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Dante Alighieri Introduction

What Dante Alighieri did... and why you should care

He's been called il somma poeta (the supreme poet) and the father of the Italian language. Along with Petrarch and Boccaccio, he is one of Italy's Three Fountains, Three Crowns or three greatest poets. For some time, Italian language scholars sternly maintained that no word was truly Italian if it didn't appear in his Divine Comedy. He is Dante Alighieri, and he is one of the greatest poets of all time.

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence, Italy in 1265. When he was nine years old, he fell in love with an eight -year -old neighbor named Beatrice. Even though they rarely spoke, Dante rhapsodized about her for the rest of his life. Dante's love for Beatrice inspired him to develop a new style of poetry worthy of her virtues, a genre that took the celebration of love as its central theme. As Dante matured, this love morphed from the physical love of another human being to the divine love of God. Once a prominent politician in Florence, Dante was falsely accused of corruption in an act of political treachery and exiled from his native city. As his exile stretched into years, then decades, Dante created a three-part poem that symbolized his own personal transformation as well as the journey of the human soul. The pilgrim in the Divine Comedy journeys through Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory, which in Catholic theology is sort of heaven's waiting room) and Paradiso (heaven, where he is reunited with God and Beatrice). It is one of the greatest works in the history of literature. Dozens of scholars have driven themselves crazy trying to translate the magic of Dante's Italian into English.

Dante's poetry is for everyone who has ever been in love, who has ever felt lost, who has ever felt betrayed or just incredibly grateful that everything worked out okay. In other words, Dante's poetry is for everyone.

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