the Florentine constitution. To take part in public life, one had to enroll in one of the city's many commercial or artisan guilds, so Dante entered the Physicians' and Apothecaries' Guild. In the following years, his name is occasionally recorded as speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic. A substantial portion of minutes from such meetings in the years 1298–1300 was lost, however, so the true extent of Dante's participation in the city's councils is uncertain.


Education and poetry

Not much is known about Dante's education; he presumably studied at home or in a chapter school attached to a church or monastery in Florence. It is known that he studied Tuscan poetry and that he admired the compositions of the Bolognese poet Guido Guinizelli—in ''Purgatorio'' XXVI he characterized him as his "father"—at a time when the
Sicilian School The Sicilian School was a small community of Sicily, Sicilian and mainland Italian poets gathered around Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, most of them belonging to his imperial court. Headed by Giacomo da Lentini, they produced mo ...
(''Scuola poetica Siciliana''), a cultural group from
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, was becoming known in Tuscany. He also discovered the Provençal poetry of the
troubadours A troubadour (, ; oc, trobador ) was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word ''troubadour'' is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a ''trobairit ...

troubadours
, such as , and the Latin writers of
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
, including
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and Academic skepticism, academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
,
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the ...

Ovid
and especially
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
. Dante's interactions with Beatrice set an example of so-called
courtly love Courtly love ( oc, fin'amor ; french: amour courtois ) was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing vari ...
, a phenomenon developed in French and Provençal poetry of prior centuries. Dante's experience of such love was typical, but his expression of it was unique. It was in the name of this love that Dante left his imprint on the '''' ("sweet new style", a term that Dante himself coined), and he would join other contemporary poets and writers in exploring never-before-emphasized aspects of love (''Amore''). Love for Beatrice (as
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet of early Italian Renaissance, Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest Renaissance humanism, humanists. Petrarch's rediscov ...

Petrarch
would express for Laura somewhat differently) would be his reason for writing poetry and for living, together with political passions. In many of his poems, she is depicted as semi-divine, watching over him constantly and providing spiritual instruction, sometimes harshly. When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante sought refuge in Latin literature. The '''' chronicles his having read
Boethius Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, commonly known as Boethius (; Latin: ''Boetius''; 480 – 524 AD), was a Roman Roman Senate, senator, Roman consul, consul, ''magister officiorum'', historian, and philosopher of the Early Middle Ages. He was ...

Boethius
's ''
De consolatione philosophiae ''On the Consolation of Philosophy'' ('' la, De consolatione philosophiae'')'','' often titled as ''The Consolation of Philosophy'' or simply the ''Consolation,'' is a philosophy, philosophical work by the Roman statesman Boethius. Written in 52 ...
'' and Cicero's '' De Amicitia.'' He next dedicated himself to philosophical studies at religious schools like the Dominican one in . He took part in the disputes that the two principal
mendicant A mendicant (from la, mendicans, "begging") is one who practices mendicancy, relying chiefly or exclusively on alms to survive. In principle, Mendicant orders, mendicant religious orders own little property, either individually or collectively, ...
orders (
Franciscan , image = FrancescoCoA PioM.svg , image_size = 200px , caption = A cross, Christ's arm and Saint Francis's arm, a universal symbol of the Franciscans , abbreviation = OFM , predecessor = , ...
and Dominican) publicly or indirectly held in Florence, the former explaining the doctrines of the mystics and of St.
Bonaventure Bonaventure ( ; it, Bonaventura ; la, Bonaventura de Balneoregio; 1221 – 15 July 1274), born Giovanni di Fidanza, was an Italian Catholic Franciscan, bishop, Cardinal (Catholic Church), cardinal, Scholasticism, scholastic theologian ...

Bonaventure
, the latter expounding on the theories of St.
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...

