illustration of a human covered in a starry sky walking from the sky and plains toward a fiery opening to hell

The Divine Comedy

by Dante Alighieri

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What does the Divine Comedy share with Middle Ages and Renaissance books?

Quick answer:

Like most works of the Middle Ages, the Divine Comedy deals with issues of Christian dogma and philosophy. As a work of the Renaissance, it is written in a personal tone and describes the emotions of people, making it representative of humanist art that was popular during this period.

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When Dante Alighieri wrote The Divine Comedy in the early fourteenth century, Europe was going through a time of transition. The Renaissance was still in its infancy, and many medieval characteristics still existed in Northern Italy. Consequently, this work has elements that are characteristic of both time periods.

As far as Middle-Age characteristics are concerned, one need not look any further than the religious themes that define this work. Almost all European writings from the Middle Ages involved Christian topics and themes. This work is no different. Dante explores Christian notions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. He describes saints and sinners alike as this work deals with notions of good and evil. These themes would be familiar to any reader of medieval literature.

On the other hand, The Divine Comedy is a quintessentially Renaissance work. Unlike medieval writings, which tend to take on a rather formal and impersonal style, Dante's work deals with emotions and more human elements. As such, it is a humanistic work. Humanism was concerned with the experiences of people as individuals. Dante includes numerous characters whose emotions are translated to the written word. This was very characteristic of the Renaissance, with its many humanistic works as expressed in both literature and visual arts.

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