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Dante Alighieri

[[wikt:posthumous|Posthumous]] portrait in [[tempera]]<br>by [[Sandro Botticelli]], 1495 Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri}} and often referred to simply as Dante (, also ,; – 1321), was an Italian poet. His ''Divine Comedy'', originally called (modern Italian: ''Commedia'') and later christened by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.

Dante is known for establishing the use of the vernacular in literature at a time when most poetry was written in Latin, making it accessible only to the most educated readers. His ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (''On Eloquence in the Vernacular'') was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. His use of the Tuscan dialect for works such as ''The New Life'' (1295) and ''Divine Comedy'' helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language, and set a precedent that important later Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would follow.

Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, and his depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art. He is cited as an influence on John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the ''terza rima'', is attributed to him. He is described as the "father" of the Italian language, and in Italy he is often referred to as '''' ("the Supreme Poet"). Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called the ("three crowns") of Italian literature.
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