Essay on Dante Alighieri: Hell

Essay on Dante Alighieri: Hell

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Dante Alighieri: A Poetic Descent into Metaphorical Hell

     "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here"

     Only through a journey into hell can we hope to attain paradise...

     His Early Life:

     Dante Alighieri was born under the sign of Gemini, he was thought to be
born on May 29, but this is not certain. He was born in Florence, the son of
Alighiero II, his family was one of lower nobility. His mother died when he was
a child and his father when he was eighteen. According to him, the most
profound event in his youth was when in 1274 he met Beatrice, whom scholars
believe to be Beatrice Portinari, a noble woman. It really matter's not who she
was, for he saw her infrequently and never spoke to her. Nevertheless she
became the focus of his love, and after her death she became his muse. She is a
focal point in his works, including La vita nuova(The New Life) and La divina
commedia(The Divine Comedy). Dante's education remains an unknown, however his
writing skill and knowledge make it evident that he was well schooled. It is
thought that he attended Florentine schools but also continued learning on his
own. He seemed to be influenced greatly by Brunetto Latini, who has a large
part in The Divine Comedy. His early writings attracted the attention of Guido
Cavalcanti, a popular Italian poet of the day, as Dante's skill became more
defined the two became friends. It is also thought that Dante studied at the
university in Bologna around the year 1285.
     He became involved in some political altercations, he joined the Guelphs,
as opposed to the Chibellines, and he was involved in a battle and emerged
victorious. It was around this time, 1290, that Beatrice died, after she died
he began studying philosophy, he read the works of Boethius and Cicero. He soon
after married Gemma Donati, a member of a noble Florentine Guelph family. He
attempted to settle down and forget Beatrice, however he became more and more
engulfed in the party scene, he discovered the pleasure of banquets, and was
seen engaged in public rhyming contests. These contests were a sort of poetic
insult contest that often decayed into vulgarity. Thankfully, this period did
not last long, in 1295, Dante suddenly became very interested in the political

... middle of paper ...

... allegorical, moral, and mystical”1. It's meaning varies upon the
reader, one person may see a beautiful piece of literature, while another may
see a frightening glimpse into their future. Some may denounce The Divine
Comedy as heresy, while others still may embrace it and welcome it's lessons
into their lives. It is a story of hellish torment, and eternal paradise, it is
a love story, it is the story of man who becomes lost in the forest of life and
finds his way by means of strong guiding forces(the poet Virgil, Beatrice, The
Deity). It is the story of coming once again into life and embracing it for
what is, a journey through darkness, and an emergence into light, be that fiery
red, or divine white.


     1. Infopedia 2.0 Copyright 1996 Softkey Multimedia, Inc.
     2. Dante Chronology Copyright 1995 ILT
     3. Dante, His Life, His Times, His Works Copyright 1968
     Arnoldo Mondadori-Milano Translated From Italian by Giuseppini T.
     Salvadori and Bernice L. Lewis
     4. Volume XI The Chronicle by Giovanni Villani

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