Over the centuries the conflicts of the Italian peninsula have left an indelible mark on the development of Western civilization. The various power struggles between the neighboring cities coupled with the cultural growth of the entire region during the Renaissance created a rich history unmatched by most other areas of Europe. Allusions to the various battles between the great cities, Siena and Florence, can be found in both Dante’s and Dan Brown’s Inferno. Throughout Dante’s epic, a journey through the nine rings of Hell, he encounters a number of malefactors from both sides of the conflict. They provide a human example for the sins that result in condemnation to Hell. Dante’s epic is brought up many times during Robert Langdon’s own journey, tying together the history behind each piece of literature.

Boticelli's Map of Dante's Hell
Boticelli’s Map of Dante’s Hell


Brown's Protagonist, Robert Langdon (portrayed by Tom Hanks)
Brown’s Protagonist, Robert Langdon (portrayed by Tom Hanks)

The 13th and the 15th centuries on the Italian Peninsula were some of the darkest times in European history. Both eras saw sustained violence for years on end, with very little tangible gains coming from it. In the 13th century, much of the violence was between rival factions, political or familial, with conflicting ideologies or petty arguments. In the 15th century, with Florence expanding rapidly under the Medici family, the conflict was largely caused by their expansionary policy.

A Map of Italy in 1494. (Note Siena and Florence's proximity)
A Map of Italy in 1494. (Note Siena and Florence’s proximity)

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