Dante Alighieri (b.30 May 1265 d.14 September 1321) Biography From Paget Toynbee's Dictionary

Christ on the Cross
Holy Face
c. 1200
Painted wood
Cathedral of San Martino, Lucca

Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 (probably in the latter part of May), in the quarter of St. Martin the Bishop. Judging from His allusions in the DC and from the position of their house in the heart of the city, the Alighieri would Seem to sono stati a family of modest means. They belonged to the Guelph party; the poet has Farinata affirm D. That's ancestors were fierce Adversaries of the Ghibellines and exile twice Suffered in Consequence; but no mention of His major Appears anywhere in the records Of Those struggles. Indeed, nothing is known of any of D.'s ancestors further Top back than His great-great-grandfather, Cacciaguida, who (probably) was knighted by the Emperor Conrad III, as he himself Relates ([Par. Xv. 139-141 ]) [Cacciaguida: Currado_1]. D.'s father and greatgrandfather Both were named Alighiero, this name being derived from Cacciaguida's wife, Aldighiera of Aldighieri [Alighieri]. His father, who may sono stati a judge and a notary, married twice, being the son of D. His first wife, Bella; By His second wife, Lapa, he had another son, Francesco, and a daughter, Tana. The family of D.'s mother is not known; He Has Been conjectured That She was the daughter of Durante Scolaio of Abbati, in which case, D.'s Christian name was probably derived from His maternal grandfather. D. married himself (c. 1283) of Manetto Gemma Donati, by-whom he had three children, two sons, Peter and James (both of whom-wrote commentaries on the DC) and a daughter Antonia, probably to be Identified with a Sister Beatrice , a nun in the convent of Santo Stefano degli Olivi at Ravenna; and it is possible That One who Appears as a witness in a document of Oct. 21, 1308 in Lucca as filius Johannes de Florentia was Dantis Alagherii Their brother. [Table XXII.] Q. When was exiled from Florence, Gemma and his children did not Accompany him, and it is probable That he never saw Gemma again; he makes no mention of her in any of His works. There is no evidence to support the conjecture That he lived on bad terms with Gemma while they were together.

Little is known of D.'s early years, beyond the episode of His love, at the age of 9, for Beatrice, commonly supposed to be Beatrice Portinari (d. 1290), the story of Which is Told in the Vita Nuova [ Beatrice_1]. The statements of the old biographers D. That's 'master' (in the ordinary sense of the word) was Brunetto Latini (who was well over 50 Q. When was born), and That he Studied before the year 1300 and at Bologna Padua, have little or no evidence to support them. He is said, on doubtful authority, to have fought on the Guelph side at the battle of Campaldino (June 11, 1289) [Campaldino]. He records himself ([Inf. Xxi. 94-96]) That he was present (probably as a spectator) at the capitulation of the Pisan garrison of Caprona two months later. [Caprona].

Since no one could participate on in the government of Florence (certain offices excepted) without belonging to one of the limbs or guilds, D. enrolled himself (probably in the late summer of 1295, but Certainly before Nov. 1) in the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries (Art of Medeci and Chemists). On July 6, 1295, he gave His opinion as to proposed modifications to certain of the 'Ordinances of Justice' [Giano della Bella]: on Dec. 14 of the same year he took part in the election of priors bimonthly; from May to Sept. In 1296 he was a member of the Council of One Hundred, and in 1297 served on another council, and contnued to have a role in the government of the city from July 1298 to Feb. 1301. In the spring of 1300, he went as ambassador to San Gimignano, where he delivered a speech in the discharge of his office on May 7; and That same year he was Elected to serve as one of the priors, for the two months from June 15 to Aug. 15, this being one of the highest offices in the Republic of Florence. During his priorate it was DECIDED to banish from Florence the leaders of the Blacks and Whites factions, among the latter being D.'s friend, Guido Cavalcanti [Cavalcanti, Guido]. At this time the city was in a state of ferment, owing to the feuds between These two factions, the former of whom-, the Blacks, were the partisans of Boniface VIII, and were clamoring for Charles of Valois as His representative, while the Whites , I belonged to D. Which faction, were bitteriy Both opposed to Boniface and to Charles. In the midst of These troubles we find D. (who had voted, April 13, 1301, in the Council of the Twelve Capitudini Major Arts) entrusted with the charge (April 28, 1301) of superintending the works on the street of San Procolo ; and from April to Sept. Of That year he again served on the Council of One Hundred. In Oct. 1301, in order to appeal for a change in papal policy towards the city and to protest the machinations of the Blacks, the Whites sent an embassy to Rome, of which, according to Functional Dino Compagni (ii. 25), D. was a member. During Their absence, However, Charles of Valois Entered Florence (Nov. 1, 1301); and, soon after, the mayor Canto de 'Gabrielli of Gubbio, pronounced a sentence, under date Jan. 27, 1301/2, against D. and others, who Had Been summoned and had failed to appear, on a charge of pecuniary malversation in office and of having conspired against the pope, and the admission into the city of His representative, Charles of Valois, and against the peace of the city of Florence, and of the Guelph party (the penalty being a fine of 5,000 florins and restitution of the monies illegally exacted; payment was to be made Within three days of the promulgation of the sentence, in default of Which all goods were to be forfeited and destroyed). In Additions to the end of the delinquents were sentenced to banishment from Tuscany for two years, and to perpetual deprivation from office in the Commonwealth of Florence, Their names to That end being recorded in the book of the Statutes of the People, as peculators and malversators in office:

Hec sunt condempnationes sive condempnationum sententie facte, late et promulgated for nobilem et potentem militem d. Cantem de Gabriellibus de Eugubio, honorabilem potestatem civitatis Florentie super infrascriptis excessibus delictis et contra infrascriptos men and for personas,. . . D. Palmerium de Altovitis de sextu Burgi

Dante Alleghieri sextu de Sancti Petri Maioris Lippum Becche de sextu Ultrarni Orlanduccium Orlandi de sextu doors Domus, contra quos processum east to inquisitionem former offitio our et curie our factam super eo et ex eo, et quod ad aures nostras curie our notitiam, renowned publica referent , pervenit, quod predicti, dum ipsi vel eorum aliquis existentes essent in offitio prioratus vel vel existentes not ipso offitio prioratus deposit, temporibus in inquisitione contentis, commiserunt itself vel alium baractarias, derive profit from illicit, iniquas extorsiones in pecunia vel in rebus. . . .et Quod commiserint vel vel commicti fecerint fraudem baractariam in rebus comunis Florentie pecunia vel, vel quod darentur sive expenderentur contra summnum pontificem et d. Karolum pro resistentia on adventus speed contra statum pacificum civitatis Florentie et partis guelforum. . . .here D. Palmerius

Dante et Orlanduccius Lippus mentioned et requirements fuerunt legiptime for nuntios comunis Florentie ut sure I finish, iam elapso, coram nobis et our curia comparere deberent ac come ipsi et quilibet ipsorum to parendum mandatis nostris et ad if defendendum et excusandum ab inquisitione Premissa, et not venerunt,. . . Idcirco ipsos d. Palmerium, Dante, Orlanduccium Lippum et, et ipsorum quemlibet, ut sate messis iuxta qualitatem Seminis fructum percipiant, et iuxta deserves commissa for ipsos dignis meritorum retributionibus munerentur, propter ipsorum contumaciam habitos pro confessis, secundum iuris statutorum comunis et populi civitatis Florentie ordinamentorum iustitie, reformationum, et former force our arbitrariness, in libr. quinque milibus flor. par. pro quolibet,. . . et quod restituant extorta inlicite probantibus illud legiptime; et quod, is not solverint condempnationem infra tertiam diem to die sententie computandam, omnia bona talis not solventis publicentur, vastentur destruantur et, et vastata et destructa remaneant in common; et si solverint condempnationem predictam ipsi vel ipsorum aliquis, [talis solvens] nicchilominus be debeat extra provinciam Tuscie to confines duobus annis; et ut predictorum d. Palmerii, Dante, Lippi et Orlanduccii perpetual fiat memory eorum appointment scribantur in statutis nations; et et tamquam falsarii baracterii null tempore possint habere aliquod offitium vel vel benefitium pro common to common Florentie civitate, Comitatu districtu vel vel alibi, sive condempnationem solverint sive not; in hiis scriptis sententialiter condempnamus. Bampno computed in condempnatione present. (R. Piattoli, CDD, pp. 103-107.)

This sentence Been having disregarded, on March 10 in the same year (1302) in second severer sentence was pronounced against D., Palmieri, Lippo, and Orlanduccio, together with eleven others, condemning them to be burned alive Should they at any time fall into the hands of the Republic: '. . . you quis predictorum ullo tempore fortiam dicti comunis pervenerit, talis perveniens ingne comburatur sic quod moriatur,. . . ' (R. Piattoli, CDD, p. 109).

Of D.'s movements from this time on, little is known for certain. In 1302 he was at San Godenzo in the Mugello at a meeting of the Whites, and the next year at Forli, where he served at one point as an aide to Scarpetta Ordelaffi.

On July 20, 1304, the exiled Bianchi, having been disappointed in Their hopes of a peaceable return to Florence, through the mediation of the Cardinal Niccolo da Prato, the bound of Benedict XI, made an abortive attempt, in concert with the Pistoians, to effect an entry into the city. From this attempt D. Seems to have held aloof, and about this time, dissatisfied with the proceedings of His companions in exile, the bad and foolish ([Par. Xvii. 62]), he separated himself from them, and took refuge at Verona, with one of the Scaligers (probably Bartolomeo della Scala), but did not remain there long. [Lombardo_1.]

It is impossible to follow D.'s wanderings, Which, as he records in a passage in the Convivio (quoted above), led him almost everywhere in Italy. We Know That on Oct. 6, 1306, he was at Sarzana in Lunigiana as agent for the Malaspini, His host on this occasion being Franceschino Malaspina [Malaspina]. [See R. Piattoli, CDD, pp. 116-117.] How long he Remained in Lunigiana (some say not beyond the summer of 1307), and Whether, as some of the biographers maintain, he went thence to the Casentino and Forli, and returned again to Lunigiana on His Way to Paris, it is difficult to decide. That he visited Paris during his exile we learn from the explicit statements of Villani:

. . . white glue that party was ousted and banished from Florence, and andossene study in Bologna, and then to Paris. ({Villani. Ix. 136}.)

and Boccaccio:

. . . then ch 'he saw on all sides to close the way to the back, and more from day to day become vain his hope, not only in Tuscany, but throughout Italy abandoned, past the mountains that divide the provinces of Gaul, as he could, if He went off to Paris. (Life of Dante.)

From a phrase of Boccaccio in a Latin poem addressed to Petrarch, in cui he mentions 'Parisios demum extremosque Britannos' among the places visited by D., it assumed That Has Been D. went to England and John Serravalle, in a commentary on the DC written at the beginning of cents. xv, goes the length of Stating That he Studied at Oxford:

Dilexit theologiam sacram, here in diu studuit tam in Oxoniis in kingdom Anglie, quam Parisius in kingdom Francie.

In the absence, However, of more trustworthy evidence, the fact of this alleged visit to England must be regarded as extremely doubtful.

It Seems That certain he was in Italy between Sept. 1310, and Jan. 1310/11, When He wrote the letter Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile ({Ep. V}) to the princes and peoples of Italy on the advent of the Emperor Henry VII into Italy; Undoubtedly and he was in Tuscany (probably as the guest of Guido Novello of Battifolle at Poppi) When His terrible Letter to the Florentines ({Ep. vi}), headed Dantes Alagherii florentinus et exul inmeritus scelestissimis Florentinis intrinsecis, and dated Scriptum pridie Kalendas Apriles in finibus Tuscie sub fontem Sarni, most auspicious cursus Henrici Cesaris to Ytaliam first year (ie Mar. 31, 1311), was written, as well as That dated Scriptum Tuscia sub source Sarni xv. Kalendas Maias, divi Henrici most auspicious cursus to Ytaliam first year (ie April 16, 1311), and addressed to the emperor himself ({Ep. Vii}), who was at the time besieging Cremona, urging him to first crush the viper Florence, as the root of all the evils of Italy.

