Dante Alighieri

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Photograph of a bust of Dante Alighieri, scanned from an old edition of the Divine Comedy (with pictures by Gustave Doré, translated by Philalethes, explained by Edmund Th. Kauer, Berlin, Verlag von Th. Knaur Nachf.), no year given, Public Domain.
The oldest portrait of Dante Alighieri. Detail from the fresco of Paradise (14th century) by Giotto di Bondone (Museo del Bargello. Maria Magdalena Chapel, Florence).

Dante Alighieri (actually Durante degli Alighieri, * in May or June 1265 in Florence; † 14 September 1321 in Ravenna) was an Italian philosopher and poet and creator of the "Divine Comedy".

Dante Alighieri is Italy's most famous poet and one of the most important poets of the European Middle Ages. He lived in the late Middle Ages, which in Italy already marked the transition to the Renaissance, although Dante's world view was still strongly rooted in the Middle Ages (see his work De Monarchia).

Dante is considered the "father" of today's "High" Italian language, which he decisively shaped. His influence on European literature should also be seen in this context.


Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in May or June 1265, the son of the Florentine city nobleman Messer Gherardo Alighiero di Bellincione (Alighiero II) and Monna Bella Gabrielli. According to the concurring statements of Filippo Villanis and Dante's son Jacopo Alighieri, he was baptised with the name Durante (Italian: "the enduring one"), which was then shortened in pronunciation to Dante. His patron saint was Durandus of Liège († 1025). According to Dante's account in the "Paradiso", his Guelfish-minded family derived from his great-great-grandfather Cacciaguida (* 1091), who had participated as a crusader in the Second Crusade (1147-1149).

At the age of 9, Dante first saw Beatrice Portinari (* 1266; † 8 June 1290) who was then just at the beginning of her ninth year, at a spring festival. From the beginning, her angelic, pure figure enchanted him. Nine years later he met her for the second time at a youth festival, where she presented him with a wreath of flowers. She was to become the muse of his later artistic work.

„Nine times already after my birth the heaven of light had returned, according to its own cycle, almost to the same place, when for the first time the glorious Lady of my soul appeared to my eyes, who was called Beatrice by many who did not know how to call her otherwise. She had been in this life so long that since her birth the starry sky had advanced a twelfth of a degree towards the morning, so that she appeared to me towards the beginning of her ninth year, and I beheld her almost at the end of my ninth. And she appeared to me clothed in a garment of glorious, humble, honourable, blood-red colour, girded and adorned as befitted her childish age. At the same moment - so I say according to truth - it happened that the spirit of life, which dwells in the hidden chamber of the heart, began to tremble so violently that it revealed itself terribly in the smallest pulses; and trembling it uttered the words, Ecce deus fortior me; veniens dominabitur mihi (Behold a god stronger than I; he comes and will reign over me).“

Dante Alighieri: The New Life


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.