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The Divine Comedy

by Dante Alighieri

Other authors: George Grosz (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Divine Comedy (omnibus)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,243156209 (4.1)1 / 196
The classic story of a man who endures the torment of Hell and Purgatory in his quest to reach Paradise.
  1. 72
    The Doré Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy by Gustave Doré (rvdm61)
  2. 30
    The Figure of Beatrice by Charles Williams (jsburbidge)
  3. 31
    Dante in Love by A. N. Wilson (DLSmithies)
  4. 10
    Dante and Philosophy by Etienne Gilson (Anonymous user)
  5. 21
    Primum mobile: Dantes Jenseitsreise und die moderne Kosmologie by Bruno Binggeli (vreeland)
    vreeland: Bruno Binggeli verbindet Dantes Grosses Werk mit der modernen Astrophysik und macht sich in und mit der Lektüre der Göttlichen Komödie und den darin enthaltenen mittelalterlichen Jenseitsvorstellungen auf die Suche nach dem "Big Bang" - dem Urknall. Paradies und Superraum, Gnadenwahl und Quantenphysik, Hölle und Schwarze Löcher: Mittelalter und Moderne passen sehr viel besser zusammen als man glaubt. Binggeli ist Physiker und Galaxienforscher an der Universität Basel; die wissenschaftliche Akribie, mit der er die Göttliche Komödie mit aktuellen Forschungsergebnissen in Relation bringt, schafft für beide Seiten reizvolle neue Perspektiven und Ansätze des Verstehens.… (more)
  6. 00
    The Poetry of allusion : Virgil and Ovid in Dante's Commedia by Rachel Jacoff (Anonymous user)
  7. 01
    Dante's Divine Comedy: A Graphic Adaptation by Seymour Chwast (Anonymous user)

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» See also 196 mentions

English (109)  Spanish (23)  Catalan (7)  Dutch (4)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
The Divine Comedy is composed of 14,233 lines that are divided into three cantiche – Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise) – each consisting of 33 cantos. An initial canto, serving as an introduction to the poem and generally considered to be part of the first cantica, brings the total number of cantos to 100.

The number three is prominent in the work, represented in part by the number of cantiche and their lengths. Additionally, the verse scheme used, terza rima, is hendecasyllabic (lines of eleven syllables). The total number of syllables in each tercet is thus 33, the same as the number of cantos in each cantica.

Written in the first person, the poem tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dante's ideal woman, guides him through Heaven. Beatrice was a Florentine woman he had met in childhood and admired from afar in the mode of the then-fashionable courtly love tradition, which is highlighted in Dante's earlier work La Vita Nuova.

The structure of the three realms follows a common numerical pattern of 9 plus 1, for a total of 10: 9 circles of the Inferno, followed by Lucifer contained at its bottom; 9 rings of Mount Purgatory, followed by the Garden of Eden crowning its summit; and the 9 celestial bodies of Paradiso, followed by the Empyrean containing the very essence of God. Within each group of 9, 7 elements correspond to a specific moral scheme, subdivided into three subcategories, while 2 others of greater particularity are added to total nine. For example, the seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church that are cleansed in Purgatory are joined by special realms for the late repentant and the excommunicated by the church. The core seven sins within Purgatory correspond to a moral scheme of love perverted, subdivided into three groups corresponding to excessive love (Lust, Gluttony, Greed), deficient love (Sloth), and malicious love (Wrath, Envy, Pride).

In central Italy's political struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines, Dante was part of the Guelphs, who in general favored the Papacy over the Holy Roman Emperor. Florence's Guelphs split into factions around 1300 – the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs. Dante was among the White Guelphs who were exiled in 1302 by the Lord-Mayor Cante de' Gabrielli di Gubbio, after troops under Charles of Valois entered the city, at the request of Pope Boniface VIII, who supported the Black Guelphs. This exile, which lasted the rest of Dante's life, shows its influence in many parts of the Comedy, from prophecies of Dante's exile to Dante's views of politics, to the eternal damnation of some of his opponents.

The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in 1300, "halfway along our life's path". Dante is thirty-five years old, half of the biblical lifespan of 70, lost in a dark wood assailed by beasts he cannot evade and unable to find the "right way" to salvation. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "low place" where the sun is silent, Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso, a symbolic instance of poetic justice.

Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious. These three types of sin also provide the three main divisions of Dante's Hell: Upper Hell, outside the city of Dis, for the four sins of indulgence (lust, gluttony, avarice, anger); Circle 7 for the sins of violence; and Circles 8 and 9 for the sins of fraud and treachery. Added to these are two unlike categories that are specifically spiritual: Limbo, in Circle 1, contains the virtuous pagans who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ, and Circle 6 contains the heretics who contradicted the doctrine and confused the spirit of Christ.

Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world. The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere, created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell. The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins. The classification of sin here is more psychological than that of the Inferno, being based on motives, rather than actions. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. However, Dante's illustrative examples of sin and virtue draw on classical sources as well as on the Bible and on contemporary events.

Love, a theme throughout the Divine Comedy, is particularly important for the framing of sin on the Mountain of Purgatory. While the love that flows from God is pure, it can become sinful as it flows through humanity. Humans can sin by using love towards improper or malicious ends (Wrath, Envy, Pride), or using it to proper ends but with love that is either not strong enough (Sloth) or love that is too strong (Lust, Gluttony, Greed). Below the seven purges of the soul is the Ante-Purgatory, containing the Excommunicated from the church and the Late repentant who died, often violently, before receiving rites. Thus the total comes to nine, with the addition of the Garden of Eden at the summit, equaling ten.

