Dante (Durante degli Alighieri), 1265 - 1312

portrait of Dante Alighieri
Profile by Sandro Botticelli (1495)

Born: 14 May 1265, Florence
Died: 14 September 1321, Ravenna

Dante was born at Florence, the date is a stab in the dark. Nothing is known of his early life or education. He met the love of his life, Beatrice, at nine, and was contracted to marry Gemma at twelve. He had five children with Gemma, but made Beatrice important in his poetry. He became an apothecary when the law required membership in one of the guilds for political participation, and was on the wrong side in the politics of Florence. When his side lost in 1301, he was staying in the Vatican and was sentenced to death in absentia. Dante began the Divine Comedy, his best-known work, in 1308, which established the vernacular of Tuscany as the Italian language. Before that time, published works in any language other than Latin were rare and treated with little respect. His hometown had a change of heart about their most famous son and created a tomb for him in 1829. They even overturned his death sentence in June of 2008. The people of Ravenna, where he lived after his exile, have refused to part with his remains.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopedia

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