Raizekas
Raizekas asked:

Can Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, specifically) may be considered renaissance literature? Why yes, or why not?

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Edward Yes, of course it is. It's early Renaissance literature, as the Italian Renaissance was the earliest phase of the general Renaissance movement that swept Western Europe. Depending whom you cite as authority on the matter, the Italian Renaissance started in the late 1200s or early 1300s. Dante was born in 1265, so either way, he was writing at the very dawn of the Renaissance period.

Characteristics of Dante's work that support its classification as early Renaissance versus late medieval: include (1) that the Comedy is full of references to classical antiquity, in particular Vergil's Aeneid; (2) that Inferno explicitly attempts to rehabilitate the pagan philosophers and poets on whose work Dante (and later, the entire Renaissance) drew so heavily by placing them in Limbo, which, although part of hell, comes across as a sort of deficient heaven designed to contain pre-Christian pagan souls; (3) that Dante's work is explicitly political and urban, in a way that simply doesn't appear in medieval literature (compare, say, Chaucer, who actually was born AFTER Dante's death, in his reluctance to directly criticize political leaders in his work, as well as in his work's focus on rural/village life), because the medieval period was characterized by de-urbanization after the dissolution of the Roman Empire, which first began to reverse itself in the Italian city-states.
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