Here I lay down a very brief introduction to the world’s greatest minds. I learned about Dante from the novel Inferno- by Dan Brown and it piqued my interest in his life and his ultimate work “The Divine Comedy”. I have shared very few but important instances of his life, in the hope you all like this write-up.
Dante Alighieri was a true genius who graced this world with his presence from May 1265, Florence Italy to Sep 14, 1321, Ravenna. He is among the most influential names of all the European in history, having left a significant legacy in so many disciplines such as philosopher, political thinker, literary theorist, and of course without a doubt a tremendous achievement in the field of poetry. Though his most remarkable work started only after he was exiled from his birthplace Florence at the age of 37.
In this early life, Dante was a prominent figure in Florence politics, and like most Florence citizens in those days he was embroiled in the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict. After defeating the Ghibelline, the Guelphs divided into two parts: The White Guelphs — Dante’s party — and the Black Guelphs. Although they were in the same league, after partition these ideologies differ on the papal role for Florence. With the Blacks supporting the Pope and the Whites wanting more freedom for Rome. The Whites took power first and expelled the Blacks. In response, Pope Boniface VIII planned a military occupation of Florence.
On (November 1, 1301), Charles of Valois brother of King Philip IV of France, entered Florence with the Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph government was installed, for the city. In March 1302, Dante, a White Guelph by affiliation, along with the others was condemned to exile for two years and ordered to pay a large fine. Dante was accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing by the Black Guelphs for the time that Dante was serving as city prior (Florence’s highest position) for two months in 1300. Florence under the Black Guelphs, therefore, considered Dante an absconder. He was condemned to perpetual exile; if he returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could have been burned at the stake.
THE DIVINE COMEDY
Dante has many recommendable works, but his genius was found in an allegorical poem called –THE DIVINE COMEDY, begun in 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death. It is known as the one of greatest works in the world’s literature.
The theme of the allegory is simple, a man generally assumed to be Dante, miraculously enable to take the journey, which leads him to Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
He has two guides on this journey, a well renowned Roman poet Virgil, who guide him through Hell and Purgatory; and Beatrice, love of his life, who guides him through the heave (Paradise.)
The structure of these three realms are common 9 plus 1, for a total of 10: 9 circles of the Inferno, followed by the Devil contained at its bottom; 9 rings of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden; and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradise, followed by the heaven, presence of God.
The souls in hell face eternal punishment, which no chance of redemption. Here are the 9 circles where souls face their damnation and in middle, the devil resides himself. He is depicted with three heads, in a mockery of the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit), and each head is chewing on a dead soul.
Nine Circles of Hell- Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, Treachery.
Dante sees purgatory as the place where souls can get redemption in the hope to see haven someday. It is the place where the purification process takes place. After he travels through all these 9 he reaches in Garden of Eden, in hope of angles to take him to paradise.
Nine Circles of Purgatory- Stubbornness, Repentant, Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, Lust.
Dante’s ‘Paradiso’ commences at the end of the peak of Purgatory, when Virgil is replaced by Beatrice (whom Dante loves dearly).
She, along with Dante, transcends the natural boundaries of concentric spheres of Heaven, also known as Empyrean- the sacred abode of Gods and saints. Here, Beatrice allegorically represents theology.
Nine Spheres of Heaven- Sphere of the Moon: The Inconstant, Sphere of Mercury: The Ambitious, Sphere of Venus: The Lovers, Sphere of the Sun: The Wise, Sphere of Mars: The Warriors of Faith, Sphere of Jupiter: The Just Rulers, Sphere of Saturn: The Contemplatives, The Fixed Stars: Faith, Hope, and Love, Primum Mobile: The Angels.