history meme: 01/07 pairings | DANTE and BEATRICE
Dante Alighieri first met the beautiful Beatrice Portinari when he was 9 and she was 8, in a gathering at her father’s palazzo in Florence. and fell madly in love with her. She captivated him completely. As he later wrote, “From that time forward love fully ruled my soul.” For the next nine years he remained absolutely besotted with her but only from a distance. He frequented places where he could catch a glimpse of her, but she never spoke to him until nine years later. Then one afternoon, in 1293 when he was 18, he saw her walking down a street in Florence. Accompanied by two older women, Beatrice turned and greeted him. Her greeting filled him with such joy that he retreated to his room to think about her. Falling asleep, he had a dream that became the subject of the first sonnet in his La Vita Nuova, one of the world’s greatest romantic poems.
In 13th century Florence arranged marriages were the norm, especially amongst the uppers classes, to which both Dante and Beatrice belonged. So, at the age of 21 Dante was married off to Gemma Donati, to whom he had been betroted since the age of 12 and Beatrice married a year later too, only to die three years after that, at the tender age of 24. Dante was devastated.
He remained devoted to Beatrice for the rest of his life and it was her that continued to lend inspiration to his work
Dante completed La Vita Nuova (1294), one of the world’s greatest romantic poems, when he was 29 years old. Yet he felt that his love sonnets still did not do justice to honor the beauty and blessedness of his dear Beatrice, the glorious lady of his mind. So he vowed to write a poem to honor his beloved that has never been written of any woman. Dante fulfilled this promise 27 years later just before his death, when he finished The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia- 1321)— the greatest love poem about the soul’s ascent from Inferno to Purgatory to Paradise.
Beatrice appeared as his guide: being the incarnation of true love, she led him into the Beatific vision in Paradise…