Dante: The Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri, born in 1265, was a Medieval Italian poet, writer, philosopher and political thinker. In 1308, Dante began writing his most famous work, The Divine Comedy, after his exile from Florence due to his written diatribe against the enemies of the pope at the time (whose popularity had faded).

The Divine Comedy is a first person account, i.e. Dante’s perspective, on a journey through the three realms of the Christian afterlife: hell(Inferno), purgatory(Purgatorio) and heaven(Paradiso).  Roman poet Virgil guides him through hell and purgatory while Beatrice, a woman he loved and courted before she suddenly died in 1290, guides him through heaven.

Dante vividly describes the torments of hell, with the inclusion of many known and notable characters such as, Judas and Brutus.  Purgatory is depicted through the allegory of seven levels of suffering and spiritual development representative of the 7 deadly sins. Similarly, when guided through heaven, Dante comes in contact with notable figures before meeting with God at the highest level, who is represented by 3 circles (father, son and holy spirit).

Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy” is considered to be one of the greatest works of literature, and has left an indelible mark on philosophy and theology with reverberations still felt more than 650 years later.

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