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Remembering Dante, 700 years later

Dante Alighieri — the famous Italian poet, writer and philosopher — passed away 700 years ago on Sep. 14, 1321.

In remembrance of his life and works, the David O. McKay Library created the Dante 700 Exhibit, held in the Special Collections room 220 during fall semester. The exhibit was open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the semester ended.

“The purpose is to see how Dante has affected our culture,” said Rebecca Dorny, the library intern who set up the exhibit.

On display at the exhibit were important artifacts from throughout history that influenced Dante’s work or were influenced by his work. Some of these artifacts included “The City of God” by Augustine of Hippo, “Book of Hours” and the Magna Carta.

According to T. S. Eliot, one of the major poets of the 20th century, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”

T. S. Eliot has openly said that his work “The Wasteland” was influenced by Dante’s most famous work, “The Divine Comedy.”

“The Divine Comedy” took Dante 12 years to write, and scholars argue that Dante directly influenced the Renaissance. The work takes Dante through the three levels of the afterlife: hell, purgatory and heaven.

Dante wrote “The Divine Comedy” in Italian, which meant that many could read it. This was a bold action at the time, as most books were written in Latin.

Dante was a true leader of arts and culture in his time and an example of BYU-Idaho’s mission statement to “develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.”

Students were invited to come and learn how this leader has influenced the world over the past 700 years, and visitors to the exhibit could record their impressions of Dante in a black notebook.

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