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Biography

Dante Alighieri was an Italian poet of the Middle Ages, best known for his masterpiece, the epic Divine Comedy, considered to be one of the greatest poetic works in literature.

A native of Florence, Dante was deeply involved in his city-state’s politics and had political, as well as poetic, ambitions. He was exiled from Florence in 1301 for backing the losing faction in a dispute over the pope’s influence, and never saw Florence again.

While in exile, Dante wrote the Comedy, the tale of the poet’s pilgrimage through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. To reach the largest possible audience for the work, Dante devised a version of Italian based largely on his own Tuscan dialect and incorporating Latin and parts of other regional dialects. In so doing, he demonstrated the vernacular’s fitness for artistic expression, and earned the title “Father of the Italian language.”

Dante died in Ravenna in 1321, and his body remains there despite the fact that Florence erected a tomb for him in 1829.

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