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Pain and its management: Dante’s Divine Comedy
  1. Raffaella Bianucci1,
  2. Iacopo Lanini2,
  3. Simon Donell3,
  4. Donatella Lippi4
  1. 1Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Firenze, Italy
  3. 3Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  4. 4Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Simon Donell, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK; S.Donell{at}


Dante Alighieri died in 1321; therefore, 2021 is the 700th anniversary of his death. His best known work is the Divine Comedy, which explores Dante’s journey through the three realms of the underworld. Each realm is associated with three different sensations: Inferno, bodily (pain); Purgatorio, acoustic (music); and Paradiso, visual (light). The progression of the painful experiences and the resolution through music and light mirror the modern understanding of pain and its management. Music has both direct and indirect benefits and can help with coping. Sunlight promotes well-being and self-awareness.

  • medical history
  • medical education & training
  • pain management

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conception and design of the review and to the writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.