Bizarre Deaths: Dante Alighieri

Bizarre Deaths
by Guy Portman


Dante Alighieri


 (May/June c. 1265 – September 9th 1321)

Notable works: The Divine Comedy, Convivio, The Vita Nuova.

Florence born Dante’s defining work, The Divine Comedy, is widely regarded to this day, as the greatest piece of literature ever composed in Italian.  The description of Dante’s fictional journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso), was to prove an important milestone in the development of Italian as an established literary language.

Italy’s sommo poeta (supreme poet) is remembered not only for his remarkable achievements, but also for the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.  Dante died of malaria in Ravenna in 1321, which was not unusual in itself during this era.  However posthumous events took a bizarre turn when Florence, the city of Dante’s birth, demanded the return of their famous son.

Church officials in Ravenna secretly hid Dante’s body in a wall to prevent it from being stolen and returned to Florence.  It lay forgotten until being unearthed during church renovations in 1863, when it was discovered that parts of the body had been taken at the time of the burial.  In 1878 a repentant former town clerk, Pasquale Miccoli, returned a box of bones he had stolen.


Guy Portman is a writer currently residing in London, the city of his birth.  Guy’s next book, Necropolis, is a work of dark fiction about a psychopath, who is employed at his local council’s Burials and Cemeteries department.  Necropolis is due for release in late April 2014. For more info on Guy, go to:

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