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By: Dante Alighieri





Dante Alighieri THE DIVINE COMEDY a famous Medieval Italian epic poem depicting the realms of the
afterlife. Dante wrote this poem somewhere between 1308 and his death in 1321, while he was in exile from his
hometown of Florence, Italy which had been enduring civil war.

The divine comedy is divided into three separate volumes, containing 33 cantos. These volumes are INFERNO,


The inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by an ancient poet Virgil. The sinners in Hell have
never repented while on Earth. They suffer the consequences of the sins they committed during life, which are
turned back on them, a concept called Contrapasso.

To leave hell, they must go through all nine Circles of Hell, the deeper the circle, the more grave the sin and its
appropriate punishment. The first circle holds the unbaptized and the pagans born before Christ. The other
circles are defined by the major sin committed by those condemned to that circle: 2. lust 3. Gluttony 4. Greed 5.
Wrath and depression. The final circle make up the infernal city called Dis, with circle six containing heretics,
circles seven containing those who committed violence, circle eight containing deceiver and circle nine
containing those who betrayed trust. At the deepest region of circle nine, a three faced Satan, stuck in a frozen
lake, chews on the worst betrayers of all the time : Judas and Brutus and Cassius.


Dante and Virgil climb out enter Purgatory, where penitent souls endure punishment in order to fully purge
themselves of sin before entering heaven. Purgatory is shaped like a mountain and is divided into seven
different levels, associated with the seven deadly sins odf pride, envy, wrath, sloth, covetousness, gluttony and
lust. Unlike the souls in hell, they sing and praise God in the midst of their punishment, and implore Dante ask
people on Earth to pray for their souls. And also they are free to move between the seven levels as they purify
themselves. Beyond the seventh level at the top of the mountain is the mountain is the earthy paradise of Eden,
where Virgil disappears and is replaced by Dante’s next guide.

Paradiso (English: "Heaven", "Paradise") is the third and the last section of Dante's epic poem of Divine
Comedy. In it, the Italian poet describes his journey through Heaven, the things he sees and people he
encounters on the way to the so-called Empyrean, the true home of God, saints, angels and the souls of the
faithful. He is accompanied by Beatrice, identified as Dante's love of life Beatrice Portinari (1266-1290) who
guides him through the 9 Spheres of Heaven.

The first three spheres (which fall within the shadow of the Earth) are associated with deficient forms
of Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance. The next four are associated with positive examples of Prudence,
Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance; while Faith, Hope, and Love appear together in the eighth sphere.

First Sphere (The Moon: The Inconstant)

The waxing and waning of the moon is associated with inconstancy. Consequently, the sphere of the Moon is
that of souls who abandoned their vows, and so were deficient in the virtue of fortitude. Here Dante and
Beatrice meet Piccarda, sister of Dante's friend Forese Donati, who died shortly after being forcibly removed
from her convent. They also meet Constance of Sicily, who (Dante believes) was forcibly removed from a
convent to marry Henry VI. Beatrice discourses on the freedom of the will, the sacredness of vows, and the
importance of not collaborating with force.

Beatrice explains that a vow is a pact "drawn between a man / and God," in which a person freely offers up his
free will as a gift to God. Vows should therefore not be taken lightly, and should be kept once given – unless
keeping the vow would be a greater evil, as with Jephthah's and Agamemnon's sacrifice of their daughters.

Second Sphere (Mercury: The Ambitious)

Because of its proximity to the sun, the planet Mercury is often difficult to see. Allegorically, the planet
represents those who did good out of a desire for fame, but who, being ambitious, were deficient in the virtue
of justice. Their earthly glory pales into insignificance beside the glory of God, just as Mercury pales into
insignificance beside the sun. Here Dante meets the Emperor Justinian, who introduces himself with the words
"Caesar I was and am Justinian," indicating that his personality remains, but that his earthly status no longer
exists in Heaven. Justinian recounts the history of the Roman Empire, mentioning, among others, Julius
Caesar and Cleopatra; and bemoans the present state of Italy, given the conflict between Guelphs and
Ghibellines, and the involvement of the "yellow lilies" of France.

Third Sphere (Venus: The Lovers)

The planet Venus (the Morning and Evening Star) is traditionally associated with the Goddess of Love, and so
Dante makes this the planet of the lovers, who were deficient in the virtue of temperance. Dante meets Charles
Martel of Anjou, who was known to him, and who points out that a properly functioning society requires people
of many different kinds. Such differences are illustrated by Cunizza da Romano (lover of Sordello), who is here
in Heaven, while her brother Ezzelino III da Romano is in Hell, among the violent of the seventh circle.
The troubadour Folquet de Marseilles speaks of the temptations of love, and points out that (as was believed at
the time) the cone of the Earth's shadow just touches the sphere of Venus. He condemns the city of Florence
(planted, he says, by Satan) for producing that "damned flower" (the florin) which is responsible for the
corruption of the Church, and he criticises the clergy for their focus on money, rather than on Scripture and the
writings of the Church Fathers.
Fourth Sphere (The Sun: The Wise)
Beyond the shadow of the Earth, Dante deals with positive examples of Prudence, Justice, Temperance,
and Fortitude. Within the Sun, which is the Earth's source of illumination, Dante meets the greatest examples of
prudence: the souls of the wise, who help to illuminate the world intellectually. Initially, a circle of twelve bright
lights dance around Dante and Beatrice. These are the souls of: Dante and Beatrice meet twelve wise men in the
Sphere of the Sun (miniature by Giovanni di Paolo),: Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Gratian, Peter
Lombard, King Solomon, Dionysius the Areopagite, confused here with Pseudo-Dionysius, Orosius, Boethius,
Isidore of Seville, Bede, Richard of Saint Victor, Siger of Brabant This list includes philosophers, theologians
and a king, and has representatives from across Europe. Thomas Aquinas recounts the life of St. Francis of
Assisi, and his love for "Lady Poverty".
Twelve new bright lights appear, one of which is St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, who recounts the life of St.
Dominic, founder of the order to which Aquinas belonged. The two orders were not always friendly on earth,
and having members of one order praising the founder of the other shows the love present in Heaven. The
twenty-four bright lights revolve around Dante and Beatrice, singing of the Trinity, and Aquinas explains the
surprising presence of King Solomon, who is placed here for kingly, rather than philosophical or mathematical

