Abstract and Keywords
This chapter addresses key aspects of Dante’s political thought in its cultural, biographical, and intellectual context. Its opening section stresses that Dante’s political theory responds to his lived experience of the volatility of fourteenth-century Italy. The chapter then questions the generic parameters of Dante’s ‘political writings’ and draws attention to some of the intellectual currents that inform them. The following two sections use passages from the Commedia and Monarchia, in particular, to illuminate key tenets of Dante’s theologized political philosophy: firstly, the institutions of papacy and empire and their respective functions and responsibilities; and secondly, the importance of cities, and specifically factional medieval Florence and imperial Rome, in the Commedia’s political imaginary. The final part of the chapter argues that, while critics sometimes address politics as a vital but intellectually isolated branch of Dante’s work, we should emphasize the ways in which he brings political ideas into fruitful contact with diverse forms of expression and knowledge.
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