Dante's Inferno Questions and Answers
by Dante Alighieri

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What do you think was Dante's purpose in writing Inferno?  

Dante's purpose in writing Inferno was primarily to air his political views to as wide an audience as possible. Therefore he wrote the poem not only with an epic structure but in the Tuscany dialect.

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Dante wrote the Inferno partly as an allegory for the spiritual journey he was embarking on after his exile from Florence and partly as an allegory for Florentine political life in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century.

At the time, Florence had split into two political factions: the black Guelphs who supported the papacy and the all-encompassing power of the pope, and the white Guelphs, of which Dante was one of the leaders, who wanted the Pope to have less influence. The pope at the time, Pope Boniface VIII, was not only known for interfering in the conflicts of other countries, but also for inflicting acts of sudden violence.

After much toing and froing, the black Guelphs finally took power and Dante was exiled from the city of Florence.

Therefore many of the people he has punished in in the Inferno are his political rivals. For example, in the eighth circle of hell, he punishes members of the Catholic church for Simony (profiting from their high position in the Catholic Church)...

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jahkota | Student

       The purpose of Dante's The Devine Comedy was to act as a critique of Italian government at the time. The Inferno is the first of three parts of The Devine Comedy and is intended to display sin in a revolutionary new way, hierarchically. Dante, through his portrayal of the nine circles in Hell, conveys the different sins punishable by an eternity of hell while also ranking them in severity. Dante the pilgrim (the character in the story) witnesses these sins, and their related punishments, and judges them with reason and sympathy. This represents the Italian governing style of the time (controlled mostly by the Church), which was one of growing leniency to the Christian followers. But along his way through Hell, Dante comes to realize that sins are punished by God and that this is "right". This is the initial critique, representing his feelings toward the sin of the Church controlled government and their followers. That sins will be punished by God without remorse, and the only way to not be punished is to commit to a life of God by returning to Christian values. The important thing to take away is that the Church was developing it's own set of what are sins, and how they will be punished. Dante, in essence, says NO! We need to return to core Christian beliefs and values, and in his Inferno gives a very descriptive representation of what will happen if not.