Thomas Aquinas
. At 18, Dante met
Guido Cavalcanti Guido Cavalcanti (between 1250 and 1259 – August 1300) was an Italians, Italian poet. He was also a friend and intellectual influence on Dante Alighieri. Historical background Cavalcanti was born in Florence at a time when the comune was begi ...
, Lapo Gianni, and, soon after, Brunetto Latini; together they became the leaders of the ''dolce stil novo.'' Brunetto later received special mention in the ''Divine Comedy'' (''Inferno'', XV, 28) for what he had taught Dante: ''Nor speaking less on that account I go With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are his most known and most eminent companions.'' Some fifty poetical commentaries by Dante are known (the so-called ''
Rime Rime may refer to: *Rime ice, ice that forms when water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects, such as trees Rime is also an alternative spelling of "rhyme" as a noun: *Syllable rime, term used in the study of phonology in ling ...
,'' rhymes), others being included in the later ''Vita Nuova'' and ''Convivio.'' Other studies are reported, or deduced from ''Vita Nuova'' or the ''Comedy,'' regarding painting and music.


Florence and politics

Dante, like most Florentines of his day, was embroiled in the Guelph–Ghibelline conflict. He fought in the Battle of Campaldino (11 June, 1289), with the Florentine Guelphs against
Arezzo Arezzo ( , , ) , also ; ett, 𐌀𐌓𐌉𐌕𐌉𐌌, Aritim. is a city and ''comune'' in Italy and the capital of the Province of Arezzo, province of the same name located in Tuscany. Arezzo is about southeast of Florence at an elevation o ...

Arezzo
Ghibellines; then in 1294 he was among the escorts of (grandson of Charles I of Anjou) while he was in Florence. To further his political career, he became a pharmacist. He did not intend to practice as one, but a law issued in 1295 required nobles aspiring to public office to be enrolled in one of the Corporazioni delle Arti e dei Mestieri, so Dante obtained admission to the Apothecaries' Guild. This profession was not inappropriate, since at that time books were sold from apothecaries' shops. As a politician, he accomplished little but held various offices over some years in a city rife with political unrest. After defeating the Ghibellines, the Guelphs divided into two factions: the White Guelphs (''Guelfi Bianchi'')—Dante's party, led by Vieri dei Cerchi—and the Black Guelphs (''Guelfi Neri''), led by . Although the split was along family lines at first, ideological differences arose based on opposing views of the papal role in Florentine affairs. The Blacks supported the Pope and the Whites wanted more freedom from Rome. The Whites took power first and expelled the Blacks. In response,
Pope Boniface VIII Pope Boniface VIII ( la, Bonifatius PP. VIII; born Benedetto Caetani, c. 1230 – 11 October 1303) was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 December 1294 to his death in 1303. The Caetani, Caetani family was of b ...

Pope Boniface VIII
planned a military occupation of Florence. In 1301,
Charles of Valois Charles of Valois (12 March 1270 – 16 December 1325), the fourth son of King Philip III of France and Isabella of Aragon, Queen of France, Isabella of Aragon, was a member of the House of Capet and founder of the House of Valois, whose ...

Charles of Valois
, brother of King
Philip IV of France Philip IV (April–June 1268 – 29 November 1314), called Philip the Fair (french: Philippe le Bel), was King of France from 1285 to 1314. Jure uxoris, By virtue of his marriage with Joan I of Navarre, he was also King of Navarre as Philip&nb ...

Philip IV of France
, was expected to visit Florence because the Pope had appointed him as peacemaker for
Tuscany Tuscany ( ; it, Toscana ) is a Regions of Italy, region in central Italy with an area of about and a population of about 3.8 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence (''Firenze''). Tuscany is known for its landscapes, history, art ...
. But the city's government had treated the Pope's ambassadors badly a few weeks before, seeking independence from papal influence. It was believed that Charles had received other unofficial instructions, so the council sent a delegation that included Dante to Rome to ascertain the Pope's intentions.


Exile from Florence

Pope Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to remain in Rome. At the same time (1 November, 1301), Charles of Valois entered Florence with the Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph government was installed, and Cante dei Gabrielli da
Gubbio Gubbio () is an Italy, Italian town and ''comune'' in the far northeastern part of the Italian province of Perugia (Umbria). It is located on the lowest slope of Mt. Ingino, a small mountain of the Apennine Mountains, Apennines. History The city's ...

