Advertising for a booklet printed on the figure of Dante, probably sold in newsstands and bookstores in the city centre during the celebrations of the six-hundredth anniversary of Dante’s birth in May 1865. Source: City of Florence Archive
Dante was presumably born between May 14 and June 13 in 1265. He belonged to the important Alighieri family. His father worked as a moneychanger and his mother, Bella degli Abati, died when Dante was still very young.
At twelve years of age, he was promised in marriage to Gemma Donati, a member of one of the most powerful families in Florence, with whom he had three children: Jacopo, Pietro and Antonia.
His public life was studded with prominent political positions. By virtue of his membership in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali guild, he was elected to the board of the People and the Council of One Hundred, participating in numerous missions and embassy visits. An active member of the Guelph party (the one loyal to the papacy), he later developed a deep political and personnel aversion to Pope Boniface VIII, whom he accused of guiltily abusing his temporal power and distorting the spiritual mission of the Church. He remained involved in the fierce fighting that divided the Guelfi into two factions, the Bianchi and Neri, after which he was exiled from Florence in 1302. He tried repeatedly to return to the city without success.
And so Dante began the long pilgrimage as an exile that led him to Pistoia, Lunigiana and the Malaspina family, to Verona and the Grande della Scala, to Forlì and then Ravenna and finally to the court of Guido Novello da Polenta, where he died on 14 September 1321, after returning from a diplomatic mission to Venice where he contracted malaria while crossing the Valli di Comacchio.
Fiore e Detto d'Amore (1283-1287), youthful poems
Le Rime, a collection of Dante’s lyrical poetry
La Vita Nova (1292-1293), a tale of the spiritual and poetic evolution of Dante, focused on his love for Beatrice Portinari
Convivio (1304-1307), a treatise on public and civil activity, which examines the moral and cultural human qualities those who aspire to hold important positions must possess
De vulgari eloquentia (1303-1304), a Latin treatise where Dante theorises the use of the vernacular as a powerful means of expression
De Monarchia (1310-1313), a political treatise that states the need for a single imperial authority as the centre of universal power, capable of imposing conditions of peace and justice
Comedìa (1300-1321), a poem divided into three parts, each consisting of 33 cantos (Inferno has 34 because it also contains the Introduction) consisting of tercets in hendecasyllabic verse. An extraordinary literary, theological and philosophical architecture where Dante sums up the themes, values and tensions of medieval culture and society, obtaining an overall sense that remains current today, confirming the consistency of a universal masterpiece and Dante’s place as one of the most notable human intellects of all time
Epistola XIII a Cangrande della Scala (1315-1317), it contains the dedication of Paradiso to the lord of Verona and important notes for the interpretation of the Divine Comedy
Egloghe (1319-1320), compositions of bucolic character written in Latin in Ravenna.
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