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Dante Alighieri

Italian poet

La sua volontade è nostra pace.

His will is our peace.

Durante degli Alighieri (c. 1 June 126513/14 September 1321), better known as Dante, was an Italian Florentine poet. His greatest work, The Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia), is considered as one of the greatest literary statements produced in Europe in the medieval period, and is the basis of the modern Italian language.



  • Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona
    de la mia donna disiosamente...
    che lo 'ntelletto sovr'esse disvia.
    • Love with delight discourses in my mind
      Upon my lady's admirable gifts...
      Beyond the range of human intellect.
    • Il Convivio (1304–1307), Trattato Terzo, line 1.

La Vita Nuova (1293)Edit

Here begins a new life.
To her perfection all of beauty tends.
Love hath so long possessed me for his own
And made his lordship so familiar.
  • In quella parte del libro de la mia memoria... si trova una rubrica la quale dice: Incipit vita nova.
    • In that book which is
      My memory...
      On the first page
      That is the chapter when
      I first met you
      Appear the words...
      Here begins a new life.
    • Chapter I, opening lines (as reported in The 100 Best Love Poems of All Time by Leslie Pockell)
  • Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mihi.
    • Behold a God more powerful than I who comes to rule over me.
    • Chapter I (tr. Barbara Reynolds); of love.
  • ne le braccia avea
    madonna involta in un drappo dormendo.
    Poi la svegliava, e d'esto core ardendo
    lei paventosa umilmente pascea:
    appresso gir lo ne vedea piangendo.
    • In his arms, my lady lay asleep, wrapped in a veil.
      He woke her then and trembling and obedient
      She ate that burning heart out of his hand;
      Weeping I saw him then depart from me.
    • Chapter I, First Sonnet (tr. Mark Musa)
  • Ella è quanto de ben pò far natura;
    per essemplo di lei bieltà si prova.
    • She is the sum of nature's universe.
      To her perfection all of beauty tends.
    • Chapter XIV, lines 49–50 (tr. Barbara Reynolds)
  • Amore e 'l cor gentil sono una cosa...
    e così esser l'un sanza l'altro osa
    com'alma razional sanza ragione.
    • Love and the gracious heart are a single thing...
      one can no more be without the other
      than the reasoning mind without its reason.
    • Chapter XVI (tr. Mark Musa)
  • Sì lungiamente m'ha tenuto Amore
    e costumato a la sua segnoria
    • Love hath so long possessed me for his own
      And made his lordship so familiar.
    • Chapter XXIV

