"I found myself within a forest dark "

Dante lost in the forest
Public DomainDante lost in the forest - Credit: Gustave Doré

(Canto 1, line 2)

"A forest dark" is endowed with a double meaning by commentators: one as symbolic of mistakes and transgressions a man commits in his worldly life, the other as a comment upon the chaotic state of contemporary Italian society. This latter meaning would mainly refer to the corruption and depravity of the church and the weakness of imperial power, as this reflected Dante's political views.