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Ever Heard Of The Divine Comedy? Here Are 7 Mysterious Facts About This Masterpiece’s Author

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Dante Alighieri was an Italian-born author (c. 1265), better known as Dante, known most notably for his work, The Divine Comedy. It was made up of three specific books: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. While the Middle Ages’ poet is best known for those three titles, there is far more to him than his famous trilogy.

There are many interesting facts that fans of The Divine Comedy may not know:

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1. The Divine Comedy is One Poem

As mentioned above, The Divine Comedy is made up of three specific titles. While this is true, each ‘book’ is simply a section of a larger body of work. This particular literature from the other would be labeled an ‘epic poem’, much like The Illiad and The Odyssey by the Greek philosopher, Homer.

The poem follows Dante’s journey through the three ethereal realms as he is guided by the poet Virgil through Hell and Purgatory, with the character Beatrice finally guiding him into God’s realm of Heaven.

2. His Education is a Mystery

While Dante Alighieri himself states much of his learning was done on his own, the majority of his educational background continues to elude even the most detailed historian. It is believed he gained education during his teenage years, in a chapter school that may have been on the same grounds as a monastery or Italian church in the capital city of Florence.

But through this education, he became interested in Provencal poetry of the troubadours and Latin writers such as Cicero, and Ovid. He was also heavily influenced by Virgil, author of The Aeneid.

3. He Had Four Children

While we don’t know much about his family lineage, except he was the son of Alaghiero and Bella Alighieri. He had two elder sons, Jacopo and Pietro, a daughter named Antonia and fourth and youngest child was Giovanni.

He had his children with the gentlewoman Gemma di Manetto.

4. He Did Not Marry His True Love

In many of his works, we learn of a character who goes by the name Beatrice. It is widely accepted that the source of inspiration for this character is Beatrice “Bice” di Folco Portinari.

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In his literature, it is Beatrice who guides him to heaven in Paradiso, because she is the embodiment of love. Virgil’s pagan nature prevents him from being Dante’s guide during the third part of The Divine Comedy.

Alighieri stated he met this Beatrice only twice during his lifetime, but claimed that he was so captivated when they first met, both being nine years old, he had fallen in love at first sight.

After that, Dante had met her only one other time, but her name, or something close to it, is consistently mentioned.

5. He Was Exiled from His Home City

After obtaining public office, Dante held it through years of civil unrest between rival political parties. When a group known as the Black Guelphs established the Cante de Gabrielli, and appointed Gubbio to Podesta of Florence, the poet was exiled along with the entire Gherardini Family.

Dante had been accused by the Black Guelphs of corruption and embezzlement, and had been exiled from Florence for two years, in addition to being charged a hefty fine.

Had he returned during that time, they would have burned him at the stake like a heretic. (The people of the Middle Ages really loved their fire, didn’t they?)

6. No One’s Sure How He Died

Much of the author’s exile was spent in the city of Verona, with the blessing of Cangrade I Della Scala. It is said he lived a prosperous, albeit lonely, life here. He had also spent the rest of his life working on Paradiso in the city of Ravenna.

After spending some time in Venice doing diplomatic work, Alighieri finished Paradiso before passing away at the age of 56 in the year 1321. No one is certain what ailment took his life, but many attribute his death to a case of malaria contracted during his diplomatic mission to Verona.

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7. The Modern Day City Council of Florence Pardoned Him

Dante Alighieri’s death sentence held until he was rumored to have died of malaria. By the standards of his time, there was absolutely no way the poet could challenge his sentence. The moment he set foot in Florence, he was to be put to death, along with his sons.

The Florence Municipality publicly apologized for the 700-year old expulsion of the poet, and officially rescinded his death sentence.

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