Dante Alighieri

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For the sculpture by Ettore Ximenes, see Dante Alighieri (Ximenes). Dante Alighieri_sentence_0

"Dante" redirects here. Dante Alighieri_sentence_1

For other uses, see Dante (disambiguation). Dante Alighieri_sentence_2

Dante Alighieri_table_infobox_0

Dante AlighieriDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_0_0
BornDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_1_0 c. 1265

Florence, Republic of FlorenceDante Alighieri_cell_0_1_1

DiedDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_2_0 September 13 or 14, 1321

(aged around 56) Ravenna, Papal StatesDante Alighieri_cell_0_2_1

Resting placeDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_3_0 Tomb of DanteDante Alighieri_cell_0_3_1
OccupationDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_4_0 Statesman, poet, language theorist, political theoristDante Alighieri_cell_0_4_1
LanguageDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_5_0 Italian
TuscanDante Alighieri_cell_0_5_1
NationalityDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_6_0 FlorentineDante Alighieri_cell_0_6_1
PeriodDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_7_0 Late Middle AgesDante Alighieri_cell_0_7_1
Literary movementDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_8_0 Dolce Stil NovoDante Alighieri_cell_0_8_1
Notable worksDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_9_0 Divine ComedyDante Alighieri_cell_0_9_1
SpouseDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_10_0 Gemma DonatiDante Alighieri_cell_0_10_1
ChildrenDante Alighieri_header_cell_0_11_0 4Dante Alighieri_cell_0_11_1

Dante Alighieri (Italian: [ˈdante aliˈɡjɛːri), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante (/ˈdɑːnteɪ, ˈdænteɪ, ˈdænti/, also US: /ˈdɑːnti/,; c. 1265 – 1321), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. Dante Alighieri_sentence_3

His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa (modern Italian: Commedia) and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language. Dante Alighieri_sentence_4

Dante is known for establishing the use of the vernacular in literature at a time when most poetry was written in Latin, making it accessible only to the most educated readers. Dante Alighieri_sentence_5

His De vulgari eloquentia (On Eloquence in the Vernacular) was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. Dante Alighieri_sentence_6

His use of the Tuscan dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and Divine Comedy helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language, and set a precedent that important later Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would follow. Dante Alighieri_sentence_7

Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, and his depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art. Dante Alighieri_sentence_8

He is cited as an influence on Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. Dante Alighieri_sentence_9

In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the terza rima, is attributed to him. Dante Alighieri_sentence_10

He is described as the "father" of the Italian language, and in Italy he is often referred to as il Sommo Poeta ("the Supreme Poet"). Dante Alighieri_sentence_11

Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called the tre corone ("three crowns") of Italian literature. Dante Alighieri_sentence_12

Life Dante Alighieri_section_0

Early life Dante Alighieri_section_1

Dante was born in Florence, Republic of Florence, in what is now Italy. Dante Alighieri_sentence_13

The exact date of his birth is unknown, although it is generally believed to be around 1265. Dante Alighieri_sentence_14

This can be deduced from autobiographic allusions in the Divine Comedy. Dante Alighieri_sentence_15

Its first section, the Inferno, begins, "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita" ("Midway upon the journey of our life"), implying that Dante was around 35 years old, since the average lifespan according to the Bible (Psalm 89:10, Vulgate) is 70 years; and since his imaginary travel to the netherworld took place in 1300, he was most probably born around 1265. Dante Alighieri_sentence_16

Some verses of the Paradiso section of the Divine Comedy also provide a possible clue that he was born under the sign of Gemini: "As I revolved with the eternal twins, I saw revealed, from hills to river outlets, the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious" (XXII 151–154). Dante Alighieri_sentence_17

In 1265, the sun was in Gemini between approximately May 11 and June 11 (Julian calendar). Dante Alighieri_sentence_18

Giovanni Boccaccio described Dante's appearance and demeanor as follows: "the poet was of middle height, and in his later years he walked somewhat bent over, with a grave and gentle gait. Dante Alighieri_sentence_19

He was clad always in most seemly attire, such as befitted his ripe years. Dante Alighieri_sentence_20

His face was long, his nose aquiline, and his eyes big rather than small. Dante Alighieri_sentence_21

His jaws were large, and his lower lip protruded. Dante Alighieri_sentence_22

He had a brown complexion, his hair and beard were thick, black, and curly, and his countenance was always melancholy and thoughtful." Dante Alighieri_sentence_23

