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Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy (ItalianDivina Commedia [diˈviːna komˈmɛːdja]) is a long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the pre-eminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature. The poem’s imaginative vision of the afterlife is representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. It helped establish the Tuscan language, in which it is written (also in most present-day Italian-market editions), as the standardized Italian language. It is divided into three parts: InfernoPurgatorio, and Paradiso.

The narrative describes Dante’s travels through HellPurgatory, and Paradise or Heaven, while allegorically the poem represents the soul’s journey towards God. Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially Thomistic philosophy derived from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Consequently, the Divine Comedy has been called “the Summa in verse”. In Dante’s work, Virgil is presented as human reason and Beatrice is presented as divine knowledge.

The work was originally simply titled Comedìa (pronounced [komeˈdiːa]; so also in the first printed edition, published in 1472), Tuscan for “Comedy“, later adjusted to the modern Italian Commedia. The adjective Divina was added by Giovanni Boccaccio, and the first edition to name the poem Divina Comedia in the title was that of the Venetian humanist Lodovico Dolce, published in 1555 by Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari.

Divine Comedy
Dante shown holding a copy of the Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above, in Michelino‘s fresco
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