Gubbio
was appointed ''
podestà Podestà (, English: Potestate, Podesta) was the name given to the holder of the highest civil office in the government of the cities of Central Italy, Central and Northern Italy during the Late Middle Ages. Sometimes, it meant the chief magistra ...
'' of the city. In March 1302, Dante, a White Guelph by affiliation, along with the Gherardini family, was condemned to exile for two years and ordered to pay a large fine. Dante was accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing by the Black Guelphs for the time that Dante was serving as city prior (Florence's highest position) for two months in 1300. The poet was still in Rome in 1302, as the Pope, who had backed the Black Guelphs, had "suggested" that Dante stay there. Florence under the Black Guelphs, therefore, considered Dante an absconder. Dante did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not guilty and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the Black Guelphs. He was condemned to perpetual exile; if he had returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could have been burned at the stake. (In June 2008, nearly seven centuries after his death, the city council of Florence passed a motion rescinding Dante's sentence.) In 1306–07, Dante was a guest of in the region of
Lunigiana The Lunigiana () is a historical territory of Italy, which today falls within the provinces of Massa Carrara, Tuscany, and Province of La Spezia, La Spezia, Liguria. Its borders derive from the ancient Roman settlement, later the medieval diocese ...
. Dante took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain power, but these failed due to treachery. Bitter at the treatment he received from his enemies, he grew disgusted with the infighting and ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies and vowed to become a party of one. He went to
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ) is a city on the Adige River in Veneto, Northern Italy, Italy, with 258,031 inhabitants. It is one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the largest city Comune, municipality in the region and the ...
as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved to in Liguria. Later he is supposed to have lived in
Lucca Lucca ( , ) is a city and ''comune'' in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the Serchio River, in a fertile plain near the Ligurian Sea. The city has a population of about 89,000, while its Province of Lucca, province has a population of 383,957. Lucc ...

Lucca
with a woman named Gentucca. She apparently made his stay comfortable (and he later gratefully mentioned her in ''Purgatorio'', XXIV, 37). Some speculative sources claim he visited
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), ma ...

Paris
between 1308 and 1310, and other sources even less trustworthy say he went to
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...

Oxford
: these claims, first made in
Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian people, Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanism, Renaissance humanist. Born in the town of Certaldo, he became so we ...

Boccaccio
's book on Dante several decades after his death, seem inspired by readers who were impressed with the poet's wide learning and erudition. Evidently, Dante's command of philosophy and his literary interests deepened in exile and when he was no longer busy with the day-to-day business of Florentine domestic politics, and this is evidenced in his prose writings in this period. There is no real evidence that he ever left Italy. Dante's ''Immensa Dei dilectione testante'' to Henry VII of Luxembourg confirms his residence "beneath the springs of Arno, near Tuscany" in March 1311. In 1310, Holy Roman Emperor of
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a small land ...

Luxembourg
marched into Italy at the head of 5,000 troops. Dante saw in him a new
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...

