“I hope to write of her what never yet was written of any woman.”
(Dante Alghieri, La Vita Nuova)

At the tender age of nine, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) met Beatrice Portinari (1266–1290), declaring to his soul, “Now is your bliss made manifest,” to which it replied, “Alas! How often henceforth shall we be troubled.” Restricted by the dictates of courtly love, Beatrice ignored Dante, yet she came to embody the divine incarnation of love that inspired him throughout his life. In Divine Comedy, a literary masterpiece, Beatrice is Dante’s guide on his pilgrimage through Paradise, leading him finally into the presence of the divine.
“I hope to write of her what never yet was written of any woman.”
(Dante Alghieri, La Vita Nuova)

At the tender age of nine, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) met Beatrice Portinari (1266–1290), declaring to his soul, “Now is your bliss made manifest,” to which it replied, “Alas! How often henceforth shall we be troubled.” Restricted by the dictates of courtly love, Beatrice ignored Dante, yet she came to embody the divine incarnation of love that inspired him throughout his life. In Divine Comedy, a literary masterpiece, Beatrice is Dante’s guide on his pilgrimage through Paradise, leading him finally into the presence of the divine.

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Dante, Divina Commedia: Encounter of Dante and Beatrice

Dante is led by Beatrice to contemplate the fixed stars, the wonder of creation, through to the depth of divine love.

Photo Credit: Erich Lessing
Libreria Marciana, Venice.
14th Century
Venetian School. Illumination.
© Erich Lessing.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Appraise how authors have portrayed romantic love in literary works from ancient times to the 1800’s
  • Explain how the notion of romantic love has been portrayed in different cultures over time
  • Describe how romantic love has been an inspiration that has influenced literature in most cultures through the ages.

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