Fifth Sphere (Mars: The Warriors of the Faith)

The planet Mars is traditionally associated with the God of War, and so Dante makes this planet the home of the
warriors of the Faith, who gave their lives for God, thereby displaying the virtue of fortitude. The millions of
sparks of light that are the souls of these warriors form a Greek cross on the planet Mars, and Dante compares
this cross to the Milky Way.

Dante meets his ancestor Cacciaguida, who served in the Second Crusade. Cacciaguida praises the twelfth-
century Republic of Florence, and bemoans the way in which the city has declined since those days (Cantos XV
and XVI). The setting of the Divine Comedy in the year 1300, before Dante's exile, has allowed characters in the
poem to "foretell" bad things for Dante. In response to a question from Dante, Cacciaguida speaks the truth

However, Cacciaguida also charges Dante to write and tell the world all that he has seen of Hell, Purgatory, and
Heaven. Finally, Dante sees some other warriors of the Faith, such as Joshua, Judas
Maccabeus, Charlemagne, Roland, and Godfrey of Bouillon.

Sixth Sphere (Jupiter: The Just Rulers)

The planet Jupiter is traditionally associated with the king of the gods, so Dante makes this planet the home of
the rulers who displayed justice. The souls here spell out the Latin for "Love justice, ye that judge the earth",
after which the final "M" of that sentence is transformed into the shape of a giant imperial eagle. Present in this
sphere are David, Hezekiah, Trajan (converted to Christianity according to a medieval
legend), Constantine, William II of Sicily, and (to Dante's amazement) Ripheus the Trojan, a pagan saved by
the mercy of God. The souls forming the imperial eagle speak with one voice, and tell of God's justice.

Seventh Sphere (Saturn: The Contemplatives)

The sphere of Saturn is that of the contemplatives, who embody temperance. Dante here meets Peter Damian,
and discusses with him monasticism, the doctrine of predestination, and the sad state of the Church. Beatrice,
who represents theology, becomes increasingly lovely here, indicating the contemplative's closer insight into the
truth of God:
Eighth Sphere (The Fixed Stars: Faith, Hope, and Love)
The sphere of the Fixed Stars is the sphere of the church triumphant. From here (in fact, from the
constellation Gemini, under which he was born), Dante looks back on the seven spheres he has visited, and on
the Earth. Here, Dante sees the Virgin Mary and other saints. St. Peter tests Dante on faith, asking what it is,
and whether Dante has it. In response to Dante's reply, St. Peter asks Dante how he knows that the Bible is true,
and (in an argument attributed to Augustine) Dante cites the miracle of the Church's growth from such humble
beginnings. St. James, questions Dante on hope, and Beatrice vouches for his possession of it. Finally, St.
John questions Dante on love. In his reply, Dante refers back to the concept of "twisted love" discussed in
the Purgatorio. St. Peter then denounces Pope Boniface VIII in very strong terms, and says that, in his eyes,
the Papal See stands empty.

Ninth Sphere (The Primum Mobile: The Angels)

The Primum Mobile ("first moved" sphere) is the last sphere of the physical universe. It is moved directly by
God, and its motion causes all the spheres it encloses to move. The Primum Mobile is the abode of angels, and
here Dante sees God as an intensely bright point of light surrounded by nine rings of angels. Beatrice explains
the creation of the universe, and the role of the angels, ending with a forceful criticism of the preachers of the

The Empyrean
From the Primum Mobile, Dante ascends to a region beyond physical existence, the Empyrean, which is the
abode of God. Beatrice, representing theology, is here transformed to be more beautiful than ever before, and
Dante becomes enveloped in light, rendering him fit to see God

Dante sees an enormous rose, symbolizing divine love, the petals of which are the enthroned souls of the
faithful (both those of the Old Testament and those of the New). All the souls he has met in Heaven, including
Beatrice, have their home in this rose. Angels fly around the rose like bees, distributing peace and love. Beatrice
now returns to her place in the rose, signifying that Dante has passed beyond theology in directly contemplating
God, and St. Bernard, as a mystical contemplative, now guides Dante further.
St. Bernard further explains predestination, and prays to the Virgin Mary on Dante's behalf. Finally, Dante
comes face-to-face with God Himself. God appears as three equally large circles occupying the same space,
representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
Within these circles Dante can discern the human form of Christ. The Divine Comedy ends with Dante trying to
understand how the circles fit together, and how the humanity of Christ relates to the divinity of the Son but, as
Dante puts it, "that was not a flight for my wings". In a flash of understanding, which he cannot express, Dante
does finally see this, and his soul becomes aligned with God's love