Dante claimed that his family descended from the ancient Romans (Inferno, XV, 76), but the earliest relative he could mention by name was Cacciaguida degli Elisei (Paradiso, XV, 135), born no earlier than about 1100. Dante Alighieri_sentence_24

Dante's father, Alighiero or Alighiero di Bellincione, was a White Guelph who suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines won the Battle of Montaperti in the middle of the 13th century. Dante Alighieri_sentence_25

This suggests that Alighiero or his family may have enjoyed some protective prestige and status, although some suggest that the politically inactive Alighiero was of such low standing that he was not considered worth exiling. Dante Alighieri_sentence_26

Dante's family was loyal to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the Papacy and which was involved in complex opposition to the Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman Emperor. Dante Alighieri_sentence_27

The poet's mother was Bella, probably a member of the Abati family. Dante Alighieri_sentence_28

She died when Dante was not yet ten years old, and Alighiero soon married again, to Lapa di Chiarissimo Cialuffi. Dante Alighieri_sentence_29

It is uncertain whether he really married her, since widowers were socially limited in such matters, but this woman definitely bore him two children, Dante's half-brother Francesco and half-sister Tana (Gaetana). Dante Alighieri_sentence_30

When Dante was 12, he was promised in marriage to Gemma di Manetto Donati, daughter of Manetto Donati, member of the powerful Donati family. Dante Alighieri_sentence_31

Contracting marriages at this early age was quite common and involved a formal ceremony, including contracts signed before a notary. Dante Alighieri_sentence_32

But by this time Dante had fallen in love with another, Beatrice Portinari (known also as Bice), whom he first met when he was only nine. Dante Alighieri_sentence_33

Years after his marriage to Gemma he claims to have met Beatrice again; he wrote several sonnets to Beatrice but never mentioned Gemma in any of his poems though other Donati relations, notably Forese and Piccarda, appear in his Divine Comedy. Dante Alighieri_sentence_34

The exact date of his marriage is not known: the only certain information is that, before his exile in 1301, he had three children (Pietro, Jacopo and Antonia). Dante Alighieri_sentence_35

Dante fought with the Guelph cavalry at the Battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289). Dante Alighieri_sentence_36

This victory brought about a reformation of the Florentine constitution. Dante Alighieri_sentence_37

To take any part in public life, one had to enroll in one of the city's many commercial or artisan guilds, so Dante entered the Physicians' and Apothecaries' Guild. Dante Alighieri_sentence_38

In the following years, his name is occasionally recorded as speaking or voting in the various councils of the republic. Dante Alighieri_sentence_39

A substantial portion of minutes from such meetings in the years 1298–1300 was lost, however, so the true extent of Dante's participation in the city's councils is uncertain. Dante Alighieri_sentence_40

Gemma bore Dante several children. Dante Alighieri_sentence_41

Although several others subsequently claimed to be his offspring, it is likely that only Jacopo, Pietro, Giovanni, and Antonia were his actual children. Dante Alighieri_sentence_42

Antonia later became a nun, taking the name Sister Beatrice. Dante Alighieri_sentence_43

Education and poetry Dante Alighieri_section_2

Florence and politics Dante Alighieri_section_3

Exile and death Dante Alighieri_section_4

Pope Boniface quickly dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to remain in Rome. Dante Alighieri_sentence_44

At the same time (November 1, 1301), Charles of Valois entered Florence with the Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. Dante Alighieri_sentence_45

A new Black Guelph government was installed, and Cante dei Gabrielli da Gubbio was appointed podestà of the city. Dante Alighieri_sentence_46

In March 1302, Dante, a White Guelph by affiliation, along with the Gherardini family, was condemned to exile for two years and ordered to pay a large fine. Dante Alighieri_sentence_47

Dante was accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing by the Black Guelphs for the time that Dante was serving as city prior (Florence's highest position) for two months in 1300. Dante Alighieri_sentence_48

The poet was still in Rome in 1302 where the Pope, who had backed the Black Guelphs, had "suggested" that Dante stay. Dante Alighieri_sentence_49

Florence under the Black Guelphs therefore considered Dante an absconder. Dante Alighieri_sentence_50

Dante did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not guilty and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the Black Guelphs. Dante Alighieri_sentence_51

He was condemned to perpetual exile; if he returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could have been burned at the stake. Dante Alighieri_sentence_52