The Divine Comedy (c. 1308–1321)Edit


When I had journeyed half of our life's way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest...
  • Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
    mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
    ché la diritta via era smarrita.
    • When I had journeyed half of our life's way,
      I found myself within a shadowed forest,
      for I had lost the path that does not stray.
    • Canto I, lines 1–3 (tr. Mandelbaum).
    • Longfellow's translation:
      Midway upon the journey of our life
      I found myself within a forest dark,
      For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.
  • E come quei che con lena affannata,
    uscito fuor del pelago a la riva,
    si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata.
    • And just as he who, with exhausted breath,
      having escaped from the sea to shore,
      turns to the perilous waters and gazes.
    • Canto I, lines 22–24 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Lo giorno se n'andava, e l'aere bruno
    toglieva li animai che sono in terra
    da le fatiche loro.
    • Day was departing, and the embrowned air
      Released the animals that are on earth
      From their fatigues.
    • Canto II, lines 1–3 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Per me si va ne la città dolente,
    per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
    per me si va tra la perduta gente.
    • Through me the way into the suffering city,
      through me the way to eternal pain,
      through me the way that runs among the lost.
    • Canto III, lines 1–3 (tr. Mandelbaum).
Abandon all hope, you who enter here.
  • Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate.
    • Abandon all hope, you who enter here.
    • Canto III, line 9.
    • Often quoted with the translated form "Abandon hope all ye who enter here". The word "all" modifies hope, not those who enter: "ogni speranza" means "all hope".
  • Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospetto;
    ogni viltà convien che qui sia morta.
    • Here one must leave behind all hesitation;
      here every cowardice must meet its death.
    • Canto III, lines 14–15 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Quivi sospiri, pianti e alti guai
    risonavan per l'aere sanza stelle,
    per ch'io al cominciar ne lagrimai.
    Diverse lingue, orribili favelle,
    parole di dolore, accenti d'ira,
    voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle
    facevano un tumolto, il qual s'aggira
    sempre in quell'aura sanza tempo tinta,
    come la rena quando turbo spira.
    • Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
      were echoing across the starless air,
      so that, as soon as I set out, I wept.
      Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements,
      accents of anger, words of suffering,
      and voices shrill and faint, and beating hands—
      all went to make a tumult that will whirl
      forever through that turbid, timeless air,
      like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.
    • Canto III, lines 22–30 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Questo misero modo
    tegnon l'anime triste di coloro
    che visser sanza 'nfamia e sanza lodo.
    • This miserable state
      is borne by the wretched souls of those
      who lived without disgrace and without praise.
    • Canto III, lines 34–36 (tr. John D. Sinclair).
  • Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli,
    né lo profondo inferno li riceve,
    ch'alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d'elli.
    • Heaven, to keep its beauty,
      cast them out, but even Hell itself would not receive them
      for fear the wicked there might glory over them.
    • Canto III, lines 40–42 (tr. Mark Musa).
  • Vidi e conobbi l'ombra di colui
    che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.
    • I looked, and I beheld the shade of him
      Who made through cowardice the great refusal.
    • Canto III, lines 59–60 (tr. Longfellow).
    • The decision of Pope Celestine V to abdicate the Papacy and allow Dante's enemy, Pope Boniface VIII, to gain power.
  • Incontanente intesi e certo fui
    che questa era la setta d'i cattivi
    a Dio spiacenti e a' nemici sui.
    • At once I understood,
      and I was sure this was that sect of evil souls who were
      hateful to God and to His enemies.
    • Canto III, lines 61–63 (tr. Mark Musa).
  • Non isperate mai veder lo cielo:
    i' vegno per menarvi a l'altra riva
    ne le tenebre etterne, in caldo e 'n gelo.
    • Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
      I come to lead you to the other shore,
      To the eternal shades in heat and frost.
    • Canto III, lines 85–87 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Io venni in loco d'ogne luce muto,
    che mugghia come fa mar per tempesta,
    se da contrari venti è combattuto.
    • I came into a place void of all light,
      which bellows like the sea in tempest,
      when it is combated by warring winds.
    • Canto V, lines 28–30 (tr. Charles S. Singleton).
  • Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende,
    prese costui de la bella persona
    che mi fu tolta; e 'l modo ancor m'offende.
    Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona,
    mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
    che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona.
    • Love, which is quickly kindled in the gentle heart,
      seized this man for the fair form that was
      taken from me, and the manner afflicts me still.
      Love, which absolves no one beloved from loving,
      seized me so strongly with his charm
      that, as thou seest, it does not leave me yet.
    • Canto V, lines 100–105 (tr. Sinclair).
