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The Divine Comedy

This guide has been created for Dr. Gutierrez's Summer II ENGL 1302 class.

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Dante Alighieri


A native son of the powerful Florentine city-state, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) has long been celebrated as a politician, linguist, poet, and visionary. In canto 15 of Paradiso of the Divine Comedy Dante traces his heritage to the crusading knight Cacciaguida (c.1091-1147). He also asserts that he was educated by the notary Brunetto Latini (Inferno, 15) and by the friars (Convivio, 2.12.7).

While Dante is best remembered for his theological wisdom in the Divine Comedy, he was also responsible for the advancement of the Tuscan dialect; the ancestor of modern, standard Italian.

In 1321 he embarked on a diplomatic mission to the Doge of Venice, which ended badly. Having been refused permission to return to Ravenna by sea, Dante and his companions were forced to travel overland through the malariainfested swamps of the Marche, which led to his death on September 13, 1321. 

The Divine Comedy

An epic poem by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), who completed it in 1321, just before his death. The original title was simply Commedia (Italian, ‘ play’), and it was not until after the 16th century that it became known as the Divina Commedia. There are three parts, Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio and Paradiso.


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