Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Joan Baranow, PhD

First Reader

Sister Aaron Winkelman, PhD

Second Reader

Leslie Ross, PhD


Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) takes his readers on a pilgrimage through what he calls the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (ostensibly Hell, Purgatory and Heaven) in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, originally titled Commedia. This paper concentrates exclusively on Dante’s contemporaries, those people who lived during his lifetime, and examines his possible motivation for targeting enemy Ghibellines, Black Guelphs, treacherous White Guelphs, corrupt popes, and others who either crossed him or caused him trouble. He vindictively used his masterpiece to lash out at his contemporary enemies, exacting retribution against many who angered him in his lifetime or otherwise offended his religious, political, civic or personal sensibilities, thus revealing a hidden sin, Wrath. Dante deviously groups contemporary characters in such a way as to arrive at a larger and more sinister point, that people from Bologna, Pistoia, Siena, Pisa, Genoa and even his beloved Florence, should be reviled or exterminated. He vindictively roots for ethnic cleansing. The lower construction of Dante’s Hell appears to have little to do with Christian theology but, rather, is a contrivance to house his detested enemies and give him personal revenge. Dante’s wrath for his contemporaries may have inspired much of the Inferno, making the poem far less Divine.