Charlemagne
who would restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also retake Florence from the Black Guelphs. He wrote to Henry and several Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Mixing religion and private concerns in his writings, he invoked the worst anger of God against his city and suggested several particular targets, who were also his personal enemies. It was during this time that he wrote '' De Monarchia'', proposing a universal monarchy under Henry VII. At some point during his exile, he conceived of the ''Comedy'', but the date is uncertain. The work is much more assured and on a larger scale than anything he had written in Florence; it is likely he would have undertaken such a work only after he realized his political ambitions, which had been central to him up to his banishment, had been halted for some time, possibly forever. It is also noticeable that Beatrice has returned to his imagination with renewed force and with a wider meaning than in the ''Vita Nuova''; in ''Convivio'' (written c. 1304–07) he had declared that the memory of this youthful romance belonged to the past. An early indication that the poem was underway is a notice by Francesco da Barberino, tucked into his ''Documenti d'Amore'' (''Lessons of Love''), probably written in 1314 or early 1315. Francesco notes that Dante followed the ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
'' in a poem called "Comedy" and that the setting of this poem (or part of it) was the underworld; i.e., hell. The brief note gives no incontestable indication that Barberino had seen or read even the ''Inferno'', or that this part had been published at the time, but it indicates composition was well underway and that the sketching of the poem might have begun some years before. (It has been suggested that a knowledge of Dante's work also underlies some of the illuminations in Francesco da Barberino's earlier ''Officiolum'' . 1305–08 a manuscript that came to light in 2003.) It is known that the ''Inferno'' had been published by 1317; this is established by quoted lines interspersed in the margins of contemporary dated records from
Bologna Bologna (, , ; egl, label= Emilian, Bulåggna ; lat, Bononia) is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna egl, Emigliàn (man) egl, Emiglièna (woman) rgn, Rumagnòl (man) rgn, Rumagnòla (woman) it, Emiliano (man) it, Emiliana ...
, but there is no certainty as to whether the three parts of the poem were each published in full or, rather, a few cantos at a time. ''Paradiso'' seems to have been published posthumously. In 1312 Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Some say he refused to participate in the attack on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs, too, and that any trace of his passage had carefully been removed. Henry VII died (from a fever) in 1313 and with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. He returned to Verona, where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in certain security and, presumably, in a fair degree of prosperity. Cangrande was admitted to Dante's Paradise (''Paradiso'', XVII, 76). During the period of his exile, Dante corresponded with Dominican theologian Fr. Nicholas Brunacci OP 240–1322 who had been a student of
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...

Thomas Aquinas
at the Santa Sabina ''studium'' in Rome, later at Paris, and of Albert the Great at the Cologne ''studium''. Brunacci became lector at the Santa Sabina ''studium'', forerunner of the
Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas A pontifical ( la, pontificale) is a Christian liturgical book containing the Christian liturgy, liturgies that only a bishop may perform. Among the liturgies are those of the ordinal (liturgy), ordinal for the ordination and consecration of dea ...
, and later served in the Roman curia, papal curia. In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to those in exile, including Dante. But for this, Florence required public penance in addition to payment of a high fine. Dante refused, preferring to remain in exile. When Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante's death sentence was commuted to house arrest, on condition that he go to Florence to swear he would never enter the town again. He refused to go, and his death sentence was confirmed and extended to his sons. He still hoped late in life that he might be invited back to Florence on honorable terms.


Death and burial

Dante's final days were spent in Ravenna, where he had been invited to stay in the city in 1318 by its prince, Guido II da Polenta. Dante died in Ravenna on 14 September 1321, aged about 56, of quartan malaria contracted while returning from a diplomatic mission to the Republic of Venice. He was attended by his three children, and possibly by Gemma Donati, and by friends and admirers he had in the city. He was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called Basilica of San Francesco, Ravenna, Basilica di San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice, erected Tomb of Dante, a tomb for him in 1483. On the grave, a verse of Bernardo Canaccio, a friend of Dante, is dedicated to Florence: In 1329, Bertrand du Pouget, Cardinal and nephew of Pope John XXII, classified Dante's ''Monarchia'' as heretical and sought to have his bones burned at the stake. Ostasio I da Polenta and Pino della Tosa, allies of Pouget, interceded to prevent the destruction of Dante's remains. Florence eventually came to regret having exiled Dante. The city made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body in Ravenna refused, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Florence built a tomb for Dante in 1829, in the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, Basilica of Santa Croce. That cenotaph, tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna. The front of his tomb in Florence reads ''Onorate l'altissimo poeta'' — which roughly translates as "Honor the most exalted poet" and is a quote from the fourth canto of the ''Inferno''. In 1945, the Italian Social Republic, fascist government discussed bringing Dante’s remains to the Valtellina Redoubt, the Alpine valley in which the regime intended to make its last stand against the Allies of World War II, Allies. The case was made that "the greatest symbol of Italianness" should be present at fascism's "heroic" end. A copy of Dante's so-called death mask has been displayed since 1911 in the Palazzo Vecchio; scholars today believe it is not a true death mask and was probably carved in 1483, perhaps by Pietro Lombardo, Pietro and Tullio Lombardo.


