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Eastern Thoughts Part 6

Dante’s Paradiso

Dante’s Paradiso is the little read and least admired part of his Divine Comedy. When Dante reaches the third part of his Divine Comedy, he has already met all ‘sinners’ in Hell. He assigns them their punishment and often he does not see justice being done even in their punishments. When he reaches Paradiso, his spiritual journey, despite medieval and churchian contradictions, his travels through Purgatory are triumphant and profitable. He is purged of all his sins – at least, that is what the reader is to assume. Dante has done just about everything Virgil suggests he needs doing if he is to meet Beatrice. He comes face-to-face with Beatrice, the woman who oversees his whole journey with the help of Virgil. Beatrice is Dante’s beloved. She is seen to discuss religion and theology in an imaginative heaven.

Dante’s heaven is radiantly bright and has nine spheres. Dante’s journey through Heaven is guided by Beatrice, who symbolizes theology. Paradiso is a series of concentric spheres surrounding the Earth, consisting of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Fixed Stars, the Primum Mobile (outermost moving sphere in the geocentric model of the universe) and the Empyrean (highest part of the spherical heavens, thought in old times to contain the pure element of fire). Allegorically, the spheres represent the soul’s ascent to God.
The Paradiso begins at the top of Mount Purgatory, at noon on the Wednesday after Easter. After climbing through the fire believed to exist in the earth’s upper atmosphere, Beatrice guides Dante through the nine heavenly spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the home of God. The nine spheres are concentric, as in the standard medieval geocentric model of cosmology, during his journey; Dante meets and converses with several blessed souls.

Dante is shown various souls in planetary and stellar spheres based on the four cardinal virtues (Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude) and the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Love).

When the pilgrim meets Piccarda in the heaven of the moon, the lowest of the nine, he asks why she does not wish to be higher up, to be nearer to God. Piccarda replies, “Brother, the power of love subdues our will/ so we long for only what we have/ and thirst for nothing else.”

Dante can create drama out of ‘good’ people getting along. The afterlife is of a social structure, and the souls of the blessed show they are a happy society up there in heaven. Despite the tension between a perfect heaven above and an imperfect world here below, and personal suffering of 10 years in exile, he endures the pain of historical and human fault. His opinionated hopes are crushed under the circumstances of history. The idealist wanted ideal of earthly justice. He argues “the world is ordered in the best possible way when justice is at its most potent.” In fact the souls of the blessed keep talking about happenings on earth. It makes the heavenly residents repetitively angry, like when St. Peter says of Pope Boniface VIII: “He . has made my tomb a sewer of blood and filth.” Dante adds his indignation while looking down from the eighth sphere and states only “the little patch of earth that makes us so fierce.”
In the heaven of the Sun, Dante meets St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, the two medieval theologians, both of whom belonged to mendicant religious orders. The friars take turns recounting each other’s hagiographies and failures of their founders. Dante’s hell similarly allows us to stand in judgment, from the perspective of God. In heaven, the reader who lacks philosophical information is judged instead. Dante wants his poem to save the reader’s soul.

Paradiso Outline

Dante invokes Apollo the Greek god of Prophecy, Sunlight and Healing. He asks the nine Muses, the goddesses of inspiration, to promote his task of writing this piece of literature. Beatrice travels with him, now that Virgil has left. They move up from Earthly Paradiso through several spheres of Heaven. They arrive in the First Heaven in the Moon where Beatrice not only interrogates him on his views on the cause of moon spots, but corrects his understanding. Dante sees blessed souls as points of light.

He meets Piccarda Donati1, who explains the souls’ happiness with their places in Heaven. She explains the Moon houses souls who broke their vows. Through Dante’s meet with Piccarda he understands the nature of Heaven which becomes increasingly beautiful in higher spheres. They become unrecognizable. Piccarda is the only person Dante will recognize, unaided, in Heaven. Dante asks her if she wishes to gain higher heavens. Piccarda states blessed souls long only for what they have, and their wills are agreeing with that of God. Though they know there are others in higher spheres of Heaven, they rejoice in their placement. Meanwhile Beatrice explains why Dante sees the souls in these heavens, when they are all found in the Empyrean, (the Tenth Heaven). Then she explains vows made by absolute and conditional will.

They rise to the Second Heaven of Mercury. Justinian2 explains the history and destiny of Rome. He tells Dante the souls in Mercury were all just, but motivated by want of fame. Beatrice explains destroying Jerusalem was an act of vengeance and judgement on Jerusalem, not Rome’s doing. These were times when people were punished by God for their sins (Ezekiel 25:14).

They climb to the Third Heaven, to Venus. Dante meets Charles Martel, an early French emperor, who explains why sons can end so different from ways of their fathers3. Dante meets Cunizza da Romano4 and Folco of Marseille5, who points out Rahab6 to Dante.

Beatrice and Dante go up to the Fourth Heaven, the Sun. St. Thomas and eleven other souls form a crown around them. Dante denounces the senseless cares of mortals. St. Thomas7 discusses the life of St. Francis8 and the Franciscans. A second crown forms around the first. St. Bonaventure9 talks about the life of St. Dominic10 and the Dominicans. The crowns dance. St. Thomas explains the wisdom of King Solomon11 and warns Dante not to judge hastily. Solomon explains the source of the blessed souls’ light.

They climb to the Fifth Heaven, Mars. The souls form an image of the Cross. Dante meets Cacciaguida12, who expounds on the virtue of old Florence. Dante indulges in a rare proud moment over the nobility of his birth. Cacciaguida talks about the noble Florentine families. Then, he tells Dante about his destiny of exile, but tempers it with encouragement to Dante to fulfill his poetic mission.

Dante and Beatrice move on to the Sixth Heaven, Jupiter. The souls spell out the message Diligite iustitiam, qui iudicatis terram (“Love justice, you who judge the earth”), and then form the Eagle. The Eagle explains Divine Justice and the inscrutability of God’s Mind. It introduces the six spirits that form its eye and explains why the Emperor Trajan13 and Ripheus14 are there.
They continue to the Seventh Heaven, Saturn. Dante sees the golden ladder15 from earth to heaven. Dante meets St. Peter Damian16, who denounces degenerate prelates. The Spirits meanwhile cry out in encouragement and Dante faints from the Energy (Shiva-Shakti) present. Dante meets St. Benedict17.

Beatrice and Dante move up to the Eighth Heaven, the Fixed Stars. Dante gazes down on Earth and realizes how small and petty it is. They witness the coronation and reascension of Mary and Christ18 into the Empyrean (dwelling-place of God). St. Peter (Prince of Apostles and the First Pope) examines Dante on faith. Dante conveys his hope of returning to Florence one day to be crowned as a poet. St. James19 examines Dante on hope. Dante goes blind. St. John20 examines Dante on charity. Adam answers Dante’s four questions. St. Peter denounces corrupt popes.
Beatrice and Dante then move on to the Ninth Heaven, Primum Mobile. Beatrice prophecies the coming redemption of the world. Dante sees the model of the nine Angelic Intelligences21 orbiting a shining Point. Beatrice explains the inconsistency between it and the material universe22. Beatrice tells Dante the Creation story, explains the order of the universe, and clears up the question about the number of existing angels.

They move up into the Tenth Heaven, the Empyrean. Dante sees the illusion and then the real Celestial Rose. Beatrice points out the seat reserved for Henry VIII. Beatrice disappears and is replaced by St. Bernard23. Dante prays his thanks to Beatrice.

Next, Dante gazes on Mary. St. Bernard explains the placement of the blessed in the Celestial Rose, including that of the innocent infants. St. Bernard prays to Mary to intercede to God on Dante’s behalf so the poet may look on God. Mary approves. Dante looks into the Eternal Light, and sees within it the image of the Holy Trinity. He ponders the mystery of the Incarnation. God places the answer on him in a flash of light and Dante’s soul is, finally, at one with God’s.

Stellar Rulers of Seven Heavenly Objects

According to Samael Aun Weor there are two types of knowledge: The Eye Doctrine for those who are satisfied with spiritual theories taught by so-called spiritual schools as ideas and opinion of writers through intellectual deduction. The Heart Doctrine is for genuine initiates to which belong all the masters of the Universal Fraternity. Within it is enclosed the primeval truths of this unique knowledge which comes through intuition and comes from the divine Internal Master. The eye doctrine strengthens the mind, the habitat of want: she thinks, reasons, analyzes, draws conclusions and leads to erred action. She wants to resolve everything by herself, without considering the voice of the Internal Master. The Internal Master does not analyze, or reason because his voice is the voice of intuition. The heart doctrine opens doors to the hall of knowledge. Dante’s “Paradiso” is an “Eye Doctrine” about Heaven.

According to the Heart Doctrine, intuitive reasoning claims each sun, planet, lunar satellite or comet which has its own unique stellar nucleus that exists in its “heart temple”. It is where there is the secret home of a sidereal spirit. Therefore, the entire Infinite is a system of hearts filled with the Light and Love of its Ruler.

Gabriel is the mighty archangel who is ‘man of God’ and is the Ruler of the Moon. He appears first in the prophecies of Daniel in the Old Testament. He was the angel who appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptizer. Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit,

Raphael is St. Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. He was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobias and Sarah. At the time, Tobit was blind and Tobias’s betrothed, Sarah, had had seven bridegrooms perish on the night of their weddings. Raphael is the Ruler of Mercury.

Uriel is the Ruler of Venus and the Archangel of Purity needed to scour its corruptible, flawed and jarring faults. He stands with seven archangels at the throne of the Creator and is one of the four assigned to serve humanity.

Michael is the Ruler of the Sun whose name Michael means “Who is like to God?” and was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers.
Samuel is the Ruler of Mars. Leader and Founder of Old Israel He was the first before Moses and the last of the judges mentioned in the Old Testament.

Zachariel is the Ruler of Jupiter and the primary angel that leads souls to judgment and healing.

Orifiel is the Ruler of Saturn and one of the seven archangels mentioned in the Book of Enoch. These are seven spirits before the throne of God and each in a heart-temple of the planet, the home of Light and Love. These are the seven angels who dispense among them governing the world in seven different eras.

According to Greek Mythology seven muses invented the seven chords of the lyre, the seven heavenly zones, the seven planets and the seven vocals. Writers invoked the muses before writing. The number seven has always served by the Innermost elemental forces of Nature.

According to Shiv Yoga24 the seven planets are condensed forms of the cosmos rays and are the cords of the divine lyre where the word (OM) of the creator resounds with its most indefinable melody. The seven spirits (sapta rishis, chakras) are ministers and the rulers of the cosmic evolution in this solar system.

The mantra: AOM is pronounced properly opening the mouth with the vowel “A”, rounding it off with the vowel “O”, and closing it with the letter “M”, like this:AAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM. This mantra is pronounced four times with the aim that light floods the entire brain. Next move head seven times in seven rotations with the intent that light floods and acts within all the glands of the brain.

The pineal gland is influenced by Mars and the pituitary by Venus. The pituitary produces sleepiness and the pineal gland incites to fight. Venus wants to sleep and Mars wants to continue fighting. Vocalize daily for one hour, the vowel I”: I-I-I-I-I-I-I. This vowel causes the pineal gland to vibrate. Developed, the pineal gland converts the seeker towards excellence. The pineal gland is the window of Brahma: a fountain of collection of brilliance for the performer and should be practiced before going to bed nightly. With tenacity and constancy, it is possible to become enlightened. During these exercises, hierarchies of Aries awaken powers and heal the brain.

Dante meets these planetary sages while travelling with Beatrice, his beloved friend, guide and guru.

World View of Universe through History

In general, an idea of the universe, as the ancients saw it, is distinguished between two key causes: the corruptible, and the incorruptible divided by a clear boundary. The easily led corruptible or impressionable centre of the universe, includes earth as a stationary fixture composed of four key elements (earth, water, fire and air), in space (ether) in which planets and stars orbit as matter energy. The incorruptible represents increasing spherical boundaries of subtle ‘dark matter’ (ether) holding everything outside earth’s ‘humanly visible’ boundary. Philosophers and scientists down through the ages noticed an increasing blending of the two.

Over time history created new ideas linking corruptible to the incorruptible.

Dark Matter has since been confirmed to emit little or no detectable radiation, but its gravitational forces on many astronomical objects implies a significant presence of such matter in the universe. It accounts for about 23 percent of the total mass and energy of the universe. It may be composed of varieties of subatomic particles, not yet discovered. It is perhaps a mass of ‘black holes’ through which stars appear too dim to see: they are the “missing mass.” Various theories of the composition of this invisible dark matter are proposed, but none are satisfactory. Therefore, what makes up most of the universe remains unanswered.

Sanskrit scholar Subramanyam Iyer has spent many years of his life deciphering old collections of palm leaves found in the villages of his native Karnataka in southern India. One of the palm leaf manuscripts they intend to decipher is the Amsu Bodhini, which, according to an anonymous text of 1931, contains information about the planets; the different kinds of light, heat, colour, and electromagnetic fields; the methods used to construct machines capable of attracting solar rays and, in turn, of analysing and separating their energy components; the possibility of conversing with people in remote places and sending messages by cable; and the manufacture of machines to transport people to other planets! (Contributed by John Burrows in Crystalinks).
Eastern thought science, philosophy, and orthodox religion portray the world as divided in two parts: the visible and the invisible. The invisible can never be studied scientifically and given the name ‘the completely other’. This has led to a strong scepticism about the possibility of gaining knowledge of higher realities. Our worldview has not just become materialistic because of our rationalistic attitude, but because the human mind has limited itself to data supplied by the physical senses. That is what has really made our worldview materialistic: physical senses only disclose a physical universe. But if the human mind made use of other and higher senses, materialism could be conquered without lapsing into the unscientific or incomprehensible. Compared to the simple worldview of materialistic science this represents a real broadening to the sevenfold worldview: but it is still limited

The manifold worldview raises the dividing line even higher, until seven worlds lokas are specified in theosophical literature: (1) physical body sthula sharira made of annamaya kosha; (2) astral or subtle etheric body linga sharira; (3) life force pranamaya kosha; (4) feeling manomaya kosha; (5) thinking mind gyanamaya kosha; (6) intuition karana or anandamaya kosha and (7) spirit aum. In some literature, life force is subdivided into life force proper (prana) and its corresponding ‘body’, or astral body. In other literature the mental field is subdivided: into a ‘lower’ or concrete mind and a ‘higher’ or abstract mind.

Meanwhile when Euclid of Alexandria discovered the five solid geometric shapes, Plato postulated that these make up the five atomic elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether (Space) which made up the heavenly spheres. Each of these elements occupied a particular place in the heavens where each resident god had a duty to perform.

Aristotle became the first Greek person to discuss and write about the universe and astronomy. It gained much acceptance until the 1500’s, when Galileo figured out that earth is not the centre of the universe. Also, Earth was not flat as was a new ‘scientific’ observation.

Aristotle promoted a division of the Universe into two: the celestial and the elemental. The celestial being incorruptible and the elemental exposed to continued change. In essence the Earth was corruptible, while the Sun, and other spheres, the planets were incorruptible, and considered divine but made up of something different: ether.

Aristotle stated all bodies and their rotations are subject to the law of the spiral. That is they are a sphere and the sphere orbits in a circle. Earth was at the centre and next came the Moon, Mercury, Venus then the Sun. Next to Mars, were Jupiter, Saturn and then the fixed stars. Each position of each body carried a circle-like domain: each zone occupying this universe.
According to Ptolemy’s 150 AD in the astronomical universe the planetary motion are independent of one another… Variable brightness and seeming retrogradation forced them to reckon the planets had little orbits that caused the planet to travel in reverse (retrograde). To explain retrogradation, the philosophers introduced a geometric formula called Epicycles. In the Ptolemaic system the epicycle was a geometric model to explain the motion of the Moon, Sun, and planets attached along a small circle that was then orbiting along another circle. This replaced the path of the natural elliptical orbit around the earth. Uniform circular motion was in agreement with the philosophers and therefore, was deemed perfect and known as the Ptolemaic Universe.
When Western Civilization fell into academic darkness during the Middle Ages, the Arabs picked up and had his book translated and gave it the new title called “The Greatest”. Over time were added newer models, to match more accurately the observed planetary motions, in the Copernicus’s Universe. The world had to wait till the invention of the telescope to figure out the variability in planet brightness bouncing off the planet Venus.

Islam took over the realm of science when there was a break in western civilization. The 12-13th centuries brought about a recovery of learning and slowly science and philosophy re-emerged for the west. The recovery of Greek literature offered a moment in time to reorganize a confused idea of a disorganized universe. It retreated into its Greek basics and ideas of a well-ordered, geocentric universe emerged.

Dante’s writings are significant because it brings back to western civilization a working model from which others could start to amend and make progressive strides in understanding the universe. Dante not only adopts Aristotle’s universe by directly quoting from him, his is a universe that is a Christianized Aristotle Model.

Dante, in his “Divine Comedy,” included his theological ideas into the model of the Medieval Universe. He provided detailed descriptions of hell, purgatory, and heaven!. The people of his day therefore understood according to Christian Churchianity of his day. Therefore Dante’s description gained a broadly-based approval from the Church.

Such was the case because Earth, is and was the most important central issue for Christianity and God’s creation where the human is the prime focus for the Cosmos. Since everything Dante wrote was in agreement with the Churchian theology, even the Greek gods agreed with the reasons for the physical realities of the earth.

In the Middle Ages, a psychological universe, remained heavily invested by the Church. That promoted Dante’s notion of its importance: that universe revolved around humans. Therefore Dante’s neo-Platonic view created a hierarchical universe, with Divine power emanating from the Godhead and penetrating downwards to all parts of Creation. This thought process came from Dante’s desire for order.

Dante’s Psychological Neo-Platonic Universe

There are 10 sphere-zones in Dante’s Hierarchical Universe. The artist Di Paolo, who imagines Dante’s Universe, divides the celestial realm into the 9 spheres of heavens: the sun, moon, 5 planets, the fixed stars, and the Primum mobile. The geocentric universe shows Earth at the centre, surrounded by the three elements: water, air, and fire. Its bright red marks the boundary between the sublunary and translunary realms. Then comes the blue moon and planets, except for the Sun which is imagined a yellow-white, with gilded sunburst. The red planet Mars is pink. Then the fixed zodiacal stars, the Primum mobile (the first moved) regulate the motion of all the spheres beneath it. The Empyrean heaven is the home of God and the angels.

Theologians could not decide whether the Empyrean occupies a definite sphere, or whether it was infinite and unknowable. Di Paolo imagines Empyrium, to be a region beyond the last ring, implying it cannot be contained by a boundary. From the early through the late Middle Ages, Europeans moved from a disorganized, almost mystical way of thinking about the universe to an acceptance of a well-ordered, geocentric universe based on the ideas of Greek philosophers. In this universe, the Earth was at the centre and other heavenly bodies rotated around it. The entire system was powered by the Primum mobile, or “Prime Mover,” which was the outermost sphere set in motion directly by God. Since medieval Europeans had no conception of a vacuum, it was believed the heavens were filled with a celestial fluid that flowed as the spheres of the universe rotated, thus sustaining the motion of the planets. Furthermore, all of this motion created a beautiful “music of the spheres” which could not be detected by humans but which provided pleasure for angels and other supernatural beings

Each Zone has their own angles: Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, a larger domain space, Jupiter and Saturn. The Sky is where the stars preside. (Zodiac) cherubim are the Angels. The Primum Mobile, the sphere is what dictates the motions of the other spheres. Empyrean is the highest heavenly realm, composed of a sublimated fire, the uppermost Paradiso, the heaven; the seat of God where Saints live.

At the end of Dante’s journey down to hell and back, through purgatory, and up through the circles of heaven, Dante talks about his journey to heaven with Love and in geometric terms. Dante’s cosmology says the fifth, ether was unattainable, and was unchangeable, and incorruptible. Dante’s universe creates a major structure with a theme. The planets, the sun and the stars are incorruptible, while the terrestrial gods, which include the four elements, are corruptible.

Just as the physical universe was thought to be centred around the Earth, the psychological universe of Medieval Europeans revolved around humans. For Medieval European Christians, time had essentially two divisions: The brief and insignificant one in which they lived out their sinful lives, and the cosmically enduring one in which the suffering or joy of their souls would occur.
In Medieval Europe, there was no room for abnormality or nonconformity, as any deviation was considered the work of the devil. A hierarchy was everywhere in all things. People accepted their place in the social order no matter how lowly it might have been, and everything in the world had the potential for symbolizing something supernatural. People made out messages from God in almost every natural and human event. How this worldview affected the lives of the people of the time, and how its influence can still be felt by those of us living in the 21st century makes an intriguing story.

Paradiso

Paradiso Canto I: The Ascent to the First Heaven. The Sphere of Fire.

1. The glory of Him who moveth everything//Doth penetrate the universe, and shine// In one part more and in another less.
2. Within that heaven which most his light receives//Was I, and things beheld which to repeat//Nor knows, nor can, who from above descends;
3. Because in drawing near to its desire//Our intellect ingulphs itself so far//That after it the memory cannot go.
4. Truly whatever of the holy realm//I had the power to treasure in my mind//Shall now become the subject of my song.
5. Good Apollo (god of music who with his lyre directed the choir of the Muses), for this last emprise//Make of me such a vessel of thy power//As giving the beloved laurel asks!
6. One summit of Parnassus (mountain in central Greece above Delphi) hitherto//Has been enough for me, but now with both//I needs must enter the arena left.
7. Enter into my bosom, thou, and breathe//As at the time when Marsyas (who lost in his flute-playing competition with Apollo; he was flayed alive as penalty) thou didst draw// Out of the scabbard of those limbs of his.
8. Power divine, lend’st thou thyself to me//So that the shadow of the blessed realm//Stamped in my brain I can make manifest,
9. Thou’lt see me come unto thy darling tree// And crown myself thereafter with those leaves//Of which the theme and thou shall make me worthy.
10. So seldom, Father, do we gather them//For triumph or of Caesar (invaded Britain in 55BC) or of Poet//(The fault and shame of human inclinations,)
11. That the Peneian (Illyrian woodlands of Greece) foliage should bring forth//Joy to the joyous Delphic deity//When any one it makes to thirst for it.
12. A little spark is followed by great flame; //Perchance with better voices after me//Shall prayer be made that Cyrrha (peak of Mount Parnassus) may respond!
13. To mortal men by passages diverse//Uprises the world’s lamp; but by that one//Which circles four uniteth with three crosses,
14. With better course and with a better star//Conjoined it issues, and the mundane wax//Tempers and stamps more after its own fashion.
15. Almost that passage had made morning there//And evening here, and there was wholly white// That hemisphere, and black the other part,
16. When Beatrice towards the left-hand side//I saw turned round, and gazing at the sun; Never did eagle fasten so upon it!
17. And even as a second ray is wont//To issue from the first and reascend//Like to a pilgrim who would fain return,
18. Thus of her action, through the eyes infused//In my imagination, mine I made//And sunward fixed mine eyes beyond our wont.
19. There much is lawful which is here unlawful//Unto our powers, by virtue of the place//Made for the human species as its own.
20. Not long I bore it, nor so little while//But I beheld it sparkle roundabout//Like iron that comes molten from the fire;
21. And suddenly it seemed that day to day//Was added, as if He who has the power//Had with another sun the heaven adorned.
22. With eyes upon the everlasting wheels//Stood Beatrice all intent, and I, on her//Fixing my vision from above removed,
23. Such at her aspect inwardly became//As Glaucus25, tasting of the herb that made him//Peer of the other gods beneath the sea.
24. To represent transhumanise in words//Impossible were; the example, then, suffice//Him for whom Grace the experience reserves.
25. If I was merely what of me thou newly//Createdst, Love who governest the heaven,
Thou knowest, who didst lift me with thy light!
26. When now the wheel, which thou dost make eternal//Desiring thee, made me attentive to it//By harmony thou dost modulate and measure,
27. Then seemed to me so much of heaven enkindled//By the sun’s flame, that neither rain nor river// E’er made a lake so widely spread abroad.
28. The newness of the sound and the great light//Kindled in me a longing for their cause// Never before with such acuteness felt;
29. Whence she, who saw me as I saw myself//To quiet in me my perturbed mind//Opened her mouth, ere I did mine to ask,
30. And she began: “Thou makest thyself so dull//With false imagining, that thou seest not//What thou wouldst see if thou hadst shaken it off.
31. Thou art not upon earth, as thou believest;//But lightning, fleeing its appropriate site,//Ne’er ran as thou, who thitherward returnest.”
32. If of my former doubt I was divested// By these brief little words more smiled than spoken,//I in a new one was the more ensnared;
33. And said: “Already did I rest content//From great amazement; but am now amazed//In what way I transcend these bodies light.”
34. Whereupon she, after a pitying sigh,//Her eyes directed tow’rds me with that look//A mother casts on a delirious child;
35. And she began: “All things whate’er they be//Have order among themselves, and this is form,// That makes the universe resemble God.
36. Here do the higher creatures see the footprints//Of the Eternal Power, which is the end//Whereto is made the law already mentioned.
37. In the order that I speak of are inclined//All natures, by their destinies diverse,//More or less near unto their origin;
38. Hence they move onward unto ports diverse//O’er the great sea of being; and each one//With instinct given it which bears it on.
39. This bears away the fire towards the moon;//This is in mortal hearts the motive power//This binds together and unites the earth.
40. Nor only the created things that are//Without intelligence this bow shoots forth,// But those that have both intellect and love.
41. The Providence that regulates all this//Makes with its light the heaven forever quiet,//Wherein that turns which has the greatest haste.
42. And thither now, as to a site decreed,// Bears us away the virtue of that cord//Which aims its arrows at a joyous mark.
43. True is it, that as oftentimes the form//Accords not with the intention of the art,//Because in answering is matter deaf,
44. So likewise from this course doth deviate//Sometimes the creature, who the power possesses,// Though thus impelled, to swerve some other way,
45. (In the same wise as one may see the fire//Fall from a cloud,) if the first impetus//Earthward is wrested by some false delight.
46. Thou shouldst not wonder more, if well I judge,//At thine ascent, than at a rivulet//From some high mount descending to the lowland.
47. Marvel it would be in thee, if deprived//Of hindrance, thou wert seated down below,//As if on earth the living fire were quiet.”
48. Thereat she heavenward turned again her face.

Summary:

Paradiso Canto 1: Ascent to the First Heaven; The Sphere of Fire.

This section of Dante’s Divine Comedy is a progressive flight towards and through Heaven with Beatrice alongside. Along the way he sees some remarkable sights which are both philosophical and ingeniously inventive. Dante records his uncannily unusual thoughts through his poetry. He sees unworkable effects of actions26 which he sees as he journeys from Earth and through the many spheres of Heaven. Dante describes visions and people long-gone that would be impossible to see. Although poetically defined and imaginatively described, the poet describes an illusion extracted from a delusional idea.

Because the task he undertakes is impractical, Dante therefore asks muses and the protector of all poets to let him deserve his “loved laurel.” Dante asks Apollo to enter his chest and “within [him] breathe [his] power.” He asks Apollo to show him “a shadow of the blessed realm” (Heaven). Dante promises Apollo the poem should make him happy since its success would make a mortal worthy of an Apollonian crown of laurel branches.

According to the position of the sun it is high noon. The eternal soul of Beatrice turns her face toward the sun and can stare directly into the sunlight. Dante wants to do the same and copies her movements. He explains he too should be able to stare into the sun because he is so close to Heaven, which is the “true home” of all humanity. By arriving at the doors of Heaven, he supposes his unusual expectation is allowable in such environments.

He cannot stare at the sun for long because Dante is human and not an immortal soul like Beatrice; but he stares at the sun long enough to see it shining brightly. He is so overcome by its intense radiance that he imagines a “day had been added to day” because it seems as if a second sun has suddenly sprung up.

When Dante cannot stand the brilliance anymore, he turns his gaze towards Beatrice. As he watches her, he gets spiritually invigorated. He compares watching her to Glaucus’s transformation from a lowly fisherman into a sea god. Just by watching Beatrice Dante feels divine.

In the sunlight, Dante feels elated but is not sure whether he is only “the part of me that You created last”(pure Self-soul) or is still the ‘self’-soul housed in a physical body. He dismisses the thought and decides ‘Only God knows.’ However he flies upward from Earth and he hears the music of the many spheres of the Universe27 around him. Dante calls spheres layers of “Paradisos” and each creates a different musical note. The sky is full of “music of the spheres.”)

Dante is curious about the source of all the Light and Music. He is about to ask Beatrice when she tells him that he is still “insensitive” and filled with “false imagining.” He is reminded he is not on earth but like lightning is flying up towards Heaven. Dante accepts his lightning speeds upwards and not earthwards28.

Dante is dissatisfied. He does not understand why he is rising when his is a heavier body than the spheres of air and fire. Beatrice sighs. She explains that everything in the universe arranges itself in a definite order, as God decrees. Everything is placed at different distances from God. When each thing moves “across the mighty sea of beings,” nearness is motivated by a human desire to be closer to God. This wish affects everything, even things without souls. She explains it is desire, which is shooting Dante like an arrow towards the highest heaven: the Primum Mobile. That is the only Heaven that does not revolve when he is being drawn toward God.

Beatrice explains there are many who desire God but are distracted by earthly pleasures. They are deaf to God’s calling, and therefore stray from the path towards Him. This fault by seekers is like the lightning, which unnaturally falls instead of rising. Beatrice sternly tells Dante that he should not be surprised that he is flying; it would be more surprising were he still on earth after being purified in Purgatory. At the entrance of Heaven and Purgatory Dante he can expect to be teleported across the surface of a blazing fire. With that, she looks towards Heaven.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 1: First Heaven. Sphere of Fire.

Is experiencing Heaven just an opinion or have people seen and experienced Heaven? Many teachers, pastors and entire churches have been warned that unless they preach holiness, one cannot see Heaven or the Lord. The supernatural is more real than the natural of the ‘physically awake’ state. A journey into the afterlife is described in mythology, religion and in philosophy. Those who have journeyed into afterlife have explored this space between lives (living and after physical death) and authenticated the existence of Heaven. Scientists meanwhile have argued such experiences are delusional illusions.

In philosophy, religion, mythology, and fiction, afterlife is a transcendental realm which is an essential part of an individual’s consciousness which continues after the death of the body in the individual’s lifetime. Belief in an afterlife is in contrast to the belief in eternal oblivion after death.

This continued existence often takes place in a spiritual realm, and is reborn into this world to begin the life cycle again, with no memory of what they have done in the past. Rebirths and deaths may take place over and again continuously until the individual gains entry to a spiritual realm or another world.

Abrahamic traditions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), hold the dead go to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by a god, gods, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life. In contrast, in reincarnation, continued existence is determined directly by actions of the individual in the ended life, rather than through the decision of another being.

Paradiso Canto 2: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

1. Ye, who in some pretty little boat//Eager to listen, have been following//Behind my ship, that singing sails along,
2. Turn back to look again upon your shores// Do not put out to sea, lest peradventure//In losing me, you might yourselves be lost.
3. The sea I sail has never yet been passed//Minerva (Roman goddess of wisdom born from the godhead of Jupiter with weapons) breathes, and pilots me Apollo//And Muses29 (goddesses of Creative Arts) nine point out to me the Bears.
4. Ye other few who have the neck uplifted//Betimes to th’ bread of Angels upon which// One liveth here and grows not sated by it,
5. Well may you launch upon the deep salt-sea//Your vessel, keeping still my wake before you//Upon the water that grows smooth again.
6. Those glorious ones who unto Colchos30 passed//Were not so wonder-struck as you shall be//When Jason they beheld a ploughman made!
7. The con-created and perpetual thirst//For the realm deiform did bear us on// As swift almost as ye the heavens behold.
8. Upward gazed Beatrice, and I at her//And in such space perchance as strikes a bolt//And flies, and from the notch unlocks itself,
9. Arrived I saw me where a wondrous thing//Drew to itself my sight; and therefore she//From whom no care of mine could be concealed,
10. Towards me turning, blithe as beautiful//Said unto me: “Fix gratefully thy mind//On God, who unto the first star has brought us.”
11. It seemed to me a cloud encompassed us//Luminous, dense, consolidate and bright// As adamant on which the sun is striking.
12. Into itself did the eternal pearl//Receive us, even as water doth receive//A ray of light, remaining still unbroken.
13. If I was body, (and we here conceive not//How one dimension tolerates another// Which needs must be if body enter body,)
14. More the desire should be enkindled in us//That essence to behold, wherein is seen// How God and our own nature were united.
15. There will be seen what we receive by faith//Not demonstrated, but self-evident// In guise of the first truth that man believes.
16. I made reply: “Madonna, as devoutly
17. As most I can do I give thanks to Him//Who has removed me from the mortal world//But tell me what the dusky spots may be
18. Upon this body, which below on earth//Make people tell that fabulous tale of Cain?”//Somewhat she smiled; and then, “If the opinion
19. Of mortals be erroneous,” she said//”Where’er the key of sense doth not unlock// Certes, the shafts of wonder should not pierce thee
20. Now, forasmuch as, following the senses//Thou seest that the reason has short wings//But tell me what thou think’st of it thyself.”
21. And I: “What seems to us up here diverse//Is caused, I think, by bodies rare and dense.”//And she: “Right truly shalt thou see immersed
22. In error thy belief, if well thou hearest//The argument that I shall make against it//Lights many the eighth sphere displays to you
23. Which in their quality and quantity// May noted be of aspects different//If this were caused by rare and dense alone,
24. One only virtue would there be in all//Or more or less diffused, or equally//Virtues diverse must be perforce the fruits
25. Of formal principles; and these, save one// Of course would by thy reasoning be destroyed//Besides, if rarity were of this dimness
26. The cause thou askest, either through and through//This planet thus attenuate were of matter//Or else, as in a body is apportioned
27. The fat and lean, so in like manner this//Would in its volume interchange the leaves//Were it the former, in the sun’s eclipse
28. It would be manifest by the shining through//Of light, as through aught tenuous interfused//This is not so; hence we must scan the other,
29. And if it chance the other I demolish//Then falsified will thy opinion be//But if this rarity go not through and through,
30. There needs must be a limit, beyond which//Its contrary prevents the further passing//And thence the foreign radiance is reflected,
31. Even as a colour cometh back from glass//The which behind itself concealeth lead//Now thou wilt say the sunbeam shows itself
32. More dimly there than in the other parts//By being there reflected farther back//From this reply experiment will free thee
33. If e’er thou try it, which is wont to be//The fountain to the rivers of your arts//Three mirrors shalt thou take, and two remove
34. Alike from thee, the other more remote//Between the former two shall meet thine eyes//Turned towards these, cause that behind thy back
35. Be placed a light, illuming the three mirrors//And coming back to thee by all reflected//Though in its quantity be not so ample
36. The image most remote, there shalt thou see//How it perforce is equally resplendent//Now, as beneath the touches of warm rays
37. Naked the subject of the snow remains// Both of its former colour and its cold//Thee thus remaining in thy intellect//Will I inform with such a living light// That it shall tremble in its aspect to thee.
38. Within the heaven of the divine repose//Revolves a body, in whose virtue lies//The being of whatever it contains.
39. The following heaven, that has so many eyes//Divides this being by essences diverse// Distinguished from it, and by it contained.
40. The other spheres, by various differences//All the distinctions which they have within them//Dispose unto their ends and their effects.
41. Thus do these organs of the world proceed//As thou perceivest now, from grade to grade// Since from above they take, and act beneath.
42. Observe me well, how through this place I come
43. Unto the truth thou wishest, that hereafter//Thou mayst alone know how to keep the ford//The power and motion of the holy spheres,
44. As from the artisan the hammer’s craft//Forth from the blessed motors must proceed//The heaven, which lights so manifold make fair
45. From the Intelligence profound, which turns it//The image takes, and makes of it a seal//And even as the soul within your dust
46. Through members different and accommodated//To faculties diverse expands itself//So likewise this Intelligence diffuses
47. Its virtue multiplied among the stars//Itself revolving on its unity//Virtue diverse doth a diverse alloy age
48. Make with the precious body that it quickens// In which, as life in you, it is combined//From the glad nature whence it is derived,
49. The mingled virtue through the body shines// Even as gladness through the living pupil//From this proceeds whate’er from light to light
50. Appeareth different, not from dense and rare// This is the formal principle that produces//According to its goodness, dark and bright.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 2: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

Beatrice and Dante have ascended from earth to the Sphere of the Moon. Dante has crossed the Hurdle of Fire from Purgatory to Heaven. Beatrice’s has been tutoring the confused Dante who compares the would-be future passengers in a ship that would follow Dante’s ship. He warns these explorers to “turn back to see your their shores again” because they might lose him and get lost at sea. In other words, Dante urges readers who are not ready for the theological theory of Heaven to “turn back” and reread the first two books of the Divine Comedy.
Dante says his ship is guided by Apollo and the Muses. Therefore the reader needs to understand the “few who turned your minds in time unto the bread of angels” will be able to follow in Dante’s understanding, and wakening. There is where the waves are smooth. The attentive reader will note that Dante is there to explain what happens through the goings-on of his journey. The rest of the voyage is like riding a turbulent sea that is hard to navigate.

He assures worthy readers to follow him Dante because like Jason, who tamed a pair of fire-breathing bulls, he has deservedly won the path towards heaven.
Beatrice then suddenly again gazes upward and the travellers immediately reach a wonderful place, which Beatrice announces, is the “first star”: the moon31. It is a beautiful place and Dante describes it as a jewel with its ‘light’ reflecting on water. “It seemed to me that we were covered by a / brilliant, solid, dense, and stainless cloud, / much like a diamond the sun has struck.”

Dante is surprised that he and Beatrice can enter the moon without displacing any mass. Their entrance into the moon shows “how God and human nature were made one” (Experience of Oneness during meditation). Dante expects reader mortals to believe his experiences on pure faith.

Dante thanks God for the incident and then asks Beatrice why there are dark marks on the moon’s surface. Beatrice smiles knowingly, but asserts human senses cannot come up with the correct explanation for the blemishes on the moon’s surface. She asks Dante for his probable opinion. Dante declares the moon spots are caused by denser concentrations of matter 32in certain random areas on the moon’s surface.
Beatrice disagrees Dante’s argument because such an explanation would suggest that some stars simply have more matter than others. This would mean that a Single Power governs all that is manifested randomly: to a greater here and lesser degree, here and there. Therefore Beatrice argues different appearances must originate from different powers.

Also if the moon spots were indeed caused by denser and rarer matter, it would mean the entire spot-marked moon would be empty of matter. Or perhaps the moon would consist of density and no mass alternating in stripes. She argues his theory is wrong because during a solar eclipse when the moon is directly between the sun and the earth, sunlight cannot be seen through the empty spots of the moon. Further dense stripes of the moon would not allow light to pass through, but instead reflect off them in ranges of brightness and dimness. But, in reality all three reflections from the moon have the same brightness.

Beatrice continues to explain different powers. She says the Eighth Heaven of Fixed Stars receives undifferentiated power from the highest Heaven and it has the job of sharing this power to the various stars, as God sees fit. Therefore those stars closer to the highest Heaven receive more power, and thus spin faster. Further, just as each organ within the human body has a different power, each star is “inspired by the blessed movers. “Blessed movers” are different intelligences, known to man as angels. So within each star, there is intelligence (angel) which causes it to revolve in its path around the earth and shine in gladness for God. Beatrice declares hers is the correct explanation for the moon’s spots, nothing in the universe is random and Dante needs to understand each has its proper place with God.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 2: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

Rare Middle Age education about Hell, Purgatory and Heaven for 13th century humanity happened amid disillusioned education, religion, and sects of society. Dante suffered an intimate self-education learned through a true practical knowledge about suffering.

Masters of Religion like Beatrice are Dante’s guiding pillars who through logical thought and rough idea was given as well as pointed to the path to follow. The purging through ‘Divine Comedy’ allowed him to arrive at his Internal Master, who lives in silence within each in humanity.

Such Knowledge belongs to the Inner Self and virtues and gifts are not a matter of false pretence and false humility but they are realities that convert seekers like Dante into powerful trees so the frailties of the mind, threats of a black society, and envy of tormentors cannot shatter Dante.

The strongest figures in the solar system are the sun and the moon. The parallel of the sun and the moon in the human body are two nerve currents called ida and pingala. Ida represents the moon and pingala represents the sun. They are the source of duality and cause of suffering both physical and mental. If their movement could be regulated then the effects of the duality would be overcome. Yoga recommends the pranayama, to regulate the breathing.

The respiratory act is under the control of the vagus nerve which has two sets of fibres, afferent and efferent. These fibres are excited by the alternative collapse and distension of the air vesicles where the vagus ends. Pranayama regulates the two movements of breath, through Ida and pingala. Man cannot control the Sun and the Moon but pranayama can control the currents of ida and pingala and therefore their effects on the human personality. By controlling both the currents, one can overcome the influence of sun and moon and supplant the adverse effects of the dualities.

Paradiso Canto 3: First Heaven – the Sphere of the Moon):

1. That Sun, which erst with love my bosom warmed// Of beauteous truth had unto me discovered// By proving and reproving, the sweet aspect.
2. And, that I might confess myself convinced//And confident, so far as was befitting// I lifted more erect my head to speak.
3. But there appeared a vision, which withdrew me//So close to it, in order to be seen//That my confession I remembered not.
4. Such as through polished and transparent glass//Or waters crystalline and undisturbed//But not so deep as that their bed be lost,
5. Come back again the outlines of our faces//So feeble, that a pearl on forehead white//Comes not less speedily unto our eyes;
6. Such saw I many faces prompt to speak//So that I ran in error opposite//To that which kindled love ‘twixt man and fountain.
7. As soon as I became aware of them//Esteeming them as mirrored semblances//To see of whom they were, mine eyes I turned,
8. And nothing saw, and once more turned them forward//Direct into the light of my sweet Guide//Who smiling kindled in her holy eyes.
9. “Marvel thou not,” she said to me, “because//I smile at this thy puerile conceit//Since on the truth it trusts not yet its foot,
10. But turns thee, as ’tis wont, on emptiness//True substances are these which thou beholdest//Here relegate for breaking of some vow.
11. Therefore speak with them, listen and believe//For the true light, which giveth peace to them// Permits them not to turn from it their feet.”
12. And I unto the shade that seemed most wishful//To speak directed me, and I began//As one whom too great eagerness bewilders:
13. “O well-created spirit, who in the rays//Of life eternal dost the sweetness taste// Which being untasted ne’er is comprehended,
14. Grateful ’twill be to me, if thou content me//Both with thy name and with your destiny”//Whereat she promptly and with laughing eyes:
15. “Our charity doth never shut the doors//Against a just desire, except as one//Who wills that all her court be like herself.
16. I was a virgin sister in the world// And if thy mind doth contemplate me well//The being more fair will not conceal me from thee,
17. But thou shalt recognize I am Piccarda//Who, stationed here among these other blessed//Myself am blessed in the slowest sphere.
18. All our affections, that alone inflamed//Are in the pleasure of the Holy Ghost// Rejoice at being of his order formed;
19. And this allotment, which appears so low//Therefore is given us, because our vows// Have been neglected and in some part void.”
20. Whence I to her: “In your miraculous aspects//There shines I know not what of the divine//Which doth transform you from our first conceptions.
21. Therefore I was not swift in my remembrance//But what thou tellest me now aids me so//That the refiguring is easier to me.
22. But tell me, ye who in this place are happy//Are you desirous of a higher place//To see more or to make yourselves more friends?”
23. First with those other shades she smiled a little//Thereafter answered me so full of gladness//She seemed to burn in the first fire of love:
24. “Brother, our will is quieted by virtue//Of charity, that makes us wish alone//For what we have, nor gives us thirst for more.
25. If to be more exalted we aspired//Discordant would our aspirations be//Unto the will of Him who here secludes us;
26. Which thou shalt see finds no place in these circles//If being in charity is needful here//And if thou lookest well into its nature;
27. Nay, ’tis essential to this blest existence//To keep itself within the will divine// Whereby our very wishes are made one;
28. So that, as we are station above station
29. Throughout this realm, to all the realm ’tis pleasing//As to the King, who makes his will our will//And his will is our peace; this is the sea
30. To which is moving onward whatsoever//It doth create, and all that nature makes”//Then it was clear to me how everywhere
31. In heaven is Paradiso, although the grace//Of good supreme there rain not in one measure//But as it comes to pass, if one food sates,
32. And for another still remains the longing//We ask for this, and that decline with thanks//E’en thus did I; with gesture and with word,
33. To learn from her what was the web wherein//She did not ply the shuttle to the end//’A perfect life and merit high in-heaven
34. A lady o’er us,” said she, “by whose rule//Down in your world they vest and veil themselves//That until death they may both watch and sleep
35. Beside that Spouse who every vow accepts//Which charity conformeth to his pleasure//To follow her, in girlhood from the world
36. I fled, and in her habit shut myself//And pledged me to the pathway of her sect//Then men accustomed unto evil more
37. Than unto good, from the sweet cloister tore me//God knows what afterward my life became//This other splendour, which to thee reveals
38. Itself on my right side, and is enkindled//With all the illumination of our sphere//What of myself I say applies to her;
39. A nun was she, and likewise from her head//Was ta’en the shadow of the sacred wimple//But when she too was to the world returned
40. Against her wishes and against good usage//Of the heart’s veil she never was divested//Of great Costanza this is the effulgence,
41. Who from the second wind of Suabia//Brought forth the third and latest puissance”//Thus unto me she spake, and then began
42. “Ave Maria” singing, and in singing//Vanished, as through deep water something heavy//My sight, that followed her as long a time
43. As it was possible, when it had lost her//Turned round unto the mark of more desire//And wholly unto Beatrice reverted;
44. But she such lightnings flashed into mine eyes//That at the first my sight endured it not//And this in questioning more backward made me.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 3: First Heaven – the Sphere of the Moon:

After being instructed by Beatrice, Dante raises his head to confess he is “corrected and convinced.” His affirmation is interrupted by a new vision. He sees colourless reflections of many faces in front of him. They are faint and the vision is like seeing one’s own reflection through unpolished glass, or shallow water. The display is like a pearl strung on a woman’s forehead. He sees ‘duality’

A perplexed Dante turns around because he believes he is seeing reflections of people behind him in a mirror, but discovers there is nothing at the rear. Surprised, he turns to look towards Beatrice. She answers him with a knowing smile, which suggests she considers Dante still immature in understanding – like a child. .

She assures Dante he is not seeing reflections. They are “true substances” of souls that hover before him. They are set here in the lowest sphere in Heaven because they broke their vows. Beatrice urges Dante to listen to them to learn a lesson in truthfulness.

Dante therefore turns to the soul that seems most eager to talk and begs to know her name and history. She answers that her sphere is of divine charity and will never deny answering Dante’s questions. She agrees to tell her story because he already knows who she is but is not recognising her.

She introduces herself as Piccarda, the sister of Forese Donati, whom Dante met in Purgatory. On earth, she was a virgin and became a nun. She broke her vows when Forese forced her to marry. She therefore is assigned to the slowest-revolving Heaven. She assures Dante she is happy here. She delights in taking her place under God’s order. She deserves to be in the lowest Heaven because she broke her vows in life. Meanwhile the accusatory implied insult that Dante fails to recognise Dante Piccarda stings his ego and he makes an excuse, she now looks different from when she was on earth: she looks shinier in Heaven.

After satisfying his ego, Dante asks Piccarda if she is happy imprisoned in the first Heaven. At this Piccarda and all her soul-companions smile, like “one who burn with love’s first flame.” Piccarda says they are all happy because they all remain in the love for God, whose will directs them in their proper places. If she were to want more, she would be battling with God’s will and cause conflict. She claims the secret to living happily in blessedness is by conforming one’s individual will to God’s will.

Dante gets it. He realizes that even though every sphere in Heaven is Paradiso, “grace does not rain equally from the high good.” However, everyone in the Heavens is happy with his or her place, no matter how high or low it is. Dante therefore asks more questions. He wants to know the rest of Piccarda’s story, which is: “the web of which her shuttle had not reached the end.”
Piccarda tells how she left her pampered life to follow the order of St. Clare, made vows to follow God’s laws to remain virgin, as a nun. God obviously did not allow her a quiet life. Instead, evil men were directed by her brother Corso to abduct her from the cloister and forced her to marry a noble. Piccarda was forced to break her vow to God and therefore Corso is in Hell.

Piccarda then abruptly turns to a shining spot on her right and introduces her as the brightest light on the whole moon. She is a companion sister, who also took her vows of chastity and then was forced to go back into the world and marry against her will. Piccarda reveals this bright light as Empress Constance of Sicily whose marriage produced the last heir of her royal line.
Because Heaven makes her so happy, Piccarda starts singing a hymn, “Ave Maria.” As she sings, she vanishes back into the light. But Dante still has many questions, and therefore turns to Beatrice. He is blinded by her brilliance and therefore stays silent for the moment.

Discussion

Canto 3 First Heaven – the Sphere of the Moon

Unlimited enthusiasm to preach the glories of the Lord and His Will is overshadowed by regular oversights. The purpose of arriving at monasteries, ashrams, and spiritual places is to follow strict hard discipline to conquer illusions and delusions. The purpose of human existence needs God. “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless” – Bertrand Russell.

Accepting a Path is exploring life with faith in Nature’s signs and noting synchronicities in life events. When humans see valid meanings and make legitimate choices in life, they are usually acceptable to others. Every spiritual journey begins with great questions. Attempts are made to accept some statements even if they sound futile and without a clear revelation. To such trekkers, learning is easier than accepting oneself as they are at that moment. Having accepted himself Dante starts to learn from where he was. He is accepting and embracing all his spiritual experiences in his journey. Beatrice is opening all of life’s choices and encouraging Dante to accept his existence the way it is.

He is ready to make spiritual discoveries through an inner journey, with hope, compassion, and grace. He is being readied to experience an inner journey, in spiritual faith, with an attitude of forgiveness, and questions for God.

Humankind is not free from the fetters of the karma or the influence of Saturn until he transforms his/her human nature into a divine nature. In nature all its work is done through the transformation from one energy into another. An unripe fruit is bitter until it is exposed to sun and air. Transformation is the cause of its sweetness. Passion, without transforming into peace is no life to end with. When passion passes into love of the Infinite, then the flames of peace burn off all limit of doubt as well as the sense of duality.

Paradiso Canto 4: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

1. Between two viands, equally removed// And tempting, a free man would die of hunger// Ere either he could bring unto his teeth.
2. So would a lamb between the ravenings// Of two fierce wolves stand fearing both alike;// And so would stand a dog between two does.
3. Hence, if I held my peace, myself I blame not// Impelled in equal measure by my doubts// Since it must be so, nor do I commend.
4. I held my peace; but my desire was painted// Upon my face, and questioning with that// More fervent far than by articulate speech.
5. Beatrice did as Daniel had done// Relieving Nebuchadnezzar from the wrath// Which rendered him unjustly merciless,
6. And said: “Well see I how attracteth thee//One and the other wish, so that thy care//Binds itself so that forth it does not breathe.
7. Thou arguest, if good will be permanent// The violence of others, for what reason// Doth it decrease the measure of my merit?
8. Again for doubting furnish thee occasion//Souls seeming to return unto the stars// According to the sentiment of Plato.
9. These are the questions which upon thy wish// Are thrusting equally; and therefore first// Will I treat that which hath the most of gall.
10. He of the Seraphim most absorbed in God// Moses, and Samuel, and whichever John// Thou mayst select, I say, and even Mary,
11. Have not in any other heaven their seats// Than have those spirits that just appeared to thee// Nor of existence more or fewer years;
12. But all make beautiful the primal circle// And have sweet life in different degrees// By feeling more or less the eternal breath.
13. They showed themselves here, not because allotted// This sphere has been to them, but to give sign// Of the celestial which is least exalted.
14. To speak thus is adapted to your mind// Since only through the sense it apprehendeth// What then it worthy makes of intellect.
15. On this account the Scripture condescends// Unto your faculties, and feet and hands// To God attributes, and means something else;
16. And Holy Church under an aspect human// Gabriel and Michael represent to you// And him who made Tobias whole again.
17. That which Timaeus argues of the soul// Doth not resemble that which here is seen// Because it seems that as he speaks he thinks.
18. He says the soul unto its star returns// Believing it to have been severed thence// Whenever nature gave it as a form.
19. Perhaps his doctrine is of other guise// Than the words sound, and possibly may be//With meaning that is not to be derided.
20. If he doth mean that to these wheels return// The honour of their influence and the blame// Perhaps his bow doth hit upon some truth.
21. This principle ill understood once warped// The whole world nearly, till it went astray// Invoking Jove and Mercury and Mars.
22. The other doubt which doth disquiet thee// Less venom has, for its malevolence// Could never lead thee otherwhere from me.
23. That as unjust our justice should appear// In eyes of mortals, is an argument//Of faith, and not of sin heretical.
24. But still, that your perception may be able// To thoroughly penetrate this verity//As thou desirest, I will satisfy thee.
25. If it be violence when he who suffers//Co-operates not with him who uses force// These souls were not on that account excused;
26. For will is never quenched unless it will// But operates as nature doth in fire// If violence a thousand times distort it.
27. Hence, if it yieldeth more or less, it seconds// The force; and these have done so, having power// Of turning back unto the holy place.
28. If their will had been perfect, like to that// Which Lawrence fast upon his gridiron held//And Mutius made severe to his own hand,
29. It would have urged them back along the road// Whence they were dragged, as soon as they were free;//But such a solid will is all too rare.
30. And by these words, if thou hast gathered them// As thou shouldst do, the argument is refuted// That would have still annoyed thee many times.
31. But now another passage runs across// Before thine eyes, and such that by thyself// Thou couldst not thread it ere thou wouldst be weary.
32. I have for certain put into thy mind// That soul beatified could never lie// For it is near the primal Truth,
33. And then thou from Piccarda might’st have heard//Costanza kept affection for the veil// So that she seemeth here to contradict me.
34. Many times, brother, has it come to pass// That, to escape from peril, with reluctance//That has been done it was not right to do,
35. E’en as Alcmaeon (who, being by his father// Thereto entreated, his own mother slew)//Not to lose pity pitiless became.
36. At this point I desire thee to remember// That force with will commingles, and they cause// That the offences cannot be excused.
37. Will absolute consenteth not to evil;//But in so far consenteth as it fears//If it refrain, to fall into more harm.
38. Hence when Piccarda uses this expression//She meaneth the will absolute, and I//The other, so that both of us speak truth.”
39. Such was the flowing of the holy river//That issued from the fount whence springs all truth;// This put to rest my wishes one and all.
40. “O love of the first lover, O divine,”//Said I forthwith, “whose speech inundates me// And warms me so, it more and more revives me,
41. My own affection is not so profound//As to suffice in rendering grace for grace;// Let Him, who sees and can, thereto respond.
42. Well I perceive that never sated is// Our intellect unless the Truth illume it//Beyond which nothing true expands itself.
43. It rests therein, as wild beast in his lair// When it attains it; and it can attain it;// If not, then each desire would frustrate be.
44. Therefore springs up, in fashion of a shoot//Doubt at the foot of truth; and this is nature// Which to the top from height to height impels us.
45. This doth invite me, this assurance give me// With reverence, Lady, to inquire of you// Another truth, which is obscure to me.
46. I wish to know if man can satisfy you// For broken vows with other good deeds, so// That in your balance they will not be light.”
47. Beatrice gazed upon me with her eyes//Full of the sparks of love, and so divine//That, overcome my power, I turned my back
48. And almost lost myself with eyes downcast.

