The Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri, written between 1308 and 1321. In Italian it is known as La Divina Comedia. The poem is thick with allegory, and was highly regarded by the poets of the Renaissance. Elements of The Divine Comedy have made their way into popular culture and remain there to this day, including the phrase Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
The poem is written in hendecasyllabic lines (ie lines of 11 syllables), with a terza rima structure. These are grouped into cantos and these cantos into three large canticas.
Dante travels through the nine levels of hell, starting from the outermost ring, limbo. This ring is inhabited by those who lead blameless lives, but were not baptised. As he progresses to the central circle the sins of the damned become more serious as are their sufferings.
Dante ascends the seven terraces of Purgatory. Each terrace represents one of the seven deadly sins which must be overcome by the sinner before entering heaven.
Dante is guided through the nine spheres of heaven, based roughly on Aristotelean cosmology. He then meets God, who grants him the understanding of human nature.