Dante 2 Essay, Research Paper
Dante s Influence on Italian Culture
Dante Alighieri was a very well known and influential poet in early literature. He was not only a poet, he was also a philosophical thinker, an active politician, and a religious visionary (Holmes 1). Dante was born in Florence in 1265, into the Guelph political party, one of the two main parties in Florence. The Guelphs were aristocrats and nobles. They supported the church and papacy and were against the Renaissance. Their opposition was the Ghibellini Party who consisted of the rising merchant class. They supported the emperor and wanted to gain power from the pope (Holmes 22). During his earlier years Dante was neutral politically, but he eventually rose to become a high political figure in the Florentine government. He joined the White Guelphs, who split from the Black Guelphs. When the Blacks took over, Dante was banished from political office and exiled from Florence (Parish Internet). His life changed drastically during his exile, enabling him to concentrate on his writing.
Dante was one of the most influential individuals in early European literature, language, and politics. He influenced Italian society and culture through his poetry and his prose (Dante Internet). His writings helped to unify the Italian language. His opinions on politics were new and many of his ideas are seen in today s politics (Holmes 23). These are the three key areas in which Dante was so influential.
Dante s writings had a great impact on Italian literature, both in the nature of the topics and the style of the prose. His writings have been hailed the pillars on which the European literary tradition has been built (Dante: The Divine Internet). The Divine Comedy is very influential and is considered as the greatest piece of poetry in early European literature. Dante s Divine Comedy has rightly been regarded as the supreme literary expression of a crucial stage in European thought (Holmes 1). Dante also influenced the style of poetry by introducing a format that consisted of three canticles each divided into 33 or 34 cantos. Many poets after him have copied this format (Wilkins 12).
His most famous piece of literature, The Divine Comedy, is said to be important also because of It s place in the history of the development of the Italian language (Dante: The Divine Internet). To understand this we need to look at the language and writings at that time in history. During Dante s lifetime different dialects of Italian were spoken in different parts of the country (Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321 Internet). Dante was a very skilled writer who wrote in both his Florentine Italian dialect and Latin, which was unusual since most scholarly writings at that time were in Latin (Dante Internet). Dante however believed that the language of one s family was noble and he broke the traditions of those before him. The Florentine dialect became the most prevalent Italian dialect in future writings. This helped unify the languages of Italy (Dante on Internet).
Dante was very involved in politics and his strong political opinions were expressed in his writings. He was active in Florentine politics from 1295-1302 serving on city council and holding high public office until his exile in 1303 (Wilkins 54). He was exiled because of his political opposition to the Pope. Dante didn t agree with the nobility way of government and he held a stand against the Pope s intervention (Holmes 1). Many of his views were ahead of his time. For example, one topic that was commonly used by Dante was the relation between the authority of the Church and the authority of the State. He believed that the Church and the State should be separate (Holmes 3). This is a common idea in contemporary politics, one on which the United States was founded many centuries after Dante. Politics were a reoccurring topic throughout his writings. He wrote about them with a very skeptical and negative viewpoint. For the rest of his life politics was always to be an important factor in his attitude to man and the universe (Holmes 26).
Dante was a great thinker and had lots of time during his exile to reflect on his life and write the truth about the Middle Ages. It was during this time that Dante s writings reflected many of his personal experiences, his political beliefs, and his philosophy of life. He addressed human affairs and problems that happened in every day life (Holmes 26). This is important since at that time, writers were primarily religious scholars writing about their religious beliefs, not political thoughts or common every day happenings. The Divine Comedy, written during his exile, is said to focus on every aspect of earthly human life (Dante: The Divine Internet). The experiences in The Divine Comedy reflect Dante s personal experiences during his exile and earlier years in political office. The exiling of Dante helped him put his life and his political beliefs into perspective and let him write more freely (Holmes 1).
Dante gave the world new ideas on politics, changed the style of poetry, and unified the Italian language. His effect can be seen in the writings that are prominent in Western culture today. Given his wide span of influence, it is easy to see why he is said to be The greatest Italian poet and one of the most important writers of European literature (Dante: 1265-1321).