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Dante's Divine Comedy Summary

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Dante’s Divine Comedy
[1]
Dante’s Divine Comedy is considered by many the supreme literary work not only of medieval Christendom but of the Christian faith in general. Rivaled only by Milton’s Paradise Lost. Never has a poet given a more compelling vision of Christian love than Dante in his Commedia (the Divina was added after Dante’s death). This massive and intricate structure of almost fifteen thousand lines, or one hundred “cantos,” is divided equally into three large sections--Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso--that correspond to Dante’s conception of the states of souls not only after death but in life as well. This forms what Dante himself called “the sacred poem.” A stirring drama of the human soul discovering the life of faith in a faithless world.

Pilgrim and Poet
[2]
Using himself as a fictional character, Dante the poet relates what happens to Dante the pilgrim in the Comedy when, “midway in the journey of our life,” he awakes to find himself lost in the dark and savage wood, he has somehow “left the straight way” but is delivered from death when a figure of great importance in his life appears from the dead to intervene. Sent by Beatrice, who has descended from heaven into hell to call him to this task, the pagan poet Virgil comes to guide Dante back to the true path. The lost pilgrim must travel through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, the three realms of the afterlife that reveal God’s justice and his love.
[3] As Dante travels he glimpses things
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