Discuss Dante’s early contribution to the Humanist era, focusing on his use of Virgil in Cantos I-IV and the use of the vernacular in the Divine Comedy.
Dante Alighieri is not considered a Renaissance Humanist, however he is considered one of the three crowns of Florentine literature, alongside Petrarco and Boccaccio. Petrarco is reputed as being the fore-runner of Humanism, whereas Dante gave Florentine Italian to the people of Italy and was a key leader in making vulgar Italian an acceptable means of Literature and Rhetoric. Dante also studied and revered many poets and philosophers of antiquity and used them in the Divine Comedy. Virgil was in fact chosen by Dante to be his guide through the Inferno. He was also interested in reason and virtue and the development of the individual. For these reasons, Dante’s style exhibits many precursors, if not aspects of later humanistic thought.
In this essay, I will define Humanism and its qualities and I will discuss Dante as an ante-litteram Humanist, focusing on the language he uses in the Divine Comedy and his relationship with Virgil in thefirst four Cantos. It is my obligation to inform you, in thefirst place, that Dante was not a Humanist and belongs to the Late Medieval period in a class of his own as a moral and social philosopher, a Politician, a classical enthusiast, a Linguist and a Poet.
The term Humanism derives from the Latin humanitas meaning the cultural values attained from a liberal education. Studia humanitatis, including language, literature, history and moral philosophy, was the name given to this kind of education and was studied in classical times.
Petrarco was the principle fore-runner of the rebirth of humanitas, or Humanism as it came to be called and the term umanista was used in the 1400s to describe a professor or student of classical literature. The English wordhumanist? did not emerge until the 1500s.
However, it was not until 1809, in Germany, tha…

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