Dante Alighieri

Profile portrait in [[tempera]]<br>by [[Sandro Botticelli]], 1495 Durante degli Alighieri (), simply called Dante (, , ; c. 1265 – 1321), was a major Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. His ''Divine Comedy'', originally called '''' (modern Italian: ''Commedia'') and later christened '''' by Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.

In the late Middle Ages, the overwhelming majority of poetry was written in Latin, and therefore accessible only to affluent and educated audiences. In ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (''On Eloquence in the Vernacular''), however, Dante defended use of the vernacular in literature. He himself would even write in the Tuscan dialect for works such as ''The New Life'' (1295) and the aforementioned ''Divine Comedy''; this choice, although highly unorthodox, set a hugely important precedent that later Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would follow. As a result, Dante played an instrumental role in establishing the national language of Italy. Dante's significance also extends past his home country; his depictions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven have provided inspiration for a large body of Western art, and are cited as an influence on the works of John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the ''terza rima'', is attributed to him.

Dante has been called "the Father of the Italian language" and one of the most important writers of Western civilization. In Italy, Dante is often referred to as ' ("the Supreme Poet") and '; he, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called "the three fountains" or "the three crowns".
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