Paradise Lost

Humanism in Dante and Milton

Humanism had a profound impact on European society during the Renaissance. This movement transformed the thinking processes of many Europeans, altering the way these people viewed themselves, their lives, and their place in the world. Literature written around the time of the Renaissance displays humanism's influence on the European social order.

Dante Alighieri, a prominent Florentine writer, completed his Inferno around 1314. Although Dante lived before the widespread proliferation of humanism and humanistic writings, his style exhibits many precursors, if not aspects, of later humanistic thought. The aftereffects of humanism are apparent in the writings of John Milton, an English writer whose works were greatly influenced by the tumultuous political climate of seventeenth century England. Whereas Dante's Inferno displays many qualities to be emphasized by humanism, Milton's Paradise Lost, published in 1667, demonstrates the culmination of the effect humanism has had on his society. The writings of both men are products of the respective times in which they were written; Milton wrote almost three and a half centuries after Dante, and he lived in a different society in which Dante lived. Despite these differences,...

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