Dante Alighieri


Easton Press Dante Alighieri books

The Divine Comedy - 100 Greatest Books Ever Written - 1978
Purgatorio, Inferno and Paradiso - Three volume set
The Divine Comedy with Gustave Doré illustrations
Dante's Inferno - Deluxe single volume edition in slip case
Inferno and Purgatory & Paradise - Deluxe two volume set in slip case


Franklin Library Dante Alighieri books

The Divine Comedy - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1977
The Divine Comedy - Great Books of the Western World - 1978



Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy


Who was Dante Alighieri?

Dante Alighieri, (1265-1321), was an Italian poet, and one of the greatest poets of the Western world, born in Florence into a family of the lower nobility. Dante's mother died in his childhood and his father when he was eighteen. The most significant event of his childhood, according to his own account, was his meeting at the age of nine, Beatrice, the woman whom he loved, ad whom he exalted, first in the Vita Nuova, and later in his greatest work, The Divine Comedy. Scholars have identified Beatrice with the Florentine noblewoman Bice Portinari.

Little is actually known about Dante's education, although his works encompassed nearly all the learning of time. It seems relatively certain that Dante studied for some time with the Florentine philosopher and rhetorician Brunetto Latini. About 1285 Dante is known to have been in Bologna, and he may have studied at the University there. In 1289 he was with the Guelph army of Florence at the battle of Campaldino, in which the Florentines triumphed decisively over the Ghibelline armies of Pisa and Arezzo. Around this time Dante married Gemma Donati, daughter of a prominent Guelph family of Florence.

Dante's first important work, Vita Nuove was written shortly after the death of Beatrice. It is composed of sonnets and canzoni woven together with a prose commentary. The work narrates the course of Dante's love for Beatrice, his premonition of her death in a dream, her actual death, and his ultimate resolve to write a work which would be a worthy monument to her memory. The Vita Nuova clearly exhibits the influence of the love poetry of the Provencal troubadours and represents the finest work of new Flourentine vernacular poetry. However, it transcends the Provencal tradition in that it not only idealizes but spiritualizes the object of the poet's love. The Vita Nuova, in its sustained intensity of feeling, is one of the greatest verse sequences in European literature.

During the next few years Dante was active in the turbulent political life of Florence. Records dating from 1295 indicate that he held several local offices in that year. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to San Gimignano in 1300 and later the same year was elected one of the six priors of Florence, a post in which he served from June 15 to August 15. The rivalry between the to factions within the Guelph party of Florence, the Blacks who saw in the pope an ally against imperial power, and the Whites who were determined to remain equally independent of both pope and Holy Roman emperor, became intense during Dante's tenure. At his urging, the leaders of both factions were exiled in order to preserve peace in the city. However, through the influence of Pope Boniface VIII, the leaders of the Blacks returned to Florence in 1301 and seized power. In 1302 they banned Dante from the city for a period of two years and fined him heavily in absentia. Failing to make payment, he was condemned to death should he ever return to Florence.

Dante's exile was spent partly in Verona and partly in other northern Italian cities. His political beliefs underwent a pronounced conversion during this period. Eventually embraced the cause of the Ghibellines, he hoped for the unification of Europe under the reign of an enlightened emperor.

During the early years of his exile Dante produced two important woks in Latin, the unfinished Convivio and De Vulgari Eloquentia. The former was intended to be a digest, in fifteen books, of all the knowledge of time. The first book was to be an introductory and the other fourteen books were to take the form of commentary on fourteen poems by Dante. Only the first four books were completed. De Vulgari Eloquentia is a treatise on the uses and advantages of the Italian language. It defends the vernacular as a literary medium, attempts to establish certain criteria of good usage in written Italian, and concludes with a section devoted to criticism of Italian poetry.

Dante's political hopes were strongly aroused by the arrival in Italy in 1310 of the German King and Holy Roman emperor Henry VII, known also as Henry of Luxembourg. Henry's purpose was to bring Italy under his sovereignty in fact as well as in name. In a feverish burst of political activity, Dante wrote to many Italian princes and political leaders urging them to look upon Henry's suzerainty as a means of resolving the bitter strife prevalent among and within Italian cities. Henry's death in Sienna in 1313 brought Dante's hopes to an abrupt end. The Latin treatise De Monarchia, written probably during the period of Henry's stay in Italy, is an exposition of Dante's political philosophy, and also of complete separation of Church and state.

