The Divine Comedy: Paradise, Purgatory and Inferno

The Divine Comedy: Paradise, Purgatory and Inferno


The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature.

The poem’s imaginative and allegorical vision of the afterlife is a culmination of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church. It helped establish the Tuscan dialect, in which it is written, as the standardized Italian language.

It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. On the surface, the poem describes Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven; but at a deeper level, it represents allegorically the soul’s journey towards God. At this deeper level, Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially Thomistic philosophy and the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Consequently, the Divine Comedy has been called “the Summa in verse”.

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