Summary

Purgatorio Canto 4: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

The reprimand and admonition from Beatrice does not stop Dante’s mind from self-inquiry and questioning his doubts. In his moments of silence, Dante examines his motives33 and his behaviour in the presence of Beatrice and Piccarda. He goes on to express his doubts trigger in him feelings of hesitation. His confusion is with the truth of the path he has undertaken, knowing full well he is with angel-souls in Heaven. He compares his condition with a ravenously starving man trying to decide between two equally splendid dishes set before him. He feels like a lamb standing between two hungry wolves. Competing rival doubts make him hesitate and therefore he remains silent. His reaction is irrelevant because his face clearly seeks answers for unspoken questions and Beatrice can read him.

Beatrice answers Dante’s unasked queries just like David34 expected the questions of Nebuchadnezzar35. How can another’s wicked action endanger another person’s chances at salvation? Beatrice explains if one has a will to do good, nothing and nobody can prevent favorable effects of such good actions. If a good vowed action is prevented from happening, fear of harm can prevent the vow from being kept. This doubt of unfulfilled vows is not dangerous for Dante who is still faraway from his spiritual journey. Renunciation and continence is consecrating oneself to God, whether in a monastery or when obediently committing to a spiritual married life.

It was the belief in Dante’s time that after death, souls return to stars which most affected them in life36. Plato argued stars rule all human behaviour. Does that mean humans have no free will? Dante’s question is based on a medieval theory that assigns different personality tendencies and characteristics to each celestial body based on their mythology. The moon was said to be inconstant, Mercury was a prideful, and Venus lustful. Therefore each personality was supposedly governed by a particular heavenly body, which includes the moon.

Beatrice chooses to answer Dante’s “most insidious question” first. First because none of the souls Dante really sees are in reality in levels heaven. She explains, all saved souls inhabit the highest heaven, the Empyrean (Ninth firmament and dwelling place of God where pure thought exists as Light), and are therefore already with God. Souls therefore can appear to Dante at different spheres of heaven. Dante’s human mind can only understand that all souls are not all equal in their blessedness.

Beatrice refutes Plato’s theory37which she says is more like, “his opinion and is perhaps to be taken in another meaning than what his words speak.” It needs to be restated because Plato’s theory means something different than what it says which if improperly understood can lead people away from God.

Beatrice explains Piccarda disallowed violence to victimize38 her when Corso abducts her. Dante felt she is guilty: she should have fought back. By allowing the abduction to happen, he felt she aided the force39 that breaks her vow, no matter how unwillingly. That raises another doubt in Dante. Was she too weary and fearful of fighting “What if it was too hard to fight back?”Beatrice tells Dante blessed souls cannot and do not lie, which means that Piccarda is not wrong.

Meanwhile Piccarda also admits that unlike herself, Empress Constance40 (1154-98) and wife of Henry VI, adhered to her vows despite her circumstances. Then in the same breath, Beatrice asserts Piccarda and Constance both reside in Heaven because they both resisted the forces of male dominance and only Constance succeeded. Beatrice now has to explain this apparent contradiction.
Beatrice gives examples of men who have sinned in order to avoid the violence of other threatening men. So if one gives in to committing sin out of fear of losing her life41, this is not an excuse. Beatrice shows this not a laziness of will which is inconceivable. Piccarda submits to the absolute will of God, which is conditioned by circumstances and becomes God’s contingent, will. She is given free will to do what is best, given the presenting circumstances. When reviewing will, Beatrice states both Constance and Piccarda are right. Piccarda is addresses the absolute will of God to which Piccarda submits as contingent will as an alternative. Constance meanwhile stuck to her vows. With that discussion, Dante has a sudden intellectual insight.
He thanks Beatrice for explaining everything to him about vows and will. He excuses himself for his many doubts but asserts how helpful doubt leads one to ask questions, which when answered lead to a repetitive learning process making one more balanced and smarter. Dante therefore goes on to ask another question: can a person atone for broken vows by doing good works?

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 4: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon

Dante begins his journey in Heaven with his personally imagined certainties but is finding himself in a sea of doubts. His doubts range from reasons for participation in the journey, to inner frustrations based on private beliefs. These were competing with conditions and happenings in Heaven. Competing doubts leave him feeling unsure. He needs ‘news and updates’ from Beatrice’s protracted neutral stand on issues such as vows, fear, promises not kept, violence, and results of action: reaction.

The Will to do good works is not a learned happening. Most do good sufficiently enough to qualify them to go to heaven. Most ordinary beings partner with social justice and can become seeds of change for a Common Good. Most like Dante can praise, trust and obey the Lord knowing that He is the enabler. Beatrice is giving him the means, authority and the power to do what he has directed himself to succeed. Beatrice not only supplies him with all that he needs according to enough grace, but stimulates the changes needed through advice and examples. She calls on several qualities of God for bringing about His will in his life.

Dante accepts Beatrice as his instructor and illuminator who can navigate him along the pathways that Dante wants us to follow. He can count on Beatrice to teach, clarify and navigate him through the doubts and rethink his attitude, judgments and opinions. Beatrice corrects him for improvement and refinement even if rebuked. Dante has already shown emotions he must put away: anger, jealousy, wrath and slander; She has the maturity of patience, kindness to guide Dante without demands.

Beatrice has only one agenda: she wants Dante to understand the paths of virtue for His name’s sake. It is He who knows the best thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and actions to complete the best of the will of God. She understands the best ways to get the best of Dante. Beatrice is at times authoritarian but sometimes allows for more freedom of expression. Beatrice does not fault Piccarda for breaking her vows and directs Dante to take responsibility on every individual shoulder according to circumstances.

Beatrice inculcates the idea that God plans for humanity a welfare of future hope and not for evil. Lord has a script of harmlessness in thought word and deed that humanity must follow. The best way to discover His will is by expressing complete willingness to do whatever He asks: “If anyone is willing to do my will He will know of the teaching. Whether it is of God or if I speak for me” (John 7:17). In whatever difficulty, challenge or circumstance one finds oneself, Dante is made to realize that He can deliver you. Let God deliver the seeker instead of relying on personal opinions, doubts and one’s own resources to deliver oneself from every hardship. Praise God’s will and restore the soul. David wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd I will not be in want of any good thing.”

Paradiso Canto 5: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon, Second Heaven: Sphere of Mercury

1. “If in the heat of love I flame upon thee// Beyond the measure that on earth is seen// So that the valour of thine eyes I vanquish,
2. Marvel thou not thereat; for this proceeds// From perfect sight, which as it apprehends// To the good apprehended moves its feet.
3. Well I perceive how is already shining// Into thine intellect the eternal light// That only seen enkindles always love;
4. And if some other thing your love seduce// ‘Tis nothing but a vestige of the same// Ill understood, which there is shining through.
5. Thou fain wouldst know if with another service// For broken vow can such return be made// As to secure the soul from further claim.”
6. This Canto thus did Beatrice begin;// And, as a man who breaks not off his speech// Continued thus her holy argument:
7. “The greatest gift that in his largess God// Creating made, and unto his own goodness// Nearest conformed, and that which he doth prize
8. Most highly, is the freedom of the will// Wherewith the creatures of intelligence// Both all and only were and are endowed.
9. Now wilt thou see, if thence thou reasonest// The high worth of a vow, if it he made// So that when thou consentest God consents:
10. For, closing between God and man the compact// A sacrifice is of this treasure made// Such as I say, and made by its own act.
11. What can be rendered then as compensation?//Think’st thou to make good use of what thou’st offered//With gains ill gotten thou wouldst do good deed.
12. Now art thou certain of the greater point//But because Holy Church in this dispenses// Which seems against the truth which I have shown thee,
13. Behoves thee still to sit awhile at table//Because the solid food which thou hast taken// Requireth further aid for thy digestion.
14. Open thy mind to that which I reveal//And fix it there within; for ’tis not knowledge// The having heard without retaining it.
15. In the essence of this sacrifice two things//Convene together; and the one is that//Of which ’tis made, the other is the agreement.
16. This last for evermore is cancelled not//Unless complied with, and concerning this// With such precision has above been spoken.
17. Therefore it was enjoined upon the Hebrews//To offer still, though sometimes what was offered// Might be commuted, as thou ought’st to know.
18. The other, which is known to thee as matter// May well indeed be such that one errs not// If it for other matter be exchanged.
19. But let none shift the burden on his shoulder//At his arbitrament, without the turning// Both of the white and of the yellow key;
20. And every permutation deem as foolish// If in the substitute the thing relinquished// As the four is in six, be not contained.
21. Therefore whatever thing has so great weight// In value that it drags down every balance// Cannot be satisfied with other spending.
22. Let mortals never take a vow in jest;//Be faithful and not blind in doing that// As Jephthah was in his first offering,
23. Whom more beseemed to say, ‘I have done wrong// Than to do worse by keeping; and as foolish// Thou the great leader of the Greeks wilt find,
24. Whence wept Iphigenia her fair face// And made for her both wise and simple weep// Who heard such kind of worship spoken of.’
25. Christians, be ye more serious in your movements// Be ye not like a feather at each wind// And think not every water washes you.
26. Ye have the Old and the New Testament// And the Pastor of the Church who guideth you// Let this suffice you unto your salvation.
27. If evil appetite cry aught else to you// Be ye as men, and not as silly sheep// So that the Jew among you may not mock you.
28. Be ye not as the lamb that doth abandon//Its mother’s milk, and frolicsome and simple// Combats at its own pleasure with itself.”
29. Thus Beatrice to me even as I write it//Then all desireful turned herself again//To that part where the world is most alive.
30. Her silence and her change of countenance//Silence imposed upon my eager mind// That had already in advance new questions;
31. And as an arrow that upon the mark// Strikes ere the bowstring quiet hath become// So did we speed into the second realm.
32. My Lady there so joyful I beheld// As into the brightness of that heaven she entered// More luminous thereat the planet grew;
33. And if the star itself was changed and smiled// What became I, who by my nature am//Exceeding mutable in every guise!
34. As, in a fish-pond which is pure and tranquil//The fishes draw to that which from without//Comes in such fashion that their food they deem it;
35. So I beheld more than a thousand splendours//Drawing towards us, and in each was heard:// “Lo, this is she who shall increase our love.”
36. And as each one was coming unto us//Full of beatitude the shade was seen// By the effulgence clear that issued from it.
37. Think, Reader, if what here is just beginning//No farther should proceed, how thou wouldst have// An agonizing need of knowing more;
38. And of thyself thou’lt see how I from these// Was in desire of hearing their conditions// As they unto mine eyes were manifest.
39. “O thou well-born, unto whom Grace concedes// To see the thrones of the eternal triumph// Or ever yet the warfare be abandoned
40. With light that through the whole of heaven is spread// Kindled are we, and hence if thou desirest//To know of us, at thine own pleasure sate thee.”
41. Thus by some one among those holy spirits//Was spoken, and by Beatrice: “Speak, speak// Securely, and believe them even as Gods.”
42. “Well I perceive how thou dost nest thyself// In thine own light, and drawest it from thine eyes// Because they coruscate when thou dost smile,
43. But know not who thou art, nor why thou hast//Spirit august, thy station in the sphere// That veils itself to men in alien rays.”
44. This said I in direction of the light//Which first had spoken to me; whence it became// By far more lucent than it was before.
45. Even as the sun, that doth conceal himself//By too much light, when heat has worn away// The tempering influence of the vapours dense,
46. By greater rapture thus concealed itself//In its own radiance the figure saintly// And thus close, close enfolded answered me
47. In fashion as the following Canto sings.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 5: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon, Second Heaven: Sphere of Mercury

Beatrice turns to Dante and tells him she can see the light in his eyes42. She adds that anything he finds beautiful is simply a lesser expression of Him. She then predicts Dante will want to know if people can make up for their broken promises. Her reasoning goes as follows: God’s greatest gift to man is free will. When you promise yourself to God’s service you willingly give up your free will. But it does not end there: according to Churchianity, only the Church reserves the right to release people from their vows. Vows are made “because of” but carry vows “is in spite of”. Habits of making promises to man and God developed over a lifetime can be limiting both in their effect on oneself and on others.

Beatrice says, “there are two things about a vow: what the vow says is the binding part of the clause (“in spite of”)., The second part holds until the first part is fulfilled.” But she confides there is a loophole designed to make legislative reform.

One can change the matter of one’s vow with the Church’s consent but cannot oppose the binding part. Also, the new content of the vow must exceed the original content’s worth. Beatrice cites Jephthah43 and Agamemnon44 as examples. She warns: just because you are Christian, do not think making rash promises will erase past sins. Her advice is to read the Bible and obey the Pope45.
Furthermore, in support of both the Pope and the Church, Beatrice states “be men, and not like sheep gone mad!” Men should not be like stray lambs, abandoning the mother (the Church) who feeds them; otherwise they will be hurting themselves46. Beatrice then turns her face towards the light towards the highest heaven, Empyrean; with that, Dante feels both of them flying upwards towards the Second heaven.

Although Dante hears her out but is more impressed with Beatrice’s beauty. From his new position Dante gets a broad overall view and can see the thousand inhabitants of the Second heaven gathering around their (his and Beatrice’s) glowing figures. He compares them to a bunch of fish in a pool who are drawn to anything remotely new that comes into sight. As each new soul approaches, they declare that this new arrival will “increase their loves.”

One soul steps forward and calls on Dante’s mind. He calls Dante the guy “whom God’s grace allows to see the thrones of the eternal triumph47 before your war of life is ended.” He tells Dante that the light which shines in Dante is the same light that shines in all the heavenly souls that of charity48. He welcomes him only to ask the questions burning in his mind. Dante says, “I can see your brilliant light, but that doesn’t tell me who you are or why I cannot see you in your real heavenly rank.”

None of the souls Dante sees on these various stars are where the blessed reside. They all appear to be living in the highest heaven, the Empyrean. To Dante they seem to be living on different stars according to the nature of their blessedness49. So Dante’s asking what level of the Empyrean this speaker actually inhabits. In response, the soul glows even more brightly than before, just like the sun – after burning away the morning mists – shines so brightly that one cannot see its form for its brilliance. Then the soul starts talking.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 5: First Heaven: Sphere of the Moon, Second Heaven: Sphere of Mercury

The seat of the Mars is in the two eyes. Mars as a planet is regarded as strong and bold both as an aggressor and as a protector of promises made along the Path that Dante has embarked on. Yoga advises many exercises for having power over the eyes but the first among these is Trataka or Gazing practice. The use of crystal gazing helps to develop the organ of inner vision which develop astral vision. When developed the effect of Mars is guarded over promises made.

Mercury’s fluidity is felt in the mind in the human body which has its seat in the heart. Mind is therefore compared to mercury, because it is restless. Mercury is made quiet when prana is stopped in the cerebrum by kumbhaka and the mind becomes calm and steady. Sanskrit word for “life force” is prana; in yoga, Oriental medicine, and martial arts, the term refers to cosmic energy. There are Bandhas which play an important role in pranayama. Bandha means to lock, close-off, to stop. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flow to a particular area of the body is blocked. Pranayama forms a step in the path to ascendancy through Yoga. Pranayama is derived from 2 Sanskrit words – Prana (life force) and Ayama (control). After prolonged exhalation prana (antara kumbhaka) flies upwards and gets stationed in the cerebrum. When prana is made to stand firm in the brain then the mind becomes calm, collected and well-balanced. It is in this wide calm of mind that true knowledge dawns.

Vows are taken between two persons: Man and Man or Woman or Man and God. It is a sacred relationship. For many a vow is a voyage with different meanings that come into the mind as celebrations, joy and happiness. For ancients, vows became cultural practices and their journey started hundreds of years ago. The Seven Vows of a Hindu Marriage is the most important part of the ritual of marriage ceremony. Each vow skilfully weaves innovation with tradition and affirmation of love, spiritualism and lifestyle. It is a solemn promise made to God and deity committing oneself to an act of one’s choice.

The questions Dante has included: If a “vow” is not faithfully honoured then how can the person ever be trusted? Is keeping one’s word important and will God hold people accountable for what they promise? What does God think when people make up excuses to get out of keeping their word?

Keeping promises shows our “True Inner Self.” It shows whether we have corruptible or incorruptible morals (fruitful seed) inside us. God does not accept the altering promises! “And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy. He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good”: (Lev 27:9-10).
When someone makes a vow of a priceless worth, he cannot try to change its content, because nothing can be more valuable. The structure of the vow made by mortals should not be taken lightly or altered according to circumstances. The maker of changes in content of vows always knows in the deepest part of the soul that no matter what a moment of impact one day will come. When it does it must trigger a potential for change. Life is all about moments of impacts that change our lives forever.

According to Beatrice, God wants Christians to keep their word no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant it may become. Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Cheating, stealing, lying, breaking one’s promises, withholding tithe money out of greed or spite is the world’s way but not what the Lord wants a Christian to be. What is your life worth? Can you take any material thing with you when you die? Keeping our word is important to our self-respect as well as our integrity. (Proverbs 12:3 “A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved”). But this is just not a Christian creed. Universally, people cannot sin and get away with it. No one can get away from their responsibilities and vows they make and not answer to God for them.

Paradiso: Canto 6: Justinian. The Roman Eagle. The Empire. Romeo.

1. “After that Constantine the eagle turned// Against the course of heaven, which it had followed// Behind the ancient who Lavinia took,
2. Two hundred years and more the bird of God// In the extreme of Europe held itself// Near to the mountains whence it issued first;
3. And under shadow of the sacred plumes// It governed there the world from hand to hand// And, changing thus, upon mine own alighted.
4. Caesar I was, and am Justinian//Who, by the will of primal Love I feel// Took from the laws the useless and redundant;
5. And ere unto the work I was attent//One nature to exist in Christ, not more// Believed, and with such faith was I contented.
6. But blessed Agapetus, he who was// The supreme pastor, to the faith sincere// Pointed me out the way by words of his.
7. Him I believed, and what was his assertion//I now see clearly, even as thou seest// Each contradiction to be false and true.
8. As soon as with the Church I moved my feet// God in his grace it pleased with this high task// To inspire me, and I gave me wholly to it,
9. And to my Belisarius I commended// The arms, to which was heaven’s right hand so joined// It was a signal that I should repose.
10. Now here to the first question terminates//My answer; but the character thereof// Constrains me to continue with a sequel,
11. In order that thou see with how great reason// Men move against the standard sacrosanct,//Both who appropriate and who oppose it.
12. Behold how great a power has made it worthy//Of reverence, beginning from the hour//When Pallas died to give it sovereignty.
13. Thou knowest it made in Alba its abode//Three hundred years and upward, till at last// The three to three fought for it yet again.
14. Thou knowest what it achieved from Sabine wrong//Down to Lucretia’s sorrow, in seven kings//O’ercoming round about the neighboring nations;
15. Thou knowest what it achieved, borne by the Romans//Illustrious against Brennus, against Pyrrhus,//Against the other princes and confederates.
16. Torquatus thence and Quinctius, who from locks//Unkempt was named, Decii and Fabii,//Received the fame I willingly embalm;
17. It struck to earth the pride of the Arabians,//Who, following Hannibal, had passed across// The Alpine ridges, Po, from which thou glidest;
18. Beneath it triumphed while they yet were young//Pompey and Scipio, and to the hill//Beneath which thou wast born it bitter seemed;
19. Then, near unto the time when heaven had willed//To bring the whole world to its mood serene,//Did Caesar by the will of Rome assume it.
20. What it achieved from Var unto the Rhine// Isere beheld and Saone, beheld the Seine,// And every valley whence the Rhone is filled;
21. What it achieved when it had left Ravenna//And leaped the Rubicon, was such a flight//That neither tongue nor pen could follow it.
22. Round towards Spain it wheeled its legions; then//Towards Durazzo, and Pharsalia smote//That to the calid Nile was felt the pain.
23. Antandros and the Simois, whence it started//It saw again, and there where Hector lies//And ill for Ptolemy then roused itself.
24. From thence it came like lightning upon Juba;//Then wheeled itself again into your West// Where the Pompeian clarion it heard.
25. From what it wrought with the next standard-bearer//Brutus and Cassius howl in Hell together// And Modena and Perugia dolent were;
26. Still doth the mournful Cleopatra weep//Because thereof, who, fleeing from before it// Took from the adder sudden and black death.
27. With him it ran even to the Red Sea shore;//With him it placed the world in so great peace// That unto Janus was his temple closed.
28. But what the standard that has made me speak//Achieved before, and after should achieve// Throughout the mortal realm that lies beneath it,
29. Becometh in appearance mean and dim// If in the hand of the third Caesar seen//With eye unclouded and affection pure,
30. Because the living Justice that inspires me//Granted it, in the hand of him I speak of,// The glory of doing vengeance for its wrath.
31. Now here attend to what I answer thee; //Later it ran with Titus to do vengeance// Upon the vengeance of the ancient sin.
32. And when the tooth of Lombardy had bitten//The Holy Church, then underneath its wings//Did Charlemagne victorious succor her.
33. Now hast thou power to judge of such as those//Whom I accused above, and of their crimes// Which are the cause of all your miseries.
34. To the public standard one the yellow lilies//Opposes, the other claims it for a party,// So that ’tis hard to see which sins the most.
35. Let, let the Ghibellines ply their handicraft// Beneath some other standard; for this ever// Ill follows he who it and justice parts.
36. And let not this new Charles e’er strike it down//He and his Guelfs, but let him fear the talons// That from a nobler lion stripped the fell.
37. Already oftentimes the sons have wept// The father’s crime; and let him not believe// That God will change His scutcheon for the lilies.
38. This little planet doth adorn itself// With the good spirits that have active been// That fame and honour might come after them;
39. And whensoever the desires mount thither// Thus deviating, must perforce the rays//Of the true love less vividly mount upward.
40. But in commensuration of our wages// With our desert is portion of our joy// Because we see them neither less nor greater.
41. Herein doth living Justice sweeten so// Affection in us, that for evermore// It cannot warp to any iniquity.
42. Voices diverse make up sweet melodies;//So in this life of ours the seats diverse// Render sweet harmony among these spheres;
43. And in the compass of this present pearl//Shineth the sheen of Romeo, of whom// The grand and beauteous work was ill rewarded.
44. But the Provencals who against him wrought// They have not laughed, and therefore ill goes he//Who makes his hurt of the good deeds of others.
45. Four daughters, and each one of them a queen//Had Raymond Berenger, and this for him// Did Romeo, a poor man and a pilgrim;
46. And then malicious words incited him//To summon to a reckoning this just man// Who rendered to him seven and five for ten.
47. Then he departed poor and stricken in years// And if the world could know the heart he had//In begging bit by bit his livelihood,
48. Though much it laud him, it would laud him more.”

Summary

Paradiso: Canto 6: Justinian. The Roman Eagle. The Empire. Romeo.

The soul Dante meets here is Justinian I50 and he begins by spelling out Rome’s past glory. He resents that Emperor Constantine (First Christian emperor Roman Empire) made the mistake of moving the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium. In Justinian’s opinion, Constantine51 ended turning the Empire against Heaven and laying waste centuries of skilful efforts made by worthy valuable leaderships. He reminds Dante hundreds of years later, Rome was ruled by Justinian. He lauds himself for reforming Roman laws.

He reminds readers how he was converted to Christianity by the words of the Roman 536 AD Pope Agapetus I52 (who is not to be confused with Saint Agapitos the Confessor 461). Through God’s inspiration, Justinian claims he created the Codex Justinianus (526-534). It was a huge listing of all the Roman laws ordered by Justinian I and it did not include contradictions, complications, or pagan ideals. This work of fundamental jurisprudence allowed the Empire some peace. But he wants Dante to bear witness the hypocrisy of the situation: some people pretended to support the Holy Roman Church53, but opposed it.

Justinian goes back to the beginning of Roman history, by starting with the death of Pallas54 (whom Turnus killed) and founding Rome55, through its seven monarchs56. He then chronicles the era of the Roman Republic (509-27 BC)57 and its successful rebuffing of Hannibal58.

Justinian then details the ascent of Julius Caesar and all of his conquests: the story of Cleopatra (69-30 BC and the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt), Caesar’s rivalry and civil war59 against Pompey, and the treachery of Brutus and Cassius60, who assassinated Caesar. The new emperor Augustus took revenge on Caesar’s murderers and finally brought peace to the Empire.