There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery.
  • Nessun maggior dolore
    Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
    Nella miseria.
    • There is no greater sorrow
      Than to be mindful of the happy time
      In misery.
    • Canto V, lines 121–123 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Superbia, invidia e avarizia sono
    le tre faville c'hanno i cuori accesi.
    • Pride, Envy, and Avarice are
      the three sparks that have set these hearts on fire.
    • Canto VI, lines 74–75 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Quanto la cosa è più perfetta,
    più senta il bene, e così la doglienza.
    • As the thing more perfect is,
      The more it feels of pleasure and of pain.
    • Canto VI, lines 107–108 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Ché tutto l'oro ch'è sotto la luna
    e che già fu, di quest'anime stanche
    poterebbe farne posare una.
    • For all the gold that is beneath the moon,
      Or ever has been, of these weary souls
      Could never make a single one repose.
    • Canto VII, lines 64–66 (tr. Longfellow).
  • O sol che sani ogne vista turbata,
    tu mi contenti sì quando tu solvi,
    che, non men che saver, dubbiar m'aggrata.
    • O Sun, that healest all distempered vision,
      Thou dost content me so, when thou resolvest,
      That doubting pleases me no less than knowing!
    • Canto XI, lines 91–93 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Che l'arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
    Segue, come il Maestro fa il discente,
    Sì che vostr'arte a Dio quasi è nipote.
    • That your art follows her so far as it can, as the disciple does the master, so that your art is as it were grandchild of God.
    • Canto XI, lines 103–105 (tr. Charles Eliot Norton).
  • Necessità 'l ci 'nduce, e non diletto.
    • Necessity brings him here, not pleasure.
    • Canto XII, line 87 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Bene ascolta chi la nota.
    • He listens well who takes notes.
    • Canto XV, line 99 (tr. Clive James).
  • ...Seggendo in piuma
    in fama non si vien, né sotto coltre,
    sanza la qual chi sua vita consuma
    cotal vestigo in terra di sé lascia
    qual fummo in aere ed in acqua la schiuma.
    • Lying in a featherbed
      will not bring you fame, nor staying beneath the quilt,
      and he who uses up his life without achieving fame
      leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth
      than smoke in the air or foam upon the water.
    • Canto XXIV, lines 47–51.
  • La dimanda onesta
    si de' seguir con l'opera tacendo.
    • A fair request should be followed by the deed in silence.
    • Canto XXIV, lines 77–78 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Se tu se’ or, lettore, a creder lento
    ciò ch’io dirò, non sarà maraviglia,
    ché io che ’l vidi, a pena il mi consento.
    • If thou art, Reader, slow now to believe
      What I shall say, it will no marvel be,
      For I who saw it hardly can admit it.
    • Canto XXV, lines 46–48 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Considerate la vostra semenza:
    fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
    ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.
    • Consider your origin;
      you were not born to live like brutes,
      but to follow virtue and knowledge.
    • Canto XXVI, lines 118–120.
  • S'i' credesse che mia risposta fosse
    a persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    questa fiamma staria sanza più scosse;
    ma però che già mai di questo fondo
    non tornò vivo alcun, s'i' odo il vero,
    sanza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
    • If I thought my answer were to one
      who would ever return to the world,
      this flame should stay without another movement; but since none
      ever returned alive from this depth, if what I hear is true,
      I answer thee without fear of infamy.
    • Canto XXVII, lines 61–66 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Tra le gambe pendevan le minugia;
    la corata pareva e 'l tristo sacco
    che merda fa di quel che si trangugia.
    • Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
      His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
      that maketh excrement of what is eaten.
    • Canto XXVIII, lines 25–27 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Capo ha cosa fatta.
    • A thing done has an end!
    • Canto XXVIII, line 107 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Io non piangëa, sì dentro impetrai.
    • I wept not, I within so turned to stone.
    • Canto XXXIII, line 49 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Lo pianto stesso lì pianger non lascia,
    e 'l duol che truova in su li occhi rintoppo,
    si volge in entro a far crescer l'ambascia.
    • Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
      And grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
      Turns itself inward to increase the anguish.
    • Canto XXXIII, lines 94–96 (tr. Longfellow).
Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
  • Cortesia fu lui esser villano.
    • To be rude to him was courtesy.
    • Canto XXXIII, line 150 (tr. Longfellow).
  • "Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni
    verso di noi; però dinanzi mira,"
    disse 'l maestro mio, "se tu 'l discerni."
    • "'Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni'
      Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,"
      My Master said, "if thou discernest him."
    • Canto XXXIV, lines 1–3 (tr. Longfellow).
  • E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.
    • Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.
    • Canto XXXIV, line 139 (tr. Longfellow).


  • Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
    omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
    che lascia dietro a sé mar sì crudele.
    • To run over better waters the little vessel of my genius now hoists her sails, as she leaves behind her a sea so cruel.
    • Canto I, lines 1–3 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • I' mi volsi a man destra, e puosi mente
    a l'altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle
    viste mai fuor ch'a la prima gente.
    • To the right hand I turned, and fixed my mind
      Upon the other pole, and saw four stars
      Ne'er seen before save by the primal people.
    • Canto I, lines 22–24 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Libertà va cercando, ch'è sì cara,
    come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta.
    • He goes seeking liberty, which is so dear, as he knows who gives his life for it.
    • Canto I, lines 71–72 (tr. Sinclair).
  • O dignitosa coscïenza, e netta,
    come t'è picciol fallo amaro morso!
    • O conscience, upright and stainless, how bitter a sting to thee is little fault!
    • Canto III, lines 8–9 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Ché perder tempo a chi più sa più spiace.
    • For to lose time irks him most who most knows.
    • Canto III, line 78 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Se orazïone in prima non m'aita
    che surga sù di cuor che in grazia viva;
    l'altra che val, che 'n ciel non è udita?
    • Unless, before then, the prayer assist me which rises from a heart that lives in grace: what avails the other, which is not heard in heaven?
    • Canto IV, lines 133–135 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Che sempre l'omo in cui pensier rampolla
    sovra pensier, da sé dilunga il segno,
    perché la foga l'un de l'altro insolla.
    • For always the man in whom thought springs up over thought sets his mark farther off, for the one thought saps the force of the other.
    • Canto V, lines 16–18 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Ché cima di giudicio non s'avvalla
    perché foco d'amor compia in un punto
    ciò che de' sodisfar chi qui s'astalla.
    • For top of judgment doth not vail itself,
      Because the fire of love fulfils at once
      What he must satisfy who here installs him.
    • Canto VI, lines 37–39 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Veramente a così alto sospetto
    non ti fermar, se quella nol ti dice
    che lume fia tra 'l vero e lo 'ntelletto.
    Non so se 'ntendi; io dico di Beatrice.
    • Do not rest in so profound a doubt except she tell it thee, who shall be a light between truth and intellect. I know not if thou understand: I speak of Beatrice.
    • Canto VI, lines 43–46 (tr. Carlyle-Wicksteed).
  • Era già l'ora che volge il disio
    ai navicanti e 'ntenerisce il core
    lo dì ch'han detto ai dolci amici addio;
    e che lo novo peregrin d'amore
    punge, se ode squilla di lontano
    che paia il giorno pianger che si more.
    • It was now the hour that turns back the longing of seafarers and melts their heart the day they have bidden dear friends farewell and pierces the new traveller with love if he hears in the distance the bell that seems to mourn the dying day.
    • Canto VIII, lines 1–6 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Quanto in femmina fuoco d'amor dura,
    Se l'occhio o 'l tatto spesso nol raccende.
    • How long in woman lasts the fire of love,
      If eye or touch do not relight it often.
    • Canto VIII, lines 77–78 (tr. Longfellow).
  • O superbi Cristian, miseri lassi!
    Che, della vista della mente infermi,
    Fidanza avete ne' ritrosi passi;
    Non v' accorgete voi, che noi siam vermi
    Nati a formar l' angelica farfalla,
    Che vola alla giustizia senza schermi?
    Di che l' animo vostro in alto galla,
    Poi siete quasi entomata in difetto,
    Sì come verme, in cui formazion falla?
    • O Christians, arrogant, exhausted, wretched,
      Whose intellects are sick and cannot see,
      Who place your confidence in backward steps,
      Do you not know that we are worms and born
      To form the angelic butterfly that soars,
      Without defenses, to confront His judgment?

