Dante Alighieri, probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante, was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered one of the most important poems 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 was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. His use of the Tuscan dialect for works such as The New Life and Divine Comedy helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language. His work set a precedent that important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would later follow.
Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy. His depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art and literature. He is cited as an influence on such English writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton and Alfred Tennyson, among many others.