In this same year (Sept. 2) was issued the decree, known as the 'Reform of Messer Baldo d'Aguglione', granting pardon to a portion of the Florentine exiles, but Expressly excepting certain others, D. (Specifically, D. 's children) among them, by name; His exclusion was doubtless two to the above letters and to His active sympathy with the imperial causes [Aguglione]. [See R. Piattoli, CDD, pp. 132-144.] From this time until nearly a year after the death of Henry VII at Buonconvento (Aug. 24, 1313), by D. Which's last hope of return to Florence was extinguished, nothing whatever is known of His movements . Some time after June 14, 1314, When the city of Lucca fell into the hands of the Ghibelline captain, Uguccione Faggiuola ({Villani. Ix. 60}), D. Appears to have been there; and it may sono stati at this time That he was the hospitality shown by a certain lady named Lucchese Gentucca, but about the nature of His relations with her we have no means of knowing [Gentucca]. The supposition That he subsequently stayed at Gubbio, Fonte Avellana, and Udine, has little evidence to support it.

After the success of the Ghibellines at Montecatini (Aug. 29, 1315), When under the leadership of Uguccione Faggiuola they completely defeated the Florentines and Tuscan Guelphs ({Villani. Ix. 71, 72}), in last sentence was pronounced against D., His sons being included in the sentence. By this decree, Which is dated Nov. 6, 1315, and he named Those with him are branded as Ghibellines and rebels, and condemned, if captured, to be beheaded on the place of public execution:

Nos Ranierius vicarius antedictus, pro courts sedentes to bancum iuris in palladium comunis Florentie hec banna et exbandimenta sententialiter damus et proferrimus in hiis scriptis prout inferius continetur:

De sextu doors Sancti Petri civitatis Florentie. Omnes de Dome de Portinariis, exceptis Manetto, Folquet. . . et omnes de Dome de Giochis, excepto Lanberto Lapi et Philippo Gherardi. . . Dantem Adhegherii et seq., Et contra omnes quos singulos superius nominatos. . . processimus for inquisitionem, quod. . . tanquam ghibellinos et rebelles comunis et populi civitatis Florentie et partis status Guelph, spreverunt our banna et precepta,. . . etiam fine et alia different malleficia commiserunt et bonum perpetraverunt contra statum comunis Florentie et partis Guelph,. . . you quo tempore ipsi vel aliquis predictorum, ut dictum est, in nostram vel comunis Florentie fortiam devenerint,. . . ducantur to locum iustitie, et ibi eisdem capud to spatulis amputetur ita quod penutus moriantur. (R. Piattoli, CDD, pp. 155-156.)

Not long after this, in 1316, Count Guido of Battifolle, King Robert's vicar in Florence, proclaimed an amnesty, and granted permission to the exiles to return to Florence under certain degrading conditions, viz. the payment of a fine, and the performance of penance in the Baptistery. This offer, of which many Appear to have availed Themselves, was scornfully rejected by D., who wrote to a friend in Florence:

Is this, then, the glorious recall of Dante Alighieri to His native city, after the Miseries of nearly fifteen years of exile? . . . No! This is not the way for me to return to my country. If another can be found That does not derogate from the fame and honor of Dante, That I will take with no lagging steps. But if by no such way Florence may be Entered, then I will enter Florence never. What! Can I not everywhere behold the sun and stars? Can I not under any sky meditate on the most precious truths, without first rendering myself inglorious, nay ignominius, in the eyes of the people and city of Florence? At least bread will not fail me! ({Ep. Xii. 5-9.})

After paying a second visit to Verona, where he was the guest of Can Grande (Particular at what time it is impossible to decide), D., on the invitation of Guido Novello da Polenta, went to Ravenna. In the spring of 1321 Guido sent him on an embassy to Venice, where he Appears to have fallen ill; On His return to Ravenna he grew worse, and died on Sept. 14 (I know Boccaccio, on [Inf. I. 1]; Villani says, 'of July', {Villani. Ix. 136}) Of That year, aged 56 years and 4 months. At Ravenna he was buried, and there 'by the upbraiding shore' His remains still rest, every effort on the part of the Florentines to secure 'the metaphorical ashes of the man of whom-she had threatened to make literal cinders if she could catch him alive 'having Been in vain. Following the inscription, said to have heen composed by D. himself on His deathbed, is Placed upon the sarcophagus Which now holds His remains:

Iura Monarchiae, superos, Phlegethonta Lacusque
Cecini glazing, voluerunt Fairy quousque:
sed quia pars cessit melioribus hospita castris,
auctoremque suum petiit felicior astris,
hic clauldor Dantes, patriis extorris ab oris
quem genuit parvi Florentia mater amoris.

