Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Dante - The father of the Italian language
Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy. It ranks up at the top with the world's best Epic Poems. In it Dante travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. His guide in Hell and Purgatory is another great poet named Virgil. In Heaven his guide is his beloved Beatrice.
The love story between Dante and Beatrice is worthy of Shakespeare. Having only met her a handful of times and sharing only a couple of conversations they never grew their relationship beyond a casual one. Only seeing her from afar Dante loved her so. He loved her so much that she has been immortalized the Divine Comedy as his guide through Heaven.
The Divine Comedy was written in Italian rather than the standard Latin or Greek. By doing so Dante brought the Italian language to center stage. This let Europe know that Italian was worthy of the highest use in literature. It also brought the trilogy to the masses throughout Italy that couldn't read Latin.
Each book contains 33 cantos. The Inferno actually has 34 because of the introduction. Each of the three books end with the word stars.
The Inferno is the most famous 0f the three due to Dante's colorful descriptions of the tortures of the nine levels of Hell, each sin that caused the sinner to be eternally tortured on that level, and bring contemporary Florentines, Romans, Popes, and other political figures to Hell while they lived in Dante's Italy.
One of the tortures that sticks in my mind is where a sinner, submerged under boiling pitch has his flesh ripped apart by demons using grappling hooks if they come above the boiling tar.
In the Divine Comedy Dante encounters Odysseus, Achilles, Charon, Saint Peter, other great Epic Poets, and many more.
It is well worth a read even if you only get through the Inferno and Purgatorio.