Dante's Real Life Inferno

Topics: Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, Florence Pages: 5 (1031 words) Published: April 16, 2014
Dante’s Real Inferno
The three most significant influences on Dante Alighieri were his philosophical education, his political struggles in Florence throughout his life, and his infatuation with the woman known as Beatrice.

Dante’s education played a major part in influencing his famous writing, Inferno. Dante grew up in Florence, a significant artistic and intellectual center throughout the 13th century, says Jay Rudd. Dante had private tutors in his youth and studied Christian theology at the Florentine Dominican center of Santa Maria Novella (Rudd). According to the Literature Resource Center, Dante enrolled at the University of Bologna and studied philosophical works of Boethius, Cicero, and Aristotle. Also, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure’s works provided Dante with the “intellectual support and vision” for his works (Rudd). Dante chose Virgil as the guide in his poem because Virgil signifies “natural philosophy, reason, poetry, and the Roman Empire,” which Dante believed to represent the connection between peace and order, says Joanne Kashdan and Marsha Daigle-Williamson. Dante’s characters represent “theological, political, philosophical, or moral realities,” but he keeps their historical backgrounds, and their intricacy as mortals remain untouched (Kashdan and Daigle-Williamson). The young Dante found himself surrounded by influential father figures throughout his youth (Rudd). Guido Cavalcanti, one of the most important poets of the time in Florence, took Dante on as his apprentice and brought him to a poet’s society called Fedeli d’Amore, or devotees of the god of love. He is mentioned in Canto X when Dante meets Cavalcante Cavalcanti, Guido’s father (Rudd). Latini Brunetto, Dante’s old schoolmaster, was a significant political figure in Florence who taught Dante about the Florentine politics (Rudd). Rudd says Dante eventually rose to power and was made Chief Magistrate of Florence; Brunetto can be found in Canto XV among the Sodomites. Other influences, both acquaintances and role models of his, can be found in the different circles of Hell, and these influences taught him much of what he knows of mythology, poetry, and philosophy (Rudd). Dante incorporated classical and mythological elements into his poem in a wide variety of ways (Kashdan and Daigle-Williamson). Many of the protectors of the circles of Hell are based off of mythological creatures: there are certain sections of Hell that also allude to Roman mythology, such as the river of Styx and the dark forest the poet finds himself in at the beginning of the poem (Kashdan and Daigle-Williamson). In order for the poet to understand the connection between God and one’s deliverance from their sins “history, revelation and theology” are needed (Kashdan and Daigle-Williamson). Dante’s education largely inspired him to write his most famous poem, Inferno.

The second most significant influence on Dante was his political struggles throughout his life in Florence. Dante grew up in a time of political turmoil in his hometown of Florence. According to Jay Rudd, the Guelphs and Ghibellines were constantly fighting over who had power, which was always shifting between the two groups, meaning new laws and more people to be exiled. Dante placed many of the Florentine politicians in different circles of Hell (Rudd). Rudd says that Dante spent much of the decade of the 1280s learning and exercising the military skills that would have been expected of him because of his aristocratic ancestry. He later took place in the Battle of Campaldino in the Casentino Valley (Rudd). In 1295, Dante was dragged into the world of Florentine politics when his own kinsman fought the rival Cerchi family (Rudd). The fighting escalated by the year 1300, “turning a municipal dance into a bloody riot,” and Dante was forced to punish both sides, as he was the Chief Magistrate of Florence at the time, and he banished leaders from both sides- his kinsman, Corso Donati, and Guido...


Cited: "Dante." Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2014. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10
Mar. 2014.
Kashdan, Joanne G. and Marsha Daigle-Williamson. "The Divine Comedy." Masterplots, 4th
ed. Literary Reference Center. Web. 24 Feb. 2014
Rudd, Jay. "Dante Alighieri." Bloom 's Literature. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
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