Divine Comedy-I: Inferno

Dante’s Own Personal Hell College

Dante’s Inferno is one of the most famous poems ever written in the vernacular. Dante is renowned for being a master of words and a great artist. But what few people know is Dante’s personal history, and the climactic events that prompted him to write Inferno. Dante’s anger towards those who exiled him from Florence was so all-consuming that it poured out in the written word as a personal journey to help him overcome this anger. This is the central idea behind Inferno. Without understanding this, the poem simply seems like a story about a man’s journey through hell. But to really understand Inferno and all of its hidden meanings or insinuations, you must understand Dante’s history and rage over his current situation in life.

Life of Dante, as told by Giovanni Boccaccio, gives us an idea of the political strife Dante faced, prompting the rage which he used to write Inferno. It seems that the citizens of Florence were divided into two political parties, the Black and the White Guelphs. The wars and bloodshed they cost Florence, his beloved city, weighed heavily on Dante, and, wanting to alleviate the situation, he devoted his “genius, art, and learning” (Boccacio, 23) to the party he most...

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