Admin moved page How did Dante influence the Renaissance? to How did Dante influence the Renaissance
Dante made significant contributions to the early Renaissance and many of his ideas and themes were developed by later writers, artists, and thinkers. Dante contributed to the development of humanism, the use of the vernacular in literature and challenged the hegemonic nature of the Church and these helped to generate the cultural and intellectual changes known as the Renaissance, which transformed the world forever.
==Life of Dante ==== The poet was born into one of the leading families in Florence. His mother died when he was twelve, and he was contracted while still a young boy in marriage to a girl who belonged to another leading family. At some time, he saw and fell in love with a young girl called Beatrice, and she was the love of his life and became his muse. Dante married Gemma Donati, but he remained in love with Beatrice even after her untimely death. The death of his beloved led to the poet studying philosophy and theology, as he sought some meaning in life.
Dante, like his family, belonged to one of the main factions in the city whose politics were often bloody. Florence was divided between the pro-Imperial Ghibellines and those who supported the Papacy known as the Guelfs. The origin of this dispute lay in the various conflicts between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope. The poet fought at the Battle of Campaldino (1289) when the city’s Guelph faction defeated the Arezzo Ghibellines. After the victory, the Guelph factions changed the constitution and Dante had to enroll in a Guild, an association of tradesmen to remain a citizen.<ref>Gilson, S.A., [https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521100186/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0521100186&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=15ff5776a470de1557e4bd4dec91f74a Dante and Renaissance Florence] (Vol. 56) (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005), p 113</ref>
In addition to his literary efforts, he remained active both as a politician and a diplomat. He was tireless in his efforts to return to his beloved Florence. All his endeavors to return to his home were thwarted. Dante accepted an invitation from the ruler of Ravenna to stay in that city. It was in Ravenna that the poet finished the last of his great works and he died in 1321.<ref>Raffa, p. 7</ref> He was buried with high honors in Ravenna, and Ravenna has never returned his remains to his native Florence.
==The literary and philosophical works ====
[[File: Dante Two.jpg|200px|thumb|left| A statue of Dante in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery]]
The Florentine’s first great work was La Vita Nova (The New Life) which is a series of poems and short prose pieces related to his beloved Beatrice. He also wrote the Banquet a series of longer poems. Dante was also a great prose writer, and he wrote the unfinished De vulgar eloquent ("On the Eloquence of Vernacular"), which argued for the development of an Italian literary language.
The work is allegorical because the poem represents the soul's journey towards God. In the epic, Dante is guided by the ‘shade’ or spirit of the great Roman poet Virgil.<ref>Hede, Jesper. Reading Dante: The Pursuit of Meaning (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007), p. 114</ref> The epic is an attempt to demonstrate how humans can become aligned to the love of God, which is seen as the fundamental force in the Universe. The epic made Dante immediately a famous and revered figure even before his death in 1321.
==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.
As a result, the vast majority of Renaissance writers in Italy and beyond wrote in their native tongues. This shift had 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>
Dante also helped to popularize the themes of Provencal poetry in Italy. This type of poetry was written in what is now Provence in south-west France. Provencal troubadours celebrated chivalry and especially courtly love. This style of poetry
that celebrated an unattainable love and was very influential in the 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 publication of the Divine Comedy is often seen as the beginning of the Renaissance and the end of the Late Medieval Period in Italy even though the poem's subject is religion and salvation. It seems contrary to the spirit of the Renaissance that extolled the pleasures of this world and the individual to have started with work focused on religion. Dante did not believe that this world was an antechamber to the next world but had its 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 were 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, who 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>
==Dante and religion ====
The exiled Florentine was a great religious poet and theologian. His conception of the dual nature of man, one that was earthly and the other that was eternal was decisive in the development of his political doctrine. He argued in his main political work that there should be a separation of church and state. This was something that greatly contributed to Renaissance political thought. Major thinkers such as Machiavelli were influenced by Dante and argued that religion had no place in politics. He believed that politics was a skill and should not be constrained by theological precepts.
When Dante argued that church and state should be separate ensured that the humanists who succeeded him felt free to concentrate on the secular world. He also made it clear that involvement in the secular was not incompatible with their hopes of future salvation. The ideas of Dante not only influenced Renaissance thinkers but also some of the leaders of the Reformation. The exiled Florentine helped to change the discourse on the role of religion in Europe.<ref>Fortin, p 119</ref>
Dante was a forerunner of the humanist movement because he argued that this life had value and that the individual while a part of the community was significant and had a right to self-expression and even happiness. The poet was also an original political and religious thinker and he argued for the then dangerous idea of a separation of church and state. This persuaded many humanists to adopt a more secular approach that was such a feature of civic humanism. However, it should be noted that Dante still had a medieval outlook and he would have disapproved of some of the aspects of the Renaissance in the 15-16th century. Regardless, Dante can be considered because of his immense contributions one of the founders of the Renaissance.