Essential Quotes by Character: Dante

Essential Passage 1: Canto I

IN the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct: and e'en to tell
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death.
Yet to discourse of what there good befell,
All else will I relate discover'd there.
How first I enter'd it I scarce can say,
Such sleepy dullness in that instant weigh'd
My senses down, when the true path I left...

Summary

Dante presents himself as the narrator as well as the protagonist in The Divine Comedy. He begins the tale by announcing himself as a wanderer, having reached the halfway point of his life (Dante was thirty-five when he wrote The Divine Comedy), in the year 1300, on the Thursday before Good Friday (Maundy Thursday). Using the allegory of a road through a dark forest, he states that he lost his way along the correct road. He confesses a fear at the darkness of his location, a fear that lingers even at the time of writing. Yet the forest is not totally devoid of goodness; it is not a place of utter evil (as the depths of Hell where he will soon find himself). He cannot remember how he became lost, only that he had been sleepy and thus lost the proper way.

Essential Passage 2: Canto II

That from this terror thou mayst free...

(The entire section is 1434 words.)