Dante’s Inferno is one of the most remarkable visions in Western literature. An allegory for his and future ages, it is, at the same time, an account of terrifying realism. Passing under a lintel emblazoned with these frightening words, the poet is led down into the depths by Virgil and shown those doomed to suffer eternal torment for vices exhibited and sins committed on earth. Inferno is the first part of the long journey, which continues through redemption to revelation—through Purgatory and Paradise—and, in this translation, his images are as vivid as when the poem was first written in the early years of the 14th century.
About the Author
Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 into a family of the city’s lesser nobility in reduced circumstances. They were Guelphs, a party originally identified with the claims of papal authority and opposed by the Ghibellines, who offered allegiance to the German Emperors in Italy. By Dante’s time both parties had developed into vehicles for feud and private interest. In 1302 control of Florence fell to ‘Black’ Guelphs and Dante was exiled by the faction. It was during this permanent exile from Florence that The Divine Comedy was written, completed in the year of Dante’s death in Ravenna, 1321.