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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.