How to use this resource
How to use Discover Dante
This resource has a number of features to help you make the most out of your reading of Dante.
For background on Dante...
We suggest that you look first at the pages under Introducing Dante to gain some essential background on Dante, his works and his historical context.
As a companion to the text...
If you wish to read the Commedia or a particular cantica of it thoroughly, you can use the resource as a companion to your reading through the text. Use the tabs at the top of this page to choose the relevant part of the text. You'll find that the section dealing with each cantica includes an introduction to the realm of the afterlife, which is a useful way to contextualise the text you are about to read and to gain a sense of how Dante engages with traditions of representing and thinking about the afterlife.
The next sections then work through the text, canto by canto. Each canto is broken down into sections, to help you orient yourself in the text. Key ideas and points for debate are introduced. The sections dealing with Inferno and Purgatorio then include pages covering the major themes which emerge across the whole of those cantiche. In the case of Paradiso, the cantos are divided up into the various Heavens which make up Dante's journey; major themes are introduced as we go along.
As a starting point for discussion...
Throughout the resource, we have suggested discussion points which you can use as a basis for your own thinking. Often these reflect debates which have preoccupied scholars and readers of Dante for years - so there is no right answer. We hope that these discussion points are a useful spur to your own engagement with Dante.
Recommended editions and other works to consult
You will find, as you work through the guide, that you will frequently need to refer to your edition of the text. We have not tried to replicate the thorough annotations which you will find in good editions of the text, and so for many of the references, allusions and difficult passages in the text it will be essential to turn to the notes.
Excellent editions and translations include those by Robert Durling and Ronald L Martinez (Oxford University Press); Robert and Jean Hollander (Doubleday); and Robin Kirkpatrick (Penguin). If you have access to the Dante Encyclopedia (ed. by Richard Lansing (Routledge, 2010), you might find it useful to look up key references for further background.
We also refer to a number of Bible passages throughout this resource; we provide links to the Latin Vulgate text (with translation), but you might prefer to keep a copy of the Bible close to hand as you use this resource.
In a hurry?
If you’ve got 10 mins…
Find out who Dante was and about his masterpiece, the Commedia. See:
If you’ve got an hour…
Read about Dante’s idea of the afterlife and why his work makes significant departures from anything written before. See: