The events of the Divine Comedy are set around 1300 because Dante was born in 1265 and rumored to be in the middle of his earthly life, which at that time was considered to be about seventy years.
Dante imagined a scary forest as a metaphor for sin. While he seeks a way out of the forest, he meets three beasts: a leopard, a lion, and a wolf. They force Dante back into the dark forest.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,
I found myself within a dark forest,
for the true path had been lost.
The three beasts are allegories of three different sins: the leopard represents lust, the lion pride, and the wolf represents avarice.
While Dante goes backward to the forest, he sees a human figure and turns to it for help. Dante, however, cannot distinguish whether it is a man or a shadow.
The shadow tells him that he was a man, more precisely the ancient Roman poet Virgil, also known as Publius Vergilius Maro, and begs Virgil to free him from the danger in the wilderness.
Virgil suggests that he take a different direction because the wolf is too dangerous and will ultimately kill him. Virgil tells Dante that the work of the wolf will continue on Earth until a savior comes to liberate the world.
Virgil’s prophecy is very dark, and it’s about a savior who will be nourished with wisdom, love, and virtue, and who will drive away the wolf into the hell.