It's the Graduating Season and sometimes an uplifting gift is in-order. Amongst the world's best writers—and, certainly, Italy's greatest writer—is Dante Alighieri, scholar, poet and author of The Divine Comedy. In the Late Middle Ages, when Dante was writing, it was customary for serious literature to be written in Latin. Dante ignored this convention, writing in the Italian language (and, what's more, in the Tuscan dialect of his beloved Florence). Since his death in 1321, Dante has influenced numerous writers, right up to the current age.
Dante's relevance to the modern age is not confined to his writing—but concerns his politics. It seems he found himself supporting the losing side of a political scrum in his home city of Florence. Alas, he was sentenced to banishment from his much-loved city—and threatened with death should he return to Florence. He decamped to Ravenna, some 80 miles northeast of his hometown. This is where he wrote his most famous work and, eventually, died. In time, Florence realized that they had made a grave mistake in shunning "Il Divino" (as he was now called). Florence applied for the return of his body and built a handsome tomb for him in the Basilica of Santa Croce (alongside many prominent Florentines). Alas, Ravenna refused to return Dante's remains. When Florence sent troops to take the body by force, Ravenna hid Dante in the wall of a monastery—where he was forgotten for a few hundred years. During a later renovation, Dante was found and interred in a handsome tomb just outside of Ravenna's Basilica of San Francesco. The tomb in Florence—which reads "Honor the Most Exalted Poet"—remains empty.
Please click on the photo above to learn more about these bookends.
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