Dante Alghieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the great classics of world literature, and a personal favorite of mine. Unfortunately, unless the reader is familiar with the Bible, Christian theology, classical mythology, and medieval Italian politics, he is going to miss many of the allusions in this great poem. Of course, it is possible to enjoy reading the Divine Comedy without knowing very much about all the people Dante encounters but it is so much better if you have a guide with you, as Dante had Virgil.

The Complete DanteWorlds by Guy P. Raffa is the perfect guide to the Divine Comedy. In this adaptation of his website, Raffa takes the reader through each section of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, explaining who every person or creature Dante encounters is and every allusion made in his poem. He clarifies some of the more obscure points in the poem and generally greatly enriches the experience of reading Dante. Don’t go to Hell without it!



The Divine Comedy of Dante

It’s time for another one of my favorite things: Dante’s Divine Comedy

I was first exposed to this work when I read the novel “inferno” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. In this book, science fiction writer Allen Carpenter dies and finds himself in Dante’s Hell. Led by Benito Mussolini, he travels all the way to the bottom of Hell, trying to figure out what the purpose of Hell is. I liked the book so much that I decided to check out the original, which turned out to be interesting and even fun.

Most people seem to prefer the Inferno. The Purgatio and Paradiso are considered less interesting than the torments of the damned. I don’t agree. Each section has its points of interest. The Purgatio offers hope and relief after the dismal landscapes of the Inferno. My favorite part of the Divine Comedy is towards the end of the Paradiso when Dante finally see God in all His Glory.