Patriotism is respect and devotion toward a state which brings about unity and justice. It is believed to be a positive quality. In the time of Dante, it would have been considered to be a principal quality of a person. Patriotism was held to the highest regard. In turn, the act of being "unpatriotic" was a serious offense. Early scholars such as Machiavelli believed "unpatriotic" acts or beliefs to be evil, even equivalent to the act of murder. Dante is often criticized as being "unpatriotic" toward his home town of Florence in his divine comedy Inferno. Although he does harshly criticize Florence, Dante remains patriotic because he is standing up against evils in the name of justice, which is a patriotic act.
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence, Italy in 1265. At the time of Dante's birth, Florence was a prosperous city-state, full of greedy merchants and warring political factions. The two most influential families in Florence were the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. The Guelphs were supporters of the Pope and the Ghibellines supported the German emperor, who claimed power in Italy. In 1266, the Guelphs, with whom Dante's family was associated and aided by the French, gained power. The Ghibellines were ousted from power forever. By 1295 the Guelphs were firmly established and many of the Ghibellines were in exile. At this time the Guelphs split into two factions: the Whites and the Blacks.
The White Guelphs were members of the Cerci family, and the Black Guelphs were members of the Donati family. The White faction decided to prosecute the Blacks for going to ask the Pope to intervene on their behalf. Dante was one of the White magistrates responsible for this decision. During his term Dante had to banish his own brother-in-law who was a ringleader for the Blacks. After much bloodshed the Blacks were banished from Florence. The next year the Blacks conspired with Pope Boniface VIII. Together they devised a plan... [continues]
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