Dante and Montaigne: The Epitomes of Their Time Periods

Essay by ninjamonkyman April 2006

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During the middle Ages and the Renaissance there were two magnificent writers who demonstrated epitomic belief and thought of their eras. One brilliant writer, Dante Alighieri, wrote the Divine Comedy during the Medieval Ages. During the Renaissance period Michel de Montaigne wrote the Essays. Montaigne is thought to have made the modern day essay. Although, these two different writes wrote in two completely different time periods, their pieces have similarities. Both writers, Dante and Montaigne, demonstrate epitomic thoughts of their eras and contain ideas from their time period in their work.

Dante wrote his piece with a complex theme. Dante tried to make an image of the universe by making a map in which he placed people in different levels of hell according to the sins they had committed. Dante positioned the worst sinners, according to his judgment, closer to Satan and each level had its own punishment. In the story, Dante himself travels through many levels trying to find himself and trying to make sense of this universe.

Some of Dante's themes were that the whole universe had reason, meaning, and order. The meaning, reason, and order were part of God's plan for the world. The Divine Order was achievable by each individual. In order to represent this idea Dante made the map of people's choices and the eternal consequences of their decisions. He saw the universe in three main sections, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Hell was the dreaded world of punishment:

"Through me you go into the city of grief,

Through me you into the pain that is eternal,

Through me you go among people lost."

"Justice moved my exalted creator;

The divine power made me,

The supreme wisdom and the primal love...

Before me all created things were eternal,

And eternal I will last.

Abandon every hope,