The action of the Divine Comedy begins from the moment when the lyrical hero (or Dante himself), shocked by the death of his beloved Beatrice, tries to relive his grief, stating it in verse, in order to pinpoint the most specific way and thereby preserve the unique image of his beloved. But then it turns out that her immaculate person is already not subject to death and oblivion. She becomes a conductor, savior of the poet from inevitable death.
Beatrice, with the help of Virgil, an ancient Roman poet, accompanies the living lyrical hero - Dante - bypassing all the horrors of Hell, making an almost sacred journey from being to non-being, when the poet, just like the mythological Orpheus, goes down to the underworld to save his Eurydice. “Leave all hope” is written on the gates of Hell, but Virgil advises Dante to get rid of fear and awe before the unknown, because only a man with open eyes can comprehend the source of evil.
Sandro Botticelli, "Portrait of Dante"
Hell for Dante is not a materialized place, but a state of mind of a person who has sinned, constantly tormented by remorse of conscience. Dante inhabited the circles of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, guided by his likes and dislikes, his ideals and ideas. For him, for his friends, love was the highest expression of the independence and unpredictability of the freedom of the human person: this is freedom from traditions and dogmas, and freedom from the authority of the fathers of the church, and freedom from various universal models of human existence.
Love comes to the fore with a capital letter, directed not towards a realistic (in the medieval sense) absorption of individuality by the ruthless collective integrity, but towards the unique image of Beatrice, which really exists. For Dante Beatrice - the embodiment of the entire universe in the most specific and colorful image. And what could be more attractive for a poet than the figure of a young Florentine, who was accidentally met in a narrow street of an ancient city? So Dante realizes the synthesis of thought and a concrete, artistic, emotional comprehension of the world. In the first song of “Paradise”, Dante listens to the concept of reality from the mouth of Beatrice and is unable to take her eyes off her emerald eyes. This scene is the embodiment of deep ideological and psychological changes, when the artistic comprehension of reality tends to become intellectual.
Illustration to the Divine Comedy, 1827
The afterlife is presented to the reader in the form of a solid building, whose architecture is calculated in the smallest detail, and the coordinates of space and time are distinguished by mathematical and astronomical accuracy, complete numerological and esoteric subtext.
Most often in the text of the comedy is found the number three and its derivative - nine: a three-line stanza (tertsina), which became the poetic basis of the work, divided in turn into three parts - the cantics. Excluding the first introductory song, 33 songs are given to the image of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, and each part of the text ends with the same word - stars (stelle). Three colors of clothes, in which Beatrice is clothed, three symbolic beasts, three mouths of Lucifer and as many sinners devoured by them, the threefold distribution of Hell with nine circles can be attributed to the same mystical digital series. All this clearly built system gives rise to an amazingly harmonious and coherent hierarchy of the world, created according to unwritten divine laws.
Speaking of Dante and his “Divine Comedy”, it is impossible not to note the special status that the great poet’s birthplace, Florence, bore in the congregation of other cities of the peninsula. Florence is not only the city where the Academy del Chimento raised the banner of experimental knowledge of the world. This is a place where nature was looked at so intently as nowhere else, a place of passionate artistic sensationalism, where rational vision replaced religion. They looked at the world through the eyes of an artist, with a spiritual uplift, with a worship of beauty.
The initial collection of ancient manuscripts reflected the transfer of the center of gravity of intellectual interests to the structure of the inner world and creativity of the person himself. Cosmos ceased to be the dwelling place of God, and began to relate to nature from the point of view of earthly existence, it looked for answers to questions that were understandable to man, and took them in earthly, applied mechanics. A new way of thinking - natural philosophy - humanized nature itself.
The topography of Dante's Hell and the structure of Purgatory and Paradise follow from the recognition of loyalty and courage by the highest virtues: in the center of Hell, in the teeth of Satan are traitors, and the distribution of places in Purgatory and Paradise directly correspond to the moral ideals of the Florentine exile.
