Dante was born in Florence, Italy, in 1265. Of minor nobility he studied amongst the Dominicans, Augustians and Franciscans in Florence, and at the university of Bologna.
He studied philosophy and politics before being exiled (due to fraudulent use of public money) in 1301, and spent the rest of his life teaching, lecturing and writing.
IL SOMMO POETA
THE SUPREME POET
This picture below is the oldest image of Dante, by Giotto di Bondone, painted just before his exile.
The poem is an allegorical vision of the afterlife, capturing the journey taken by Dante through the Inferno, Mount Purgatorio and Paradiso. On another level, it's the journey of the human soul to God. It also uses historical, moral, literal and spiritual interpretations.
Dante is guided through the Inferno and Purgatorio by the Ancient Roman poet, Virgil. His guide through Paradiso is Beatrice. In his real life, he was in love with Beatrice, but he was in a marriage contract to Gemma, whom he married.
The Divine Comedy is written in 3 Canticas: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, each of which consists of 33 divisions or episodes called Cantos. As you can see, numerology is important in this story. Other significant numbers include the number 9, where we have the 9 circles of Inferno and Lucifer, the 9 rings of Mount Purgatorio and the Garden of Eden, and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradiso that lead to the essence of God.
THE DIVINE COMEDY
This is the oldest book on my list and the oldest book I have read, ever (apart from the Bible). I was in awe of its age and tried to image Dante, 700 years ago, writing this manuscript in the Middle Ages. Wow!