By: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
The Divine Comedy (in Italian, Divina Commedia, or just La commedia or Comedia) is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri in the first decades of the 14th Century, during his exile from his native Florence. Considered the most important work of Italian literature, the poem has also has enormous historical influence on western literature and culture more generally. Dante represents the three realms of the afterlife in his three canticles (Inferno--Hell; Purgatorio--Purgatory; Paradiso--Paradise) in a way that reflects and, at the same time, goes beyond Christian tradition of the 14th Century. Dante is sometimes called "The father of the Italian language" for the linguistic influence of the Comedy, which helped to elevate his native Florentine Tuscan dialect to the level of national standard. The poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dante's ideal woman, guides him through Heaven.