I am still struggling with my first Dante book - Paradiso. I have to persevere. The Italians study Dante with such a passion - I hope to discover what it is all about ... soon! In the meantime it is good to know that he is no longer a 'criminal'. There were 5 members of the council who voted against clearing his name :-)
After 700 years, Dante Alighieri, Italy's most famous poet, will have his criminal record scrubbed clean. Florence's city council has approved a motion revoking a sentence on Dante from 1302 which stated that he would be executed if he stepped foot in the city again. The sentence forced Dante into exile and he spent the last 20 years of his life wandering through Italy, finally ending his days in Ravenna in 1321. It was during his exile that he composed his greatest work, The Divine Comedy, a three-part journey through the Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise.
Dante was born into a noble Florentine family in 1265 and found himself embroiled in a struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy for control of the city. He is likely to have fought in decisive battles for the city's independence and became a Prior, one of six city leaders, in 1300. His stint in power came to a bad end, however, when forces loyal to the pope seized power and put him on trial. When he did not appear, he was banished for two years and given a 5,000 florin fine. When he did not pay, he was condemned to death by burning.
The motion to rehabilitate Dante was passed by 19 votes to 5 at the city council earlier this week. The mayor of Florence, Leonardo Domenici, will now award the poet the city's highest honour and revoke the sentence. "It is a decisive step forward to his rehabilitation," the council said. However, opponents labelled it a "stunt" and said that Dante's poetry would never have existed were it not for his suffering in exile. (Link)