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This work is designed as an introduction to Dante's Inferno. With this in mind, Longfellow's poetic translation has been juxtaposed side by side with a prose version -- the poem for enjoying the poetry without the interruption of footnotes; the prose for delving more deeply into various aspects of the work.
Most of the footnotes are taken from various translations and commentaries (listed below), some of which utilize many of the older commentators such as Boccacio, Benvenuto, Scartazzini, etc. I have avoided material thats get overly involved in language issues or meter, since these are interpretative aspects more interesting to the Dante scholar than a lay reader.
In the prose version I have tried to give a reading that is more easily understood than the poetry by itself, while trying to maintain something of the nature of the text, and have attempted to clarify remaining vagaries with footnotes. Other footnotes are either informational, giving historical or biographical background, or try to give an idea of some of the interpretations available for various passages.