His contemporary, John Villani, gives the Following account of him:

This Dante was honorable and ancient port city of Florence St. Peter, and our neighbor; and 'the exile of Florence was for the reason that when Messer Charles of Valos the house of France was in Florence the year 1301, and caccionne the white part. . . .the Said Dante was de 'more governors of our city, and that way, well that was a Guelph; and though without any other fault with the white part that was driven out and banished from Florence, and andossene study in Bologna, and then to Paris, and in most parts of the world. This was a great scholar in almost every science, everything was secular, was poet and filosafo, and rhetorician perfect time to dittare and diversify, as in herring speak noble speaker, rhyming high, with more clean and beautiful style that never was in our speaking even to his time and farther. . . .this Dante for his understanding won was somewhat presumptuous and disgusting and isdegnoso, and almost like a pretty sore filosafo not well co sapea converse 'laymen; but for his other virtues and science and value of such citizen, it seems that is agreed to give him perpetual memory in our chronic, with all its noble works that leave us iscrittura make him a witness true and honorable reputation to our cittade . ({Villani. Ix. 136}.)

His person and habits are described by Boccaccio Thus:

Therefore this was our poet of middling stature, and then that at the ripe age was reached, went somewhat curvetto, and it was his go serious and gentle, very honest role of getting dressed in the clothes that were at its maturity fitting. His face was long, and an aquiline nose, and eyes rather than large petioles, the large jaws, and the lower lip that was advanced above; and the color was brown, and his hair and beard thick, blacks and crisp, and always in the face maninconico and thoughtful. . . .

He 'costumes Household appliances and public was admirably ordered and composed, and in all more than any other polite and civil. In food and poto it was modest. . . .

No one else was more vigilant about him and in studies and in any other concern the pugnesse. . . .

Rarely, if asked, speaking, and those pensatamente voice and convenient matter of saying; not therefore, when they demanded, he was eloquent and eloquent, and with excellent and prompt prolation.

Supremely delighted in sounds and songs in his youth, and that in each que 'time was great cantatore or minstrel was a friend and was his custom. . . .

Dilettossi of being lonely and secluded by the people, not the accioché his contemplations were interrupted. . . .

He 'was assiduissimo his studies, since at that time to such equipment disponea. . . .

It was still this poet of marvelous ability, and memory steadfast and insightful intellect. . . .

It was very pleasing and honorable and pump and adventure than his illustrious virtues would not be required. (Life of Dante.)

Works. Besides the Divine Comedy [Comedia], D. wrote in Italian the Vita Nuova, Which tells the story of His love for Beatrice [New Life]; the Convivio (incomplete), a philosophical commentary on three of His songs [Convivio]; and a number of lyrical poems, Which sono stati collected together under the title of Rime or Canzoniere [Canzoniere].

In Latin he wrote the De vulgari eloquentia (incomplete), a treatise in two books on Italian as a literary language [Eloquentia, De Vulgari]; the Monarchy, a treatise in three books on the nature and necessity of a universal temporal monarchy, coexistent with the spiritual sovereignty of the pope [monarchy]; sundry Epistles, chiefly political [Epistles Dante]; and two Eclogues [Egloghe_2]. He is credited with the authorship of anche the Questio de aqua et terra, in scientific inquiry as to the relative levels of land and water on the surface of the globe [Questio de Aqua et Terra].

[For the biography of D., and Links: bibliography, see M.Barbi, Dante (Florence, 1940); N. Zingarelli, the life, times and works of Dante (Milan, 1931), 2 vols .; and R. Piattoli, CDD, Which contains all the known documents, from 1189 to 1371, in chronological order, from archives or other sources Concerning the descendants of Cacciaguida.]

Princeton Dante Project

(From Paget Toynbee's Dictionary)


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