Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 15:26 UK

Florence 'to revoke Dante exile'

By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the Italian poet
Dante's Divine Comedy is widely seen as Italy's greatest literary work

The Italian city of Florence is to revoke the exile imposed on the Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri.

Seven hundred years after it sent Dante into lifetime exile on pain of death, Florence is having a re-think.

The city council has backed a motion that calls for the author of The Divine Comedy to be rehabilitated by the mayor of Florence at a public ceremony.

One of his descendants would be presented with the highest honour the city can bestow.

The ceremony would also see the formal revocation of the ruling which sent Dante into exile in 1302 - essentially for backing the wrong political faction.

Not everyone backs the move to restore Dante to his hometown.

Critics argue that posthumously overturning his exile is a stunt - and ignores the importance of the experience to his finest poetry, especially the final book of the Divine Comedy, Il Paradiso, which Dante completed shortly before his death in 1321.

The poet died and was buried in Ravenna, where his grave is a big tourist attraction.

Florence, for its sins, has to make do with an empty tomb built long after his death in one of its biggest churches.

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