      Why does your mind presume to flight when you
      Are still like the imperfect grub, the worm
      Before it has attained its final form?
    • Canto X, lines 121–129 (tr. Mandelbaum).
  • Dà oggi a noi la cotidiana manna,
    sanza la qual per questo aspro diserto
    a retro va chi più di gir s'affanna.
    • Give us this day the daily manna, without which, in this rough desert, he backward goes, who toils most to go on.
    • Canto XI, lines 13–15 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Non è il mondan romore altro ch'un fiato
    di vento, ch'or vien quinci e or vien quindi,
    e muta nome perché muta lato.
    • Worldly renown is naught but a breath of wind, which now comes this way and now comes that, and changes name because it changes quarter.
    • Canto XI, lines 100–102 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • O gente umana, per volar sù nata,
    perché a poco vento così cadi?
    • O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?
    • Canto XII, lines 95–96 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Le donne e ' cavalier, li affanni e li agi
    che ne 'nvogliava amore e cortesia
    là dove i cuor son fatti sì malvagi.
    • The dames and cavaliers, the toils and ease
      That filled our souls with love and courtesy,
      There where the hearts have so malicious grown!
    • Canto XIV, lines 109–111 (tr. Longfellow).
  • A maggior forza e a miglior natura
    liberi soggiacete; e quella cria
    la mente in voi, che 'l ciel no ha in sua cura.
    Però, se 'l mondo presente disvia,
    in voi è la cagione, in voi si cheggia.
    • To a greater power and to a better nature you, free, are subject, and that creates the mind in you which the heavens have not in their charge. Therefore if the present world goes astray, in you is the cause, in you let it be sought.
    • Canto XVI, lines 79–83 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Ogn'erba si conosce per lo seme.
    • By its seed each herb is recognized.
    • Canto XVI, line 114 (tr. Longfellow).
    • Compare: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16 KJV.
  • Ciascun confusamente un bene apprende
    nel qual si queti l'animo, e disira;
    per che di giugner lui ciascun contende.
    • Each one confusedly a good conceives
      Wherein the mind may rest, and longeth for it;
      Therefore to overtake it each one strives.
    • Canto XVII, lines 127–129 (tr. Longfellow).
I recognize the signals of the ancient flame.
  • Contra miglior voler voler mal pugna; ...
    • Against a better will the will fights ill, ...
    • Canto XX, line 1 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Amore,
    acceso di virtù, sempre altro accese,
    pur che la fiamma sua paresse fore.
    • Love kindled by virtue always kindles another, provided that its flame appear outwardly.
    • Canto XXII, lines 10–12.
  • Men che dramma
    di sangue m'è rimaso, che non tremi;
    conosco i segni de l'antica fiamma.
    • Less than a drop of blood remains in me that does not tremble; I recognize the signals of the ancient flame.
    • Canto XXX, lines 46–48.
    • Compare: Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae ("I feel once more the scars of the old flame", tr. C. Day Lewis), Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 23.
  • Ma tanto più maligno e più silvestro
    si fa 'l terren col mal seme e non cólto,
    quant'elli ha più di buon vigor terrestro.
    • But so much the more malign and wild does the ground become with bad seed and untilled, as it has the more of good earthly vigor.
    • Canto XXX, lines 118–120 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Puro e disposto a salire a le stelle.
    • Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.
    • Canto XXXIII, line 145 (tr. C. E. Norton).


