Dante and Beatrice: His Ultimate Perfection

Essay by benschriHigh School, 12th gradeB, May 2007

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Dante is quite possibly one of the greatest writers in history. He is best known for his three part work: The Divine Comedy. His strange and tumultuous life and experiences were the basis for the plot, and many of the characters featured in it were based off of people he knew or encountered. Perhaps the most famous face in his works is Beatrice, the love of his life. Beatrice was in fact, a real person, but she was neither Dante’s lover nor wife. Despite the fact that Dante hardly knew her, she became his ultimate perfection, from which he measured all of his standards by. Dante used this standard of perfection to structure Hell in Inferno and determine punishments for each sinner.

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 in Florence, Italy. He was born into a prominent Florentine family; descendents of the Roman founders of the city. His grandfather fought in the Second Crusade, and was knighted by the emperor.

Dante lived through a very turbulent time in Italian history. There was tension between the emperors and the pope, and civil unrest within the city-states- particularly Florence. Culture was changing, with a fusion of Aristotelian philosophy with Christianity (“Dante”).

Dante first set his sights on Beatrice Portinari when he was 9 and she was 8. Beatrice’s father was hosting a party, and they crossed paths in their palazzo. She was wearing a crimson dress, and Dante was enthralled at first sight. Although sources say they didn’t speak, Dante would devote himself to her for the rest of his life. They actually didn’t speak until he was circa 18. They were walking towards one another and she said hello. He was full of so much joy, that he went back to his room and proceeded to think about her. When he...