Dante’s Divine Comedy is a journey through the afterlife in Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. This work is an incredible blend of the supernatural, politics, and theology. It can be appreciated on many levels, and benefits from multiple readings.
It is an amazing story with powerful, terrifying, and wonderful images, however taking the time to understand the politics and theology behind it greatly enhances the experience. It’s the ultimate midlife crisis with a happy ending.
Midway through his life Dante wakes up in a dark wood, alone.
How he got there is a mystery, when he arrived is unknown, and his body and soul are seized by fear. Dante searches for a way out and begins to run toward a hill in the distance. Suddenly his path is blocked by Leopard. He sprints away, only to have his path now cut off by a lion followed by a ravenous wolf approaching from the other direction. Panicked, Dante flees back into the dark wood and falls to the ground, terrified.
Out of the fog, a shade, or ghost of a man appears and approaches Dante. As Dante begs for mercy, the shade introduces himself as the poet Virgil who offers to lead Dante out of the dark wood. Unfortunately the way out is through Hell. Having little choice, Dante follows Virgil, beginning his journey.