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Dante and his Inferno

Dante Alighieri, one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages, was born in Florence, Italy, supposedly around May 29, 1265, to a middle-class Florentine family. A year later, on Easter Sunday, he was baptized, later describing this as his first step toward salvation. At an early age, he began to write poetry and became fascinated with lyrics. In 1274, during his adolescence, Dante fell in love with a beautiful girl named Beatrice Portinari. This love of his, though, was in truth simply a lust issue, as they had not actually met more than twice. Unfortunately for Dante, his father passed away in 1283, leaving him yearning for fatherly affection which he later displays in The Divine Comedy: Inferno, as he seems to look toward Virgil for parental affection. During the late 1280's, he served in the military as a cavalryman in the battles of Compagna and Campaldino against the Ghibellines. Shortly after his return in 1290, his beloved Beatrice passed away, leaving him grief-stricken, but still provided much inspiration for his literary works. His first book, Vita Nuova (New Life), was written about her. Sometime before 1294, Dante married Gemma Donati, whom he later had four children with, named Jacopo, Pietro, Giovanni, and Antonia. 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 Florentine government during the 1290's. During his life, Florence was divided politically between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. The Guelfs supported the church and liked to keep things as they were. The Ghibellines, however, were mostly supporters of the German emperor, and were in power up until the time of Dante's birth. When this took place, the Guelfs, for whom Dante's family was associated, took power. Although born into a Guelf family, Dante became more neutral later in life after realizing that the church was corrupt, believing it should only be in...

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