Purgatorio represents the Christian life. Christian souls arrive escorted by an angel, singing In exitu Israel de Aegypto. In his Letter to Cangrande, Dante explains that this reference to Israel leaving Egypt refers both to the redemption of Christ and to "the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace." Appropriately, therefore, it is Easter Sunday when Dante and Virgil arrive.

The Purgatorio is notable for demonstrating the medieval knowledge of a spherical Earth. During the poem, Dante discusses the different stars visible in the southern hemisphere, the altered position of the sun, and the various time zones of the Earth. At this stage it is, Dante says, sunset at Jerusalem, midnight on the River Ganges, and sunrise in Purgatory.

After an initial ascension, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven. These are concentric and spherical, as in Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmology. While the structures of the Inferno and Purgatorio were based on different classifications of sin, the structure of the Paradiso is based on the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues.

The seven lowest spheres of Heaven deal solely with the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance. The first three spheres involve a deficiency of one of the cardinal virtues – the Moon, containing the inconstant, whose vows to God waned as the moon and thus lack fortitude; Mercury, containing the ambitious, who were virtuous for glory and thus lacked justice; and Venus, containing the lovers, whose love was directed towards another than God and thus lacked Temperance. The final four incidentally are positive examples of the cardinal virtues, all led on by the Sun, containing the prudent, whose wisdom lighted the way for the other virtues, to which the others are bound (constituting a category on its own). Mars contains the men of fortitude who died in the cause of Christianity; Jupiter contains the kings of Justice; and Saturn contains the temperate, the monks who abided by the contemplative lifestyle. The seven subdivided into three are raised further by two more categories: the eighth sphere of the fixed stars that contain those who achieved the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, and represent the Church Triumphant – the total perfection of humanity, cleansed of all the sins and carrying all the virtues of heaven; and the ninth circle, or Primum Mobile (corresponding to the Geocentricism of Medieval astronomy), which contains the angels, creatures never poisoned by original sin. Topping them all is the Empyrean, which contains the essence of God, completing the 9-fold division to 10.

Dante meets and converses with several great saints of the Church, including Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Saint Peter, and St. John. The Paradiso is consequently more theological in nature than the Inferno and the Purgatorio. However, Dante admits that the vision of heaven he receives is merely the one his human eyes permit him to see, and thus the vision of heaven found in the Cantos is Dante's personal vision. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Mar 29, 2021 |
This recent English poetry translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy by Clive James incorporates into the text a lot of the political context that usually gets relegated to footnotes. I listened to an excellent audiobook performance by Edoardo Ballerini.

I love the translation, I love the performance, but I found myself getting lost in the flow of beautiful words and not tracking much actual story -- with a few notable exceptions that made me giggle and reflect on how saucy Dante must have been politically. I'm going to leave this book unfinished because it isn't calling to me right now, but I think it's likely I'll revisit it in the future. ( )
  pammab | Jan 28, 2021 |
Ilustraciones William Brake
  Sara1974 | Dec 10, 2020 |
Dante's Geocentric Universe
The Hereford 'Mappa Mundi' c.1290
Political panorama of thirteenth and early fourteenth century in terms of Guelf and Ghibeline alignments
Plan of the Divine Comedy
On Translating Dante
A Map of Dante's Italy c.1300
Commentary and Notes
Selected Bibliography ( )
  knoba | Oct 12, 2020 |
A canto a day was no problem until Paradiso, which was Heavy Lifting. 100 days stretched to 271. The Longfellow and Mandelbaum translations, useful at points in Inferno and Purgatorio, gave no added help. See https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/
  mnicol | Aug 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (861 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alighieri, Danteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grosz, GeorgeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amari-Parker, AnnaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amelung, Petersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Melville BestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armour, PeterNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bahner, WernerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barbi, Silvio AdrastoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barcelo, MiquelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beer, A. deEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benton, WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bickersteth, Geoffrey L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, WilliamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boeken, H.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botticelli, SandroIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlyle, John AitkenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cary, Henry FrancisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casella, MarioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casini, TommasoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chiavacci Leonardi, Anna MariaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cialona, IkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ciardi, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corey, MelindaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crespo, ÁngelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davico Bonino, GuidoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dooren, Frans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doré, GustaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eidesheim, JulieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flasch, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaxman, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fletcher, Jefferson ButlerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galassi, JonathanTranslator (Introduction)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, Edmund G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandgent, Charles HallIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hertz, Wilhelm GustavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higgins, David H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holzmann, ThomasNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirkpatrick, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kops, ChristinusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landino, CristoforoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leino, EinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Livingston, ArthurIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Longfellow, Henry WadsworthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luciani, GérardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mandelbaum, AllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Messemer, HannesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Momigliano, AttilioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montale, EugenioIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moura, Vasco GraçaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norton, Charles EliotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oelsner, HermannEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Okey, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasquini, EmilioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paton, Sir Joseph NoelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perriccioli, AlessandraCommentaar verzorgt doorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petrocchi, GiorgioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pfleiderer, RudolfEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PhilalethesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polacco, L.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poma, CarlaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quaglio, Antonio EnzoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rühaak, SiemenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rheinfelder, HansAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanguineti, FedericoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savino, GiancarloCommentaar verzorgt doorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheck, FranzGraphische Bearbeitungsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scialom, MarcTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinclair, John D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singleton, Charles S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sisson, C HTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sokop, Hans WernerTranslator deutsche Terzinenfassungsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Streckfuß, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vaara, ElinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vandelli, GiuseppeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verstegen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villaroel, GiuseppeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weigel, HansIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, Lawrence GrantTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wicksteed, CarlyleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wijdeveld, GerardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, Ernest H.Bibliographysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Witte, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmermann, Wolf D.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
. . .quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.
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The classic story of a man who endures the torment of Hell and Purgatory in his quest to reach Paradise.

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Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri's poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise; the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation.
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