2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
The scion of an ancient Florentine family, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is a great poet remembered as the father of Italian literature. He is thought to have studied philosophy under the Dominicans, and he was first recongnized as a poet in 1283. Betrothed at 12 and married at 18 to Gemma di Manetto Donati, Dante had fallen in love at 9 with a woman he commemorated as Beatrice. Scholars believe she was Bice Portinari, the wife of Simone de Bardi. Her death in 1290 devastated him, and she remained his inspiration for the rest of his life. His first important Italian work was La Vita Nuova, an autobiographical work of poetry and prose, published about two years after the death of Beatrice. He entered politics in 1294 and became a leader in the Guelphs, a pro-papal faction in Florence. He was exiled seven years later and spent the rest of his life in various Italian cities. He died, possibly of malaria, in Ravenna.
During his exile, he wrote the first treatise on Italian as a literary language (De vulgari eloquentia) and a tract on the philosophy of Christian leadership (De monarchia). Dante's best work is La divina commedia (The Divine Comedy), the story of his journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. Its poetry is astonishing, and its theology owes much to Aquinas. Dante is considered among the finest Christian poets.
Karen Rae Keck
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