Article

Dante Alighieri

Chris Kleinhenz

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online December 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0027
Dante Alighieri

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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As the consummate author of the European Middle Ages, Dante Alighieri (b. 1265–d. 1321) left his mark on a number of areas—poetry, history, political science, linguistics, philosophy, theology, iconography, and more. In each of his works Dante engaged a particular topic, for which he provided an in-depth analysis. These topics range from the very personal—some might say “autobiographical”—account of his early love for Beatrice (Vita nuova, 1292–1294) to more academic disquisitions, such as the definition of a noble literary language for Italy and the mechanics of Italian prosody (De vulgari eloquentia, 1303–1305), the nature and importance of philosophy (Convivio, 1304–1307), and the proper relationship between pope and emperor (Monarchia, 1317). His most important work is the all-encompassing allegorical poem La divina commedia (The Divine Comedy, 1308–1321), which depicts the universal cosmic order as seen in the three realms of the afterlife (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) through which the character Dante travels as a pilgrim, guided by Virgil, Beatrice, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux. As T. S. Eliot once noted, “All of Dante’s ‘minor works’ are important, because they are works of Dante” (Dante [London: Faber and Faber, 1965], p. 55), and this is certainly true. His minor works shed light on the workings of his mind and on many of the major issues of his day. The immediate success of The Divine Comedy is manifested in the numerous commentaries that accompanied its transmission via manuscripts; and the almost seven-hundred-year tradition of critical scholarship on Dante’s works makes it a complex area of study.

Article.  26751 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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