Justinian then recounts that during the reign of Tiberius Nero61 (42-37 BC), the stepson of Augustus and former fleet captain for Julius Caesar. Later Justinian talks of Jesus being crucified but does not clearly state when. He makes up the crucifixion because of Adam’s original sin. What is important is the reason He died-to take the punishment that all sinners deserve. (John 3:16and 3:36) both proclaim that putting your trust in Him results in eternal life. God then took vengeance on the Jews by having the Emperor Titus62 destroy Jerusalem. Then the king of the Franks, Charlemagne (742-814 AD) and founder of the Holy Roman Empire63 helped legitimise through oligarchy, the Churchian Christianity of the Roman Empire.

With that, Justinian says to Dante he understands why he holds the Guelphs and the Ghibellines in such contempt. The Guelphs openly opposed the Roman Empire, while the Ghibellines treacherously took the Churchian Empire (the Eagle) and made it their own. Then he warns Charles of Anjou 64(1226-1285), leader of the Guelphs, to beware of Papal Rome.

Justinian then talks about the souls living this planet – Mercury, the planet of mental fluidity. They are all righteous spirits, he claims. Everyone on this planet is motivated by his or her desire for fame65. Justinian recognizes now that to value fame so much is to love wrongly.

But he and his fellows rejoice in what God has given them because it is just. And they are happy to be a part of “differing voices,” which “render sweet harmony among these spheres.”
Justinian starts praising a guy named Romeo of Villeneuve66, who was a poor pilgrim whose virtue got him appointed as minister to Count Raymond Berenger of Provence (1195-1245). Romeo married each of Beranger’s four daughters into a royal family so they eventually became queens. Romeo was a favourite of the court, but then jealous people planted a rumour that Romeo was swindling money from his boss, so they got Berenger to accuse Romeo formally. Though innocent, Romeo was offended and so he renounced his position, took what few possessions he originally had, and left – leaving Berenger begging for him to come back. If the world had known Romeo’s true heart, Justinian says, they would have understood him even more.

Discussion

Paradiso: Canto 6: Justinian. The Roman Eagle. The Empire. Romeo.

Despotic power exercised by a few privileged groups in churches and politics is the theme of this canto (the Churchian Empire of the Eagle) which cites many corrupt and selfish individuals. On progression in the Paradiso: “Dante ascends; he does not climb, as in the Purgatorio, but, as he is constantly remarking, is propelled upward with the speed of an arrow. Freedom and justice is a great a idea, held by enlightened cultures. Unfortunately, life in many places and different eras, power was and still is held by tyrants and despots, feudal lords and egomaniacs who sit in power because of “divine right to rule.”

Many leaders came into power through physical force and committing to atrocities. An urge to create some governing body and principle that will provide for the participation in their own destinies is supported throughout the ages. Many respected minds set about first planning such government and even finding ways to achieve it. When a small group of individuals wield much power and dictate the lives of the majority, it is “oligarchy.” The idea of an oligarchy comes out of the Dark Ages and even now exists under the name of ‘democracy’.

“Democratic” singular-head-of-state governing system is designed with a system of checks and balances that weighs and incorporates the opinions of others, so the rabid and egregious abuse of power inherent in autocracy is prevented. Even this “democratic” system is flawed. Loopholes are designed to allow for a concentration of power in the hands of the few. The “democratic” singular head of state and church is not in charge, because he is constantly influenced by aggressive outside parties.

Paradiso Canto 7: Beatrice’s Discourse of the Crucifixion, the Incarnation, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection of the Body.

1. “Osanna sanctus Deus Sabaoth,//Superillustrans claritate tua//Felices ignes horum malahoth!”
2. In this wise, to his melody returning// This substance, upon which a double light// Doubles itself, was seen by me to sing,
3. And to their dance this and the others moved//And in the manner of swift-hurrying sparks// Veiled themselves from me with a sudden distance.
4. Doubting was I, and saying, “Tell her, tell her,”// Within me, “tell her,” saying, “tell my Lady,”// Who slakes my thirst with her sweet effluences;
5. And yet that reverence which doth lord it over// The whole of me only by B and ICE, // Bowed me again like unto one who drowses.
6. Short while did Beatrice endure me thus;//And she began, lighting me with a smile// Such as would make one happy in the fire:
7. “According to infallible advisement,// After what manner a just vengeance justly// Could be avenged has put thee upon thinking,
8. But I will speedily thy mind unloose; // And do thou listen, for these words of mine// Of a great doctrine will a present make thee.
9. By not enduring on the power that wills//Curb for his good, that man who ne’er was born,//Damning himself damned all his progeny;
10. Whereby the human species down below//Lay sick for many centuries in great error,// Till to descend it pleased the Word of God
11. To where the nature, which from its own Maker//Estranged itself, he joined to him in person//By the sole act of his eternal love.
12. Now unto what is said direct thy sight;//This nature when united to its Maker// Such as created, was sincere and good;
13. But by itself alone was banished forth// From Paradiso, because it turned aside// Out of the way of truth and of its life.
14. Therefore the penalty the cross held out// If measured by the nature thus assumed// None ever yet with so great justice stung,
15. And none was ever of so great injustice// Considering who the Person was that suffered// Within whom such a nature was contracted.
16. From one act therefore issued things diverse;// To God and to the Jews one death was pleasing;// Earth trembled at it and the Heaven was opened.
17. It should no longer now seem difficult// To thee, when it is said that a just vengeance// By a just court was afterward avenged.
18. But now do I behold thy mind entangled//From thought to thought within a knot, from which// With great desire it waits to free itself.
19. Thou sayest, ‘Well discern I what I hear//But it is hidden from me why God willed//For our redemption only this one mode.’
20. Buried remaineth, brother, this decree//Unto the eyes of every one whose nature// Is in the flame of love not yet adult.
21. Verily, inasmuch as at this mark//One gazes long and little is discerned// Wherefore this mode was worthiest will I say.
22. Goodness Divine, which from itself doth spurn// All envy, burning in itself so sparkles// That the eternal beauties it unfolds.
23. Whate’er from this immediately distils// Has afterwards no end, for ne’er removed// Is its impression when it sets its seal.
24. Whate’er from this immediately rains down//Is wholly free, because it is not subject// Unto the influences of novel things.
25. The more conformed thereto, the more it pleases// For the blest ardour that irradiates all things// In that most like itself is most vivacious.
26. With all of these things has advantaged been//The human creature; and if one be wanting// From his nobility he needs must fall.
27. ‘Tis sin alone which doth disfranchise him// And render him unlike the Good Supreme// So that he little with its light is blanched,
28. And to his dignity no more returns//Unless he fill up where transgression empties// With righteous pains for criminal delights.
29. Your nature when it sinned so utterly//In its own seed, out of these dignities//Even as out of Paradiso was driven,
30. Nor could itself recover, if thou notest//With nicest subtilty, by any way//Except by passing one of these two fords:
31. Either that God through clemency alone//Had pardon granted, or that man himself// Had satisfaction for his folly made.
32. Fix now thine eye deep into the abyss//Of the eternal counsel, to my speech//As far as may be fastened steadfastly!
33. Man in his limitations had not power//To satisfy, not having power to sink//In his humility obeying then,
34. Far as he disobeying thought to rise// And for this reason man has been from power// Of satisfying by himself excluded.
35. Therefore it God behoved in his own ways// Man to restore unto his perfect life// I say in one, or else in both of them.
36. But since the action of the doer is// So much more grateful, as it more presents// The goodness of the heart from which it issues,
37. Goodness Divine, that doth imprint the world//Has been contented to proceed by each// And all its ways to lift you up again;
38. Nor ‘twixt the first day and the final night//Such high and such magnificent proceeding// By one or by the other was or shall be;
39. For God more bounteous was himself to give// To make man able to uplift himself// Than if he only of himself had pardoned;
40. And all the other modes were insufficient//For justice, were it not the Son of God// Himself had humbled to become incarnate.
41. Now, to fill fully each desire of thine// Return I to elucidate one place// In order that thou there mayst see as I do.
42. Thou sayst: ‘I see the air, I see the fire// The water, and the earth, and all their mixtures// Come to corruption, and short while endure;
43. And these things notwithstanding were created;// Therefore if that which I have said were true// They should have been secure against corruption.
44. The Angels, brother, and the land sincere// In which thou art, created may be called// Just as they are in their entire existence;
45. But all the elements which thou hast named// And all those things which out of them are made// By a created virtue are informed.
46. Created was the matter which they have//Created was the informing influence//Within these stars that round about them go.
47. The soul of every brute and of the plants// By its potential temperament attracts// The ray and motion of the holy lights;
48. But your own life immediately inspires// Supreme Beneficence, and enamours it// So with herself, it evermore desires her.
49. And thou from this mayst argue furthermore//Your resurrection, if thou think again// How human flesh was fashioned at that time
50. When the first parents both of them were made.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 7: Second Heaven, Sphere of Mercury Beatrice’s Discourse of the Crucifixion, the Incarnation, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection of the Body.
Having finished his story, Justinian and his friends start singing a Latin hymn67, during which they dance and spin away. In Heaven, it was not enough to solemnize the great Day when Jesus, the Light, rose from the darkness of the tomb. There was another annual festival made for this celebration. It was and is about the Incarnation of The Word (AUM, OM, Amen, Amin, Hum) that rose on the first day of the week of Creation. He, the Uncreated Word of the Father, had already begun the work of Creation, by calling forth Light. God ennobled the Sun by creating Light, on the second day. It was for the Resurrection of Jesus who would become The Christ. And from that time forward Sunday, was to be the Lord’s Day.

The divine rule of the Sabbath was abrogated with the other ordinances of the Mosaic Law, and the Apostles commanded the faithful to keep holy the first day of the week, which God had dignified with that twofold glory: the creation and the regeneration of the world through the Word.

Dante still has questions about the Justinian’s story. Beatrice reads his mind and smiles knowingly. She rewords Dante’s question. If Jesus’ crucifixion68 was just, in that it redeemed man for his original sin (ancestral sin which according to Abrahamic doctrine states humankind’s fall from divinity began with Adam and Eve); how could it be just for God to then take vengeance69 on the Jews for taking part in it?
Beatrice gives ‘her truth”. Adam gave into temptation, and plunged all of humankind into sin. Nobody could go to Heaven until the becoming of The Christ. Jesus’ Incarnation ensured that he (like every creature in creation) was both man and God simultaneously. Both natures (introvert and extrovert) were united but also distinct. The materialist finds this miracle that a human is both physical and divine70 difficult to understand. The Christ is divinity living within human creatures and is /was always pure – because The Christ is always united with God Human nature becomes sinful because of overindulgences of the 5 senses through the 5 organs of action (Adam’s mistake). Paradoxically the Crucifixion was just, because it punished Jesus’ egocentric human half, but unjust, because it insulted The Christ.

God was pleased because a man called Jesus had shown others how to be allowed into Heaven through entry into The Christ. According to Beatrice, the Jews were pleased they had killed the Christians’ Saviour71. But God was also upset at the Jews for killing His son72. So Beatrice’s explanation should satisfy Dante about why God’s actions after the Crucifixion were just.
Beatrice now expects Dante’s next question: How does a sinner escape righteous judgement without a mediator between God and man? Why did man need to be redeem mankind in exactly this way? Why did Jesus have to die for The Christ to be saved? If God did not want Adam and Eve to sin, why did God place the Tree of Knowledge (Spiritual Path of Sushumna) – was it to save or destroy men’s lives?

Beatrice explains and counsels Dante that nobody can fully understand God, not fathom the wonders of nature, and cannot grasp life. Once God is touched in this way, nobody can convince others that God does not exist. Everything that arises directly from God is immortal, because it has His goodness and cannot be influenced by anything else. Such an evolved creature is most like God. Humankind was once both immortal and free – but then the original Adam sinned. Humankind became unworthy of learning to experience his immortality and his freedom from ignorance about The Christ because of overindulgence of the senses and hyper-responses through the organs of action.

Man needs to erase doubts and understand to atone for this sin of Ignorance. He can gain back the freedom or immortality if God were to ‘forgive’73 everyone or if man was to offer some compensation to God. Adam’s sin believed what the serpent said: that once he ate of the fruit, he would be like God. Nothing would make up for so great a sin; but God was forced to forgive man out of mercy.

God was merciful in giving Himself as Jesus to show humankind His form as Christ to atone for man’s seven cardinal sins, violating God’s will. He was also just because the human part of Jesus suffered for Adam’s sin.

Beatrice then reiterates that all things coming from God are immortal. She reads Dante’s mind which asks: why aren’t things like fire, water, air, and earth everlasting too? She answers only the angels, Heaven, and mankind are directly created by God. Everything else was created by “created powers” (Angelic Intelligences), and they are not immortal.
She says God directly created both the human soul with His breath and the human body (like Adam) through Angelic Intelligences. So body and soul of man are immortal. This implies the death of the human body must be followed by its resurrection.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 7: Second Heaven, Sphere of Mercury Beatrice’s Discourse of the Crucifixion, the Incarnation, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection of the Body

Immortality of the Soul is held sacred by the Church but in truth, none of the facts come from scriptures as is obvious in Beatrice’s explanations. She believes in a ‘conditional immortality’ in which there is annihilation of the unsaved soul in a body. He is not a body-soul unity and arriving at The Christ happens by investing in immortality.

The scriptures show the soul is not the spirit of man, but tradition mixes these two as different things. The body, soul and spirit are different sheaths and there is a difference between all three. When some speak of the soul, they mean soul is the spirit. This causes confusion since the body expression is temporary and can die because it is mortal, but the spiritual (soul and spirit) cannot die because it is immortal.

Man has a body of matter energy and a living breathing soul. Soul is immortal and is endowed with physiological, mental and intellectual sheaths of life force and a free will. The Soul is not just Spirit but is the Divine Being who is enlivening the Causal Individual to reveal through its other sheaths. Animals have souls and spirit but only human souls have the Divine brainpower of Intelligence.

The soul is a spirit, and it is immortal and has free will but is limited by past actions and therefore under the free will of God. “Scripture is full of proof the soul of man is spiritual and immortal.’The Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Gen 2:7). The souls of the just enjoy liberties and are subject to censorship but in the hand of God, and torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seem to die…. but they are in peace…. their hope is always full of immortality.” (Wis 3:1-4). They have hope of immortality because the promise of resurrection. Many scriptures quoted by the author Dante speak of hope of immortality because of resurrection (immortality) is promised through the Spirit.

Jehovah first made man’s body, and second he made man a living soul when and because Jehovah breathed into him. It took the breath of Jehovah to make man a living soul. The living soul is not just a body: it is a body with God’s breath in it. Jesus became the soul of God as The Christ (Mat 12:18).

Jupiter represents the principle of comprehensive knowledge. It is massive in its calm serenity. Its seat is represented by the stomach, nourishment, growth and build-up. The openings of the body are its outer circumferences. In this mudra, pranayama is performed with the intake of prana through the opening of the mouth; by it an afferent impulse through the gustatory nerve is carried to the vagal centre in an upward direction. This produces an efferent impulse, which descends but is immediately met by the afferent impulse which again stimulates the vagal centre reflex through the spinal cord. This control of the vagus nerve is accompanied by the power to frustrate the influence of the Jupiter.

Saturn is a heavy planet that is remote and obscure. A decisive closure of things is its objective, be it death or destruction, and be it self-realization or renunciation. In the human system, it represents the principle of movement and locomotion and respiratory system is controlled by its seat in the solar plexus. Saturn acts as a limiting power; it acts as the law of karma. It selects the whole consciousness of causal body, for the special causes in one special incarnation of the ego and taking a fraction of its contents.

In the physical body, the influence of Saturn flows down circulation. Emotionally, it limits the affective power and the number of friends. Mentally, it helps in concentration and temporarily limits the field of thought. In alchemy Saturn can be transmuted into gold ( metal of the sun) through the agency of mercury(Buddhi).

Rahu as a planet represents wrath and violence. It has the power to grasp and release luminaries and to release them. The seat of Rahu is in the mouth. The medulla oblongata is the mouth of God. It lies in the hindermost part of the brain at the top end of the spinal cord and contains the nervous centres governing the heart beat and automatic of breathing. It connects the brain with the spinal cord. It is in the spinal canal where the sushumna (spinal cord) is embedded. By certain practices, one can stop the flight of Time by drawing prana from ida and pingala. By consciously controlling the continuous working of these two it is possible to put a stop to the catabolic activity of the body. It suspends the general wear and tear of the tissues of the vital organs and helps in the prolongation of life. The sun and the moon represented by ida and pingala are united in one axis in such a harmony to defeat the vagaries of Rahu. When the ida and pingala are thus devitalized by the sushumna, the closed mouth of medulla opens and it devours Rahu.

Ketu’s seat in the human body is in the legs. To control the effect of Ketu, yoga advises the concentration on the tip of the toes. Aitareya Upanishad says prana enters man from the fore part of his feet; then it goes higher up the thigh, stomach, heart and head ramifying into sight, hearing, speech, mind and vital breaths. By the concentration on the tip of the toe it is possible to set up control over prana at its source. To do this is to neutralize the ill effects of Ketu.

Paradiso Canto 8: Ascent to the Third Heaven, Venus: Lovers. Charles Martel. Discourse on diverse Natures.

1. The world used in its peril to believe// That the fair Cypria delirious love//Rayed out, in the third epicycle turning;
2. Wherefore not only unto her paid honour//Of sacrifices and of votive cry// The ancient nations in the ancient error,
3. But both Dione honoured they and Cupid// That as her mother, this one as her son// And said that he had sat in Dido’s lap;
4. And they from her, whence I beginning take// Took the denomination of the star//That woos the sun, now following, now in front.
5. I was not ware of our ascending to it/ But of our being in it gave full faith// My Lady whom I saw more beauteous grow.
6. And as within a flame a spark is seen// And as within a voice a voice discerned// When one is steadfast, and one comes and goes,
7. Within that light beheld I other lamps// Move in a circle, speeding more and less// Methinks in measure of their inward vision.
8. From a cold cloud descended never winds// Or visible or not, so rapidly// They would not laggard and impeded seem
9. To any one who had those lights divine// Seen come towards us, leaving the gyration// Begun at first in the high Seraphim.
10. And behind those that most in front appeared// Sounded “Osanna!” so that never since// To hear again was I without desire.
11. Then unto us more nearly one approached// And it alone began: “We all are ready// Unto thy pleasure, that thou joy in us.
12. We turn around with the celestial Princes//One gyre and one gyration and one thirs//To whom thou in the world of old didst say,
13. ‘Ye who, intelligent, the third heaven are moving’// And are so full of love, to pleasure thee// A little quiet will not be less sweet.”
14. After these eyes of mine themselves had offered//Unto my Lady reverently, and she// Content and certain of herself had made them,
15. Back to the light they turned, which so great promise// Made of itself, and “Say, who art thou?” was// My voice, imprinted with a great affection.
16. how and how much I beheld it grow//With the new joy that superadded was//Unto its joys, as soon as I had spoken!
17. Thus changed, it said to me: “The world possessed me// Short time below; and, if it had been more// Much evil will be which would not have been.
18. My gladness keepeth me concealed from thee// Which rayeth round about me, and doth hide me//Like as a creature swathed in its own silk.
19. Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason//For had I been below, I should have shown thee// Somewhat beyond the foliage of my love.
20. That left-hand margin, which doth bathe itself// In Rhone, when it is mingled with the Sorgue//Me for its lord awaited in due time,
21. And that horn of Ausonia, which is towned//ith Bari, with Gaeta and Catona//Whence Tronto and Verde in the sea disgorge.
22. Already flashed upon my brow the crown// Of that dominion which the Danube waters// After the German borders it abandons;
23. And beautiful Trinacria, that is murky//Twixt Pachino and Peloro, (on the gulf// Which greatest scath from Eurus doth receive,)
24. Not through Typhoeus, but through nascent sulphur//Would have awaited her own monarchs still//Through me from Charles descended and from Rudolph,
25. If evil lordship, that exasperates ever// The subject populations, had not moved// Palermo to the outcry of ‘Death! death!’
26. And if my brother could but this foresee// The greedy poverty of Catalonia// Straight would he flee, that it might not molest him;
27. For verily ’tis needful to provide// Through him or other, so that on his bark// Already freighted no more freight be placed.
28. His nature, which from liberal covetous// Descended, such a soldiery would need// As should not care for hoarding in a chest.”
29. “Because I do believe the lofty joy// Thy speech infuses into me, my Lord// Where every good thing doth begin and end
30. Thou seest as I see it, the more grateful// Is it to me; and this too hold I dear// That gazing upon God thou dost discern it.
31. Glad hast thou made me; so make clear to me//Since speaking thou hast stirred me up to doubt// How from sweet seed can bitter issue forth.”
32. This I to him; and he to me: “If I//Can show to thee a truth, to what thou askest//Thy face thou’lt hold as thou dost hold thy back.
33. The Good which all the realm thou art ascending// Turns and contents, maketh its providence// To be a power within these bodies vast;
34. And not alone the natures are foreseen//Within the mind that in itself is perfect// But they together with their preservation.
35. For whatsoever thing this bow shoots forth// Falls foreordained unto an end foreseen// Even as a shaft directed to its mark.
36. If that were not, the heaven which thou dost walk// Would in such manner its effects produce//That they no longer would be arts, but ruins.
37. This cannot be, if the Intelligences// That keep these stars in motion are not maimed// And maimed the First that has not made them perfect.
38. Wilt thou this truth have clearer made to thee?”//And I: “Not so; for ’tis impossible// That nature tire, I see, in what is needful.”
39. Whence he again: “Now say, would it be worse//For men on earth were they not citizens?”//”Yes,” I replied; “and here I ask no reason.”
40. “And can they be so, if below they live not// Diversely unto offices diverse?//No, if your master writeth well for you.”
41. So came he with deductions to this point// Then he concluded: “Therefore it behoves// The roots of your effects to be diverse.
42. Hence one is Solon born, another Xerxes//Another Melchisedec, and another he// Who, flying through the air, his son did lose.
43. Revolving Nature, which a signet is// To mortal wax, doth practise well her art// But not one inn distinguish from another;
44. Thence happens it that Esau differeth//In seed from Jacob; and Quirinus comes//From sire so vile that he is given to Mars.
45. A generated nature its own way// Would always make like its progenitors// If Providence divine were not triumphant.
46. Now that which was behind thee is before thee// But that thou know that I with thee am pleased// With a corollary will I mantle thee.
47. Evermore nature, if it fortune find// Discordant to it, like each other seed// Out of its region, maketh evil thrift;
48. And if the world below would fix its mind// On the foundation which is laid by nature// Pursuing that, ‘twould have the people good.
49. But you unto religion wrench aside// Him who was born to gird him with the sword//And make a king of him who is for sermons;
50. Therefore your footsteps wander from the road.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 8: Ascent to the Third Heaven, Venus: Lovers. Charles Martel. Discourse on diverse Natures

Dante states that in the time before Jesus, people thought the third planet sent down rays of love on the people. They named her after the mother of Cupid. Hence, the planet’s name became Venus – the Roman goddess of love. Dante believes he is ascending to Venus. His suspicion is confirmed when he notices Beatrice growing even more beautiful than she once was.

Here on Venus Dante sees a bunch of wheeling lights, dancing so harmoniously together that he compares them to a spark in a flame, and they are singing they hymn, “Hosanna” – the cry in praise of the of the Lord. They already know Mars is warlike, Venus is affectionate,

Mercury is wise, Saturn is down still, the Moon is motherly, the Sun will lead the souls and Jupiter will guide all important personages. Dante has this knowledge but also knows he must not enter their dwellings without first knocking at the door of each planet in the heart temple.

One soul breaks away from the dance, and approaches Dante. The soul tells how his fellow souls dance around a “celestial Prince” whom Dante once invoked in his Convivio74, and promises to “bring him [Dante] joy.” Dante seeks Beatrice’s consent, and turns to the light and asks him who he is. This makes the soul so happy that it grows brighter. He says that he had a brief life, but if he had been able to stay longer, he would’ have rid much evil.

He describes the geography of his homeland where he was once a king of France. He says his sons would have ruled Sicily if the ruler of that region had not been so bad the people revolted. He is Charles Martel75, (the founder of the Carolingian dynasty and ruler of the Franks during the early 8th century) although he never reveals his name. Then he prophesizes about his brother, who is still alive76; If only Robert could see what lies in store for him, he would run away from Catalonia77. Robert is a greedy man because he uses mercenaries who are only interested in getting rich78.

Dante replies the soul’s words have made him happy. But Dante has a question: how can bad sons (like Robert) come from good fathers like Charles II79? King David was a great man of God, and even God anointed him and used him. Even though he was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) he was a terrible father. Martel answers that God acts through providence80, which means looking out for the eventual well-being of humanity. Providence is a force that keeps the universe from total chaos. If the universe were chaotic, that would point to an imperfect Creator.
Dante is satisfied with this reply. Now Charles asks Dante if it is a good thing that men are citizens on earth. Dante agrees humankind should live like citizens of heaven on earth. Charles then asks if earth should have citizens that are not different, have with similar skills and identical duties. Dante answers no81 because he is familiar with Plato’s idea: of creating a perfect city is to assign what each one performs as the natural choice for him. This was the principle of specialization in the human society and to find the foundation of a Republic through justice and injustice.

Charles adds earth needs a diversity of lawmakers, warriors, priests, and inventors; but the stars, although they influence mortals, they do not make people different. If left up to Nature, seeds (sons) would always be carbon copies of their fathers. But because earth needs diversity, Providence makes it possible for people to differ

Charles adds that when a man comes across a task that does not come naturally to him, he does not respond well. But if the world paid more attention to people’s natural dispositions (is a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way – or their true natures – and did not force them into jobs they were not good at, everyone would be more worthy. Since the world tries to makes natural-born warriors into priests, and natural-born priests into kings, it often gets it all wrong.

Discussion

Canto 8: Ascent to the Third Heaven, Venus: Lovers. Charles Martel. Discourse on diverse Natures

Charlemagne (Charles Martel) understood justice, warriors and rulers. He was able to choose through observation from among his guardians those most inclined to be advantageous for his ambitions. He defined justice to mean each one should work on what his nature chooses for him. He assigned to friends and enemy, what is just to give to each and what is appropriately owed. The idea was to respect and obligate the law, “Not cheating someone even unintentionally, not lying to him, not owing a sacrifice to some god or money to a person as a result departing of the other place in fear…” (Socrates).

