1265 - 1321
Dante is the most famous poet of Italy. His Divine Comedy is considered the greatest literary work
composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.
Dante Alighieri grew up in Florence. When he was nine, a meeting with Beatrice, the daughter of a Florentine aristocrat, influenced the rest of his life. His platonic devotion to her continued despite her marriage, and despite his own marriage to a daughter of a powerful Guelph family.
In 1300, he became one of the six priors of Florence. He joined a democratic political group which was opposed by the pope. After his opponent's triumph Dante was exiled, wandered to various cities, possibly Paris and Oxford, and made his final home in Ravenna.
The dates of his various works are not known. The 'Vita nuova', which tells of his passion for Beatrice, is probably the earliest. He wrote several poems, as well as treatises on government and language.
But his fame as the greatest poet of Italy rests on the Christian epic 'Divine Comedy', a vision of hell, purgatory, and heaven which gives a wideranging view of the culture of his age.
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The Medieval Sourcebook: