Julia Bolton Holloway, professor emerita of medieval studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, discusses Brunetto Latino's historical importance as a philosopher, diplomat, writer and mentor to Dante.
Brunetto Latino (1220-1295) was a Florentine politician and diplomat who sided with the democratically inclined Guelph faction against the Ghibellines. He is famous for his brief poem Tesoretto (of which Cornell University Library possesses a fifteenth-century manuscript copy) and Li Livres dou Tresor, a philosophical compendium under considerable influence from Antiquity, written during his exile in France between 1260 and 1266.
Both the Tesoretto and Li Livres dou Tresor (translated into Italian) were significant influences on Dante Alighieri in his composition of the Commedia, and scholars view the older writer as an important mentor of the great poet. Nonetheless, Dante encounters Brunetto in the fifteenth canto of the Inferno.