Parental responsibilities and duties are repeatedly quoted in the Bible “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) and “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

Statements about diversity of people, culture, occupation and faith refer to an existing environment of unfairness and treating differences as an alien environment.
Dante is familiar with the different perspectives of Middle Age politics and religion. Equipped with knowledge of philosophers of his day, he makes the right moves in response to the many questions raised by Charles Martel.

Paradiso Canto 9: Cunizza da Romano, Folco of Marseilles, and Rahab. Neglect of the Holy Land.

1. Beautiful Clemence, after that thy Charles//Had me enlightened, he narrated to me// The treacheries his seed should undergo;
2. But said: “Be still and let the years roll round”// So I can only say, that lamentation//Legitimate shall follow on your wrongs.
3. And of that holy light the life already//Had to the Sun which fills it turned again//As to that good which for each thing sufficeth.
4. Ah, souls deceived, and creatures impious//Who from such good do turn away your hearts// Directing upon vanity your foreheads!
5. And now, behold, another of those splendours//Approached me, and its will to pleasure me//It signified by brightening outwardly.
6. The eyes of Beatrice, that fastened were//Upon me, as before, of dear assent//To my desire assurance gave to me.
7. “Ah, bring swift compensation to my wish,//Thou blessed spirit,” I said, “and give me proof//That what I think in thee I can reflect!”
8. Whereat the light, that still was new to me//Out of its depths, whence it before was singing//As one delighted to do good, continued:
9. “Within that region of the land depraved//Of Italy, that lies between Rialto//And fountain-heads of Brenta and of Piava,
10. Rises a hill, and mounts not very high//Wherefrom descended formerly a torch// That made upon that region great assault.
11. Out of one root were born both I and it//Cunizza was I called, and here I shine//Because the splendour of this star o’ercame me.
12. But gladly to myself the cause I pardon//Of my allotment, and it does not grieve me//Which would perhaps seem strong unto your vulgar.
13. Of this so luculent and precious jewel//Which of our heaven is nearest unto me// Great fame remained; and ere it die away
14. This hundredth year shall yet quintupled be//See if man ought to make him excellent//So that another life the first may leave!
15. And thus thinks not the present multitude//Shut in by Adige and Tagliamento//Nor yet for being scourged is penitent.
16. But soon ’twill be that Padua in the marsh//Will change the water that Vicenza bathes//Because the folk are stubborn against duty;
17. And where the Sile and Cagnano join//One lordeth it, and goes with lofty head//For catching whom e’en now the net is making.
18. Feltro moreover of her impious pastor//Shall weep the crime, which shall so monstrous be//That for the like none ever entered Malta.
19. Ample exceedingly would be the vat//That of the Ferrarese could hold the blood//And weary who should weigh it ounce by ounce,
20. Of which this courteous priest shall make a gift//To show himself a partisan; and such gifts//Will to the living of the land conform.
21. Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call them//From which shines out on us God Judicant//So that this utterance seems good to us.”
22. Here it was silent, and it had the semblance//Of being turned elsewhither, by the wheel//On which it entered as it was before.
23. The other joy, already known to me//Became a thing transplendent in my sight//as a fine ruby smitten by the sun.
24. Through joy effulgence is acquired above//As here a smile; but down below, the shade//Outwardly darkens, as the mind is sad.
25. “God seeth all things, and in Him, blest spirit//Thy sight is,” said I, “so that never will//Of his can possibly from thee be hidden;
26. Thy voice, then, that for ever makes the heavens//Glad, with the singing of those holy fires//Which of their six wings make themselves a cowl,
27. Wherefore does it not satisfy my longings?//Indeed, I would not wait thy questioning//If I in thee were as thou art in me.”
28. “The greatest of the valleys where the water//Expands itself,” forthwith its words began//”That sea excepted which the earth engarlands,
29. Between discordant shores against the sun//Extends so far, that it meridian makes// Where it was wont before to make the horizon.
30. I was a dweller on that valley’s shore//’Twixt Ebro and Magra that with journey short//Doth from the Tuscan part the Genoese.
31. With the same sunset and same sunrise nearly//Sit Buggia and the city whence I was//That with its blood once made the harbour hot.
32. Folco that people called me unto whom//My name was known; and now with me this heaven//Imprints itself, as I did once with it;
33. For more the daughter of Belus never burned//Offending both Sichaeus and Creusa//Than I, so long as it became my locks,
34. Nor yet that Rodophean, who deluded//was by Demophoon, nor yet Alcides//When Iole he in his heart had locked.
35. Yet here is no repenting, but we smile//Not at the fault, which comes not back to mind//But at the power which ordered and foresaw.
36. Here we behold the art that doth adorn//With such affection, and the good discover//Whereby the world above turns that below.
37. But that thou wholly satisfied mayst bear//Thy wishes hence which in this sphere are born//Still farther to proceed behoveth me.
38. Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light//That here beside me thus is scintillating//Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water.
39. Then know thou, that within there is at rest//Rahab, and being to our order joined//With her in its supremest grade ’tis sealed.
40. Into this heaven, where ends the shadowy cone//Cast by your world, before all other souls//First of Christ’s triumph was she taken up.
41. Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven//Even as a palm of the high victory//Which he acquired with one palm and the other,
42. Because she favoured the first glorious deed//Of Joshua upon the Holy Land// That little stirs the memory of the Pope.
43. Thy city, which an offshoot is of him//Who first upon his Maker turned his back// And whose ambition is so sorely wept,
44. Brings forth and scatters the accursed flower//Which both the sheep and lambs hath led astray//Since it has turned the shepherd to a wolf.
45. For this the Evangel and the mighty Doctors//Are derelict, and only the Decretals//So studied that it shows upon their margins.
46. On this are Pope and Cardinals intent//Their meditations reach not Nazareth//There where his pinions Gabriel unfolded;
47. But Vatican and the other parts elect//Of Rome, which have a cemetery been//Unto the soldiery that followed Peter
48. Shall soon be free from this adultery.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 9: (Third Heaven: Sphere of Venus) Cunizza da Romano, Folco of Marseilles, and Rahab. Neglect of the Holy Land

Dante invokes Charles Martel’s wife, Clemence82, telling her how their bloodline (their three children) is headed for bad luck. Dante claims that Charles told him to “be silent” about this. Although Dante has been sworn to secrecy, he vaguely tells Clemence that her family’s wrongs will be avenged83. With that Charles turns towards the Sun. Dante praises him for worshipping the Sun (Zeus) who is the chief solar deity of Heaven, ruler of the Intellect and the source of Truth. Charles had already explained that Divine providence structures and controls creation in nature and in its continuing welfare. This is achieved through the angelic intellects present in the planetary spheres. Since God and the Angels are perfect the results cannot be chaotic. Dante agrees.

Now another soul approaches Dante, growing brighter to show that she wants to talk to him. Dante turns to Beatrice for permission before asking the soul to speak. She talks about her birthplace. She comes from the hills of Romano where a “firebrand descended” and brought a lot of grief to the land84. She reveals that this firebrand is her kin, saying that she and he came from one root. She names herself as Cunizza85 and identifies herself as a lover, which is why she is here on Venus86. She is not bitter about being this low in Heaven because she has now turned her love towards God87. She then introduces the shining soul beside her as a man who is and will remain famous for centuries to come.

But now Cunizza turns away from her shiny friend to convey an ominous prophecy about the people of Treviso88 whom she calls “rabble” of the March of Treviso89 and the Paduan Guelphs who despite being defeated by the Ghibellines three times, refused to listen to the crown. She talks about the murder of despots, and about the ransom of the King’s men. She foreshadows that these people will spill so much blood that it would take a huge vat to contain all of it.

She justifies her words by invoking the judgment of the Angelic Intelligences that rule Venus, called the Thrones. She claims that since they shine down with the judgment of God, it is her right to speak such truths. Dante is happy with the conversation because he knows Charles is also aware their conversation is divinely inspired. Dante also asks if heredity linked fecundity (sexual act) aligned with Venus is a bad trait and can emerge in a succeeding generation. She then joins the dance of the spirits again while her shiny friend comes towards Dante.

Dante says the soul knows what Dante is thinking because the soul is one of God’s blessed. The soul answers, starting with his birthplace. He details the geography of his home city, Marseilles France). Finally, he identifies himself as Folco. He was also a lover. In his life, he was so “impressed with [Venus’] rays” that he even rivalled famous lovers like Dido (who was in love with Aeneas), Phyllis (who committed suicide when she thought Demopho?n was cheating on her), or even Hercules (abductor of Iola).

Folco says he is grateful that God put him here. But enough about me, says Folco. I know you are curious about this brilliant soul beside me. Folco names his bright neighbour as Rahab90 and says she has the “highest rank” in Venus. Since she lived before Jesus, she went to Hell on death, but was the first one taken up to Heaven when Jesus Christ ploughed Hell of unnecessary weeds. This was a just act because she was always sympathetic to The Christ.

Then Folco discusses Dante’s city, Florence. He claims Florence’s founder was Lucifer himself and the golden lilies, its emblem, turn good priests into greedy men. Because of that, the Church no longer studies the Gospels but only its own decrees. But Folco says Florence will soon be rid of those corrupt priests.

Folco shines like a bright ruby, red with the flames of love, and Dante explains the outward appearance of the spirits is bright in Paradiso and dark in Hell, since the outer reveals the inner state of mind: namely joy in the Paradiso, sadness in the Inferno. Dante asks why Folco does not mirror Dante’s own wish and speak to him.

Folco explains his origins. Marseilles is on the same meridian as Bolgia in Algeria. Julius Caesar’s fleet won a victory over the Pompeian near Marseilles in 49BC. He quotes three examples of intense love from the ancient world, Dido, Phyllis and Hercules.

Folco asserts the spirits are beyond the state of remorse, and thoughts of their sins, and live on the power that made the order of the universe, beautifying it with its Art, and goodness that allows the earthly world to return to the spiritual.

Dante uses the examples of Folco and Rahab to assert that their faith or conversion and support for the cause redeemed their past lives of excessive dependence on earthly love and sexuality, and placed them in Heaven. The mention of Rahab allows Dante, through Folco, a diatribe against Florentine usury and worldliness, with Boniface’s corruption of the Papacy, and his indifference to the aim of the Crusades.

Discussion

Canto 9: (Third Heaven: Sphere of Venus) Cunizza da Romano, Folco of Marseilles, and Rahab. Neglect of the Holy Land

Beatrice now rises with Dante into the third Venus: of Charity, Pity and Love; Venus is in an inner orbit close to the Sun and appears like a morning ‘star’ near sunrise. Dante recognizes Venus because Beatrice becomes more beautiful and other spirits manifest like sparks among flames. The spirits leave their circling, from the highest of the three of the nine Angels, led by the Seraphim. They sing the Hosanna, and the spirit of Charles Martel approaches Dante quoting opening line Dante’s book the Convivio: Charles explains the spirits are overcome with love and are happy to receive them. Dante looks at Beatrice and receives permission to speak. Dante asks who is he who speaks with so much affection his own poetry in Heaven. It is Charles Martel, who befriended Dante. Charles (1271-1295) was the eldest son of Charles II of Naples, and of Mary of Hungary the daughter of Stephen IV. Dante met him when he visited Florence where he was popular. He married to Clemence, the daughter of Emperor Rudolph of Hapsburg. His line reportedly reconciled the Guelph and Ghibelline factions, but his early death dashed Dante’s hopes. His brother was Robert Duke of Calabria. His daughter Clemence married Louis X of France. His son Caroberto became heir to Naples but was ousted by Robert, his uncle in 1309.

Dante understands Charles’ description of the regions over which he would have held power including Provence, and Sicily had it not been for the Sicilian Vespers which in 1282 triggered the rising in Palermo against the French. He then gives his brother Robert a prophetic warning. Robert and his brothers Louis and John were hostages in Spain after the release of their father Charles in 1288 until 1295. Robert was accompanied back to Italy by greedy Catalonian adventurers, whom he gave office to, when he succeeded to the throne of Naples. Their greed was detested in Apulia but was shipwrecked in 1301.Charles states Robert came from a generous heritage but descended into meanness. This Venus deals with Love with Blemishes – more precisely Charles refers to earthly love, even if it was intense. Cunizza admits to her excessive earthy love, but is satisfied with her state. With her is Folco, or Folcetto, a troubadour, a Genoese by origin, born at Marseilles shortly before 1160. A famous lover he became a Cistercian monk and was made Bishop of Toulouse in 1205. He was a friend of Saint Dominic, and persecuted the Albigensian heretics till his death in 1231. Cunizza prophesies his lasting fame, presumably for the heretic persecutions of the Albigensian Crusade, that sorry chapter in the history of the Papacy.

Paradiso Canto 10: The Fourth Heaven, the Sun: Theologians and Fathers of the Church. The First Circle. St. Thomas of Aquinas.

1. Looking into his Son with all the Love// Which each of them eternally breathes forth// The Primal and unutterable Power
2. Whate’er before the mind or eye revolves// With so much order made, there can be none// Who this beholds without enjoying Him.
3. Lift up then, Reader, to the lofty wheels// With me thy vision straight unto that part// Where the one motion on the other strikes,
4. And there begin to contemplate with joy// That Master’s art, who in himself so loves it// That never doth his eye depart therefrom.
5. Behold how from that point goes branching off// The oblique circle, which conveys the planets// To satisfy the world that calls upon them;
6. And if their pathway were not thus inflected// Much virtue in the heavens would be in vain// And almost every power below here dead.
7. If from the straight line distant more or less// Were the departure, much would wanting be// Above and underneath of mundane order.
8. Remain now, Reader, still upon thy bench//In thought pursuing that which is foretasted// If thou wouldst jocund be instead of weary.
9. I’ve set before thee; henceforth feed thyself// For to itself diverteth all my care// That theme whereof I have been made the scribe.
10. The greatest of the ministers of nature// Who with the power of heaven the world imprints// And measures with his light the time for us,
11. With that part which above is called to mind// Conjoined, along the spirals was revolving// Where each time earlier he presents himself;
12. And I was with him; but of the ascending//I was not conscious, saving as a man// Of a first thought is conscious ere it come;
13. And Beatrice, she who is seen to pass// From good to better, and so suddenly// That not by time her action is expressed,
14. How lucent in herself must she have been// And what was in the sun, wherein I entered// Apparent not by colour but by light,
15. I, though I call on genius, art, and practice// Cannot so tell that it could be imagined// Believe one can, and let him long to see it.
16. And if our fantasies too lowly are// For altitude so great, it is no marvel// Since o’er the sun was never eye could go.
17. Such in this place was the fourth family// Of the high Father, who forever sates it// Showing how he breathes forth and how begets.
18. And Beatrice began: “Give thanks, give thanks// Unto the Sun of Angels, who to this// Sensible one has raised thee by his grace!”
19. Never was heart of mortal so disposed// To worship, nor to give itself to God// With all its gratitude was it so ready,
20. As at those words did I myself become//And all my love was so absorbed in Him// That in oblivion Beatrice was eclipsed.
21. Nor this displeased her; but she smiled at it// So that the splendour of her laughing eyes// My single mind on many things divided.
22. Lights many saw I, vivid and triumphant// Make us a centre and themselves a circle// More sweet in voice than luminous in aspect.
23. Thus girt about the daughter of Latona// We sometimes see, when pregnant is the air// So that it holds the thread which makes her zone.
24. Within the court of Heaven, whence I return// Are many jewels found, so fair and precious// They cannot be transported from the realm;
25. And of them was the singing of those lights//Who takes not wings that he may fly up thither//The tidings thence may from the dumb await!
26. As soon as singing thus those burning suns//Had round about us whirled themselves three times// Like unto stars neighbouring the steadfast poles,
27. Ladies they seemed, not from the dance released// But who stop short, in silence listening// Till they have gathered the new melody.
28. And within one I heard beginning: “When//The radiance of grace, by which is kindled// True love, and which thereafter grows by loving,
29. Within thee multiplied is so resplendent// That it conducts thee upward by that stair//Where without reascending none descends,
30. Who should deny the wine out of his vial//Unto thy thirst, in liberty were not// Except as water which descends not seaward.
31. Fain wouldst thou know with what plants is enflowered//This garland that encircles with delight// The Lady fair who makes thee strong for heaven.
32. Of the lambs was I of the holy flock// Which Dominic conducteth by a road// Where well one fattens if he strayeth not.
33. He who is nearest to me on the right// My brother and master was; and he Albertus// Is of Cologne, I Thomas of Aquinum.
34. If thou of all the others wouldst be certain//Follow behind my speaking with thy sight//Upward along the blessed garland turning.
35. That next effulgence issues from the smile//Of Gratian, who assisted both the courts// In such wise that it pleased in Paradiso.
36. The other which nearby adorns our choir//That Peter was who, e’en as the poor widow// Offered his treasure unto Holy Church.
37. The fifth light, that among us is the fairest// Breathes forth from such a love, that all the world// Below is greedy to learn tidings of it.
38. Within it is the lofty mind, where knowledge// So deep was put, that, if the true be true// To see so much there never rose a second.
39. Thou seest next the lustre of that taper// Which in the flesh below looked most within// The angelic nature and its ministry.
40. Within that other little light is smiling//The advocate of the Christian centuries//
Out of whose rhetoric Augustine was furnished.
41. Now if thou trainest thy mind’s eye along//From light to light pursuant of my praise
//With thirst already of the eighth thou waitest.
42. By seeing every good therein exults//The sainted soul, which the fallacious world// Makes manifest to him who listeneth well;
43. The body whence ’twas hunted forth is lying// Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom// And banishment it came unto this peace.
44. See farther onward flame the burning breath//Of Isidore, of Beda, and of Richard
// Who was in contemplation more than man.
45. This, whence to me returneth thy regard// The light is of a spirit unto whom// In his grave meditations death seemed slow.
46. It is the light eternal of Sigier// Who, reading lectures in the Street of Straw// Did syllogize invidious verities.”
47. Then, as a horologe that calleth us// What time the Bride of God is rising up// With matins to her Spouse that he may love her,
48. Wherein one part the other draws and urges// Ting! ting! resounding with so sweet a note// That swells with love the spirit well disposed,
49. Thus I beheld the glorious wheel move round// And render voice to voice, in modulation// And sweetness that can not be comprehended,
50. Excepting there where joy is made eternal.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 10: The Fourth Heaven, the Sun: Theologians and Fathers of the Church. The First Circle. St. Thomas of Aquinas.

Dante urges his readers to lift their eyes to the stars and see God’s incredible art, including the orbit of the planets. He then tells us that unless these orbits were just so, the entire universe would become out of order because of lack of right adjustment.

Dante rises to the fourth sphere of the Sun without even realizing it. Dante realizes that Beatrice flies with him and they arrive in a new sphere within a moment. He comments the souls in the Sun are indescribably beautiful, but Beatrice orders Dante to thank God for lifting him into the Sun. Dante now gets so lost in his blissful prayers that even his thoughts of Beatrice are “eclipsed” by those of God.

In the Sun, Dante sees many souls form a crown around him and Beatrice. Dante recommends all should gaze at the ‘order’ of the universe in space. He describes the Creator-artist’s incredible talent. He invokes the Power of the Father, the anointing through The Christ (by the Son), and Love of the Holy Spirit who breathes life in each of Her construction. Dante encourages all too systematically survey this Foundation which forever remains in the eyes of the Creator.

Dante draws attention to the Spring equinoctial point where the Ecliptic meets with the Heavenly Equator. At this point is where the sun rises, in Aries in the Vision Dante surveys. Dante is believes the band of the ecliptic paths of the sun and the other ‘planets’ follow against the fixed stars. Thy are tilted (at 23.5deg, similar to the tilted axis of the earth to the plane of its orbit round the sun. Therefore Dante suggests because the sun and planets have varying influences throughout the year they create seasonal changes as is Divinely ordained. He describes this event as an order and art in the Universe.

The Sun measures time by rising earlier and more northerly each day from mid-winter to mid-summer and later and more southerly each day from mid-winter to mid-summer. The Seasonal movement of the Sun on a continuous spiral through the sky during the year is mentioned. It is Beatrice who leads the unacquainted Dante through the sphere of the sun. He cannot articulate his experience of the increased brightness through intellect, his knowledge of art or understanding. He can only explain the subject through faith and hope.

Beatrice insists Dante should show his appreciation for the ascent. In doing so Dante temporarily forgets Beatrice. He goes beyond his adoration of her. Worship of the Divine reveals beyond Dante’s knowledge of divine philosophy. Beatrice’s eyes beam with pleasure and her smile is a sign that she understands Dante’s is experiencing theological virtues of faith. Her eyes sense Dante roles through the prism of cardinal virtues and reason because Faith and intellect are one.

Dante and Beatrice have moved up to the first sphere of the Sun where the cardinal virtue of Prudence is arrived at. Here is where practical wisdom of the sun brings life to earth. Here the spirits manifested reconcile spiritual and earthly wisdom, pagan and Christian history. Virtuous Christian life on earth is explained as existing in the Sun’s sphere of light, creation and wisdom.
Dante describes a beautiful coronet of twelve living lights dancing and singing around him and Beatrice. They surround the moon goddess Beatrice with a halo lights encircling them three times similar to a pole dance by young ladies. Dante is curious to know who they all are. Then the voice of Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican theologian, satisfies Dante’s inquiry.

Dante discusses his own prime sources of theological knowledge. He has tried to tackle some moral stories of Christianity that require subtle positions of faith. Aquinas stands for deeper knowledge. Dante’s knowledge comes from the lower spheres reached by Earth’s shadow and he is now entering the sphere of the Sun. He needs to reflect away from the first three liberal arts of grammar, rhetoric and logic and to the progress to arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. The medieval schools were in sore need of bridges the gaps between the tools of knowledge and the realities of wisdom; between the speech and argument of philosophy; and the mathematical dance and singing of the higher spheres.

Now let’s to introduce the dancers: Albert of Cologne (a fellow student of St. Dominic), Gratian (who helped develop law), Peter Lombard (a professor of theology), the revered King Solomon (who was thought to have composed the Biblical Song of Songs), Dionysius the Areopagite (writer of De coelestia Hierarchia), and Paulus Orosius (a Spanish historian).
Then there are more: Boethius (a medieval philosopher) who was martyred and came to Heaven, St. Isidore of Seville (who wrote an encyclopaedia), Venerable the Bede (the father of English history), Richard of St. Victor (a renowned mystic), and Siger de Brabant (a proponent of the Averroes interpretation of Aristotle) are all in this fourth ring of Heaven.
After introductions, the spirits start singing and dancing again. Dante compares them to the Bride of God (the Church) singing matins (morning prayers) to Christ at dawn.

Discussion

Canto 10: The Fourth Heaven, the Sun: Theologians and Fathers of the Church. The First Circle. St. Thomas of Aquinas.

Dante lists eminent luminaries who dance around Beatrice and him. They include; Gratian the Italian Benedictine monk who brought ecclesiastical and civil law into harmony with each other through Canon Law. Peter Lombard (1100-1160) an Augustinian, who was known as ‘the Master of the Sentences’ in his four books on God, the Creation, Redemption, and the Sacraments and Last Things. These were the chief summaries of medieval theology before Aquinas, who later commented on it.

Next is Solomon, the fifth light, The King of Israel, son of David and Bathsheba, who so wise, that there was a debate, as to whether as a Jew he was damned or saved. The sixth is Dionysius the Areopagite, to whom the mystical sixth century writings of the pseudo-Dionysius were ascribed. He is assigned especially as one of the Celestial Hierarchy, which possibly composed his works in the fifth or sixth century. Dionysius learned them from Saint Paul, who experienced them when rapt into the third heaven. Paulus Orosius is next, an early fifth century writer, whose ‘Historia adversus Paganos’ was an apologetic treatise written at the suggestion of Augustine to show that Christianity had not ruined the Empire, as Pagans contended.

The eighth luminary has had a major influence on Dante. It is Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Bo?thius (475-525), the Roman consul and philosopher who was condemned to death by Theodoric, at Pavia. He wrote the ‘Consolation of Philosophy’ while in prison, defending a virtuous life and justifying the ways of God. He stressed philosophical truth, and earthly life, rather than revelation of the afterlife. Through his Pagan and Christian connections he was accepted as a Christian teacher. He argued the timelessness of God’s view of existence, and the power of Human Freewill. Cieldauro (Golden Ceiling) is St. Peter’s Church in Pavia where he was eventually buried. Since his opponents were Arian heretics, he is claimed as a Catholic martyr. Arian was 4th century ancient Greek theologian who argued Jesus an evolved being but was not divine.

Isidore of Seville (560-636) author of the main Medieval Encyclopaedia, who follows, with Bede (673-735) the English Ecclesiastical historian who died in Jarrow; and Richard of Saint Victor the Augustinian mystic (died 1173), and a friend of Saint Bernard, who wrote a treatise called ‘De Contemplatione.’

Sigier of Brabant is seen here also, a professor in the University of Paris and the centre of the Arts Schools at Paris. He disputed with the mendicant orders, and Aquinas was one of his opponents. Dante’s thought is reflected back from Sigier to Aquinas himself. He was ultimately driven from his University chair, and murdered, or executed, at the papal Court at Orvieto. Sigier was the most famous Averroist thinker (free-thinker with anti-theological tendency to reveal itself) in late thirteenth century Paris, arguing non-Christian interpretations of Aristotle. Dante admired his syllogistic proposition method, rather than all of his conclusions; Placing him last in the circle, juxtaposes him with Aquinas who is first, and so reconciles the two opponents.

Sigier while putting forward Averroist arguments, including those concerning the nature of the soul, and determinism which Aquinas and Dante specifically challenge, nevertheless suggested the inferiority of philosophical argument to faith, where they were irreconcilable. Dante promoted agreement with faith as a practical wisdom, rather than accepting Sigier’s thought.
Like a clock striking the hour of Matins (first seven hours of morning worship), when the Church rises and sings to The Christ, the wheel of the twelve spirits now revolves harmoniously around Dante pilgrim and Beatrice. So the regularly ordered and measured theological truth and its practical wisdom circles harmoniously around the Church revealing through the divine grace of Beatrice. God’s Universe moves harmoniously with mathematical regularity of the solar cycle. Here on this sphere, there is order at this level, and obviously far from the chaos of politics, different philosophical thought and human destructiveness. He questions moral stories of Christianity that need subtle positions of faith. Thomas Aquinas stands for deeper knowledge

Purgatory Canto 11. St. Thomas recounts the Life of St. Francis. Lament over the State of the Dominican Order.

