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Analysis of Dante and His Travels and How They Affected Him

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The Divine Comedy is a narrative poem, which was written by Dante Alighieri. The long narrative poem was written from 1308 and was completed around 1320. A deep analysis of The Divine Comedy reveals that the poem is in a way, a story about Dante’s journey throughout life to the final salvation. The opening canto of the poem starts in the middle of Dante’s life, where he finds himself in a dark wood, with no clear direction in which to go. This canto becomes the introduction to the Divine Comedy

The poem, (considered to be one of the greatest works in the history of literature) is viewed as the finest work in the whole of Italian literature. Famous during its time, the poem seems to somewhat represent the medieval world-view (similar to that which had been developed by the Western Church in the 14th century). This representation is brought about by the poem through excellent imaginative vision of the afterlife. The Divine Comedy was among the last works of Dante Alighieri, who met his death in 1321, a year after completion of this particular poem.

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As they begin their journey, Dante shows all of the concern for the condemned that any humane, sympathetic person would show when confronted with the sufferings of the sinners. However, during his journey through Hell, Dante changes significantly as a pilgrim. This change is first and most wonderfully exhibited when Dante and Virgil arrive in Limbo

When they approach the Circle of the Poets, Dante is invited to join them. Dante the Pilgrim is overwhelmed, as he should be, to be so honored and flattered by an invitation to join a group of the most outstanding and exalted poets of the world. Dante the Pilgrim feels unworthy to join this group, but, remember, it was Dante the Poet who issued the invitation. Thus, Dante the Poet, being invited to join these great classical poets, sees himself as one of their number. In reality, this could have been boastful on Dante's part or excessive pride, but fortunately, history has proved that he truly is one of the greatest of all poets. And then as noted above, the reactions of both pilgrim and poet to the plight of Francesca present the same dichotomy of emotions — stern in judgment, but faint and swooning in emotional response. The responses change only slightly when Dante confronts the Gluttons in the next circle. Ciacco, known as "the pig" — a common term in many languages for a Glutton — recognizes Dante the Pilgrim. Dante tries to recognize him, and failing that, he tries to assuage the feelings of this fellow Florentine by telling him that perhaps his "suffering" has changed his appearance. When Dante hears his name, he then remembers Ciacco as a "happy-go-lucky" fellow who was very pleasant and well liked. Dante treats him kindly and tells him, "Ciacco, your distress weighs upon me so that it moves me to tears." Again, remember it was Dante the Poet who chose him to represent the Gluttons. Thus, this far up in Hell, Dante is considerate for the feelings of the sinners and feels distress for the punishment they suffer.

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The impulse for the creation of the poem was Dantes love for the daughter of his fathers friend Beatrice. The peculiarity of the Divine Comedy is its distinct composition. The poem is divided into three big parts, the so-called canticles, which are devoted to the description of the three parts of another world. They are the Inferno, the Purgatory, and Paradise. In the way of traveling through these spheres, Dante describes the arrangement of another world by the Catholic doctrine. Each beast is the symbol of a certain human vice. The leopard symbolizes the salacity, the lion is the pride, and the wolf is the greediness. The allegory of Dante is obvious – on the way to the persons salvation. There are dreadful obstacles, represented by these vices. (Barker par.4). Paradise is described by Dante as a welter of the light

The higher he soars the clearer his sight is. Dante has made his grand journey in order to see the light and at last, this light is presented to him. The author describes the emergence of the apparition of the Rose of Paradise. “In fashion then as of a snow-white rose Displayed itself to me the saintly host, Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride” (Alighieri 786). The image of the rose always attracted the artists. In medieval times, this image was imbued with a special sacred sense. It was a symbol of the highest harmony and beauty. Dantes Rose of Paradise represents the blossom, the highest manifestation of the life that, developing gradually from the lowest forms, increasingly improves.

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Definitely, Dante’s Inferno heralded a revolution in Christian theology through its innovative use of poetic justice, historical and contemporary figures, and classical mythology. By combining these disparate elements into a single, cohesive poem, Dante effectively changed the way the Western world imagined the afterlife and Hell in particular

By focusing on the details of the scenes and the identities of those whom the fictional Dante converses with, Inferno illustrates a horrifyingly real and immediate vision of Hell, one which has persisted at least in some part to this day. By focusing on the personal journey of one man through the afterlife, the focus of the narrative is shifted onto the reader, who can easily identify with Dante as the first-person narrator.

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Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. The Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso, New York: First New American Library Printing,2003. Print.

Barker, Melanie. The Divine Interpretation: A Study of Metaphor in Dantes Inferno. n.d. Web.

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