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*Dante Alighieri by Domenico di Michelino, 1465 [Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy]

By James Matthew Wilson, The Catholic Thing, May 7, 2022

James Matthew Wilson has published ten books, including, most recently, The Strangeness of the Good (Angelico) and The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition (CUA).

James Matthew Wilson

This past year marked the seven-hundredth anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the greatest of Italian poets and, in his Divine Comedy, the greatest poet of Christendom. Readers know best Dante’s intricate and scholastic depiction of Hell in Inferno, but this is Dante at his least original. A casual acquaintance with Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid suffices to show that Dante’s choice of Virgil for his guide through the netherworld was well advised; he follows Virgil as closely as possible. Sin, death, and destruction more generally were the familiar stuff of classical literature, where epic, tragedy, and history predominated. …

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