1. Thou insensate care of mortal men// How inconclusive are the syllogisms//
That make thee beat thy wings in downward flight!
2. One after laws and one to aphorisms// Was going, and one following the priesthood
// And one to reign by force or sophistry,
3. And one in theft, and one in state affairs// One in the pleasures of the flesh involved
// Wearied himself, one gave himself to ease;
4. When I, from all these things emancipate// With Beatrice above there in the Heavens// With such exceeding glory was received!
5. When each one had returned unto that point//Within the circle where it was before
// It stood as in a candlestick a candle;
6. And from within the effulgence which at first// Had spoken unto me, I heard begin
// Smiling while it more luminous became:
7. “Even as I am kindled in its ray// So, looking into the Eternal Light//The occasion of thy thoughts I apprehend.
8. Thou doubtest, and wouldst have me to resift//In language so extended and so open
//My speech, that to thy sense it may be plain,
9. Where just before I said, ‘where well one fattens’//And where I said, ‘there never rose a second’// And here ’tis needful we distinguish well.
10. The Providence, which governeth the world//With counsel, wherein all created vision// Is vanquished ere it reach unto the bottom,
11. (So that towards her own Beloved might go//The bride of Him who, uttering a loud cry// Espoused her with his consecrated blood,
12. Self-confident and unto Him more faithful)//Two Princes did ordain in her behoof// Which on this side and that might be her guide.
13. The one was all seraphical in ardour//The other by his wisdom upon earth// A splendour was of light cherubical.
14. One will I speak of, for of both is spoken//In praising one, whichever may be taken
// Because unto one end their labours were.
15. Between Tupino and the stream that falls//Down from the hill elect of blessed Ubald
//A fertile slope of lofty mountain hangs,
16. From which Perugia feels the cold and heat//Through Porta Sole, and behind it weep
//Gualdo and Nocera their grievous yoke.
17. From out that slope, there where it breaketh most//Its steepness, rose upon the world a sun//As this one does sometimes from out the Ganges;
18. Therefore let him who speaketh of that place//Say not Ascesi, for he would say little
//But Orient, if he properly would speak.
19. He was not yet far distant from his rising//Before he had begun to make the earth
// Some comfort from his mighty virtue feel.
20. For he in youth his father’s wrath incurred//For certain Dame, to whom, as unto death// The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock;
21. And was before his spiritual court// ‘Et coram patre’ unto her united// Then day by day more fervently he loved her.
22. She, reft of her first husband, scorned, obscure// One thousand and one hundred years and more// Waited without a suitor till he came.
23. Naught it availed to hear, that with Amyclas//Found her unmoved at sounding of his voice//He who struck terror into all the world;
24. Naught it availed being constant and undaunted//So that, when Mary still remained below//She mounted up with Christ upon the cross.
25. But that too darkly I may not proceed//Francis and Poverty for these two lovers//Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse.
26. Their concord and their joyous semblances//The love, the wonder, and the sweet regard//They made to be the cause of holy thoughts;
27. So much so that the venerable Bernard//First bared his feet, and after so great peace// Ran, and, in running, thought himself too slow.
28. wealth unknown! O veritable good//Giles bares his feet, and bares his feet Sylvester
//Behind the bridegroom, so doth please the bride!
29. Then goes his way that father and that master//He and his Lady and that family// Which now was girding on the humble cord;
30. Nor cowardice of heart weighed down his brow//At being son of Peter Bernardone
// Nor for appearing marvelously scorned;
31. But regally his hard determination//To Innocent he opened, and from him// Received the primal seal upon his Order.
32. After the people mendicant increased//Behind this man, whose admirable life// Better in glory of the heavens were sung,
33. Incoronated with a second crown//Was through Honorius by the Eternal Spirit//The holy purpose of this Archimandrite.
34. And when he had, through thirst of martyrdom// In the proud presence of the Sultan preached//Christ and the others who came after him,
35. And, finding for conversion too unripe//The folk, and not to tarry there in vain// Returned to fruit of the Italic grass,
36. On the rude rock ‘twixt Tiber and the Arno//From Christ did he receive the final seal
//Which during two whole years his members bore.
37. When He, who chose him unto so much good//Was pleased to draw him up to the reward//That he had merited by being lowly,
38. Unto his friars, as to the rightful heirs//His most dear Lady did he recommend// And bade that they should love her faithfully;
39. And from her bosom the illustrious soul//Wished to depart, returning to its realm
// And for its body wished no other bier.
40. Think now what man was he, who was a fit//Companion over the high seas to keep
//The bark of Peter to its proper bearings.
41. And this man was our Patriarch; hence whoever//Doth follow him as he commands can see//That he is laden with good merchandise.
42. But for new pasturage his flock has grown//So greedy, that it is impossible// They be not scattered over fields diverse;
43. And in proportion as his sheep remote//And vagabond go farther off from him// More void of milk return they to the fold.
44. Verily some there are that fear a hurt//And keep close to the shepherd; but so few
//That little cloth doth furnish forth their hoods.
45. Now if my utterance be not indistinct//If thine own hearing hath attentive been// If thou recall to mind what I have said,
46. In part contented shall thy wishes be//For thou shalt see the plant that’s chipped away// And the rebuke that lieth in the words,
47. ‘Where well one fattens, if he strayeth not.'”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 11 Fourth Heaven: the Sphere of the Sun St. Thomas recounts the Life of St. Francis. Lament over the State of the Dominican Order.
Dante in Heaven with Beatrice and other luminaries look down at mortals on earth who are studying law, philosophy, medicine, theology, and politics. Dante is happy to be in Heaven. St. Thomas then speaks again from within his place in the ring.

He begins talking about what Dante is thinking: the strange “fatten[ing] up” comment he made in the last canto. Providence, St. Thomas lectures, decreed the Church needed two princes to help guide her along the correct pathway to God. But they are not princes. They are saints. St. Francis was seraphic while St. Dominic was cherubic and therefore have angelic qualities.

St. Thomas says, he will just talk about St. Francis only because in praising one of them, he praises both (Francis and Dominic) since both saints had the same goal. St. Francis was born in a place called Assisi. When he was just a boy, he ran away from his father to be with his lover. She was a strange woman to take on as a lover, because most people feared her as if she was Death. Young Francis did not care and he married her even in the presence of his censorious father because he loved her, even though she was married before. She was scorned and hounded by the society but she was a courageous and loyal woman. She was not afraid of Caesar and stayed with Jesus, her first husband stretched on the Cross even when Mary deserted him.

She is Lady Poverty and with St. Francis took a vow of poverty. Their love inspired such holy thoughts that Bernard gave up all his possessions to live like Francis. He then took his wife and walked with her unashamed to Pope Innocent. Innocent was so impressed with Francis that he gave him an official Papal Seal to start a religious order. Followers of Francis were called Franciscans. After the poor started becoming Franciscans, a second Pope, Honorius III, gave the Franciscans another honour, a papal bull.

After journeying to Egypt to try to convert a Muslim sultan to Christianity, Francis returned to Italy to preach about The Christ. There he received his final honour – this time from the Christ himself. St. Francis bore the Stigmata, (puncture wound on both his palms symbolic of Jesus’ hands impaled by nails onto the cross) for two years.

When Francis realized it was time to die, he remained faithful to his Vow of Poverty – by refusing any fancy funeral service and asking instead only to be stripped naked by his disciples and laid on the earth to die. Then he told his brothers to love Poverty as faithfully as he had, and died. He was promptly taken to Heaven.

St. Thomas finally turned the reader’s attention back to his own order- that of the Dominicans. First he praises St. Dominic for following the same route as St. Francis. But now Dominic’s flock has become greedy, straying from their shepherd (St. Dominic) to find more food, because they are not satisfied with the milk from their mother. They are gorging on sinful material. St. Thomas adds that his fattening comment means that Dominicans can “fatten well” or be well fed if they do not stray from the flock.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 11. Fourth Heaven: the Sphere of the Sun St. Thomas recounts the Life of St. Francis. Lament over the State of the Dominican Order.

Dante is distracted in Heaven by two thoughts: True Knowledge and Faith in questionable beliefs. He has questions about many moral accounts of Christianity that need subtle positions of faith. The distractions caused by Dante’s thoughts are understood by Thomas Aquinas and he highlights the two questions with examples.

Aquinas first identifies Dominic and Francis the founders of the two great mendicant Orders, as the true guides of the Church, and exemplars of the practical wisdom needed to wed religion to human life. He associated Francis, the Seraphim with Love, and Dominic the Cherubim with Wisdom. Aquinas who is the great Dominican praises Francis, as the great Franciscan. Dante put the two Orders together, because their objective was the same. To Dante, the purpose of his life was to align his political, spiritual and personal histories in one harmonious vision of God’s plan for the world. His politics want religious justification and his personal life must be based on his own spiritual understanding.

Aquinas therefore speaks about Francis of Assisi, (1182-1226) the Founder of the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscans who wore a brown or grey habit, with three knots in the girdle representing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Francis the son of a wool and cloth merchant who chose a hermitage and his belief was often compared to the rising Sun, making this sphere of the Sun particularly appropriate to him.

Aquinas’ love of ‘Lady Poverty’ is a spiritual love similar to Dante’s love of Beatrice. Dante wishes to transfer his spirituality to Beatrice as he transforms from the erotic tradition to that of the divine. Francis embraced a life bereft of possessions in a manner closest to the original idea inspired by The Christ. It was Francis who transferred the attitudes and language of love to a purely spiritual and ideal ‘lady’. Francis renounced his possessions before the Bishop, of Assisi and in the presence of his father Pietra Bernardone.

He gathered disciples around him some of whom included Bernard of Quintavalle, Egidius and Sylvester. The popular stories told of him are the Fioretti. The Franciscan Rule was approved by Pope Innocent III in 1210 and confirmed by Honorius III in 1223. In 1219 Francis went to the convert the Sultan, but returned unsuccessful. He received the stigmata, the five wounds of the Passion and died at Assisi stretched naked on the ground in the arms of ‘his dearest lady’ Poverty. Aquinas then reminds Dante how great Dominic must be to equal Francis’s spirituality, and attacks the present-day state of the Dominican Order, the sheep who have strayed into strange pastures.

Paradiso Canto 12: St. Buonaventura recounts the Life of St. Dominic. Lament over the State of the Franciscan Order. The Second Circle.

1. Soon as the blessed flame had taken up// The final word to give it utterance// Began the holy millstone to revolve,
2. And in its gyre had not turned wholly round//Before another in a ring enclosed it// And motion joined to motion, song to song;
3. Song that as greatly doth transcend our Muses// Our Sirens, in those dulcet clarions // As primal splendour that which is reflected.
4. And as are spanned athwart a tender cloud// Two rainbows parallel and like in colour// When Juno to her handmaid gives command,
5. (The one without born of the one within// Like to the speaking of that vagrant one // Whom love consumed as doth the sun the vapours,)
6. And make the people here, through covenant// God set with Noah, presageful of the world// That shall no more be covered with a flood,
7. In such wise of those sempiternal roses//The garlands twain encompassed us about // And thus the outer to the inner answered.
8. After the dance, and other grand rejoicings// Both of the singing, and the flaming forth// Effulgence with effulgence blithe and tender,
9. Together, at once, with one accord had stopped// (Even as the eyes, that, as volition moves them// Must needs together shut and lift themselves,)
10. Out of the heart of one of the new lights//There came a voice, that needle to the star// Made me appear in turning thitherward.
11. And it began: “The love that makes me fair//Draws me to speak about the other leader// By whom so well is spoken here of mine.
12. ‘Tis right, where one is, to bring in the other// That, as they were united in their warfare// Together likewise may their glory shine.
13. The soldiery of Christ, which it had cost//So dear to arm again, behind the standard // Moved slow and doubtful and in numbers few,
14. When the Emperor who reigneth evermore//Provided for the host that was in peril // Through grace alone and not that it was worthy;
15. And, as was said, he to his Bride brought succor//With champions twain, at whose deed, at whose word// The straggling people were together drawn.
16. Within that region where the sweet west wind//Rises to open the new leaves, wherewith// Europe is seen to clothe herself afresh,
17. Not far off from the beating of the waves// Behind which in his long career the sun // Sometimes conceals himself from every man,
18. Is situate the fortunate Calahorra//Under protection of the mighty shield//In which the Lion subject is and sovereign.
19. Therein was born the amorous paramour//Of Christian Faith, the athlete consecrate // Kind to his own and cruel to his foes;
20. And when it was created was his mind// Replete with such a living energy// That in his mother her it made prophetic.
21. As soon as the espousals were complete//Between him and the Faith at holy font
// Where they with mutual safety dowered each other,
22. The woman, who for him had given assent// Saw in a dream the admirable fruit// That issue would from him and from his heirs;
23. And that he might be construed as he was// A spirit from this place went forth to name him// With His possessive whose he wholly was.
24. Dominic was he called; and him I speak of//Even as of the husbandman whom Christ
// Elected to his garden to assist him.
25. Envoy and servant sooth he seemed of Christ// For the first love made manifest in him// Was the first counsel that was given by Christ.
26. Silent and wakeful many a time was he// Discovered by his nurse upon the ground // As if he would have said, ‘For this I came.’
27. thou his father, Felix verily!//O thou his mother, verily Joanna// If this, interpreted, means as is said!
28. Not for the world which people toil for now//In following Ostiense and Taddeo//But through his longing after the true manna,
29. He in short time became so great a teacher// That he began to go about the vineyard// Which fadeth soon, if faithless be the dresser;
30. And of the See, (that once was more benignant//Unto the righteous poor, not through itself//But him who sits there and degenerates)
31. Not to dispense or two or three for six//Not any fortune of first vacancy//’Non decimas quae sunt pauperum Dei,’
32. He asked for, but against the errant world//Permission to do battle for the seed//Of which these four and twenty plants surround thee.
33. Then with the doctrine and the will together//With office apostolical he moved//Like torrent which some lofty vein out-presses;
34. And in among the shoots heretical//His impetus with greater fury smote// Wherever the resistance was the greatest.
35. Of him were made thereafter divers runnels//Whereby the garden catholic is watered//So that more living its plantations stand.
36. If such the one wheel of the Biga was// In which the Holy Church itself defended//And in the field its civic battle won,
37. Truly full manifest should be to thee//The excellence of the other, unto whom//Thomas so courteous was before my coming.
38. But still the orbit, which the highest part//Of its circumference made, is derelict// So that the mould is where was once the crust.
39. His family, that had straight forward moved//With feet upon his footprints, are turned round//So that they set the point upon the heel.
40. And soon aware they will be of the harvest//Of this bad husbandry, when shall the tares// Complain the granary is taken from them.
41. Yet say I, he who searcheth leaf by leaf//Our volume through, would still some page discover//Where he could read, ‘I am as I am wont.’
42. ‘Twill not be from Casal nor Acquasparta//From whence come such unto the written word//That one avoids it, and the other narrows.
43. Bonaventura of Bagnoregio’s life//Am I, who always in great offices//Postponed considerations sinister.
44. Here are Illuminato and Agostino//Who of the first barefooted beggars were// That with the cord the friends of God became.
45. Hugh of Saint Victor is among them here//And Peter Mangiador, and Peter of Spain // Who down below in volumes twelve is shining;
46. Nathan the seer, and metropolitan//Chrysostom, and Anselmus, and Donatus//Who deigned to lay his hand to the first art;
47. Here is Rabanus, and beside me here//Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachim//He with the spirit of prophecy endowed.
48. To celebrate so great a paladin//Have moved me the impassioned courtesy// And the discreet discourses of Friar Thomas,
49. And with me they have moved this company.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 12: St. Buonaventura recounts the Life of St. Dominic. Lament over the State of the Franciscan Order. The Second Circle.

Just as St. Thomas finishes his story, the souls start dancing again in a circle. Suddenly they are surrounded by another circle of dancing souls, so the two wheel around each other in different directions. Dante compares the two waltzing rings to a double rainbow, one echoing the other, and signaling (as God did to Noah) that the world will never be flooded again.
The souls stop dancing and a new soul comes forward. He wants to talk about the other leader, St. Dominic. Who was born in Calaroga. As soon as he was conceived is forceful mind gave his mother prophetic powers91. In a dream she saw, in a dream, a black-and-white dog with a burning torch in its mouth which it uses to set the world on fire. Christians saw this as a sign of salvation. In time, the black and white colours were worn by followers of Dominic and the torch came to symbolize his fiery zeal in preaching. Because of this dream, his parents gave him a name meaning “God’s own” in Latin – Dominic.

Dominic was the perfect messenger for Jesus because he believed in The Christ’s “first injunction” – is to be insignificant ad poor (modest). Indeed, his nurse often found Dominic praying with his forehead to the ground. In time, Dominic became a gifted teacher and tried to oversee the Church, which was so neglected by the clergy and disconnected with its people. When Dominic saw the Pope, he asked only for the right to preach against heresy. This he did, by honoring the father of the same twenty-four spirits in two rings.

So great was Dominic’s force that he fought to rid the Church of the toughest heretics. And so successful was he, that those thickets eventually became more “streams with which the catholic / garden has found abundant watering.”

This soul compares both St. Francis and St. Dominic to wheels on the chariot of the Church. But then he criticizes his own order, the Franciscans, saying that their wheels have gone all moldy on its outer rim. Instead of continuing on its path, the wheel of the Franciscans has started rolling backwards.

Finally, the speaker identifies himself as St. Bonaventure. He then introduces the souls who have come in the second ring: Illuminato da Rieti and Augustine of Assisi (two of St. Francis’ first followers), Hugh of St. Victor (a mystical theologian), Peter of Spain (a logician), Peter Book-Devourer (an avid reader), Nathan the prophet, Anselm, St. John Chrysostom (an eloquent preacher), Aelius Donatus (a Roman grammarian), Rabanus Maurus (archbishop of Mainz), and Abbott Joachim of Flora.
St. Bonaventure finishes with a nod to St. Thomas for speaking so highly of St. Francis.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 12: St. Buonaventura recounts the Life of St. Dominic. Lament over the State of the Franciscan Order. The Second Circle.

A second circle of lights appears and twirls around with the first. There is singing which is beyond the earthly realm. Dante compares the twin coronet to a double rainbow, wherein one echoes the other, like the bow of Noah’s covenant92. The two circles fall still together, as eyes open and close together.

The twenty-four lights now echo the twenty-four elders93 representing the Old Testament who preceded the chariot of the Church in the Divine Pageant, as the two coronets of the mendicant Orders echo the wheels of that chariot. Dante now hears the voice of Bonaventura from the new circle.

Giovanni Fidanza, the Franciscan ‘Seraphic Doctor’ is Saint Bonaventura (1221-1274) who was born at Bagnoregio near Bolsena. He was a friend and colleague of Thomas Aquinas, and Minister-General of the Franciscan Order from 1256. He wrote the official life of Saint Francis Assisi, and shortly before his death was made a Cardinal and Bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X. Bonaventura worked against extremism in the Franciscan Order, and was noted for his humility, piety and learning.

He now tells the story of Saint Dominic, to complement Aquinas’s life of Francis. Saint Dominic (Guzman) (1170-1221) was the founder of the Order of Preachers, called Dominican or Black Friars. He was born at Calahorra in Spain of noble parentage. His mother Giovanna Guzman dreamed before his birth that she was helping a dog with a burning torch in his mouth that would set the world on fire. His godmother had a dream in which she saw a star on his forehead lighting up the earth. As a young man he became a canon and preached against heresy. He was active among the Albigensians (Dualist Movement of Christians), trying to convert by persuasion, as Simon de Montfort (1160-1218) who became involved in the Fourth Crusade and perpetuating massacres. He preached throughout Europe and stimulated the study of theology in the universities before dying in Bologna in 1221. Dante stresses his labours on behalf of the Church, and his efforts to combat heresy, the civil war within the Church94.

Bonaventura then echoes Thomas Aquinas by criticizing the state of his own Franciscan Order and its extremism, singling out Ubertino da Casale (1259-1338) leader of the Spirituals, the party of stricter observance within the Franciscan Order. At the other extreme he refers to Matteo d’Acquasparta (1240-1302), one of Boniface’s cardinals, Minister-General of the Franciscan Order from 1287, who relaxed the observances. As Papal Legate he interfered in the affairs of Florence 1300-1301, with disastrous consequences.

Bonaventura then names the other lights in the second circle, Illuminato Bishop of Assisi who in 1282 joined the Franciscan Order in 1210. Francis went among the enemy with only Brother Illuminato, calling out, “Sultan! Sultan! I am sent by the Most High God, to show you and your people the way of salvation by announcing to you the truths of the Gospel.” Friar Agostino also entered the Order in 1210, but died on the same day as Francis after a vision of Francis ascending into Paradiso. They are followed by Hugh of Saint Victor (1097-1141), one of the great mystics of the Abbey of Saint Victor at Paris. It was the centre of conservative learning as opposed to the scholastic Aristotelian learning of the progressives. He was the master of Peter the Lombard and Richard of Saint Victor.

Then Dante is introduced to Pietro Mangiadore or Petrus Comestor, ‘Peter the Eater of Books’ (1179) who wrote the Historia Scholastica, a History of the Church from Genesis to Acts, paraphrasing the Scriptures. He too belonged to the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris, and became Chancellor of the University of Paris in 1164. Next is Pietro Ispano or Petrus Hispanus who succeeded Adrian V for a few months, and was killed in 1277, in the fall of the Papal Palace at Viterbo. He wrote a much-used treatise on Logic in twelve books.

Next is Nathan95 who denounced David’s sins96 and then John Chrysostom, or Golden Mouth (344-407) that Archbishop of Constantinople, of fearless eloquence, who denounced the vices of the Court and was persecuted and exiled by the Empress Eudoxus. Ninth and tenth are Aelius Donatus who wrote an elementary Latin Grammar in the fourth century.

Then there is Rabanus, Bishop of Mayence (766-856) who compiled a cyclopaedia De Universo in twenty-two books, and was in favour of orthodoxy to the point of unwitting heresy. He was a Benedictine and pupil of Alcuin, and wrote voluminously, summarizing ninth century learning.

Dante, through Bonaventura, is again highlighting practical wisdom seen with Solomon. He had a deep understanding of people and situations. Thus, allowing him the ability to apply his perceptions, judgments and actions. Dante also refers to the more radical Franciscan criticism of the established Church and Papacy. These questions by Dante explain the addition of Joachim of Flora, or Fiore, in Calabria (1130-1202), a Cistercian monk, who founded a monastery there. He claimed to have the power to interpret the prophetic books of the Bible with special reference to the History of the Church. He described perfect love, faith and spiritual freedom. This was known as the Eternal Gospel. The spiritual party among the Franciscans seized on it, and Fra Gherardo da Borgo San Donnino (Gerardua) wrote an Introduction to the Eternal Gospel which was condemned as heresy in 1256.

Bonaventura helped to suppress the Joachists. Dante nevertheless places Joachim alongside Bonaventura in the circle, both as an indication of the reconciliation he is asserting in this sphere, and also giving approval to the purer radical strain in Franciscan thought, with its prophetic interpretations. They influenced Dante’s own Apocryphal and revelatory pre-disposition. Dante is endorsing the prophetic and the radical inasmuch as it interprets the human mission correctly and leads back to that supreme order on earth and in heaven.

As the theological content unfolds, one loses sight of Dante’s fundamental subject matter: the ethical journey of individual spirituality. Having investigated sin and its purgation, Dante is now revealing the way, which leads via the seven cardinal and theological virtues, to God. ‘And the greatest of these is Love’. He uses the Intellect in the service of that Love. Dante uses theology while still concerned but holding out for his ‘perfected Empire and Papacy’. His ultimate aim is for a Vision of the Universe filled with Love. The Poet is the mouthpiece of that Vision. Its power is generated by his artistic poetic craftsmanship, and its depth of seriousness, profound feeling, and his sincerity. Dante is speaking about religion and its meaning and the paths of right action. What he cannot speak or make plain about the mystical Vision, he uses Love fired by intellectual Logic, and a mind filled with emotional devotion and love.

