"A soul shall be for that than I more worthy"

(Canto 1, line 122)

This "soul" is Beatrice Portinari (1266-1290), the great love of Dante's life. She was the daughter of Folco Portinari, a wealthy banker. Dante is said to have first met her when she was only nine years old and fallen in love at first sight. Nine years later, he saw her one more time; in 1286, she was married to Simone di Geri de Bardi and died in 1290, only 24 years old. Dante never revealed his feelings for her while she was still alive, but expressed his love and mourning for her in his first literary work, the Vita Nova (completed in 1292 or 1293). In the Comedy, Beatrice stands for faith and theology, which in medieval times were thought nobler than the intellect and philosophy represented by Virgil. Beatrice is therefore able to guide Dante through Paradise, which Virgil cannot.