Beatrice is the fiancee and lover of Dante Aligheri. Although described by all as a "pure" soul worthy of Heaven, after losing a bargain with Lucifer, she is forced to accompany him to Hell to become his bride. Her capture is the catalyst for Dante's journey through the Inferno and the redemption of his soul.
Beatrice was Dante's fiancee, who waited for him to return home from his services during the Crusades. Before Dante was summoned to join the Third Crusade, she gave herself to him, believing completely in Dante's faithfulness to their love. As a token of this, she gave him her cross to take with him on crusade; Dante in turn swore on it to forsake "all pleasures of the flesh" until he returned to Beatrice. She also asked him to protect her brother Francesco, who joined Dante in the Crusades.
At an unspecified time, while Dante was away at Acre, Beatrice made a bargain with Lucifer. If Dante kept his promise during the Crusades, Lucifer would ensure that he would return home safely. However, if Dante slept with another woman, Beatrice would have to give her soul to Lucifer, and become the Devil's bride.
Unfortunately for Beatrice, while assigned to guard the hostages at Acre, Dante slept with a Slave Girl who offered him "comfort" in exchange for her freedom and that of her "brother", though Dante expressed some remorse for betraying Beatrice. Nevertheless, this infidelity caused her to lose her bet with Lucifer. After committing several unspeakable acts in the misguided belief that the Crusaders were automatically absolved of all sin, Dante was killed at Acre by the slave girl's "brother", in truth her husband. This man, the Avenger, then headed to Dante's home in Florence.
Meanwhile, Dante's father, Alighiero, came upon Beatrice crying over having not heard from Dante in three years. Alighiero tried to persuade Beatrice into giving up hope of Dante's ever returning alive, in the hope that she will sleep with him. Realizing his intent, Beatrice recoils from him. At that moment, the Avenger breaks into the house. Dante's father and the man engage in a sword fight, but Alighiero is overpowered by the Avenger and killed when his gold cross is stabbed through his eye socket. Beatrice tried to escape, but she too is killed when the man threw Alighiero's sword at her, impaling her in the chest. He pulled out the sword from behind, making her fall, then stabbed her once more. The Avenger then revealed his true connection to the slave girl before departing.
Dante's Inferno Edit
Beatrice died only minutes before Dante arrived home, unaware that she had been in danger, and that he himself is also dead. He is devastated to see her lifeless body. Upon touching her, Beatrice's soul emerges from her corpse, smiling at Dante and insisting she knew he would come for her. However, within seconds Lucifer arrives as a being of darkness, and Beatrice is forced to go away with him in accordance with her bargain. Beatrice is taken to a church, outside of which is a statue of her, allowing Dante to save his progress. Entering the church, Dante finds her writhing naked on the altar. She asked Dante why he broke his promise, much to his confusion as he doesn't remember what he had done. She disappeared again, leaving a crucifix-shaped patch of holy energy for Dante's Cross to absorb. This cross allows him to battle the creatures found in Hell, as well as to absolve damned souls.
Nine Circles of Hell Edit
When Beatrice arrived in Hell, she asked the virtuous pagan Virgil to help Dante save her. In return for his service, Beatrice will praise Virgil before God once she is free from Hell. Virgil relates this information to Dante in explanation for why the poet will be his guide throughout the woeful realm. In addition, more Beatrice Statues are found around Hell, as well as Beatrice Stones, which empower Dante's Cross and allow him to automatically absolve souls.
Dante enters the Gates of Hell, coming to the Shores of Acheron to begin the journey to find his fiancee. When confronted by Dante, the ferryman Charon mentions that Beatrice "made a very foolish wager"; in response Dante offers his very life and soul to reach her, though the ferryman mocks him for this declaration, aware that Dante does not realize the irony of his words.
Within the second circle, Lust, when Dante entered the second floor of the Carnal Tower, Beatrice is seen briefly, perched silently on a bed. Her appearance is greatly altered; Beatrice now wears a monstrous, spiked gown, her hair twisted up to resemble hornlike structures. With the bed, she is lifted up to the top of the Tower by means of its wind-powered elevator. While battling against the queen of lust, Cleopatra, Dante finds Beatrice once again, but she is now in the company of Lucifer. The fallen angel reveals that Dante had been unfaithful to her while on crusade; a shocked Beatrice asked Dante to look into her eyes, and saw how Dante broke his promise. Upset by this revelation, she is pulled down onto the bed by Lucifer, and they disappeared.
In the Hall of the Gluttons, Lucifer comes to taunt Dante about his failure to stay true to Beatrice. Dante tries to defend his actions, saying his fiancee had no idea of what he was going through, yet Lucifer tells him that he had actually shown Beatrice all Dante had experienced during his time away. He proceeded to show the former Crusader, though the mirrors of the Hall, the murder of Beatrice and Alighiero. In horror, Dante realizes that he is responsible for Beatrice's death and subsequent damnation. As Dante attempts to navigate the confusing corridors of the icy hall, Beatrice's sorrowful face is seen in the smoky surfaces of some of the portals he uses to escape into the next circle.