Paradiso Canto 13: OF THE Wisdom of Solomon; Saint Thomas reproached Dante’s Judgment

1. Let him imagine, who would well conceive// What now I saw, and let him while I speak// Retain the image as a steadfast rock,
2. The fifteen stars, that in their divers regions//The sky enliven with a light so great // That it transcends all clusters of the air;
3. Let him the Wain imagine unto which//Our vault of heaven sufficeth night and day // So that in turning of its pole it fails not;
4. Let him the mouth imagine of the horn//That in the point beginneth of the axis// Round about which the primal wheel revolves,-
5. To have fashioned of themselves two signs in heaven// Like unto that which Minos’ daughter made// The moment when she felt the frost of death;
6. And one to have its rays within the other// And both to whirl themselves in such a manner// That one should forward go, the other backward;
7. And he will have some shadowing forth of that//True constellation and the double dance// That circled round the point at which I was;
8. Because it is as much beyond our wont// As swifter than the motion of the Chiana //Moveth the heaven that all the rest outspeeds.
9. There sang they neither Bacchus, nor Apollo// But in the divine nature Persons three // And in one person the divine and human.
10. The singing and the dance fulfilled their measure// And unto us those holy lights gave need// Growing in happiness from care to care.
11. Then broke the silence of those saints concordant// The light in which the admirable life// Of God’s own mendicant was told to me,
12. And said: “Now that one straw is trodden out// Now that its seed is garnered up already// Sweet love invites me to thresh out the other.
13. Into that bosom, thou believest, whence// Was drawn the rib to form the beauteous cheek//Whose taste to all the world is costing dear,
14. And into that which, by the lance transfixed// Before and since, such satisfaction made// That it weighs down the balance of all sin,
15. Whate’er of light it has to human nature// Been lawful to possess was all infused
// By the same power that both of them created;
16. And hence at what I said above dost wonder//When I narrated that no second had //The good which in the fifth light is enclosed.
17. Now ope thine eyes to what I answer thee// And thou shalt see thy creed and my discourse//Fit in the truth as centre in a circle.
18. That which can die, and that which dieth not//Are nothing but the splendour of the idea// Which by his love our Lord brings into being;
19. Because that living Light, which from its fount//Effulgent flows, so that it disunites not//From Him nor from the Love in them intrined,
20. Through its own goodness reunites its rays//In nine subsistences, as in a mirror// Itself eternally remaining One.
21. Thence it descends to the last potencies//Downward from act to act becoming such // That only brief contingencies it makes;
22. And these contingencies I hold to be//Things generated, which the heaven produces //By its own motion, with seed and without.
23. Neither their wax, nor that which tempers it// Remains immutable, and hence beneath// The ideal signet more and less shines through;
24. Therefore it happens, that the selfsame tree// After its kind bears worse and better fruit// And ye are born with characters diverse.
25. If in perfection tempered were the wax// And were the heaven in its supremest virtue// The brilliance of the seal would all appear;
26. But nature gives it evermore deficient// In the like manner working as the artist// Who has the skill of art and hand that trembles.
27. If then the fervent Love, the Vision clear//Of primal Virtue do dispose and seal// Perfection absolute is there acquired.
28. Thus was of old the earth created worthy//Of all and every animal perfection// And thus the Virgin was impregnate made;
29. So that thine own opinion I commend// That human nature never yet has been// Nor will be, what it was in those two persons.
30. Now if no farther forth I should proceed//’Then in what way was he without a peer?’ // Would be the first beginning of thy words.
31. But, that may well appear what now appears not// Think who he was, and what occasion moved him// To make request, when it was told him, ‘Ask.’
32. I’ve not so spoken that thou canst not see//Clearly he was a king who asked for wisdom// That he might be sufficiently a king;
33. ‘Twas not to know the number in which are//The motors here above, or if ‘necesse’ //With a contingent e’er ‘necesse’ make,
34. ‘Non si est dare primum motum esse’//Or if in semicircle can be made//Triangle so that it have no right angle.
35. Whence, if thou notest this and what I said// A regal prudence is that peerless seeing // In which the shaft of my intention strikes.
36. And if on ‘rose’ thou turnest thy clear eyes// Thou’lt see that it has reference alone //To kings who’re many, and the good are rare.
37. With this distinction take thou what I said// And thus it can consist with thy belief //Of the first father and of our Delight.
38. And lead shall this be always to thy feet// To make thee, like a weary man, move slowly//Both to the Yes and No thou seest not;
39. For very low among the fools is he//Who affirms without distinction, or denies// As well in one as in the other case;
40. Because it happens that full often bends//Current opinion in the false direction// And then the feelings bind the intellect.
41. Far more than uselessly he leaves the shore// (Since he returneth not the same he went,)//Who fishes for the truth, and has no skill;
42. And in the world proofs manifest thereof//Parmenides, Melissus, Brissus are// And many who went on and knew not whither;
43. Thus did Sabellius, Arius, and those fools// Who have been even as swords unto the Scriptures// In rendering distorted their straight faces.
44. Nor yet shall people be too confident// In judging, even as he is who doth count// The corn in field or ever it be ripe.
45. For I have seen all winter long the thorn// First show itself intractable and fierce// And after bear the rose upon its top;
46. And I have seen a ship direct and swift// Run o’er the sea throughout its course entire// To perish at the harbour’s mouth at last.
47. Let not Dame Bertha nor Ser Martin think// Seeing one steal, another offering make // To see them in the arbitrament divine;
48. For one may rise, and fall the other may.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 13: Wisdom of Solomon; Saint Thomas reproached Dante’s Judgment

Esoteric education about humanity through astronomy seems to be the stress reaction of those disillusioned of schools, theories and religions. Rebels of all schools, including Dante do not believe in masters and are often dissatisfied with all beliefs. Dante still has a little manhood and a spark of love for sects with intimate knowledge of the self. He invites readers to exercise their fantasies about astronomy, by imagining the fifteen brightest stars of the two rings, the lovely constellations they form, and their swift dances. While dancing, the starry souls sing praises for the Holy Trinity.

St. Thomas stops the dancing to voice Dante’s second question: why cannot anybody match King Solomon’s wisdom? Dante’s argument, which St. Thomas summarizes, is that God’s wisdom can only go to those he creates directly. The only two people God directly created were Adam and The Christ, so how can Solomon’s wisdom be greater than theirs?

St Thomas starts by asserting Adam and Solomon were mind-children of God and therefore the “reflected light” of the idea that God begot. From there, the nine essences (or Angelic Intelligences97) act as mirrors, reflecting His Light down from one star to another, and when his light hits the “last potentialities” (matter), they create only “brief contingent things” (animals, plants, and inanimate objects). The matter of these is compared to wax, which varies in its perfection. Now, because the wax is not perfect, it does not always capture a perfect reflection of the Light, which is why it can be corrupt. So the blame falls to Nature, an “artist [with] a trembling hand” who cannot stamp the wax as she should. This explains why some trees bear better fruit than others, just as certain men get worse children than others. But when God himself prepares both the Light and the wax, His perfection is transferred to his creations, as in the cases of Adam and The Christ.

St. Thomas answers the question of why Solomon had “matchless vision” (great wisdom). Consider Solomon’s story: God came to King Solomon in a dream and promised to answer any question he might ask. Wise Solomon, instead of asking for the answers to his intellectual dilemma, asked for the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This is also called “kingly prudence.” St. Thomas explains that “matchless vision” had the wisdom to ask for something practical and moral. St. Thomas warns Dante to carefully consider this story before jumping to conclusions about things he does not fully understand. Hasty opinions are often wrong.

St. Thomas proves his point by naming several examples of scholars whose opinions turned out to be wrong – Parmenides, Melissus, Bryson, Sabellius, Arius, Dame Bertha, and Master Martin. Finally, St. Thomas ends with a warning to men not to judge too quickly, because things which appear bad can turn out to be good, and vice versa.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 13: Wisdom of Solomon; Saint Thomas reproached Dante’s Judgment

Dante uses the stars of the Northern Constellations and Ariadne’s constellation98 (the Corona Borealis) myth implying marriage with a god, and therefore the wedding of these spirits to God). Dante envisages this dance of the double crown of stars, in which the twenty-four spirits (hierarchical primary gods of creation) sing the Trinity (Father-Son-Holy spirit), and the twofold nature of The Christ (man and god).

Aquinas then begins to answer Dante’s second question about the merits of Solomon. Since Adam and Jesus received the full measure of human possibility within them, how can the fifth light here, of Solomon, be held up as an unparalleled example of wisdom?

Aquinas first gives another version of the structure of a hierarchical universe which hints at Dante’s neo-Platonic view of a hierarchical universe, with Divine power emanating from the Godhead and penetrating downwards to all parts of Creation. This hierarchy is symbolically reversed in Hell in the descent to Satan, while the re-ascent to the Godhead is imitated in the Mount of Purgatory. This idea of circles or spheres, contracting to, or expanding from, a point is a major feature of Dante’s and the medieval imagination.

Greek cosmology was the first scientific model of the Universe, for western civilization. Sumerians and the Egyptians had their own working model. Greeks began by using Sumerian and Egyptian mathematics’ and eventually creating their own systems . Therefore, they built a theoretical universe on these numbers. The goal of the ancient Greek astronomer was to convince his audience of the universe is acting as an uniform circular motion. The circle was perfecting creation they thought.

Dante’s universe is geocentric, with dividing lines of upper and lower parts of the globe and universe, and the ideas of purgatory, Paradiso, and the four terrestrial elements and the one incorruptible celestial element, created a universe that was irreducible by things in full. Equinas meanwhile states all things, mortal and immortal, are created by the flow of Love and Light in the Empyrean, focused downwards through the nine moving heavens, until it breeds transient life forms on Earth. Nature therefore is variable and imperfect because the heavenly spheres vary their state, and therefore human beings vary in their qualities. But he states, Adam and The Christ were created perfect. Aquinas clarifies Solomon in the role of king was superior among kings, because he chose ‘royal prudence, worldly wisdom’ as the greatest gift. He rejected knowledge of religion, logic, philosophy, or mathematics.

Aquinas then warns against false deductions, and intellectual pride. Dante indicates that in Purgatory free will can utilise the intellect and philosophy to achieve knowledge of the Divine. Philosophy mediates as Lady Philosophy who acts as a go-between between the Divine and the world. He personifies Lady Philosophy as Beatrice, and is Divine Philosophy. That fact allows the intellect to control desire and learn from suffering. Dante learned philosophy after Beatrice’s death. Much of his learning comes from reading Boethius and Cicero, and attending Franciscan and Dominican schools. He wanted ‘that love drove out and destroyed all other thoughts.’

He quotes examples from Aristotle about philosophers, Parmenides, Melissus, and Bryson who reasoned falsely. He gives examples of two opposing heresies; that of Sabellius, who denied the separate persons of God and his son The Christ though they are unified in essence; and of Arius who denied the essential unity of God and his Son though they differed in person. Both were guilty of error. He adds examples of practical wisdom that one should wait until the end before judging: bad may end in good like the rose tree, good may end in bad like the ship’s course, and God’s justice is not Man’s.

Paradiso Canto 14: The Third Circle. Discourse on the Resurrection of the Flesh. The Fifth Heaven, Mars: Martyrs and Crusaders who died fighting for the true Faith. The Celestial Cross.

1. From centre unto rim, from rim to centre// In a round vase the water moves itself
// As from without ’tis struck or from within.
2. Into my mind upon a sudden dropped//What I am saying, at the moment when//Silent became the glorious life of Thomas,
3. Because of the resemblance that was born//Of his discourse and that of Beatrice// Whom, after him, it pleased thus to begin:
4. “This man has need (and does not tell you so// Nor with the voice, nor even in his thought)// Of going to the root of one truth more.
5. Declare unto him if the light wherewith// Blossoms your substance shall remain with you// Eternally the same that it is now;
6. And if it do remain, say in what manner// After ye are again made visible// It can be that it injure not your sight.”
7. As by a greater gladness urged and drawn// They who are dancing in a ring sometimes// Uplift their voices and their motions quicken;
8. So, at that orison devout and prompt// The holy circles a new joy displayed// In their revolving and their wondrous song.
9. Whoso lamenteth him that here we die// That we may live above, has never there //Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain.
10. The One and Two and Three who ever liveth//And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One// Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing,
11. Three several times was chanted by each one// Among those spirits, with such melody// That for all merit it were just reward;
12. And, in the lustre most divine of all//The lesser ring, I heard a modest voice// Such as perhaps the Angel’s was to Mary,
13. Answer: “As long as the festivity//Of Paradiso shall be, so long our love// Shall radiate round about us such a vesture.
14. Its brightness is proportioned to the ardour//The ardour to the vision; and the vision //Equals what grace it has above its worth.
15. When, glorious and sanctified, our flesh//Is reassumed, then shall our persons be// More pleasing by their being all complete;
16. For will increase whate’er bestows on us// Of light gratuitous the Good Supreme// Light which enables us to look on Him;
17. Therefore the vision must perforce increase// Increase the ardour which from that is kindled// Increase the radiance which from this proceeds.
18. But even as a coal that sends forth flame// And by its vivid whiteness overpowers it//So that its own appearance it maintains,
19. Thus the effulgence that surrounds us now//Shall be o’erpowered in aspect by the flesh// Which still to-day the earth doth cover up;
20. Nor can so great a splendour weary us// For strong will be the organs of the body // To everything which hath the power to please us.”
21. So sudden and alert appeared to me// Both one and the other choir to say Amen
// That well they showed desire for their dead bodies;
22. Nor sole for them perhaps, but for the mothers// The fathers, and the rest who had been dear// Or ever they became eternal flames.
23. And lo! all round about of equal brightness//Arose a lustre over what was there// Like an horizon that is clearing up.
24. And as at rise of early eve begin//Along the welkin new appearances// So that the sight seems real and unreal,
25. It seemed to me that new subsistences//Began there to be seen, and make a circle // Outside the other two circumferences.
26. very sparkling of the Holy Spirit//How sudden and incandescent it became//Unto mine eyes, that vanquished bore it not!
27. But Beatrice so beautiful and smiling//Appeared to me, that with the other sights
// That followed not my memory I must leave her.
28. Then to uplift themselves mine eyes resumed//The power, and I beheld myself translated// To higher salvation with my Lady only.
29. Well was I ware that I was more uplifted//By the enkindled smiling of the star// That seemed to me more ruddy than its wont.
30. With all my heart, and in that dialect// Which is the same in all, such holocaust// To God I made as the new grace beseemed;
31. And not yet from my bosom was exhausted//The ardour of sacrifice, before I knew // This offering was accepted and auspicious;
32. For with so great a lustre and so red//Splendours appeared to me in twofold rays
// I said: “O Helios who dost so adorn them!”
33. Even as distinct with less and greater lights//Glimmers between the two poles of the world//The Galaxy that maketh wise men doubt,
34. Thus constellated in the depths of Mars// Those rays described the venerable sign
// That quadrants joining in a circle make.
35. Here doth my memory overcome my genius// For on that cross as levin gleamed forth Christ// So that I cannot find ensample worthy;
36. But he who takes his cross and follows Christ//Again will pardon me what I omit// Seeing in that aurora lighten Christ.
37. From horn to horn, and ‘twixt the top and base//Lights were in motion, brightly scintillating//As they together met and passed each other;
38. Thus level and aslant and swift and slow//We here behold, renewing still the sight // The particles of bodies long and short,
39. Across the sunbeam move, wherewith is listed//Sometimes the shade, which for their own defence//People with cunning and with art contrive.
40. And as a lute and harp, accordant strung// With many strings, a dulcet tinkling make // To him by whom the notes are not distinguished,
41. So from the lights that there to me appeared//Upgathered through the cross a melody// Which rapt me, not distinguishing the hymn.
42. Well was I ware it was of lofty laud//Because there came to me, “Arise and conquer!”// As unto him who hears and comprehends not.
43. So much enamoured I became therewith// That until then there was not anything
// That e’er had fettered me with such sweet bonds.
44. Perhaps my word appears somewhat too bold// Postponing the delight of those fair eyes//Into which gazing my desire has rest;
45. But who bethinks him that the living seals//Of every beauty grow in power ascending// And that I there had not turned round to those,
46. Can me excuse, if I myself accuse// To excuse myself, and see that I speak truly// For here the holy joy is not disclosed,
47. Because ascending it becomes more pure.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 14: The Third Circle. Discourse on the Resurrection of the Flesh; The Fifth Heaven, Mars: Martyrs and Crusaders who died fighting for the true Faith; The Celestial Cross.
Just as St. Thomas falls silent, Beatrice begins talking. She says that Dante needs “to reach the root of still another truth.” She requests that the spirits tell Dante whether or not the light the souls emit will stay forever. If so, then how – when they receive their bodies back (resurrection99 – meaning, the act of rising with resumption of life after death and burial) will they be able to look on such bright Light of God’s Love and not be harmed100?

The circle of spirits, listening intently to Beatrice’s question, gives a shout of joy, and begins singing about the Trinity (One God in Three Persons: Father-Son-Holy Spirit). As the spirits wheel around, a modest voice (from King Solomon) floats up from the inner circle and says: so long as we stay in Heaven, our clothing will be of these brilliant lights. The degree of each person’s brightness depends on how much we love God101, and that is measured by how well we see and grasp the Truth. Our vision (Love is the Guiding Light that illumines the disciple’s path) is in turn measured by how much grace (or unmerited love) we receive from God. On Judgment Day (end of the world when Abrahamic Religions believe God judges the moral worth of humans)), we will all be reunited with our bodies. Then we shall be complete. Whatever extra light we have left will be enhanced because God will love us more, for our perfection. This statement comes from Faith in the Faithful God, to whom each opens up in the hope of God’s promise of Love for each.

In answer to the second part of the question, Solomon answers that when our bodies are united with our souls (heal the soul through yoga meditation and the physical body responds), the body’s organs will become stronger because we are complete and we will not be blinded by our light (lack of faith). Solomon’s fellow dancers agree so heartily with that they nearly trip over their tongues saying “Amen,” making Dante see how eager they are to have their bodies back.

Dante’s eyes shift towards the horizon and he sees the light growing even brighter (promise of a new dawn approaching) there, as if new spirits are approaching. Beatrice shows seriousness and decides she wants to join in on the light show. To Dante’s astonishment, she grows even more beautiful and brighter. She is so beautiful that Dante cannot describe her in words. He understands what Socrates wrote: ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing and you talk only when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” When he finally tears his eyes away from her, he is surprised and realizes he is standing on red ground: they are in the next sphere, the heaven of Mars.

As usual Dante takes the time to thank God for allowing him to rise so high (allowing God to prosper within him). As soon as he speaks, he sees a sign – two bright rays of light, which he takes to be God’s acceptance. Dante knows his gratitude will be accepted. Those two rays of light are not just any rays. They form a geometric Cross of the Lord.

Dante is astonished, but describes it. He talks about how the souls move across from bar to bar like streaks of light glimmering down the metal bars of umbrellas. (These are light-workers attracted along like vibrations with clear simple goals to move down the Golden Path of the Goddess of Light). They are singing in perfect interdependent harmony a hymn that Dante doesn’t recognize. He notes that his words may seem presumptuous for daring to describe in human terms what man cannot possibly understand: for each in humanity climbs down a wall of super-power and towards a glimmering Light in the distance of Time. Meanwhile, just like this cross, Beatrice’s eyes grow even lovelier the higher she ascends

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 14: The Third Circle. Discourse on the Resurrection of the Flesh. The Fifth Heaven, Mars: Martyrs and Crusaders who died fighting for the true Faith. The Celestial Cross.
Beatrice’s voice is heard in response to Thomas Aquinas. The waves travel outwards in circles like water issuing sound-waves from the centre and towards the outer circle of spirits. In response, the circling spirits intensify their light and sing in response to her words. They are honouring the Trinity. Solomon speaks from the inner circle. The outer circle belongs to Bonaventura and the Franciscan prototype. Solomon’s circle is therefore slightly nearer to God. This distinctive positioning reflects Dante’s own source of inspiration. He prefers Franciscan radicalism and the purer nature of its vision. The inner circle obviously belongs to Aquinas and the Dominican Order with its closer involvement with worldly activity.
Solomon gives us a vision of the Resurrection, where the bright flesh will penetrate the spirits’ existing spiritual brightness making them complete. With such increase in power, will come an increasing ability to see God with intensified devotion. The desire for the flesh is the desire for eternal individuality102. This aspect of Love is invested in what is unique, and what is beloved about the ego.

Dante not only expresses this love of the individual (most love the individual for what you can do for them) in his poem but stresses individuals from all ages should be brought together in the reign of the afterlife. He derived this idea from the Classics and the Testaments which is littered with historical and mythological stories of individual lives. Dante helped to feed that love of individuality into the Renaissance, where there was and still is a conscious strive for uniqueness and the creative definition of the human being – the ‘self’.

Dante half-sees the vision of a third circle of the Holy Spirit forming in the extreme brightness, and completing a symbol of the Trinity, flashing out then so that his eyes cannot withstand it. The sight of Beatrice’s beauty appears too great a sight. The initial dimness and then brightness of the third circle indicates the philosophical vagueness of the Holy is an intense religious reality. Vagueness is one of the vehicles used to perpetuate the Holy Word in scriptures. It therefore connects the Joachists doctrine103 of the third epoch, with the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.

Dante and Beatrice are now drawn upwards into the the planet Mars, which means the virtue of Fortitude and determination to stay on the Path. The red planet traditionally is association with blood and war in both myth and astrology. In the Church it is about Militancy and Crucifixion. Dante prays to God for a sign of grace and two bloodred rays form the sign of the Cross inside the circle of the planet. A vision of The Christ on the Cross is revealed: white within redness, an image that is beyond Dante’s powers of description. Spirits move along the arms and they sing a hymn which is beyond Dante’s understanding but contains the words ‘Rise and conquer’. The spirits are those of the warriors of God, those who fought for the Chosen People of the old law not included in The Christ’s Church which is in the new.

Dante is totally absorbed in this vision, more so than any previous sight. Dante states he has not yet looked at her in this sphere. Then gazing at her she is pure joy that grows purer as they move up.

Paradiso Canto 15: Cacciaguida. Florence in the Olden Time.

1. A will benign, in which reveals itself// Ever the love that righteously inspires//As in the iniquitous, cupidity,
2. Silence imposed upon that dulcet lyre//And quieted the consecrated chords//That Heaven’s right hand doth tighten and relax.
3. How unto just entreaties shall be deaf//Those substances, which, to give me desire //Of praying them, with one accord grew silent?
4. ‘Tis well that without end he should lament//Who for the love of thing that doth not last// Eternally despoils him of that love!
5. As through the pure and tranquil evening air//There shoots from time to time a sudden fire//Moving the eyes that steadfast were before,
6. And seems to be a star that changeth place//Except that in the part where it is kindled// Nothing is missed, and this endureth little;
7. So from the horn that to the right extends//Unto that cross’s foot there ran a star
//Out of the constellation shining there;
8. Nor was the gem dissevered from its ribbon//But down the radiant fillet ran along //So that fire seemed it behind alabaster.
9. Thus piteous did Anchises’ shade reach forward//If any faith our greatest Muse deserve// When in Elysium he his son perceived.
10. “O sanguis meus, O superinfusa//Gratia Dei, sicut tibi, cui//Bis unquam Coeli janua reclusa?”
11. Thus that effulgence; whence I gave it heed//Then round unto my Lady turned my sight// And on this side and that was stupefied;
12. For in her eyes was burning such a smile//That with mine own methought I touched the bottom// Both of my grace and of my Paradiso!
13. Then, pleasant to the hearing and the sight//The spirit joined to its beginning things // I understood not, so profound it spake;
14. Nor did it hide itself from me by choice// But by necessity; for its conception//Above the mark of mortals set itself.
15. And when the bow of burning sympathy//Was so far slackened, that its speech descended// Towards the mark of our intelligence,
16. The first thing that was understood by me//Was “Benedight be Thou, O Trine and One// Who hast unto my seed so courteous been!”
17. And it continued: “Hunger long and grateful//Drawn from the reading of the mighty volume //Wherein is never changed the white or dark,
18. Thou hast appeased, my son, within this light// In which I speak to thee, by grace of her// Who to this lofty flight with plumage clothed thee.
19. Thou thinkest that to me thy thought doth pass//From Him who is the first, as from the unit// If that be known, ray out the five and six;
20. And therefore who I am thou askest not//And why I seem more joyous unto thee//Than any other of this gladsome crowd.
21. Thou think’st the truth; because the small and great//Of this existence look into the mirror// Wherein, before thou think’st, thy thought thou showest.
22. But that the sacred love, in which I watch//With sight perpetual, and which makes me thirst// With sweet desire, may better be fulfilled,
23. Now let thy voice secure and frank and glad//Proclaim the wishes, the desire proclaim//To which my answer is decreed already.”
24. To Beatrice I turned me, and she heard//Before I spake, and smiled to me a sign//That made the wings of my desire increase;
25. Then in this wise began I: “Love and knowledge//When on you dawned the first Equality// Of the same weight for each of you became;
26. For in the Sun, which lighted you and burned//With heat and radiance, they so equal are// That all similitudes are insufficient.
27. But among mortals will and argument//For reason that to you is manifest//Diversely feathered in their pinions are.
28. Whence I, who mortal am, feel in myself//This inequality; so give not thanks//Save in my heart, for this paternal welcome.
29. Truly do I entreat thee, living topaz//Set in this precious jewel as a gem//That thou wilt satisfy me with thy name.”
30. “O leaf of mine, in whom I pleasure took// E’en while awaiting, I was thine own root!”// Such a beginning he in answer made me.
31. Then said to me: “That one from whom is named//Thy race, and who a hundred years and more//Has circled round the mount on the first cornice,
32. A son of mine and thy great-grandsire was//Well it behoves thee that the long fatigue// Thou shouldst for him make shorter with thy works.
33. Florence, within the ancient boundary// From which she taketh still her tierce and nones// Abode in quiet, temperate and chaste.
34. No golden chain she had, nor coronal//Nor ladies shod with sandal shoon, nor girdle //That caught the eye more than the person did.
35. Not yet the daughter at her birth struck fear// Into the father, for the time and dower//Did not o’errun this side or that the measure.
36. No houses had she void of families//Not yet had thither come Sardanapalus//To show what in a chamber can be done;
37. Not yet surpassed had Montemalo been//By your Uccellatojo, which surpassed//Shall in its downfall be as in its rise.
38. Bellincion Berti saw I go begirt//With leather and with bone, and from the mirror
//His dame depart without a painted face;
39. And him of Nerli saw, and him of Vecchio//Contented with their simple suits of buff //And with the spindle and the flax their dames.
40. fortunate women! and each one was certain//Of her own burial-place, and none as yet// For sake of France was in her bed deserted.
41. One o’er the cradle kept her studious watch//And in her lullaby the language used //That first delights the fathers and the mothers;
42. Another, drawing tresses from her distaff//Told o’er among her family the tales//Of Trojans and of Fesole and Rome.
43. As great a marvel then would have been held//A Lapo Salterello, a Cianghella//As Cincinnatus or Cornelia now.
44. To such a quiet, such a beautiful//Life of the citizen, to such a safe//Community, and to so sweet an inn,
45. Did Mary give me, with loud cries invoked//And in your ancient Baptistery at once
// Christian and Cacciaguida I became.
46. Moronto was my brother, and Eliseo//From Val di Pado came to me my wife// And from that place thy surname was derived.
47. I followed afterward the Emperor Conrad// And he begirt me of his chivalry//So much I pleased him with my noble deeds.
48. I followed in his train against that law’s//Iniquity, whose people doth usurp//Your just possession, through your Pastor’s fault.
49. There by that execrable race was I//Released from bonds of the fallacious world// The love of which defileth many souls,
50. And came from martyrdom unto this peace.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 15: Cacciaguida. Florence in the Olden Time.

God’s will brings all the singing to a sudden halt and just like a shooting star, a soul comes out from the starry cross. In Latin, he calls out to Dante with, “O blood of mine . unto whom . was Heaven’s gate twice open.” This soul is part of Dante’s family!

Dante compares the greeting to that of Anchises to Aeneas (the son of Capys and cousin of King of Troy. He was loved by Venus who bore him a son Aeneas) in his all-time favourite book, the Aeneid by Virgil in 29 BC. Dante is dumbfounded. For a while, the soul is so overjoyed to see Dante that he speaks in a Heavenly language (mystical language of enlightenment from the Spirit world by gurus, gods and angels). His speech is so high and lofty (sweetness of uprightness) that Dante, as a mortal, cannot understand him. Eventually, though, he speaks to Dante in a language he can understand.

He tells Dante that he had read about Dante’s coming in the “great volume” of God’s Providence (divine intervention in the world) and he thanks Beatrice for fulfilling the prophecy. Like many previous souls, this one also correctly anticipates what Dante wants to ask. He comes straight out and explains why Dante is so quiet: Dante knows that this soul can read his thoughts, so he does not feel the need to speak. The soul confirms that Dante’s train of thought is correct because all souls in Heaven can perform the miracle of looking into God’s mirror of providence (detailed details about a creature’s existence), and reading mortals’ thoughts even before they are spoken (but everything in life begins in our thinking).

Out of sheer love for his kin (true love affects every single action of human being and directs it to a special direction in harmony with the one who loves – Quran), though, this soul wants to hear Dante speak of what he wants to learn. Dante looks to Beatrice for permission to speak, which she grants with her smile even before he asks. Dante thanks the soul for his caring greeting. He shows how much he values this soul by calling him a “living topaz” (topaz fulfils the earthly purpose for its reincarnation) and asking for the soul’s name.