You dull your own perceptions
with false imaginings and do not grasp
what would be clear but for your preconceptions.
  • La gloria di colui che tutto move
    per l'universo penetra, e risplende
    in una parte piú e meno altrove.
    • The glory of Him who moves everything penetrates through the universe, and is resplendent in one part more and in another less.
    • Canto I, lines 1–3 (tr. C. E. Norton).
  • Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.
    • A great flame follows a little spark.
    • Canto I, line 34 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Tu stesso ti fai grosso
    col falso imaginar, sì che non vedi
    ciò che vedresti se l'avessi scosso.
    • You dull your own perceptions
      with false imaginings and do not grasp
      what would be clear but for your preconceptions.
    • Canto I, lines 88–90 (tr. Ciardi).
  • E 'n la sua volontade è nostra pace:
    ell'è quel mare al qual tutto si move
    ciò ch'ella crïa o che natura face.
    • And his will is our peace; this is the sea
      To which is moving onward whatsoever
      It doth create, and all that nature makes.
    • Canto III, lines 85–87 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Lo maggior don che Dio per sua larghezza
    fesse creando, e a la sua bontate
    più conformato, e quel ch'e' più apprezza,
    fu de la volontà la libertate;
    di che le creature intelligenti,
    e tutte e sole, fuore e son dotate.
    • The greatest gift which God in His bounty bestowed in creating, and the most conformed to His own goodness and that which He most prizes, was the freedom of the will, with which the creatures that have intelligence, they all and they alone, were and are endowed.
    • Canto V, lines 19–24 (tr. Singleton).
  • Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
    lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
    lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale.
    • Thou shalt prove how salt is the taste of another man's bread and how hard is the way up and down another man's stairs.
    • Canto XVII, lines 58–60 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Però ne la giustizia sempiterna
    la vista che riceve il vostro mondo,
    com' occhio per lo mare, entro s'interna;
    che, ben che da la proda veggia il fondo,
    in pelago nol vede; e nondimeno
    èli, ma cela lui l'esser profondo.
    • Therefore the sight that is granted to your world penetrates within the Eternal Justice as the eye into the sea; for though from the shore it sees the bottom, in the open sea it does not, and yet the bottom is there but the depth conceals it.
    • Canto XIX, lines 58–63 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Or tu chi se', che vuo' sedere a scranna,
    per giudicar di lungi mille miglia
    con la veduta corta d'una spanna?
    • Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit
      In judgment at a thousand miles away,
      With the short vision of a single span?
    • Canto XIX, lines 79–81 (tr. Longfellow).
  • L'esperîenza
    di questa dolce vita.
    • The experience of this sweet life.
    • Canto XX, lines 47–48 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Ed ènne dolce così fatto scemo,
    perché il ben nostro in questo ben s'affina,
    che quel che vole Iddio, e noi volemo.
    • And sweet to us is such a deprivation,
      Because our good in this good is made perfect,
      That whatsoe'er God wills, we also will.
    • Canto XX, lines 136–138 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Quale allodetta che 'n aere si spazia
    prima cantando, e poi tace contenta
    de l'ultima dolcezza che la sazia,
    tal mi sembiò l'imago de la 'mprenta
    de l'etterno piacere.
    • Like the lark that soars in the air, first singing, then silent, content with the last sweetness that satiates it, such seemed to me that image, the imprint of the Eternal Pleasure.
    • Canto XX, lines 73–77 (tr. Sinclair).
  • La spada di qua sù non taglia in fretta
    né tardo, ma' ch'al parer di colui
    che disïando o temendo l'aspetta.
    • The sword above here smiteth not in haste
      Nor tardily, howe'er it seem to him
      Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
    • Canto XXII, lines 16–18 (tr. Longfellow).
  • La notte che le cose ci nasconde.
    • The night that hides things from us.
    • Canto XXIII, line 3 (tr. Sinclair).
  • L'uso d'i mortali è come fronda
    in ramo, che sen va e altra vene.
    • The use of men is like a leaf
      On bough, which goeth and another cometh.
    • Canto XXVI, lines 137–138 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Di quel color che per lo sole avverso
    nube dipigne da sera e da mane,
    vid' îo allora tutto 'l ciel cosperso.
    • With the colour that paints the morning and evening clouds that face the sun I saw then the whole heaven suffused.
    • Canto XXVII, lines 28–30 (tr. Sinclair).
  • Da quel punto
    depende il cielo e tutta la natura.
    • From that point
      Dependent is the heaven and nature all.
    • Canto XXVIII, lines 41–42 (tr. Longfellow).
I saw within Its depth how It conceives
all things in a single volume bound by Love,
of which the universe is the scattered leaves.
  • La tua benignità non pur soccorre
    a chi domanda, ma molte fïate
    liberamente al dimandar precorre.
    • Not only thy benignity gives succour
      To him who asketh it, but oftentimes
      Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
    • Canto XXXIII, lines 16–18 (tr. Longfellow).
  • Nel suo profondo vidi che s'interna,
    legato con amore in un volume,
    ciò che per l'universo si squaderna.
    • I saw within Its depth how It conceives
      all things in a single volume bound by Love,
      of which the universe is the scattered leaves.
    • Canto XXXIII, lines 85–87 (tr. Ciardi).
  • Qual è 'l geomètra che tutto s'affige
    per misurar lo cerchio, e non ritrova,
    pensando, quel principio ond' elli indige,

