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Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri, commonly referred to as Dante, can be viewed as one of the most important writers of all time and could certainly be the most important Italian writer. His writings have helped lay the foundation of modern Western literature. He took part in politics, the military, and literature most of all. His life, somewhat of a story itself, gives the background for much of his literature. His works continue to be studied hundreds of years later and continue to be influential. Dante, born at Florence, Italy, May 14, 1265, descended from a rank of low nobility and claimed descent form the Romans. His parents were Bella and Alighiero di Bellincione Alighieri. His mother, however, died when Dante reached the age of seven. Early in life, Dante experienced something that would change him and his literature forever. A few years after the death of his mother, Dante met Beatrice Portinari. Immediately, Dante fell into an obsessive love for her. Somehow, they were separated from each other and she married Simone de Bardi, a nobleman. He met her later in life, but she died in 1290. After the death of Beatrice, Dante married Gemma Donati. Beatrice’s memory, however, remained an eternal inspiration for Dante. His teacher, Brunetto Latini, educated his pupil in science and the famous poets, including Ovid, Horace, and Virgil. Although Latini was a father figure to Dante, Dante put Latini in the seventh circle of hell, the circle for those guilty of sodomy, in his most Lamszus 2 famous work, the Commedia. Early on, Dante became interested in writing and studied intensely . He studied philosophy at Bologna and Padua and theology at Paris. About the time of Beatrice’s death, Dante became an active participant in Florence’s military affairs. He engaged in the battle with the Arentines, and was present at the capture of Ceprona. Florence soon became embattled with itself and split into two different factions, the Black Guelphs, the White Guelphs, and the Ghibellines. The Black Guelphs were loyal to the Pope and the rest loyal to the Emperor. Dante joined on the side of the Ghibellines and White Guelphs . He joined the Guild of Apothecaries in 1295 and served in various committees and served as ambassador. Soon, he was elected to prior and the superintendent of roads. When he was absent from Florence to see the Pope, his enemies attained a decree of banishment and Dante was never to see Florence again. After banishment, Dante traveled Europe, stayed in northern Italy, and finally made Ravenna his new home. Before his banishment, Dante wrote one of his most celebrated works, La Vita Nuova. Dante wrote of his love for Beatrice and the concept of courtly love in this piece of literature. His other works include Monarchia, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Il Convivio, and Quaestio De Aqua Et Terra. His most noted work, however, is the Commedia. The poem contains three parts Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. This poem expresses Dante’s divine plan for justice in this world and the world yet to come. In the Inferno, Virgil, the Roman poet, leads Dante into a dark woods in 1300. They soon descend into hell’s nine circles. As the circles descend, the punishment and sins grow increasingly worse. Throughout hell, Dante sees historical figures, his own enemies, and popes. The lowest Lamszus 3 circle of hell contains traitors like Judas. In the Purgatorio, Dante is led by Virgil into Purgatory. In Purgatory, Dante sees others being cleansed of their sin and he himself is cleansed. Virgil, a model of human reason, can go no farther than the gates of Paradise. In the Paradiso, Dante is led by his idealized woman, Beatrice. There he experiences the pleasure of paradise and gets to experience the glory of God. Dante died in Ravenna in 1321. Although he has long since been dead, Dante’s works still influence the world today. His most noted work, the Commedia, has altered religious thinking and his other works have altered the concept of love. Today, we can still enjoy the beauty of his love poetry and his concept of the afterlife.