(1265-1321) Italian poet. His masterpiece La divina commedia/The Divine Comedy 1307–21 is an epic account in three parts of his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, during which he is guided part of the way by the poet Virgil; on a metaphorical level, the journey is also one of Dante’s own spiritual development. Other works include the philosophical prose treatise Convivio/The Banquet 1306–08, the first major work of its kind to be written in Italian rather than Latin; Monarchia/On World Government 1310–13, expounding his political theories; De vulgari eloquentia/Concerning the Vulgar Tongue 1304–06, an original Latin work on Italian, its dialects, and kindred languages; and Canzoniere/Lyrics, containing his scattered lyrics.
Dante was born in Florence, where in 1274 he first met and fell in love with Beatrice Portinari (described in La vita nuova/New Life 1283–92). His love for her survived her marriage to another and her death 1290 at the age of 24. He married Gemma Donati 1291.
In 1289 Dante fought in the battle of Campaldino, won by Florence against Arezzo, and from 1295 took an active part in Florentine politics. In 1300 he was one of the six Priors of the Republic, favoring the moderate “White” Guelph party rather than the extreme papal “Black” Ghibelline faction (see Guelph and Ghibelline); when the Ghibellines seized power 1302, he was convicted in his absence of misapplication of public money and sentenced first to a fine and then to death. He escaped from Florence and spent the remainder of his life in exile, in central and N Italy.
An Italian poet famous for The Divine Comedy--a journey through hell and purgatory and paradise guided by Virgil and his idealized Beatrice.