(In June 2008, nearly seven centuries after his death, the city council of Florence passed a motion rescinding Dante's sentence.) Dante Alighieri_sentence_53

He took part in several attempts by the White Guelphs to regain power, but these failed due to treachery. Dante Alighieri_sentence_54

Dante, bitter at the treatment he received from his enemies, grew disgusted with the infighting and ineffectiveness of his erstwhile allies and vowed to become a party of one. Dante Alighieri_sentence_55

He went to Verona as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved to Sarzana in Liguria. Dante Alighieri_sentence_56

Later he is supposed to have lived in Lucca with a woman called Gentucca, who made his stay comfortable (and was later gratefully mentioned in Purgatorio, XXIV, 37). Dante Alighieri_sentence_57

Some speculative sources claim he visited Paris between 1308 and 1310, and other sources even less trustworthy took him to Oxford: these claims, first occurring in Boccaccio's book on Dante several decades after his death, seem inspired by readers who were impressed with the poet's wide learning and erudition. Dante Alighieri_sentence_58

Evidently, Dante's command of philosophy and his literary interests deepened in exile and when he was no longer busy with the day-to-day business of Florentine domestic politics, and this is evidenced in his prose writings in this period, but there is no real evidence that he ever left Italy. Dante Alighieri_sentence_59

Dante's Immensa Dei dilectione testante to Henry VII of Luxembourg confirms his residence "beneath the springs of Arno, near Tuscany" in March 1311. Dante Alighieri_sentence_60

In 1310, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg marched into Italy at the head of 5,000 troops. Dante Alighieri_sentence_61

Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also retake Florence from the Black Guelphs. Dante Alighieri_sentence_62

He wrote to Henry and several Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Dante Alighieri_sentence_63

Mixing religion and private concerns in his writings, he invoked the worst anger of God against his city and suggested several particular targets that were also his personal enemies. Dante Alighieri_sentence_64

It was during this time that he wrote De Monarchia, proposing a universal monarchy under Henry VII. Dante Alighieri_sentence_65

At some point during his exile, he conceived of the Comedy, but the date is uncertain. Dante Alighieri_sentence_66

The work is much more assured and on a larger scale than anything he had produced in Florence; it is likely he would have undertaken such a work only after he realized his political ambitions, which had been central to him up to his banishment, had been halted for some time, possibly forever. Dante Alighieri_sentence_67

It is also noticeable that Beatrice has returned to his imagination with renewed force and with a wider meaning than in the Vita Nuova; in Convivio (written c. 1304–07) he had declared that the memory of this youthful romance belonged to the past. Dante Alighieri_sentence_68

An early indication that the poem was underway is a notice by Francesco da Barberino, tucked into his Documenti d'Amore (Lessons of Love), probably written in 1314 or early 1315. Dante Alighieri_sentence_69

Francesco notes that Dante followed the Aeneid in a poem called "Comedy" and that the setting of this poem (or part of it) was the underworld; i.e., hell. Dante Alighieri_sentence_70

The brief note gives no incontestable indication that he himself had seen or read even the Inferno or that this part had been published at the time, but it indicates composition was well underway and that the sketching of the poem might have begun some years before. Dante Alighieri_sentence_71

(It has been suggested that a knowledge of Dante's work also underlies some of the illuminations in Francesco da Barberino's earlier Officiolum [c. 1305–08], a manuscript that came to light only in 2003.) Dante Alighieri_sentence_72

It is known that the Inferno had been published by 1317; this is established by quoted lines interspersed in the margins of contemporary dated records from Bologna, but there is no certainty as to whether the three parts of the poem were each published in full or, rather, a few cantos at a time. Dante Alighieri_sentence_73

Paradiso seems to have been published posthumously. Dante Alighieri_sentence_74

In Florence, Baldo d'Aguglione pardoned most of the White Guelphs in exile and allowed them to return. Dante Alighieri_sentence_75

However, Dante had gone too far in his violent letters to Arrigo (Henry VII) and his sentence was not revoked. Dante Alighieri_sentence_76

In 1312 Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Dante Alighieri_sentence_77

Some say he refused to participate in the attack on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs, too, and that any trace of his passage had carefully been removed. Dante Alighieri_sentence_78

Henry VII died (from a fever) in 1313, and with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. Dante Alighieri_sentence_79