By the way, everything that we know about the life of Dante is known to us from his own memories, set forth in the "Divine Comedy." He was born in 1265 in Florence and remained faithful to his native city all his life. Dante wrote about his teacher Brunetto Latini and his talented friend Guido Cavalcanti. The life of the great poet and philosopher took place in the circumstances of a very long conflict between the emperor and the Pope. Latini, the teacher of Dante, was a man who possessed encyclopedic knowledge and relied in his views on the statements of Cicero, Seneca, Aristotle and, of course, the Bible - the main book of the Middle Ages. It was Latini who most influenced the formation of the personality of the future Renaissance humanist.
Dante's path was full of obstacles when the poet faced the need for a difficult choice: for example, he was forced to contribute to the expulsion of his friend Guido from Florence. Reflecting on the twists and turns of his fate, Dante in the poem "New Life" devotes many fragments to a friend Cavalcanti. Here Dante brought the unforgettable image of his first youthful love - Beatrice. Biographers identify the beloved Dante from Beatrice Portinari, who died at the age of 25 in Florence in 1290. Dante and Beatrice became the same textbook embodiment of true lovers, like Petrarch and Laura, Tristan and Isolda, Romeo and Juliet.
In 1295, Dante entered the guild, membership in which opened the way for him to politics. Just at that time, the struggle between the emperor and the pope intensified, so Florence was divided into two opposing groups - the “black” Guelphs, led by Corso Donati, and the “white” Guelphs, to whom Dante himself belonged. "White" won and drove opponents out of the city. In 1300, Dante was elected to the city council - this is where the poet's brilliant oratorical abilities were fully manifested.
Dante more and more began to oppose himself to the Pope, participating in various anticlerical coalitions. By that time, the “blacks” had activated their activities, broke into the city and dealt with their political opponents. Dante was summoned to testify to the city council several times, but he ignored these demands each time, so on March 10, 1302 Dante and 14 other members of the “white” party were sentenced in absentia to death. To escape, the poet was forced to leave his native city. Disillusioned with the opportunity to change the political situation, he began to write the work of his life - “Divine Comedy”.
Sandro Botticelli "Hell, Canto XVIII"
In the XIV century in the “Divine Comedy” the truth revealed before the poet, who visited Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, is not canonical at all; it appears to him as a result of his own individual efforts, his emotional and intellectual impulse, he hears the truth from the mouth of Beatrice . For Dante, the idea is “the thought of God”: “All that will die, and all that will not die, is / Only a glimmer of Thought, by which Almighty / Being gives life with His Love.”
The Dante path of love is the path of perception of the divine light, power that simultaneously elevates and destroys a person. In The Divine Comedy, Dante placed special emphasis on the color symbolism of the Universe depicted by him. If Ada is characterized by dark tones, the path from Hell to Paradise is a transition from dark and dark to light and radiant, whereas in Purgatory there is a change of lighting. For the three steps at the gates of Purgatory, symbolic colors stand out: white - the innocence of the infant, purple - the sinfulness of the earthly creature, red - redemption, the blood of which whitens so that, closing this color row, white reappears as a harmonic combination of the previous symbols.
In November 1308, Henry VII became king of Germany, and in July 1309 the new Pope Clement V declared him king of Italy and invited him to Rome, where the magnificent coronation of the new emperor of the Holy Roman Empire took place. Dante, who was an ally of Henry, returned to politics, where he productively managed to use his literary experience, writing many pamphlets and speaking publicly. In 1316, Dante finally moved to Ravenna, where he was invited to spend the rest of the days by the city’s signor, patron and patron of the arts, Guido da Polenta.
In the summer of 1321, Dante, as ambassador of Ravenna, was sent to Venice on a mission to make peace with the Doge Republic. After completing a responsible assignment, on his way home, Dante becomes ill with malaria (like his late friend Guido) and dies suddenly in the night of September 13-14, 1321.