Dante Alighieri

1265-1321

 

Dante Alighieri is buried in a mausoleum in the centre of Ravenna, Italy. (See map...ref no. 10)

Dante was born into a Florentine family affiliated to the Guelf Party.

At the age of nine (as detailed in La Vita Nuova) Dante met and fell in love with Bice Portinari. She later became the wife of Simone de' Bardi while Dante married Gemma Donati.

However in 1290 Bice died and Dante was grief stricken. Bice was the model for Beatrice who featured in much of Dante's early love poetry and was also his guide in the final volume of The Divine Comedy - Paradiso.

From 1295 onwards Dante became active in the political life of Florence and became a prominent member of the White Guelf party. While he was in Rome negotiating with Pope Boniface VIII,  the Black Guelfs seized power and Dante was condemned to exile. In fact, he never returned to Florence. At first he moved to Verona but then wandered for a number of years before settling finally in Ravenna.

While living in Ravenna Dante began writing The Divine Comedy. He completed it shortly before his death in 1321. The epic poem, written in terza rima, was made up of three separate volumes: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. In the first two volumes Dante is led through the layers of hell and purgatory by the roman poet Virgil.

The Divine Comedy drew upon Dante's knowledge of philosophy, astronomy, natural science and history.

Dante's work was a profound influence on modernist poet T.S. Eliot.

There is also a cenotaph to Dante at Santa Croce church in Florence.

Tomb of Dante in Ravenna

And there in a boat that came heading towards us
Was an old man, his hair snow-white with age,
Raging and bawling, 'Woe to you, wicked spirits!
 
O never hope to see the heavenly skies!
I come to bring you to the other shore,
To eternal darkness, to the fire and ice.

From Inferno Canto III, The Divine Comedy

Click here to buy poetry by Dante Alighieri

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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