Dante, British Epic and Women’s Education

Willian Hayley’s Eighteenth-Century Appropriation of the “Commedia”

  • Cosetta Gaudenzi University of Memphis
Parole chiave: Dante, Divine Comedy, William Hayley, The Triumphs of Temper, Epic Poetry, Eighteenth-century British Culture, Translation


In eighteenth-century Great Britain the Divine Comedy took an active part in literary discussions on genre (epic poetry) as well as on gender (women and education). To discuss this role, I will examine in particular William Hayley’s The Triumphs of Temper (1781), a poem which draws on Dante’s Commedia to produce for English literature a new kind of heroic poetry featuring “female excellence;” and his Essay on Epic Poetry (1782), a scholarly essay which introduces the Commedia as an epic model and includes a translation of Inferno I-III in terza rima.


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