Legacy

The first formal biography of Dante was the ''Vita di Dante'' (also known as ''Trattatello in laude di Dante''), written after 1348 by
Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet ...

Giovanni Boccaccio
. Although several statements and episodes of it have been deemed unreliable on the basis of modern research, an earlier account of Dante's life and works had been included in the ''Nuova Cronica'' of the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani. Some 16th-century English Protestants, such as John Bale and John Foxe, argued that Dante was a Proto-Protestantism, proto-Protestant because of his opposition to the pope. The 19th century saw a "Dante revival", a product of the medieval revival, which was itself an important aspect of Romanticism. Thomas Carlyle profiled him in "The Hero as Poet", the third lecture in ''On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & the Heroic in History'' (1841): "He is world-great not because he is worldwide, but because he is world-deep. . . . Dante is the spokesman of the Middle Ages; the Thought they lived by stands here, in everlasting music." Leigh Hunt, Henry Francis Cary and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were among Dante's translators of the era. Italy's first dreadnought battleship was completed in 1913 and named ''Italian battleship Dante Alighieri, Dante Alighieri'' in honor of him. On 30 April 1921, in honor of the 600th anniversary of Dante's death, Pope Benedict XV promulgated an encyclical named ''In praeclara summorum'', naming Dante as one "of the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast" and the "pride and glory of humanity". On 7 December 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Latin ''motu proprio'' titled ''Altissimi cantus'', which was dedicated to Dante's figure and poetry. In that year, the pope also donated a golden iron Crosses in heraldry#History, Greek Cross to Dante's burial site in Ravenna, in occasion of the 700th anniversary of his birth. The same cross was blessed by Pope Francis in October 2020. In 2007, a reconstruction of Dante's face was undertaken in a collaborative project. Artists from Pisa University and forensic engineers at the University of Bologna at Forlì constructed the model, portraying Dante's features as somewhat different from what was once thought. In 2008, the Municipality of Florence officially apologized for expelling Dante 700 years earlier. A celebration was held in 2015 at Italy's Senate of the Republic (Italy), Senate of the Republic for the 750th anniversary of Dante's birth. It included a commemoration from Pope Francis, who also issued the apostolic letter ''Cando lucis aeternae'' in honor of the anniversary. In May 2021, a symbolic re-trial of Dante Alighieri was held virtually in Florence to posthumously clear his name.


Works


Overview

Most of Dante's literary work was composed after his exile in 1301. ''La Vita Nuova'' ("The New Life") is the only major work that predates it; it is a collection of lyric poems (sonnets and songs) with commentary in prose, ostensibly intended to be circulated in manuscript form, as was customary for such poems. It also contains, or constructs, the story of his love for
Beatrice Portinari Beatrice "Bice" di Folco Portinari (; 1265 – 8 or 19 June 1290) was an Italians, Italian woman who has been commonly identified as the principal inspiration for Dante Alighieri's ''La Vita Nuova, Vita Nuova'', and is also identified with t ...
, who later served as the ultimate symbol of salvation in the ''Comedy'', a function already indicated in the final pages of the ''Vita Nuova''. The work contains many of Dante's love poems in Tuscan, which was not unprecedented; the vernacular had been regularly used for lyric works before, during all the thirteenth century. However, Dante's commentary on his own work is also in the vernacular—both in the ''Vita Nuova'' and in the ''Convivio''—instead of the Latin that was almost universally used. The ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...

