Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Dante Alighieri

  • Dennis Danielson
Reference work entry

Alternate Name

 Alighieri, Dante

BornFlorence, (Italy), May or June 1265

DiedRavenna, (Italy), 14 September 1321

Dante Alighieri, a poet rather than an astronomer, is nevertheless remarkable for the extent to which he wove the astronomical conceptions of his day – principally Ptolemaic and Aristotelian – into the fabric of one of the greatest literary and imaginative works of the Middle Ages, his Divina Commedia(Divine Comedy).

Dante was the son of Alighiero di Bellincione Alighieri and his first wife, Bella. From youth to middle age, Dante was involved in politics. However, at the turn of the century, the ruling party in Florence, the Guelphs, split into two factions, the “Blacks” and the “Whites,” and with the victory of the Blacks, Alighieri, who was a White, went into permanent exile from his beloved native city. Because of his exile, he was also permanently separated from his wife of some years, Gemma di Manetto Donati, with whom he had fathered four children, Jacopo, Pietro,...

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Selected References

  1. Cornish, Alison (2000). Reading Dante’s Stars. New Haven: Yale University Press. (The most complete recent guide to astronomy in the Divina Commedia.)Google Scholar
  2. Danielson, Dennis (ed.) (2000). The Book of the Cosmos: Imagining the Universe from Heraclitus to Hawking. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, esp. Chap. 15, “From This Point Hang the Heavens,” pp. 89–91.Google Scholar
  3. Dante Alighieri (1939). The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by John D. Sinclair. New York: Oxford University Press. (Useful for its presentation of the Italian text with prose translation, and for its commentary.)Google Scholar
  4. — (1949–1962). The Divine Comedy. London: Penguin. (Vol. 1, Hell, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, contains a useful, short section on “Dante’s Universe,” pp. 292–295. Vol. 3, Paradise, translated by Sayers and Barbara Reynolds, adds a further note, “Astronomy in Paradise,” pp. 350–351.)Google Scholar
  5. Lovejoy, Arthur O. (1936). The Great Chain of Being. (Reprint, New York: Harper and Row, 1960.)Google Scholar
  6. Osserman, Robert (1995). Poetry of the Universe: A Mathematical Exploration of the Cosmos. New York: Doubleday, esp. pp. 89–91.Google Scholar
  7. Peterson, Mark A. (1979). “Dante and the 3-Sphere.” American Journal of Physics47: 1031–1035. (The most thorough available discussion of the geometry of Paradiso, 28 and of Dante’s cosmos.)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada