The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
Dante Facts • Born: 1265 • Birthplace: Florence, Italy • Died: September 1321 (Malaria) • Best Known As: The author of The Divine Comedy
Dante Facts • An exiled and wandering figure during his writing lifetime, Dante is now considered Italy's greatest poet -- so much a literary giant that he is generally known by his first name alone. • The Divine Comedy, by far his most famous work, is the story of a journey through Hell, Purgatory and finally Paradise. • In the poem the first two stages are guided by the Roman poet Virgil, and the final visit to Paradise is led by a woman named Beatrice -- a girl Dante met briefly when he was nine and whom he idolized the rest of his life. • The Divine Comedy is the source of many famous classical images, inspiring works by William Blake and others, and is famous for its inscription on the gates of Hell: "All hope abandon, ye who enter here." • Dante named his work La commedia, or The Comedy. After his death others added "Divine" to make it La divina commedia.
Dante Facts • Dante was of noble ancestry, and his life was shaped by the conflict between papal and imperial partisans (the Guelphs and Ghibellines). • When an opposing political faction within the Guelphs (Dante's party) gained ascendancy, he was exiled (1302) from Florence, to which he never returned.
Inferno Facts • It is an allegory of universal human destiny in the form of a pilgrim's journey through hell and purgatory, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, then to Paradise, guided by Beatrice. • By writing it in Italian (the vernacular) rather than Latin, Dante almost single handedly made Italian a literary language, and he stands as one of the towering figures of European literature.
Virgil Facts • Born: 15 October 70 B.C. • Birthplace: Near Mantua, Italy • Died: 21 September 19 B.C. • Best Known As: Author of the Aeneid
Virgil Facts • The most famous poet of ancient Rome, Virgil (or Vergil) wrote the Aeneid, one of the greatest epic poems in human history. • Raised on a farm in northern Italy, he made his way to Rome as an adult and gained fame for his collections of poems Eclogues (around 39 B.C.) and Georgics (29 B.C.). • A clear picture of his life is not possible, but Virgil was apparently famous during his lifetime and had friends in high places, notably the emperor Augustus.
Virgil Facts • The Aeneid is Virgil's masterpiece, a national epic that tells the story of the heroic Aeneas and the founding of Rome. • The long poem is often compared to Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey, Greek epics combining history and mythology. • Virgil died before finishing the work, but it was published (tradition has it that he wanted it destroyed after his death) and became a revered text for centuries. • In medieval Europe Virgil became an almost mystical personage, with magic powers attributed to him and his work
Allegory, Defined • Work of written, oral, or visual expression that uses symbolic figures, objects, and actions to convey truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience. • It encompasses such forms as the fable and parable. Characters often personify abstract concepts or types, and the action of the narrative usually stands for something not explicitly stated. • Symbolic allegories, in which characters may also have an identity apart from the message they convey, have frequently been used to represent political and historical situations and have long been popular as vehicles for satire.
Satire, Defined • A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. • A work, as a novel or play, that exposes folly by the use of humor or irony