Divine Comedy
'' describes Dante's journey through Divine Comedy#Inferno, Hell (''Inferno''), Divine Comedy#Purgatorio, Purgatory (''Purgatorio''), and 9 spheres of heaven, Paradise (''Paradiso''); he is first guided by the Roman poet
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
and then by Beatrice Portinari, Beatrice. Of the books, ''Purgatorio'' is arguably the most lyrical of the three, referring to more contemporary poets and artists than ''Inferno''; ''Paradiso'' is the most heavily theological, and the one in which, many scholars have argued, the ''Divine Comedys most beautiful and mystic passages appear. With its seriousness of purpose, its literary stature and the range—both stylistic and thematic—of its content, the ''Comedy'' soon became a cornerstone in the evolution of Italian as an established literary language. Dante was more aware than most early Italian writers of the variety of Italian dialects and of the need to create a literature and a unified literary language beyond the limits of Latin writing at the time; in that sense, he is a forerunner of the Renaissance, with its effort to create vernacular literature in competition with earlier classical writers. Dante's in-depth knowledge (within the limits of his time) of Roman antiquity, and his evident admiration for some aspects of pagan Rome, also point forward to the 15th century. Ironically, while he was widely honored in the centuries after his death, the ''Comedy'' slipped out of fashion among men of letters: too medieval, too rough and tragic, and not stylistically refined in the respects that the high and late Renaissance came to demand of literature. He wrote the ''Comedy'' in a language he called "Italian", in some sense an amalgamated literary language mostly based on the regional dialect of Tuscany, but with some elements of Latin and other regional dialects. He deliberately aimed to reach a readership throughout Italy including laymen, clergymen and other poets. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is sometimes nicknamed ''la langue de Dante''. Publishing in the vernacular language marked Dante as one of the first in Roman Catholic Western Europe (among others such as
Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet, author, and civil servant best known for ''The Canterbury Tales''. He has been called the "father of English literature", or, alternatively, the "father of English poetry". He wa ...

Geoffrey Chaucer
and
Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet ...

Giovanni Boccaccio
) to break free from standards of publishing in only Latin (the language of Catholic liturgy, liturgy, history and scholarship in general, but often also of lyric poetry). This break set a precedent and allowed more literature to be published for a wider audience, setting the stage for greater levels of literacy in the future. However, unlike Boccaccio, John Milton, Milton or Ludovico Ariosto, Ariosto, Dante did not really become an author read across Europe until the Romantic era. To the Romantics, Dante, like Homer and William Shakespeare, Shakespeare, was a prime example of the "original genius" who set his own rules, created persons of overpowering stature and depth, and went far beyond any imitation of the patterns of earlier masters; and who, in turn, could not truly be imitated. Throughout the 19th century, Dante's reputation grew and solidified; and by 1865, the 600th anniversary of his birth, he had become established as one of the greatest literary icons of the Western world. New readers often wonder how such a serious work may be called a "comedy". In the Comedy#Etymology, classical sense the word ''comedy'' refers to works that reflect belief in an ordered universe, in which events tend toward not only a happy or amusing ending but one influenced by a Providential will that orders all things to an ultimate good. By this meaning of the word, as Dante himself allegedly wrote in a letter to Cangrande I della Scala, the progression of the pilgrimage from Hell to Paradise is the paradigmatic expression of comedy, since the work begins with the pilgrim's moral confusion and ends with the vision of God. A number of other works are credited to Dante. '''' ("The Banquet") is a collection of his longest poems with an (unfinished) allegorical commentary. ''Monarchia'' ("Monarchy") is a summary treatise of political philosophy in Latin which was condemned and burned after Dante's death by the Papal Legate Bertrando del Poggetto; it argues for the necessity of a universal or global monarchy to establish universal peace in this life, and this monarchy's relationship to the Roman Catholic Church as guide to eternal peace. ''
De vulgari eloquentia ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (; "On eloquence in the vernacular") is the title of a Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, it abruptly terminates in the middle of the second book. It was probably composed shortly aft ...
'' ("On the Eloquence in the Vernacular") is a treatise on vernacular literature, partly inspired by the ''Razos de trobar'' of Raimon Vidal de Bezaudun. ''Quaestio de aqua et terra'' ("A Question of the Water and of the Land") is a theological work discussing the arrangement of Earth's dry land and ocean. The ''Eclogues (Dante), Eclogues'' are two poems addressed to the poet Giovanni del Virgilio. Dante is also sometimes credited with writing ''Il Fiore'' ("The Flower"), a series of sonnets summarizing ''Roman de la Rose, Le Roman de la Rose'', and ''Detto d'Amore'' ("Tale of Love"), a short narrative poem also based on ''Le Roman de la Rose''. These would be the earliest, and most novice, of his known works. ''Le Rime'' is a posthumous collection of miscellaneous poems.


