Dante was born of a poor but noble Florentine family. Unusually well educated for his time and social class, he was knowledgeable in science, theology, and philosophy and was a well-known man of letters. He lived in politically tumultuous times and was active in his city’s government. During an absence from Florence in 1301, his party was overthrown and he was sentenced to exile in 1302. For a time, he tried to clear his name, but he was never allowed to return to his beloved Florence upon the threat of being burned. Dante wrote The Divine Comedy in exile and died in Ravenna.
Dante chose to write the masterpiece The Divine Comedy in Italian, although the language of scholarship at that time was Latin. Dante’s major writings in Latin include his political essay De monarchia (c. 1313; English translation, 1890; also known as Monarchy, 1954; better known as On World Government, 1957) and his compelling defense of the written vernacular as an appropriate medium of expression, De vulgari eloquentia (c. 1306; English translation, 1890). Although Dante used Latin for a number of very important letters and for a few poems, his language of choice was his native Tuscan dialect, which became the basis of modern Italian. His earliest major work—La vita nuova (c. 1292; Vita Nuova, 1861; better known as The New Life), a mystical-spiritual account of his love for Beatrice that...
(The entire section is 2278 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Divine Comedy Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!