Dante Alighieri is considered the father of the Italian language and one of the greatest authors of universal literature. His fame is mainly due to his authorship of The Divine Comedy, universally considered the greatest work written in the Italian language and one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature.
An important linguist, political theorist and philosopher, profoundly influenced by classical culture (as demonstrated by the very frequent references to Greek and Latin literature and philosophy in his works), Dante ranged between different styles and subjects, profoundly marking Italian literature in the following centuries and western culture itself, so much so that he was nicknamed the 'Sommo Poeta' or, par excellence, the 'Poet'.
Dante was born in 1265 in Florence into a family belonging to the minor Florentine nobility. He was orphaned at an early age by his mother Bella (around 1275) and lost his father Alighiero di Bellincione before 1283.
In 1274, while still a child, he first met Bice di Folco Portinari, Beatrice, whom he loved until her death in 1290.
In 1285, he married Gemma di Manetto Donati, who bore him three children.
His political activity began around 1290 and continued, in 1295, with his membership of the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries; later, he joined the “Council of 100” and the “Special Council of Captains of the People”, until his appointment as Prior. Dante also held diplomatic posts, serving as Ambassador to several Italian cities.
At that time, the Florentines were politically divided into two opposing factions, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines: Dante was a supporter of the Guelphs. Later, the Guelph side split into Whites and Blacks and Dante sided (albeit moderately) with the Whites. In 1301, while he was in Rome for political reasons related to his task as Ambassador to Pope Boniface VIII, the Neri gained power, accused Dante of corruption and in March 1302 sentenced him to death in absentia.
Following the conviction, Dante remained in exile for the rest of his life, devoting himself to a very intense intellectual activity.
He spent the last years of his life in Ravenna, as a guest of important local families, and he also held political offices. During a diplomatic trip, he contracted malaria, which brought him to the end of his days: he died in Ravenna, aged only 56, on the night between 13 and 14 September 1321.