List of works

The major works of Dante's are the following.Bibliothèque nationale de France .
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
.
* ''Il Fiore'' and ''Detto d'Amore'' ("The Flower" and "Tale of Love", 1283–7) * ''La Vita Nuova'' ("The New Life", 1294) * ''
De vulgari eloquentia ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (; "On eloquence in the vernacular") is the title of a Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, it abruptly terminates in the middle of the second book. It was probably composed shortly aft ...
'' ("On the Eloquence in the Vernacular", 1302–5) * '''' ("The Banquet", 1307) * ''Monarchia'' ("Monarchy", 1313) * ''Divine Comedy, Divina Commedia'' ("Divine Comedy", 1320) * ''Eclogues (Dante), Eclogues'' (1320) * ''Quaestio de aqua et terra'' ("A Question of the Water and of the Land", 1320) * ''Le Rime'' File:Purgatory (Purgatorio).jpg, Illustration for ''Purgatorio'' (of ''The Divine Comedy'') by Gustave Doré File:Gustave Dore XIV.jpg, Illustration for ''Paradiso'' (of ''The Divine Comedy'') by Gustave Doré File:Paradise (Paradiso) II.jpg, Illustration for ''Paradiso'' (of ''The Divine Comedy'') by Gustave Doré


Notes


Citations


References

* * * Barolini, Teodolinda (ed.). ''Dante's Lyric Poetry: Poems of Youth and of the 'Vita Nuova. University of Toronto Press, 2014. * * * * * * * * * * * * * Guénon, René (1925). ''The Esoterism of Dante'', trans. by C.B. Berhill, in the ''Perennial Wisdom Series''. Ghent, NY: Sophia Perennis et Universalis, 1996. viii, 72 p. ''N.B''.: Originally published in French, entitled L'Esoterisme de Danté, in 1925.


External links

* * * * *
Works by Dante Alighieri
a
One More Library
(Works in English, Italian, Latin, Arabic, German, French and Spanish) * * Th
Dante Museum in Florence
his life, his books and a history & literature blog about Dante * Th
World of Dante
multimedia, texts, maps, gallery, searchable database, music, teacher resources, timeline * Th

texts and multimedia * Th
Dartmouth Dante Project
searchable database of commentary
Dante Online
manuscripts of works, images and text transcripts by Società Dantesca Italiana
Digital Dante
– ''Divine Comedy'' with commentary, other works, scholars on Dante
Open Yale Course on Dante
by Yale University
DanteSources
project about Dante's primary sources developed by Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione, ISTI-National Research Council (Italy), CNR and the University of Pisa
Works
Italian and Latin texts, concordances and frequency lists by IntraText
Dante Today
citings and sightings of Dante in contemporary culture
Bibliotheca Dantesca
journal dedicated to Dante and his reception *Edmund Garratt Gardner (1908). "wikisource:Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Dante Alighieri, Dante Alighieri". In ''Catholic Encyclopedia''. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company. *Arthur John Butler (1911). "wikisource:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dante, Dante". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. 7. (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 810–817.
Dante Collection
at University College London (c. 3000 volumes of works by and about Dante) {{Authority control Dante Alighieri, 1265 births 1321 deaths 13th-century Italian poets 13th-century Italian writers 14th-century Italian poets 14th-century Italian writers 14th-century Latin writers 14th-century people of the Republic of Florence Apothecaries Catholic poets Christian writers Culture in Florence Demonologists Epic poets Italian exiles Italian-language poets Italian male poets Italian political philosophers Italian Roman Catholics Medieval Latin poets Politicians from Florence Roman Catholic writers Sonneteers Writers from Florence