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English 200: Representative Masterpieces: About the Authors

A guide to basic information resources on the Iliad and the Divine Comedy, English 200.


Considered the finest poet that Italy has ever produced, Dante is also celebrated as a major influence on western European culture. His masterpiece, La divina commedia (1306-21; The Divine Comedy ) is universally known as one of the greatest poems in world literature. Divided into three sections—the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso The Divine Comedy presents an encyclopedic overview of the mores, attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, and aspirations, as well as the material aspects of the medieval world. More than a summa of medieval life, however, Dante's poem is a superb work of fiction with poignant dramatic episodes and unforgettable characters. The eminent poet and essayist Jorge Luis Borges has recognized the relevance of The Divine Comedy for modern readers, asserting that it “is a book that everyone ought to read. Not to do so is to deprive oneself of the greatest gift that literature can give us; to submit to a strange asceticism.”

- "Dante." Gale Online Encyclopedia, Gale, 2017. Literature Resource Center.


Homer is traditionally accepted as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two greatest epics of European literature. The poems celebrate the values of ancient Greek civilization, incorporating many ancient myths and folk motifs and examining such themes as heroism, fate, honor, loyalty, and justice. Admired over the centuries for the artistic mastery they demonstrate, the Iliad and the Odyssey have exerted a profound influence on all later Western poetry and have served as the primary models for subsequent epics. Although critics continue to debate questions of the authorship and textual integrity of the two poems, they unanimously praise the universality, lucid narrative style, and vast imaginative scope of these works. 

- "Homer." Gale Online Encyclopedia, Gale, 2017. Literature Resource Center.

Author Biographies and More

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