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Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. He wrote the Divine Comedy shortly before his death in 1321. This poem is one of the great works of literature. His experiences in life were used to write the Divine Comedy. During his life in Florence, he was between political conflicts. The Florentine class was divided into two groups, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Dante was a member of the Guelphs who were triumphant. Then the Guelphs broke into two groups, the Whites and the Blacks. He was a member of the Whites who became associated with the Ghibellines in their resistance to the power of the pope and was soon condemned to exile, and he was never allowed to return to Florence. In cantos five of Inferno, it talks about how Farinata degli Uberti, a leader of the Ghibelline faction in Florence predicts Dante's own exile.
The Divine Comedy is about a religious journey through the circles of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. The pilgrim sets out with a guide, the Roman epic poet, Virgil to find his way through Hell, Purgatory, and to make it to Paradise. The poem is also centered around its own current time line on Earth. It is a depiction of the souls and their travels after death. Dante's exile from Florence is important to the Divine Comedy. In the poem the lost traveler is trying to find his way back to his homeland, Heaven, such is how Dante wanted to go back to his homeland, Florence. The poem was written during a time in his life where he was consumed with guilt and depression. In this first canto he talks about a journey and is lost in a dark wood, this shows how he was feeling at the time. The loss of power, control, and respect affected Dante emotionally, psychologically, and politically. The conflict between Church and State is reflected in the Divine Comedy. So now for Dante, the worst kind of sin is one that is damaging to society. A sin that causes social disorder and leads to corruption within society.
Dante used symbolic meanings in the Divine Comedy. For example, nine, the square of three, figures around the interior structure of each canticle. In Hell, the lost souls were arranged in three main groups that occupied nine circles. Purgatory is divided into an Ante-Purgatory, seven terraces, and the Earthly Paradise, which equals nine locations. Heaven consists of nine spheres beyond which lies the infinite Empyrean of the Trinity. Dante is transported into nine spheres which are described by medieval astronomy as the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the fixed stars, and the primum mobile. The number three in Dante's time was very significant. Three represented the Trinity, which is, Father (God), Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost. Each three section of the Divine Comedy were divided into three sections. Each section of these was divided into thirty three cantos, except for the first section (Inferno) which has thirty four because of the prologue. Then each section was written tercets, or groups of three lines. Each section also ends with the word stars, which for Dante, was a visible sign of God's providential oversight. The Divine Comedy is also prophetic. Dante is concerned with restoring the conditions in which Christ first came so that He can come again. When the earthly unity and order appropriate to the birth of Christ is restored, and then his second coming would be possible.
Dante uses beliefs of religion and other mythologies in his poem. An example of this is at the beginning of the story when he tries to walk up the hill away from the dark and is stopped by three animals. The three animals, the leopard (lust), lion (pride), and she-wolf (covetousness) , is that they represent the three major forms of sin in Hell; respectively fraud, violence, and incontinence or immoderation. Dante probably took these three beasts from a passage in Jeremiah. The she-wolf is said to stand for Cangrande Della Scala of Verona, who is Dante's benefactor after his exile from Florence. A mythology that he used was the story about Lancelot and Guinevere when Dante came across two lovers in the second circle of Hell who indulged in lusts of the flesh. Francesca punishment is to repeat the act of seduction throughout eternity and Paolo's punishment is to watch her. The sights he sees and the stories he hears serve as warnings about the danger of failing to worship God as he requires. The rules are absolute and the only means of escaping eternal punishment is through living correctly. Both the pity and the anger Dante feels in hell is meant to be a lesson.
Dante saw that the nature of every human being is love. The natural and proper object of love is God. The Divine Comedy recounted his love for a woman named Beatrice. Beatrice died early on in1290. In the story it tells how his love for Beatrice led him on a journey to Paradise. Another person who has influence on this poem is Virgil who rebelled against God because he was not a Christian. During the Divine Comedy, Dante shows the reader of his extent of knowledge of other classic writers and other historical figures. . The people of Florence, saints, and kings, all of society is in this poem. In Hell he met souls of Plato, Ovid, Orpheus, Homer, and Horace. He uses real classical characters from throughout history. Dante just uses what their life on Earth was like and then place their lives in eternity.
The Divine Comedy is known as one the greatest poetic works in history. He used his religious, philosophical, and political views to write the poem. He addressed moral themes and controversial political issues from the time period that he was from. His own personal life was a huge influence in writing the Divine Comedy. The poem is like a personalized narration of Dante's time and city.