Dante's Divine Comedy is bewilderingly complex to the first-time reader, even on the literal level. (This complexity remains after many rereadings, but for many readers, it enhances the poem's appeal rather than hindering the reader's understanding.) Trying to keep track of the poem's more than five hundred characters often produces frustration, as do attempts to sort out thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Florentine politics and the city-state's conflicts with the papacy. However Dante lived during a time when categorization—the...
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