Dante and Beatrice
—i.e. Beatrice Portinari, who was only eight years old when the poet first saw her. His abiding love for her was chaste as snow and pure as it was tender. Beatrice married a nobleman named Simone de Bardi, and died young, in 1290. Dante married Gemma, of the powerful house of Donati. In the Divina Commedia the poet is conducted first by Virgil (who represents human reason) through hell and purgatory; then by the spirit of Beatrice (who represents the wisdom of faith); and finally by St. Bernard (who represents the wisdom from on high).