Dante's Inferno: The Divine Comedy

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Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence in 1302. He had joined the political scene, and after holding a few different positions, the leading political party at the time called the Black Guelphs, decided they didn’t want Dante in their city anymore. Dante, began traveling, withdrew from all political activities and focused on one thing, his writing. The next few years and until 1321 when he passed away, Dante was in the most creative period of his life. His most popular work being La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy), an epic poem describing the journey through the Christian afterlife. The story is told in three separate books, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso and was wrote in first person to depict what Dante imagines each realm of the…show more content…
One of those places is in the seventh circle, it’s a dark wooded area with strange black trees. Dante hears suffering cries that are actually coming from the trees themselves. The trees used to be living people, all those who took their own life. An artist with a somewhat different style who still does an excellent job with this illustration is John Flaxman. His drawing is almost cartoon like, and shows very organically shaped trees with bodies built into the trunks. A timid Dante is shown breaking off a branch from one of the trees in the back. The tree, and soul inside look to be in a lot of pain. The tree-soul explains how a broken branch is the equivalent to a dismembered limb. In the closer tree, three half-bird, half-woman creatures called Harpies peck at the tree-souls branches and clearly cause it discomfort. Dante and Virgil are also told that when a soul is cast to this forest, it starts as a sapling and is abused by the Harpies. This could be the reason why the roots of the trees shown are so deformed. The last detail Dante and Virgil hear is how the former bodies of the tree-souls are later hung on their branches and left for them to see the body that they once abandoned. Having text to accompany this illustration helps your mind paint a picture of old, gnarled, oak trees with blood coming out of the branches. The few components to this…show more content…
The story will continue to entertain generations of people and allow them to give their take on the illustrations that have helped give representation to Hell. Without the story of Dante’s journey we may not even picture Hell underground, and without the artists illustrations we wouldn’t be able to picture Hell in as detailed a way as we do. Even with the different styles each artist brings, many timeless pieces of art have been inspired through Dante’s work which is still considered to be one of the greatest pieces of literature ever
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