This epic poem, The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri is considered by many to be the greatest lyric composition ever written. "Comedy" is used here in its classical sense—to indicate a story which begins in suspense and ends well. We start out with the author gone astray in a dark wood and assaulted by metaphorical agents of spiritual adversity. He is saved by Virgil who guides Dante through the nine circles of Hell down to the center of the earth where Satan is held restrained. They then ascend to the Mountain of Purgatory and climb the seven terraces which correspond to the seven deadly sins. The culmination of this journey is the Garden of Eden beyond which Virgil cannot go because, as a pagan, he is a permanent resident of Limbo, the first circle of Hell. Beatrice, fashioned from a woman Dante loved and lost, becomes Dante's second guide. She steers him through the nine spheres of Heaven from where Dante reaches a place beyond physical existence and comes face-to-face with God who grants him comprehension of the Divine and human nature. When we look deeper into the journey, we see a complex analysis of the progress of each individual soul toward God and mankind's progress toward peace on earth.
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