Dante's Inferno Essay

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The Inferno, the first installment of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, outlines Dante’s journey through his version of Hell. Written in medieval times this book was taken very seriously when it was published. During the fourteenth century the Catholic Church’s teachings were widely accepted as the truth so someone making an assumption of what hell was actually like was not taken lightly. Today The Inferno is not taken so seriously but it is still revered as a historically important literary work. Dante’s idea of Divine Retribution resonates with a large audience. Although many may not agree with the exact punishments he assigned to his sinners, they do agree that the punishment should fit the crime. The Inferno was the first of its kind, prior to the Divine Comedy no other piece of literature made such radical assumptions about heaven and hell or had attacked society from so many different angles. For these reasons it has influenced readers to put more thought into what happens after they die. The harsh punishments that Dante’s characters underwent have inspired readers to lead lives free of sin. Although they know his vision may not be completely true they still don’t want to be the one to find out whether it is or not. Dante wrote his epic style poem in the vernacular, enabling all people of general literacy, such as commoners, to read his work. This was a monumental event because scholars of the past had always written in Latin, including the most influential people in Dante’s life, such as Virgil. Latin was the language of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church, therefore no one ever thought Dante’s use of Italian was capable of such poetic expression. The availability of the Divine Comedy allowed it to have a great influence on the masses where as other works of his time would not have had as large an audience or influence since a vast number of people

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