“Consider well the seed that gave you birth:
you were not made to live your lives as brutes,
but to be followers of worth and knowledge.”
― Inferno XXVI, lines 118-120
“Dante’s Commedia is not only the consummation of over a thousand years of Christian history, it is also a break-through into new worlds, new worlds which transformed our Western consciousness and history.”
-Thomas J.J. Altizer
As we recognize the 700th year anniversary of the death of Dante Alhigeri, the great impact of his primary work, The Divine Comedy, becomes increasingly relevant. Ever since the Commedia was first being read in the 15th century, the epic poem has inspired artists, authors, and even Christian doctrine. Responses to the poem appeared almost immediately as the work gained traction in Italy and, soon thereafter, surrounding areas. Today, the Commedia can be found in popular culture within film, literature, and even video games, demonstrating how the text has interwoven itself within humanity as whole.
This exhibit seeks to examine Dante’s journey through the three levels of the afterlife; hell or the inferno, purgatory, and paradise; and how humanity has been influenced by the poem within art, literature, and religion. Throughout the journey, one might find themselves within the shoes of Dante - at first, adrift within the forest having lost their path, but then, hopefully, emerging with a better understanding of their divine purpose, now able to “rebehold the stars”.
See medieval texts and artifacts from the European dark ages that had an influence on the poet Dante's life and his greatest work, the Divine Comedy.
Art Throughout the Centuries
From Botticelli to Rauschenberg, great artists for the past 700 years have sought to understand the Commedia and have lent their creative talents to Dante's work, interpreting the epic poem according to their tastes and time.
View what the library has to offer and further options for reading at our exhibit table.
Hallway and Windows
View the extended art and literature displays outside of Special Collections and Archives, including more of Gustav Dore's works.
Listen to our podcast-style walk-through where our intern will lead you through the exhibit and share facts about the items not listed in the item descriptions.