She is seen again in the Circle of Anger with Lucifer during Dante's battle with Phlegyas. Levitating above the swamps, Beatrice tearfully asked herself why Dante broke his promise, as Lucifer begins caressing her. Now having given up all faith in her lover, Beatrice exclaims that when he had his "way with that girl, [Dante] gave [Beatrice] to Lucifer!" Lucifer thanked Dante for doing so, and gave Beatrice a pomegranate, which turned into three seeds. Though Dante begged her not to eat them, Beatrice turned her back on him, swallowing the seeds in one gulp. She immediately doubled over in pain as her body caught fire, Lucifer gloating over her final renunciation of Dante. Beatrice is then transformed completely into a fiery, demonic entity: Lucifer's new consort and the Queen of Hell. Lucifer and Beatrice proceeded to kiss passionately, as Lucifer looked pointedly at Dante. The pair then left the warrior behind to continue his struggle.
Upon entering the eighth circle, the malevolent Beatrice reappears alone, sitting on a throne of bones carried by four demons. She expressed her rage toward Dante by calling him a fraud, saying that he belonged in the eighth circle. She then summons the demon Malacoda to kill him. Upon the defeat of her underling, Beatrice forced Dante to traverse through the ten ditches of Fraud. As the minions of Hell are unleashed all at once upon Dante, she watched his progress with contempt, describing the sinners of each bolgia and remarking how Dante belongs with some of them. Despite the odds, Dante successfully made it through the Malebolge and exited the circle.
Beatrice comes again before Dante and berates him for what he did to her and to Francesco, calling him the biggest fraud of all. Feeling defeated and understanding that he was to blame for what Beatrice had become, Dante agreed with her, telling her he belonged in Hell and that he would no longer attempt to redeem her. He lays down Beatrice's Cross; despite her corruption, she recognizes the cross and is touched that Dante had kept it with him all this time. Lucifer's hold on her is weakened enough for the power of the cross to fully absolve Beatrice, to Dante's surprise. Purified, her soul returns to its human, radiant form as she collapses. At that moment, a blinding light pierced through Hell, and the archangel Gabriel descended. He took up Beatrice's unconscious form, confirming that her soul was saved by Dante's act. Gabriel then promised Dante that he will see her again soon, though he must complete his journey, which is more important than the warrior knew.
Dante moves on to battle Lucifer in Cocytus, who reveals that his target had never been Beatrice. He had made the bargain with her merely to be able to use her as "bait" to lure Dante into Hell. Having tried and failed in the past to use other warriors to break the Chains of Judecca, Lucifer saw potential in Dante and felt he would be the perfect pawn to aid in his escape; his theory had proven correct as Dante had indeed succeeded in freeing Lucifer from bondage in Hell, breaking each chain in his journey to reach Beatrice and redeem himself.
Beatrice is last seen at the end of Inferno in a vision, no longer under Lucifer's control. When Dante resealed Lucifer back into his icy prison, they both are seen in a smoky, barren area, naked, though she is covered from the waist down by smoke. Smiling at one another, they grasped hands, and a bright light flashed around them. Beatrice vanished, while Dante is left to begin his next journey up Mount Purgatory.
- The actual Beatrice Portinari met Dante Alighieri in 1274 at the age of nine. Nine-year-old Dante was immediately smitten by her and remained so even after she married in 1287 and eventually died in 1290 at the age of 25. Believing her to be the incarnation of beatific love, Dante wrote many poems about her, mainly among them La Vita Nuova. Even after he was married, Dante continued to be inspired by Beatrice, eventually writing her as his guide in the final third of The Divine Comedy, "Paradiso," written over 10 years after her death. Though Dante never gave a clear reason why he was so in love with her, considering their minimal contact throughout her life, evidence within his writings showed that he believed her to be the perfect example of purity and virtue, and he often referred to her as his "salvation."
- It is unknown who approached whom in regards to Beatrice's deal with Lucifer. It is possible that, as Lucifer needed someone to free him and saw potential in Dante, he may have initiated the transaction, especially since he informs Dante that Beatrice's intended role was as a lure to bring Dante to Hell.
- Beatrice's consumption of the pomegranate seeds is a reference to the Greek myth of the goddess Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Although hidden away by her mother to prevent her from being married off while still young, Persephone's uncle Hades fell in love with her. With Zeus's permission Hades dragged Persephone to the underworld to marry him.
Nine days of searching led Demeter to Helios, who finally told her what had happened to her daughter. In retaliation against Zeus and Hades, Demeter cursed the earth with famine, demanding Persephone back in order to lift the famine. Zeus relented and sent Hermes to return the girl to the surface. Unfortunately, as she was about to leave, Persephone was forced by Hades to eat pomegranate seeds (usually three to six seeds). Eating the food of the dead bound Persephone to the underworld, and compelled the girl to spend one month of the year there for every seed she ate, as Hades's queen.
- The pomegranate Lucifer gave to Beatrice could possibly be the "Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil", from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. Some scholars believed that the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate and not an apple (as it is commonly assumed/believed), as apples were not native to that part of the world. Therefore, Beatrice and Lucifer would have been reenacting the Fall of Man when she accepts the seeds to eat, further reflected by how the pomegranate corrupts Beatrice fully, as Eve had been corrupted by Lucifer as a serpent in Eden.
- In the film, Beatrice was pregnant with Dante's child while he was fighting in the Crusades, but the child was stillborn. This child became one of the Unbaptized Babies.