    tal era io a quella vista nova:
    veder voleva come si convenne
    l'imago al cerchio e come vi s'indova;

    ma non eran da ciò le proprie penne:
    se non che la mia mente fu percossa
    da un fulgore in che sua voglia venne.

    A l'alta fantasia qui mancò possa;
    ma già volgeva il mio disio e 'l velle,
    sì come rota ch'igualmente è mossa,

    l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.

    • As the geometrician, who endeavours
      To square the circle, and discovers not,
      By taking thought, the principle he wants,

      Even such was I at that new apparition;
      I wished to see how the image to the circle
      Conformed itself, and how it there finds place;

      But my own wings were not enough for this,
      Had it not been that then my mind there smote
      A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish.

      Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
      But now was turning my desire and will,
      Even as a wheel that equally is moved,

      The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.

    • Canto XXXIII, closing lines, as translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  • The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.
    • John F. Kennedy misquoting Dante (24 June 1963). Dante placed those who "non furon ribelli né fur fedeli" [were neither for nor against God] in a special region near the mouth of Hell; the lowest part of Hell, a lake of ice, was for traitors.
    • According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum President Kennedy got his facts wrong. Dante never made this statement. The closest to what President Kennedy meant is in the Inferno where the souls in the ante-room of hell, who "lived without disgrace and without praise," and the coward angels, who did not rebel but did not resist the cohorts of Lucifer, are condemned to continually chase a banner that is forever changing course while being stung by wasps and horseflies.
    • See Canticle I (Inferno), Canto 3, vv 35-42 for the notion of neutrality and where JFK might have paraphrased from.

Quotes about DanteEdit

Alphabetized by author
  • And you, beloved children, whose lot it is to promote learning under the magisterium of the Church, continue as you are doing to love and tend the noble poet whom We do not hesitate to call the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea.
  • Dante does not come before us as a large catholic mind; rather as a narrow, and even sectarian mind: it is partly the fruit of his age and position, but partly too of his own nature. His greatness has, in all senses, concentred itself into fiery emphasis and depth. He is world-great not because he is world-wide, but because he is world-deep. Through all objects he pierces as it were down into the heart of Being. I know nothing so intense as Dante.
    • Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet" in Heroes and Hero-Worship (1841).
  • I wanted my illustrations for the Dante to be like the faint markings of moisture in a divine cheese. This explains their variegated aspect of butterflies' wings. Mysticism is cheese; Christ is cheese, better still, mountains of cheese!
  • Dante was the first to sing of heaven and of hell, not as the dreams of mythological fiction, but as the objects of a real faith. He was the first who lanched from this promontory on which we stand, into the vast immensity of the universe, traversed the abyss amidst demons and infernal tortures, and mounting afterwards through angelic hosts and undiscovered worlds, gazed with stedfast eye upon the glories of the Highest... Dante was the Columbus who discovered this new world of poesy... Dante probably surpassed even Homer himself.
    • Edmund Dorr Griffin, in Remains of the Rev. Edmund D. Griffin (1831), p. 335.
  • I love Dante almost as much as the Bible. He is my spiritual food, the rest is ballast.
    • James Joyce, as quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (1959), p. 226.
  • Dante has not deigned to take his inspiration from any other. He has wished to be himself, himself alone; in a word, to create. He has occupied a vast space, and has filled it with the superiority of a sublime mind. He is diverse, strong, and gracious. He has imagination, warmth, and enthusiasm. He makes his reader tremble, shed tears, feel the thrill of honor in a way that is the height of art. Severe and menacing, he has terrible imprecations for crime, scourgings for vice, sorrow for misfortune. As a citizen, affected by the laws of the republic, he thunders against its oppressors, but he is always ready to excuse his native city, Florence is ever to him his sweet, beloved country, dear to his heart. I am envious for my dear France, that she has never produced a rival to Dante; that this Colossus has not had his equal among us. No, there is no reputation which can be compared to his.
  • His very words are instinct with spirit; each is as a spark, a burning atom of inextinguishable thought; and many yet lie covered in the ashes of their birth, and pregnant with the lightning which has yet found no conductor.
  • That great genius conceived, in his vast imagination, the mysteries of the invisible creation, and unveiled them to the eyes of the astonished world.
  • Sa réputation s'affermira toujours, parce qu'on ne le lit guère. II y a de lui une vingtaine de traits qu'on sait par cœur: cela suffit pour s'épargner la peine d'examiner le reste.
    • He enjoys an immortal reputation because he is seldom read. Everyone knows by heart some twenty quotations from his writings, and that relieves them of the necessity of examining the remainder.
    • Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 'Dante' (1765).

See alsoEdit

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