He returned to Verona, where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in certain security and, presumably, in a fair degree of prosperity. Dante Alighieri_sentence_80

Cangrande was admitted to Dante's Paradise (Paradiso, XVII, 76). Dante Alighieri_sentence_81

During the period of his exile Dante corresponded with Dominican theologian Fr. Nicholas Brunacci OP [1240–1322] who had been a student of Thomas Aquinas at the Santa Sabina studium in Rome, later at Paris, and of Albert the Great at the Cologne studium. Dante Alighieri_sentence_82

Brunacci became lector at the Santa Sabina studium, forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and later served in the papal curia. Dante Alighieri_sentence_83

In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to those in exile, including Dante. Dante Alighieri_sentence_84

But for this, Florence required public penance in addition to a heavy fine. Dante Alighieri_sentence_85

Dante refused, preferring to remain in exile. Dante Alighieri_sentence_86

When Uguccione defeated Florence, Dante's death sentence was commuted to house arrest on condition that he go to Florence to swear he would never enter the town again. Dante Alighieri_sentence_87

He refused to go, and his death sentence was confirmed and extended to his sons. Dante Alighieri_sentence_88

He still hoped late in life that he might be invited back to Florence on honorable terms. Dante Alighieri_sentence_89

For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping him of much of his identity and his heritage. Dante Alighieri_sentence_90

He addressed the pain of exile in Paradiso, XVII (55–60), where Cacciaguida, his great-great-grandfather, warns him what to expect: Dante Alighieri_sentence_91

As for the hope of returning to Florence, he describes it as if he had already accepted its impossibility (in Paradiso, XXV, 1–9): Dante Alighieri_sentence_92

Dante accepted Prince Guido Novello da Polenta's invitation to Ravenna in 1318. Dante Alighieri_sentence_93

He finished Paradiso and died in 1321 (aged 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, possibly of malaria contracted there. Dante Alighieri_sentence_94

He was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called Basilica di San Francesco). Dante Alighieri_sentence_95

Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice, erected a tomb for him in 1483. Dante Alighieri_sentence_96

On the grave, a verse of Bernardo Canaccio, a friend of Dante, is dedicated to Florence: Dante Alighieri_sentence_97

Legacy Dante Alighieri_section_5

The first formal biography of Dante was the Vita di Dante (also known as Trattatello in laude di Dante), written after 1348 by Giovanni Boccaccio. Dante Alighieri_sentence_98

Although several statements and episodes of it have been deemed unreliable on the basis of modern research, an earlier account of Dante's life and works had been included in the Nuova Cronica of the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani. Dante Alighieri_sentence_99

Florence eventually came to regret Dante's exile, and the city made repeated requests for the return of his remains. Dante Alighieri_sentence_100

The custodians of the body in Ravenna refused, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Dante Alighieri_sentence_101

Nonetheless, a tomb was built for him in Florence in 1829, in the Basilica of Santa Croce. Dante Alighieri_sentence_102

That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he had loved so dearly. Dante Alighieri_sentence_103

The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honor the most exalted poet". Dante Alighieri_sentence_104

The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in limbo. Dante Alighieri_sentence_105

The ensuing line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb. Dante Alighieri_sentence_106

A copy of Dante's so-called death mask has been displayed since 1911 in the Palazzo Vecchio; scholars today believe it is not a true death mask and was probably carved in 1483, perhaps by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. Dante Alighieri_sentence_107

Italy's first dreadnought battleship was completed in 1913 and named Dante Alighieri in honor of him. Dante Alighieri_sentence_108

On April 30, 1921, in honor of the 600th anniversary of Dante's death, Pope Benedict XV promulgated an encyclical named In praeclara summorum, calling him one "of the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast" and the "pride and glory of humanity". Dante Alighieri_sentence_109

In 2007, a reconstruction of Dante's face was undertaken in a collaborative project. Dante Alighieri_sentence_110

Artists from Pisa University and engineers at the University of Bologna at Forlì constructed the model, portraying Dante's features as somewhat different from what was once thought. Dante Alighieri_sentence_111

In 2008, the Municipality of Florence officially apologized for expelling Dante 700 years earlier. Dante Alighieri_sentence_112

A celebration was held in 2015 at Italy's Senate of the Republic for the 750th anniversary of Dante's birth. Dante Alighieri_sentence_113

It included a commemoration from Pope Francis. Dante Alighieri_sentence_114


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante Alighieri.