Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dante and Beatrice- A "Comedic" Romance

          Dante Alighieri was perhaps one of the greatest poets of the Medieval Era. But, before last week all I thought about him was he wrote a freaky book named Inferno. What I failed to realize, however, was Dante a hopeless romantic. Dante was only eight years old when he laid
The famous greeting
(Dante and Beatrice by Henry Holiday)
eyes on Beatrice Portinari, the daughter of a wealthy banker. How many eight year-old boys would notice what a girl wore, let alone remember it for the rest of his life! He wrote she wore a dress of soft crimson  and a belt about her waist. He noted her noble qualities and angelicness. He also stayed at places where he could often catch a glimpse of her. The first time they spoke was when they were 18 and she greeted him while passing him on the street. Her mere greeting caused him to flee to the solitude of his own room where he fell asleep and dreamed what would become the first sonnet in his La Vita Nouva, one of the greatest love poems of all time. In 13th century Florence, arranged marriages were quite normal. So at the age of 21, Dante was married to Gemma Donati, to whom he had been betrothed since the age of 12. Sadly, Beatrice was married later that year, only to die three years after that at the age of 24. Dante was devastated. Beatrice remained his muse for the rest of his life. In the last book of the Divine Comedy Paradise, it is Beatrice who escorts him into Paradise.


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