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==Dante and the vernacular==
One of the distinctive features of Middle Age culture was that Latin was considered to be the only language suitable for literary and philosophical works. Dante believed that the vernacular languages were valid vehicles for literary expression. The poet believed that the vernacular was suitable for certain genres such as comedy, poetry and prose <ref>Alighieri, Dante. Dante: De vulgari eloquenti. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996), p 11</ref>. This was a very radical proposal at the time and was very influential in later centuries. In his great work the Divine Comedy, the Florentine exile wrote the cantos in Tuscan but with borrowings from other Italian regional dialects and even Latin. The use of Tuscan persuaded other great writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio to write in this dialect of Italian <ref>Raffa, p 114</ref>. Dante’s great work helped to make Tuscan the literary language of Italy and persuaded many writers and poets to abandon Latin and to write in their native tongue. The Florentine exile decisively influenced the Renaissance not only in Italy but in the rest of Europe. Dante’s great poetry demonstrated that literary works could be written in the vernacular. As a result, the vast majority of Renaissance writers in Italy and beyond wrote in their native tongues. This was to have consequences that went far beyond the literary world. The language of Dante became the official language of many Italian states and it helped to develop a national consciousness during the High Renaissance in particular, which is evident in the works of Machiavelli.
Dante’s literary influence==Dante was a literary giant and he was a decisive impact on succeeding Italian Renaissance writers. He was a great admirer of the Sicilian School and he helped to popularize their most important style of verse, the sonnet. Dante himself wrote many great sonnets often on the subject of his beloved Beatrice <ref>Whiting, Mary Bradford. Dante the Man and the Poet. (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, 1922), p 49</ref>. This was an influence on many of the Renaissance great sonneteers such as Petrarch, who had a love-hate relationship with his great predecessor. Dante also helped to popularize the themes of Provencal poetry in Italy. This was poetry that was written in what is now Provence in south-west France. Provencal troubadours celebrated chivalry and especially courtly love, a highly manners style of poetry that celebrates an unattainable beloved and this was very influential in Renaissance in Italy. Dante’s work did much to spread the ideas of ‘courtly love’ across Europe form the 14th to the 16th century.
==Dante and humanism==
The issuance of the Divine Comedy is often seen as the beginning of the Renaissance and the end of the Late Medieval Period in Italy. This is despite the fact that the subject of the great epic is religion and salvation, which seems contrary to the spirit of the Renaissance which extolled the pleasures of this world and the individual. Dante did not believe that this world was an antechamber to the net world but had its own value and merits. Unlike conventional Christian morality, he did not think that it was wrong to be happy and to enjoy this life. The great poet did not believe that eternal salvation and earthly happiness was incompatible. Dante also argued that it was necessary for a person to contribute to civic and political life and it was indeed virtuous. This idea proved to be very influential upon later humanists and they played a crucial role in the development of the Renaissance <ref>Fortin, Ernest L. Dissent and Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Dante and his precursors (Lexington, Lexington Books, 2002), p 14</ref>.