In 1316 the city of Florence invited Dante to return, but the terms offered him were those generally reserved for pardoned criminals. Dante rejected the invitation, maintaining that he never would return unless given full dignity and honor. He continued to live in exile, spending his last years in Ravenna, where he died and was buried.

Among the minor works written during the last years of his life are the Quaestio de Acqua et Terra and two Latin eclogues. The former is a cosmological treatise dealing with a question of great concern to contemporary savant, whether the surface of the sea or any body of water is higher at any point than the surface of the earth. The two eclogues are modeled after those of Roman Poet Virgil.

The body of Dante's poetry includes also a number of sonnets and canzoni which are among the greatest examples of those forms in Italian literature. Dante's use of poetry allows him to convey complex ideas, emotions, and spiritual insights with beauty and depth. The work has had a profound influence on literature, theology, and art, and it continues to be studied and appreciated for its exploration of the human condition and the divine.

Dante's masterwork, the Divine Comedy, was started probably in 1306 or 1307, but the date of its completion in unknown. It is an allegorical narrative of the poet's imaginary journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise, and of his meeting with various mythological, historical, and contemporary persons in those three realms. Dane is conducted through hell and purgatory by Virgil and through paradise by Beatrice. His journey is climaxed by a vision of God and by a complete blending of his own will with the divine will. Many themes found elsewhere in Dante's writing come to fruition in the Divine Comedy, including his political beliefs and his view of love as an ennobling emotion that leads on from mere carnal desire to an all embracing yearning for God. In the divine comedy, Dante Alighieri uses poetry to explore various themes through the use of allegory, symbolism, and vivid imagery. In dramatic, poetic, and intellectual force, the Divine Comedy is regarded as one of the greatest works in the history of literature.


The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy stands as one of the most renowned and enduring works of world literature, penned by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri in the early 14th century. This epic poem, divided into three parts—Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso—chronicles Dante's allegorical journey through the afterlife, guided by the Roman poet Virgil and his beloved Beatrice. The Divine Comedy serves as Dante's magnum opus, reflecting Dante's profound understanding of theology, morality, and the human condition.

In the first part, Inferno, Dante finds himself lost in a dark forest, symbolizing his spiritual confusion and moral crisis. Virgil appears as his guide, leading him through the nine circles of Hell, each inhabited by souls suffering punishments befitting their earthly sins. From the torments of the lustful and the gluttonous to the treachery of betrayers, Dante's descent into the abyss offers a harrowing depiction of divine justice and human frailty.

In Purgatorio, the second part of the poem, Dante ascends Mount Purgatory, accompanied by Virgil and later Beatrice. Here, souls undergo purification for their sins, ascending through seven terraces representing the seven deadly sins. Through encounters with penitent souls and allegorical representations of virtue, Dante confronts his own failings and prepares for his ascent to Paradise.

The final part, Paradiso, transports Dante to the celestial realms, guided by Beatrice through the nine spheres of Heaven. Here, he encounters the blessed souls of saints, theologians, and martyrs, ascending ever closer to the divine presence of God. Each sphere reveals new insights into the nature of divine love, wisdom, and the eternal order of creation.

The Divine Comedy is more than a mere religious allegory; it is a profound exploration of the human soul's journey towards spiritual enlightenment and redemption. Dante's intricate narrative, rich symbolism, and lyrical verse have inspired countless generations of readers, scholars, and artists, shaping the course of Western literature and culture. Through Dante's epic odyssey, readers are confronted with profound questions about morality, mortality, and the nature of salvation. Whether navigating the depths of Hell, the trials of Purgatory, or the splendors of Paradise, Dante's timeless masterpiece continues to resonate with readers, inviting them to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and spiritual renewal.




Dante Alighieri quotes

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

"The darkest hour has only sixty minutes."

"In His will is our peace."

"A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark."

"The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into the soul like a pure river, bringing with it nothing that does not come from God."

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

"Nature is the art of God."

"The more perfect a thing is, the more susceptible to good and bad treatment it is."

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

"Do not be afraid; our fate cannot be taken from us; it is a gift."


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