March 25, 2020 was Dantedì, the official day honoring Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language. In 2021, Dantedì will mark 700 years since the death of the sommo poeta, as he is known.
Dante continues to be an integral part of every young Italian’s education. To this day, the poet’s most famous three-part work, La Divina Commedia, or The Divine Comedy, is taught in every Italian high school seven centuries after its completion. This narrative describes Dante's own cathartic journey through Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.
La Divina Commedia serves as a window into the Middle Ages, its history, politics, science and theology. As a result of this body of work, Florentine Tuscan became the lingua franca, laying the foundation for the Italian language spoken today.
This epic poem also influenced artists such as Botticelli, Rodin, and Dalí who illustrated Dante’s text through painting and sculpture. More importantly, it serves as an example of how the voice of a single author can impact society as a whole. This text may very well have paved the way for important historical events such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment.
This occasion allows us to reflect on the immense influence that Dante had on today’s society. To mark this important day, many world-wide initiatives by schools, students, and cultural institutions are planned.
While Dante lived and worked largely in Florence, he spent his final years in exile and died in Ravenna where he is entombed. To learn more about Dante Alighieri and his tomb in Ravenna, watch this short 6 minute video (in Italian):