2021 is the year of Dante Alighieri. We celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of the  author of the Divine Comedy, the basic text of the Italian language, taken as a symbol of the unity of our Country. The Divine Comedy was written in the Vernacular instead of Latin, which was a big issue at that time, bridging the gap between Medieval and Modern periods. Dante’s goal was to reach spiritual maturity and an understanding of God’s love.

The Divine Comedy is a poem divided into three Cantiche (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) each consisting of 33 songs, except for hell which has one more song for introduction. It is an imaginary journey of Dante in which Vergilius leads him into Hell and Purgatory and into Paradise by his beloved Beatrice. Dante’s journey is a metaphor of how man can pass from the state of a sinner to that of a man worthy of Paradise. Hell looks like an enormous funnel-shaped cavity: the damned are distributed along the walls of the chasm, divided into concentric circles. Dante places the cowards in the anti-hell. The first area of Hell is Limbo where Dante finds great men of the ancient world, philosophers, heroes and warriors. As you go down, the gravest sins are punished. Following are the violent and the last are the traitors and the fraudulent.

Purgatory is described by Dante as a high mountain emerged from the waters like an island and is exposed to the rays of divine light. Unlike hell and Paradise, Purgatory provides for the movement of souls, who must climb it. The mountain of Purgatory is divided into seven shelves where they expiate the seven deadly sins from the most serious to the lightest: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed and lavishness, lust and gluttony. This is the place where souls  suffer . Dante and Vergilius find the night angel who leads them to the beach of Purgatory and they meet Cato; he becomes the symbol of freedom. Dante explains that his trip is due to God and the three blessed women: Beatrice, the Madonna and S. Lucia. Cato advises the two travelers to do a purification rite, then the two poets return to the beach and purify themselves with water . Purgatory is also divided into three sections: Antipurgatory, Purgatory and earthly paradise. Then Vergilius leaves Dante, who is led by Beatrice.

Heaven, according to Dante, is surrounded by the earth and is made up of nine heavens: the first seven are named after the planets and the last two from the sphere of the fixed stars. All this is enclosed in the Empyrean.

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