Dante Alighieri was banished forever from his native Florence 700 years ago. He was supposed to disappear from history. Instead, he wrote his way out of misery and loneliness, and produced a masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, guaranteeing him literary immortality. Dante did something totally unprecedented: he gave us his own vision of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory - and in a supreme act of artistic ego, made himself the hero of his own epic poem. The Divine Comedy begins with Dante lost in a darkened wood, and ends with his glimpse of the divine. His journey from Hell to Paradise is filled with horror, beauty, despair and hope.