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Main page » Non-Fiction » Dante - The Inferno - translated by John Ciardi

Dante - The Inferno - translated by John Ciardi


Dante was active in the political and military life of Florence. He entered the army as a youth and held several important positions in the Florence government during the 1290's. During his life, Florence was divided politically between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The Guelphs supported the church and liked to keep things as they were, unlike the Ghibellines. The Ghibellines were mostly supporters of the German emperor and at the time Dante was born, were relieved of their power.
When this change took place, the Guelphs for whom Dante's family was associated took power. Although born into a Guelph family, Dante became more neutral later in life realizing that the church was corrupt, believing it should only be involved in spiritual affairs. At the turn of the century, Dante rose from city councilman to ambassador of Florence. His career ended in 1301 when the Black Guelph and their French allies seized control of the city. They took Dante's possessions and sentenced him to be permanently banished from Florence, threatening the death penalty upon him if he returned.
Dante spent most of his time in exile writing new pieces of literature. It is believed that around 1307 he interrupts his unfinished work, Convivio, a reflection of his love poetry philosophy of the Roman tradition, to begin The Comedy (later known as The Divine Comedy). He writes a book called De Vulgari Eloquentia explaining his idea to combine a number of Italian dialects to create a new national language. In 1310 he writes De Monarchia presenting Dante's case for a one-ruler world order. Among his works, his reputation rests on his last work, The Divine Comedy. He began writing it somewhere between 1307-1314 and finished it only a short while before his death in 1321, while in exile.

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Tags: Dante, young, griefstricken, Nuova, death