Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri was one of the most renowned writers in world literature. His great masterpieces have influenced the world immensely. He was not only a great writer and poet but he also was a man that overcame great odds to write awe inspiring works of
art.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence, Italy either in late May or early June, 1265. His childhood was somewhat troubling because of the early death of his mother and then his father when he was 18. He managed to get through these bad occurrences and fell in love with a Florentine noblewoman named Beatrice Portinari in 1274 but she also died not long afterwards. He once said that the most significant occurrence of his childhood was his meeting with his love, Beatrice. She was glorified in ‘La vita nuova’; (‘The New Life’;) and again later in ‘La divina commedia’; (‘The Divine Comedy’;).
Although his great literary works prove that he had a great education, little is known about where he studied. It is known that he was in Bolonga in about 1285 and it is possible that he studied at the university there. He supported the Guelphs against the Ghibellines; two political parties of the time, and fought with them victoriously in 1289. Around this same time he married a member of a prominent Guelph family, Gemma Donati. During the following few years, Dante was active in Florence’s disorderly politics.Records show that in 1295, he served several offices. In 1300, he was sent on a mission to San Gimignano for diplomatic purposes and later that same year was elected
one of the six magistrates of Florence. That position was his for only two months. In 1301, Dante was fined and banned from Florence for two years by the newly returning leaders of the Blacks; a faction within the Guelph. Failing to pay the fines, it was decided that he would be put to death if he ever returned.
During his exile, Dante Alighieri spent time in Verona and other northern Italian cities as well as Paris. His political views changed dramatically to those of the Ghibellines during this time period of 1307 to 1309. He supported the idea of a united Europe under a single emperor. Between 1304 and 1305, he wrote ‘De Vulgari Eloquentia’; which promoted the use of the Italian language rather than Latin in literary works. ‘Convivio’; was written between 1304 and 1307 as a comprehensive, 15 book summary of all the knowledge of the time. Only the first four books were ever
completed.


In 1310, Henry VII, king of Germany and Holy Roman emperor arrived in Italy to bring the country under his rule. Dante Alighieri supported his cause and wrote to many Italian political leaders and princes urging them to support king Henry also. In these letters, he presented king Henry’s cause as a way of ending the political turmoil in many Italian cities. King Henry’s death in 1313 quickly brought Dante’s hopes for a unified Europe to an end and he wrote ‘The Latin treatise De Monarchia’; (on monarchy). This work explained Dante Alighieri’s political philosophy. He believed that Europe would be benefited greatly by a unified Holy Roman Empire. He also supported the complete
separation between the church and state.

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‘La vita nuova’;, Dante Alighieri’s first important literary work was written not long after the death of his first love, Beatrice. It tells of his love for Beatrice, his forewarning of her death in a dream, her actual death, and his struggle to write a literary work that would be a worthy monument of her memory. ‘La vita nouva’; shows influence from the love poetry of the Provencal troubadours and represents the finest work of the ‘dolce stil nouvo’; (‘sweet new style’;) of contemporary Florentine
vernacular poetry.
Dante’s greatest and most renowned work was ‘The Divine Comedy’;. It is
believed that it was begun in 1307 and not finished until shortly before his death. This epic masterpiece tells of the author’s imaginary journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. It is divided into three sections; Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and the Paradiso (Paradise). His journeys are influenced by a wide range of mythological and historical characters; each representing a particular virtue or fault, either political or religious. His first love, Beatrice is represented by his guide through paradise. ‘The
Divine Comedy’; represents the medieval Christian philosophy of the time.
Dante Alighieri was invited to return to Florence in 1316 but he declined because he believed that he would be treated as a pardoned criminal. He vowed not to return to Florence unless he was granted full dignity and honor. His spent the last days of his life in exile in Ravenna, where he died on September 13 or 14, 1321. His remains have been kept their despite requests over the centuries for his return to Florence. There is a cenotaph, which is an empty tomb honoring someone who’s remains are somewhere
else,. in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.