To truly comprehend Dante's Divine Comedy, although complete comprehension is not necessary to enjoy this literary masterpiece, there are several skills one might need to acquire. For instance, one helpful piece of knowledge would be the ability to fluently speak Italian, since the many translations differ being able to have read Dante's actual written words and understand them would make reading the Divine Comedy a bit more personal and therefore easier to understand. To catch and understand the plethora of references and allusions made by Dante it would aid any reader with their findings to be accompanying their reading of the Divine Comedy with a reading of Dante's autobiography Vita Nuova. Vita Nuova or New Life would give the reader a comprehension of all the political references in addition to all of the political references throughout the Divine Comedy. Whether it is Dante's un avenged ancestor Geri del Bello or the political leader Boniface the Divine Comedy is made up of many aspects of Dante's life thus making it difficult for any scholar to pinpoint the true motive behind the writings of the Divine Comedy.
However, if one was seeking more then just a ruff understanding of this piece, perhaps the reader is seeking the true reasoning behind the madness that is his unforgettable journey through the afterlife, it may take a more in depth view into the who Dante was. There are several purposes thought of as to why Dante wrote the Divine Comedy to begin with. Perhaps it is all about his dead "love" Beatrice the divine angel. Or maybe, this is a political tirade. Since Dante was heavily involved in politices perhaps he wanted to promote change, after he was exiled. He had of course been known for writing many epistles in hopes of changing the way things were. And there exists even a third option, the third option could easily be the most obvious. It is said the Dante merely wanted an Italian epic tale, one to match Virgil's (Aeniad) or Homer's (Odyssey) . Regardless of the reasoning behind the Divine Comedy the outcome could easily be seen as any of the outcomes Dante originally intended, and perhaps that is what makes this a timeless piece of literary genius.
Love, an often overused motive for, basically anything could easily be the reasoning behind Dante's Divine Comedy. The obvious object of Dante's affection is his angelic figure of Beatrice. Who is Beatrice though? What made her special enough to have a 967 page poem about her? Where did she belong in the vast life of Dante? Why has Dante chosen to paint this truly heavenly picture of her? How did she react to this? "The historical Beatrice was very probably Bice, daughter of Falco Portinari," (Madelbaum [IN] 320) so in reality "Beatrice" or Bice was really just a childhood neighbor of the Alighieri, who Dante says he, "immediately felt the foce of love for her upon first glance." (Alighieri [VN] 37) However love at first sight is hardly the case here. They first laid eyes on each other at age nine, Dante being several months older then Bice, however the twist comes when it isn't until almost nine years after this event the first words are finally spoken between the two. Soon after this event the heavenly Bice married, not Dante, but Simone di' Bardi and then, sadly, died at a very young age.
What is it exactly that would make Dante write such an epic piece about someone who he never really knew too well? It is said that, "After the death of Beatrice, Dante entered, belatedly but voraciously, a period of philosophical study. His motives were both the need for consolation and the restless, urban, unecclesiastical curiosity that characterized one who was becoming the most complete intellectual of his time." (Mandelbaum [IN] 321) So it is easily noticeable that there is some kind of connection between Dante and Bice. Yet, is it possible that this affection was a one- sided affair? The answer to that question may never truly be known for the only ideas...
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