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Dante, in full Dante Alighieri, (born c. May 21–June 20, 1265, Florence Italy—died September 13/14, 1321, Ravenna). Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker.

He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia 

(The Divine Comedy).

Dante saw himself as the philosopher-mediator between the two, helping to educate a newly enfranchised public readership. The Italian literature that Dante heralded was soon to become the leading literature and Italian the leading literary language of Europe, and they would continue to be that for more than three centuries.

With the battle of Benevento, for Dante, an era ends, a civilization ends, a world, a myth, a culture, the courtly-knightly one, which had been masterfully exalted by Frederick II, sets.

In fact, in the De vulgari eloquentia (I, xii, 4).

Dante acknowledges to Frederick II, among many other merits, that of having sponsored the formation of the first vulgar art in Italy, the illustrious Sicilian, borrowing tones, forms, cadences and contents by the singers of Auvergne, Limousin, Provence; but, above all, the merit of having him and his benegenitus son Manfredi able to express all the nobility and grandeur of their spirit, brutalia dedignantes: in comparison the trumpets of their successors in Sicily, Frederick of Aragon and Charles II of Anjou, and other political greats, become trumpets.

Federico and his sons, Manfredi, Enrico and Enzo, sang in the manner of the Provençal troubadours in illustrious Sicilian, creating at the Swabian court an atmosphere of worldly refinement and chivalrous splendor that indelibly marked the memory of contemporaries and subsequent generations for many years.

In Federico's court Dante transfigures a civilization - the courtly background - that would have fascinated the collective imagination for centuries, that world that Ariosto returned to dream in the disenchantment of his poetry (see note 2).

Dante’s Divine Comedy, a landmark in Italian literature and among the greatest works of all medieval European literature, is a profound Christian vision of humankind’s temporal and eternal destiny. On its most personal level, it draws on Dante’s own experience of exile from his native city of Florence.

On its most comprehensive level, it may be read as an allegory, taking the form of a journey through hellpurgatory, and paradise. The poem amazes by its array of learning, its penetrating and comprehensive analysis of contemporary problems, and its inventiveness of language and imagery.

By choosing to write his poem in the Italian vernacular rather than in Latin, Dante decisively influenced the course of literary development.

He primarily used the Tuscan dialect, which would become standard literary Italian, but his vivid vocabulary ranged widely over many dialects and languages. Not only did he lend a voice to the emerging lay culture of his own country, but Italian became the literary language in western Europe for several centuries.

In addition to poetry Dante wrote important theoretical works ranging from discussions of rhetoric to moral philosophy and political thought. He was fully conversant with the classical tradition, drawing for his own purposes on such writers as VirgilCicero, and Boethius. But, most unusual for a layman, he also had an impressive command of the most recent scholastic philosophy and of theology. His learning and his personal involvement in the heated political controversies of his age led him to the composition of De monarchia, one of the major tracts of medieval political philosophy.


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