Three Crowns: Why Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio?

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When it comes to Italian literature, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are at the top of the list. Each one these authors influenced many of the great literary works yet to come. There are many positive aspects for each writer but the major reason that made them so great was the decision to write in the vernacular. This bold decision made it possible for everyday people to experience their great literary works. Writing in Italian as opposed to Latin also made their writings grow in popularity among the people. This transition from Latin to Italian changed the way writers wrote to their audiences.

The use of Italian paved the way for new types of writings. In Dante's Divine Comedy, he introduces the terza rima. This form of writing kept the story in a continuous flow from one stanza to the next. Petrarch perfected the sonnet which would eventually become a very popular form of writing. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio also wrote about topics that went beyond the status quo. Dante focused more on the spiritual love which Petrarch would write about the romantic love. Boccaccio would later write about everyday life stories. Each writer, in their own unique way, would challenge the authority of the Church. In a way I find it ironic that Dante was the only one of the three that did not have religious vows. It would seem he would be the only one because his Divine Comedy was more spiritually oriented. Petrarch and Boccaccio were both critical of the Church yet they had religious vows.

Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are known as Italy's three literary crowns because they changed the way literature was written. The innovation of the three literary greats made it possible for readers to explore new areas of imagination. It's amazing to me that such literary works, such as the Divine Comedy and The Decameron, can stand the test of time and yet they are relevant to any generation.

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I think you made several interesting points here (especially the comment on religion). The Italian culture at this point was so heavily saturated with Christian teachings, I think bringing up religion in relation to the three great authors we've been studying is really important. I, too, find it curious that Dante (assumed to be the least spiritual) is the one whose work appears to be steeped in spirituality. However, taking religious vows does not always coincide with a particularly virtuous or spiritual life.

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