The soul replies, “I am your root,” and avoids giving his name. He calls Dante’s attention to “the man who gave [his] family its name,” telling Dante that this ancestor is on the threshold of Purgatory and Dante should pray for him so he too may soon enter Heaven. He then starts talking about Florence. But his focus is on the old Florence of his time, which was “sober and chaste” and “lived in tranquillity.”

In the days of good-Florence, everything was balanced. Daughters’ marriages were causes for celebration. All families bore children. There was no improper lust or lechery. Florence even rivalled Rome. Women came into public with unpainted faces. Men were men, wearing “suits of unlined skins,” and women were women, happy in their places “at spindle and at spool.” Men and women were not afraid to speak to their infants. Wives would tell stories from Classical times over their spinning. Into this good Florence, the soul says, I was born. He identifies himself as “both Christian and Cacciaguida.”

Cacciaguida says he served Emperor Conrad, by fighting for him in the Crusades. He gained so much favour the Emperor knighted him. It was there in the Crusades that Cacciaguida met his glorious death, at the hands of the Saracens (Muslims). “From martyrdom I came unto this peace,” he says. In other words, Cacciaguida’s good work fighting for Christianity in the Crusades (against Muslims who occupied the Holy Land) earned him a spot in Heaven.

Historically, Emperor Alexius of Constantinople needed some men to fight away the Seljuk Turks (Shia) that were threatening his empire. He asked Pope Urban II for a few 100 men. Instead, the Pope took this as an opportunity to capture Jerusalem and preached the Crusades. He told the Christians to stop killing each other and start killing the Muslims. He told them their life is one of sin and the only way to remove this sin is to go on this holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem – if you die, you get Paradiso. 100,000s joined and fought against the Muslims, but that it was an ordinary war. The impoverished Crusaders with no food supplies, committed cannibalism and killed even other Christians and Jews.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 15: Cacciaguida. Florence in the Olden Time.

Silence falls, by the grace of the double circle of spirits. That enables Dante to direct his inward prayer towards them. Those people who deny themselves this Paradiso of heavenly love for the sake of want rather than need of transient things should mourn, he says. Dante now turns from the religious and spiritual sphere of the Sun104, towards the personal. A spirit flashes like a meteorite from the right of the Cross to its base and on towards them. It is the soul of his ancestor Cacciaguida, who comes forward to speak to him like Anchises, Aeneas’s father, written about in Virgil’s epic.

Anchises is remembered in all three Canticles through Purgatory. Book VI of the Aeneid was a vital sourcebook for Dante’s poem, and at the beginning of Inferno. It is about Aeneas Dante thinks of as a forerunner, of a man who himself crossed towards the Underworld. Beatrice and Cacciaguida are from an Earthly Paradiso. Both have the same relationship to Dante as Anchises has to Aeneas in Aeneid Book VI.

In a spirit of love, they reveal things to Dante that kindle his imagination with a passion for the glory to be (The Glory Be hymnal: “Glory Be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, a world without an end”). They both clarify and confirm Dante’s reforming mission105, and they prophecy the future. Reference to Aeneas and Paul and destiny of Troy and Rome is tied to Christian history – all are part of a single divine unfolding (Apostle Peter disappeared during Constantine’s reign and the destiny of the Christian Church fell). Dante becomes heir to Aeneas and Paul’s106 (each had to leave fallen Troy and Rome respectively), gates to heaven. It would be twice-opened to him, now in life and afterwards in death, which is Cacciaguida’s subtle prophecy.

Dante turns towards Beatrice, and there is the flare now of light that accompanies that marvellous image. Her smile in her eyes, the loving Beatrice, and the beauty of divine truth and grace overpowers him. He touches the limit and profoundest depth of grace. He is in meditative ecstasy which is experienced as a blurring of boundaries. According to some traditions, it can stimulate sexual chakras and increase its energy. Yet, Divine Ecstasy is about ‘all actions towards the Sacred Emptiness filled with Universal Intelligence and Ultimate Enlightenment’. Therefore is Dante’s experience beyond the erotic, and spiritual? Does not the erotic go beyond the full content of mind and spirit; or rather it embraces body, soul and mind, not as a hierarchy, but as a Oneness, a Trinity.

Dante’s triumph is to surround and infuse love with supreme love. He does not go beyond Beatrice. He gazes with her at the Love that transcends,, and fills the Universe. Dante’s Medieval Mind sees the physical body as a Temple of the Spirit. He is not troubled by the idealism of the incarnating egoistic intellect, and its content within the living symbol of the Word (OM) made flesh. Beatrice is both woman (Holy Spirit) and a Father’s intellectual ideal (Intelligence).

Cacciaguida107, his profound speech is at first beyond Dante’s understanding. This is compared with Nimrod’s appearance. In Babel speech cannot be understood because it has been corrupted. Here the lack of understanding is because language (mystical and spiritual) has been elevated beyond mortal understanding. He expresses his love and joy at seeing his descendant Dante, whose thoughts and desire to know who he is plain to him, without Dante speaking. He tells Dante to speak though so he can hear his voice and fulfil his own desire. Dante replies that for the spirits who see God and His perfection, intellect is equal to emotion and can express it, but for Dante, his expression falls short of desire. He now asks Cacciaguida to reveal his name.

Paradiso Canto 16: Dante’s Noble Ancestry. Cacciaguida’s Discourse of the Great Florentines.

1. thou our poor nobility of blood// If thou dost make the people glory in thee// Down here where our affection languishes,
2. A marvellous thing it ne’er will be to me// For there where appetite is not perverted // I say in Heaven, of thee I made a boast!
3. Truly thou art a cloak that quickly shortens// So that unless we piece thee day by day// Time goeth round about thee with his shears!
4. With ‘You,’ which Rome was first to tolerate//(Wherein her family less perseveres,) // Yet once again my words beginning made;
5. Whence Beatrice, who stood somewhat apart// Smiling, appeared like unto her who coughed// At the first failing writ of Guenever.
6. And I began: “You are my ancestor// You give to me all hardihood to speak// You lift me so that I am more than I.
7. So many rivulets with gladness fill// My mind, that of itself it makes a joy// Because it can endure this and not burst.
8. Then tell me, my beloved root ancestral// Who were your ancestors, and what the years// That in your boyhood chronicled themselves?
9. Tell me about the sheepfold of Saint John// How large it was, and who the people were//Within it worthy of the highest seats.”
10. As at the blowing of the winds a coal//Quickens to flame, so I beheld that light//Become resplendent at my blandishments.
11. And as unto mine eyes it grew more fair// With voice more sweet and tender, but not in// This modern dialect, it said to me:
12. “From uttering of the ‘Ave,’ till the birth//In which my mother, who is now a saint
//Of me was lightened who had been her burden,
13. Unto its Lion had this fire returned//Five hundred fifty times and thirty more//To reinflame itself beneath his paw.
14. My ancestors and I our birthplace had// Where first is found the last ward of the city//By him who runneth in your annual game.
15. Suffice it of my elders to hear this// But who they were, and whence they thither came// Silence is more considerate than speech.
16. All those who at that time were there between//Mars and the Baptist, fit for bearing arms// Were a fifth part of those who now are living;
17. But the community, that now is mixed//With Campi and Certaldo and Figghine//Pure in the lowest artisan was seen.
18. how much better ’twere to have as neighbours// The folk of whom I speak, and at Galluzzo//And at Trespiano have your boundary,
19. Than have them in the town, and bear the stench//Of Aguglione’s churl, and him of Signa//Who has sharp eyes for trickery already.
20. Had not the folk, which most of all the world//Degenerates, been a step-dame unto Caesar//But as a mother to her son benignant,
21. Some who turn Florentines, and trade and discount//Would have gone back again to Simifonte//There where their grandsires went about as beggars.
22. At Montemurlo still would be the Counts//The Cerchi in the parish of Acone//Perhaps in Valdigrieve the Buondelmonti.
23. Ever the intermingling of the people//Has been the source of malady in cities//As in the body food it surfeits on;
24. And a blind bull more headlong plunges down//Than a blind lamb; and very often cuts// Better and more a single sword than five.
25. If Luni thou regard, and Urbisaglia//How they have passed away, and how are passing//Chiusi and Sinigaglia after them,
26. To hear how races waste themselves away//Will seem to thee no novel thing nor hard// Seeing that even cities have an end.
27. All things of yours have their mortality//Even as yourselves; but it is hidden in some // That a long while endure, and lives are short;
28. And as the turning of the lunar heaven//Covers and bares the shores without a pause// In the like manner fortune does with Florence.
29. Therefore should not appear a marvellous thing//What I shall say of the great Florentines//Of whom the fame is hidden in the Past.
30. I saw the Ughi, saw the Catellini//Filippi, Greci, Ormanni, and Alberichi//Even in their fall illustrious citizens;
31. And saw, as mighty as they ancient were//With him of La Sannella him of Arca//And Soldanier, Ardinghi, and Bostichi.
32. Near to the gate that is at present laden//With a new felony of so much weight//That soon it shall be jetsam from the bark,
33. The Ravignani were, from whom descended//The County Guido, and whoe’er the name// Of the great Bellincione since hath taken.
34. He of La Pressa knew the art of ruling//Already, and already Galigajo//Had hilt and pommel gilded in his house.
35. Mighty already was the Column Vair//Sacchetti, Giuochi, Fifant, and Barucci//And Galli, and they who for the bushel blush.
36. The stock from which were the Calfucci born//Was great already, and already chosen// To curule chairs the Sizii and Arrigucci.
37. how beheld I those who are undone//By their own pride! and how the Balls of Gold // Florence enflowered in all their mighty deeds!
38. So likewise did the ancestors of those//Who evermore, when vacant is your church // Fatten by staying in consistory.
39. The insolent race, that like a dragon follows// Whoever flees, and unto him that shows// His teeth or purse is gentle as a lamb,
40. Already rising was, but from low people// So that it pleased not Ubertin Donato//That his wife’s father should make him their kin.
41. Already had Caponsacco to the Market//From Fesole descended, and already// Giuda and Infangato were good burghers.
42. I’ll tell a thing incredible, but true///One entered the small circuit by a gate//Which from the Della Pera took its name!
43. Each one that bears the beautiful escutcheon//Of the great baron whose renown and name//The festival of Thomas keepeth fresh,
44. Knighthood and privilege from him received// Though with the populace unites himself// To-day the man who binds it with a border.
45. Already were Gualterotti and Importuni//And still more quiet would the Borgo be
If with new neighbours it remained unfed.
46. The house from which is born your lamentation//Through just disdain that death among you brought// And put an end unto your joyous life,
47. Was honoured in itself and its companions// O Buondelmonte, how in evil hour//
Thou fled’st the bridal at another’s promptings!
48. Many would be rejoicing who are sad// If God had thee surrendered to the Ema//The first time that thou camest to the city.
49. But it behoved the mutilated stone//Which guards the bridge, that Florence should provide// A victim in her latest hour of peace.
50. With all these families, and others with them//Florence beheld I in so great repose // That no occasion had she whence to weep;
51. With all these families beheld so just// And glorious her people, that the lily//Never upon the spear was placed reversed,
52. Nor by division was vermilion made.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 16: Dante’s Noble Ancestry. Cacciaguida’s Discourse of the Great Florentines

Dante takes a break to bask in his glory. He turns back to Cacciaguida and shows him a great sign of respect by addressing him in a formal form reserved only for nobility. Dante calls Cacciaguida “my father” and says his nobility has given him the confidence to ask further questions. Dante wants to know who Cacciaguida’s ancestors were during his lifetime and if they virtuously followed St. John (patron saint of Florence) at the time.

Cacciaguida grows brighter with gladness, and then answers in a style of speech that is sweeter than the harsh modern style. He answers Dante’s second question, about the year of his birth. Starting from the date of Jesus’ conception and adding 530 revolutions of Mars where he now resides there on Earth, he was born in 1091.

About Dante’s ancestors, Cacciaguida says the ancestors were born at a time when competitors in the annual horse race enter the field.

Cacciaguida then becomes silent about the ancestors because “silence – not speech – is more appropriate.” In response to Dante’s last question, Cacciaguida says that St. John’s followers included only one-fifth of the entire Florentine population. Cacciaguida laments that Florence does not have the smaller boundaries that it did in the beginning. If it did, Florentines might still be virtuous, and filled with pure-blooded Florentines. He blames interracial mixing and blending of many factions as the root of evil in Florence.

Cacciaguida then names families who had illustrious names in good Florence and some families who were starting to go bad. He generally claims the families and the clergy of the past were honourable people, but that time has seen the clerics become corrupt. Time has had a bad effect on poor Florence.

In fact, back in the past, “there was nothing to cause her (Florence) sorrow.” Things were so good that in Florence’s emblem – the white lily on a red field was never stained blood-red by war between Florentine factions. These colours reversed to a red lily on a white field by the Guelphs against the Ghibellines.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 16: Dante’s Noble Ancestry. Cacciaguida’s Discourse of the Great Florentines.

Dante values his ancestry and regrets how nobility, dignity and decency diminishes with time. He addresses Cacciaguida as ‘vous’ instead of ‘tu’ – in the manner in which Julius Caesar was addressed, when he achieved pre-eminence,. He confirms the historical destiny linking a radical Church with a confrontational Empire. Now that Dante has confessed this to his ancestor, he has regained his state of innocence. Beatrice smiles at Dante’s acknowledgement with Cacciaguida as the Lady of Malehaut coughed discreetly at Guinevere’s first acknowledgment of Lancelot108.
Dante asks about ancient Florence, the native city, symbolic of the Dante’s personal life and the place of Dante’s meeting with Beatrice. Its patron saint is John the Baptist, the desert prophet who baptised Jesus. The Florentines adopted St John the Baptist as their patron, displacing the Roman Mars, whose statue had stood on the site of the Baptistery. The statue was then set up by the Arno. When Florence was destroyed by the Goths, according to legend, the statue fell into the Arno. Florence could not be rebuilt, it was believed, until the statue had been reinstated, and it was rescued and set on a pillar on the Ponte Vecchio when the city was restored. This is according to legend again, by Charlemagne. It remained there till the great flood of 1333 which carried away the bridge and statue. Rejecting Mars was believed by Florentines to be at the root of the endless factional conflict in their city.

Cacciaguida, speaking in the ancient Tuscan language, spells out his date of birth, as 580 revolutions of Mars in its orbit since Jesus’ birth, which means the start of the Christian era also. It is possible, but unlikely given astronomical knowledge in his day, that Dante is being both knowledgeable and subtle. Cacciaguida was then fifty-six when he joined the Crusade if he was born in 1091. The precision shows Dante’s need to prove his own Florentine ancestry: the exile’s love for his roots, his pride in them, and his wish to assert his rights.

Cacciaguida talks about the growth of ancient Florence, which was a fifth smaller than in Dante’s day, two hundred years later. The statue of Mars stood by the northern end of the Ponte Vecchio, in the south of the city by the Arno, and the Baptistery is in the north, marking the old boundaries. New families filtered in from the towns of the Contado.

In the eleventh century, Galuzzo and Trespiano were the southern and northern limits of Florentine territory, which did not include Aguglione or Signa, places whose families have contaminated the city according to Dante. Simifonti was a fortress in the Valdelsa destroyed by the Florentines in 1202. The Conti Guidi sold their castle at Montemurlo, between Pistoia and Prato, to Florence in 1254 being unable to defend it from the Pistoians. Cacciaguida laments passing the purer stock and the smaller but more effective city. His perspective is historical, greater than on life.

Cacciaguida now mentions the great families of ancient Florence. The gate of St Peter was where the Cerchi lived in Dante’s time. They had bought the houses over the gate before 1300, which had belonged to the Ravignani, from whom the Conti Guidi were descended through Bellincione Berti’s daughter Gualdrada. The Chiaramontesi lived in the Saint Peter quarter. One of the family, in Dante’s time, around 1299, Messer Durante de’ Chiaramontesi, officer of the customs for salt, reduced the standard measure for the issue of salt to the Florentines.

The Carlucci were a branch of the Donati. The Uberti were once the dominant Florentine family. The golden balls were the device of the Lamberti, of whom Mosca was one. The ancestors of the Visdomini and Della Tosa families while having the revenues of the Bishopric of Florence in their hands were accused of perverting them to their own uses whenever they See was vacant.

Filippo Argenti belonged to one branch of the Adimari family. Ubertino Donati, the ancestor of Dante’s wife Gemma, had married one of the daughters of Bellincione Berti, a sister of Gualdrada. He strongly objected to his father-in-law giving the hand of a third daughter to one of the Adimari. A fourth daughter may have been the wife of Dante’s great-grandfather Alighiero I.

The Della Pera in Dante’s time had declined to an extent that it seemed incredible a gate of the city was named after them. Hugo of Brandenburg, Imperial Vicar of Tuscany for Otho III, died on Saint Thomas’s day. He had created many knights of the families, who all kept his coat of arms (Barry white and red with divers charges). The Della Bella had a gold border to the arms.
The Uccellini and Gherardini were associates of the Amidei. Associates were members of a family who joined the tower-club of another for its military maintenance, and were legal consorts of that family. These were members of a family, which had stopped to act with their true family, and were therefore regarded as no longer belonging to it.

Buondelmonti was betrothed to a daughter of the Amidei, but broke loyalty at the instigation of Gualdrada Donati. In the debate about whether he should be killed Mosca said the evil word, ‘A thing done has an end.’ Buondelmonte was murdered, at the foot of the statue of Mars, on the Ponte Vecchio, in 1215. The family originated from Valdigreve and settled in the Borgo Saint Apostoli. To reach Florence they would have crossed the small stream, Ema. The family divisions created the Guelph and Ghibelline factional conflicts. Through Cacciaguida, Dante brings us to Mars and the civil strife that became the cause of a dwindling Florence.

The old standard of Florence carried white lilies on a red field. The Ghibellines upheld this, but the Guelphs adopted a red lily on a white field in 1251. Cacciaguida remembers the ancient banner. With that Dante has asserted his ancestry, found out the nature of ancient Florence, and the present-day failings of the city. He has tied all this to Cacciaguida’s noble fortitude as a militant Christian loyal to the blood of Christ, compared with the factional Florentines dedicated to blood-stained Mars. Cacciaguida has shored up Dante’s ancestry, and can now, endorse his mission, prophecy and his future.

Paradiso Canto 17: Cacciaguida’s Prophecy of Dante’s Banishment:

1. As came to Clymene, to be made certain// Of that which he had heard against himself// He who makes fathers chary still to children,
2. Even such was I, and such was I perceived//By Beatrice and by the holy light// That first on my account had changed its place.
3. Therefore my Lady said to me: “Send forth//The flame of thy desire, so that it issue // Imprinted well with the internal stamp;
4. Not that our knowledge may be greater made//By speech of thine, but to accustom thee// To tell thy thirst, that we may give thee drink.”
5. “O my beloved tree, (that so dost lift thee// That even as minds terrestrial perceive // No triangle containeth two obtuse
6. So thou beholdest the contingent things//Ere in themselves they are, fixing thine eyes
7. Upon the point in which all times are present)//While I was with Virgilius conjoined // Upon the mountain that the souls doth heal,
8. And when descending into the dead world//Were spoken to me of my future life// Some grievous words; although I feel myself
9. In sooth foursquare against the blows of chance//On this account my wish would be content// To hear what fortune is approaching me,
10. Because foreseen an arrow comes more slowly”//Thus did I say unto that selfsame light// That unto me had spoken before; and even
11. As Beatrice willed was my own will confessed//Not in vague phrase, in which the foolish folk// Ensnared themselves of old, ere yet was slain
12. The Lamb of God who taketh sins away//But with clear words and unambiguous//
Language responded that paternal love,
13. Hid and revealed by its own proper smile//Contingency, that outside of the volume
Of your materiality extends not// Is all depicted in the eternal aspect.
14. Necessity however thence it takes not// Except as from the eye, in which ’tis mirrored// A ship that with the current down descends.
15. From thence, e’en as there cometh to the ear// Sweet harmony from an organ, comes in sight// To me the time that is preparing for thee.
16. As forth from Athens went Hippolytus// By reason of his step-dame false and cruel //So thou from Florence must perforce depart.
17. Already this is willed, and this is sought for// And soon it shall be done by him who thinks it//Where every day the Christ is bought and sold.
18. The blame shall follow the offended party//In outcry as is usual; but the vengeance // Shall witness to the truth that doth dispense it.
19. Thou shalt abandon everything beloved// Most tenderly, and this the arrow is// Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth.
20. Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt//The bread of others, and how hard a road// The going down and up another’s stairs.
21. And that which most shall weigh upon thy shoulders//Will be the bad and foolish company//With which into this valley thou shalt fall;
22. For all ingrate, all mad and impious//Will they become against thee; but soon after // They, and not thou, shall have the forehead scarlet.
23. Of their bestiality their own proceedings//Shall furnish proof; so ’twill be well for thee// A party to have made thee by thyself.
24. Thine earliest refuge and thine earliest inn// Shall be the mighty Lombard’s courtesy // Who on the Ladder bears the holy bird,
25. Who such benign regard shall have for thee// That ‘twixt you twain, in doing and in asking// That shall be first which is with others last.
26. With him shalt thou see one who at his birth//Has by this star of strength been so impressed// That notable shall his achievements be.
27. Not yet the people are aware of him//Through his young age, since only nine years yet// Around about him have these wheels revolved.
28. But ere the Gascon cheat the noble Henry// Some sparkles of his virtue shall appear // In caring not for silver nor for toil.
29. So recognized shall his magnificence//Become hereafter, that his enemies//Will not have power to keep mute tongues about it.
30. On him rely, and on his benefits// By him shall many people be transformed// Changing condition rich and mendicant;
31. And written in thy mind thou hence shalt bear//Of him, but shalt not say it”-and things said he// Incredible to those who shall be present.
32. Then added: “Son, these are the commentaries//On what was said to thee; behold the snares// That are concealed behind few revolutions;
33. Yet would I not thy neighbours thou shouldst envy// Because thy life into the future reaches//Beyond the punishment of their perfidies.”
34. When by its silence showed that sainted soul// That it had finished putting in the woof// Into that web which I had given it warped,
35. Began I, even as he who yearneth after//Being in doubt, some counsel from a person // Who seeth, and uprightly wills, and loves:
36. “Well see I, father mine, how spurreth on//The time towards me such a blow to deal me// As heaviest is to him who most gives way.
37. Therefore with foresight it is well I arm me// That, if the dearest place be taken from me//I may not lose the others by my songs.
38. Down through the world of infinite bitterness//And o’er the mountain, from whose beauteous summit// The eyes of my own Lady lifted me,
39. And afterward through heaven from light to light//I have learned that which, if I tell again//Will be a savour of strong herbs to many.
40. And if I am a timid friend to truth//I fear lest I may lose my life with those//Who will hereafter call this time the olden.”
41. The light in which was smiling my own treasure//Which there I had discovered, flashed at first//As in the sunshine doth a golden mirror;
42. Then made reply: “A conscience overcast// Or with its own or with another’s shame // Will taste forsooth the tartness of thy word;
43. But ne’ertheless, all falsehood laid aside// Make manifest thy vision utterly//And let them scratch wherever is the itch;
44. For if thine utterance shall offensive be//At the first taste, a vital nutriment//’Twill leave thereafter, when it is digested.
45. This cry of thine shall do as doth the wind//Which smiteth most the most exalted summits//And that is no slight argument of honour.
46. Therefore are shown to thee within these wheels//Upon the mount and in the dolorous valley//Only the souls that unto fame are known;
47. Because the spirit of the hearer rests not// Nor doth confirm its faith by an example // Which has the root of it unknown and hidden,
48. Or other reason that is not apparent.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 17: Cacciaguida’s Prophecy of Dante’s Banishment: Fifth Heaven, Sphere of Mars
Something has been bothering Dante and he wants to get it off his chest. He first compares his torment to Phaethon (the son of the sun god who got his wish of driving his father’s chariot and crashed it into the desert), coming to talk to his mother about his wish. Beatrice, reads Dante’s mind. She tells him to “show his desire” to Cacciaguida who can answer his predicament. Beatrice gestures that that both she and Cacciaguida already know Dante’s question and the answer.
Dante voices his concern concerning his impending trip to Heaven. Since Cacciaguida has made it high into Heaven over Time, he was qualified to make a judgment. When travelling through Hell and Purgatory, with Virgil mentioned his destiny would be difficult. Dante wished to know what those hard times will be, so he can mentally prepare himself for them.
Cacciaguida responds humanely in plain and simple words that were used by Jesus for his followers. The words were neither vague, nor mysterious, nor prophetic. He comforts Dante by telling him about eventuality. The theory is that even though something is foretold, it does not necessarily happen; in other words, God does not make it happen.
Cacciaguida states Dante, just like Hippolytus of Athens, will be forced into exile from Florence. He will leave everything he loves most dearly and will have to serve others. What will be hardest for Dante to bear is that his fellow exiles will be “insane, completely / ungrateful and profane” against him. Therefore it is best that Dante withstand this difficult and painful time – alone. But he will find some friends, also. A great Lombard (Bartolommeo Della Scala), will house him, and Bartolommeo’s younger brother, Cangrande, will be a major military force. He will gain a reputation for “hard labor and.disregard for silver” and will be a hallmark of generosity and honor.
Cacciaguida assures Dante with, “your life will long outlast the punishment / that is to fall upon their treacheries,” and of course Dante will earn salvation. This encourages Dante, who declares himself prepared for the hard times ahead. He promises to hold his course steady by continuing to write poetry.
Dante, reflects on his journey so far, and knows that for many people, it would have been too difficult. Seeing the truth is always difficult, but Dante vows to not be “a timid friend of truth.” Cacciaguida encourages him by saying that even if people today consider Dante’s honest words too harsh, they will – after mulling over them – find them just and correct. And Dante will win honour for daring to speak truth against the highest and most corrupt powers.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 17: Cacciaguida’s Prophecy of Dante’s Banishment: Fifth Heaven, Sphere of Mars
Dante hears about his ancestry, just as Phaethon did to
Clymene109 his mother, about his birth as a child of the Sun. Perhaps Dante is also thinking of the pride that led to Phaethon’s downfall. Re-assured by Beatrice he shares his fears of the future with Cacciaguida, based on the dark prophecies made in Hell and Purgatory, notably by Ciacco, Farinata, Brunetto, Vanni Fucci, and Guido del Duca. They were foretelling the fate of the Whites and his own exile. He expects that Cacciaguida can see future events.
Cacciaguida confirms his powers of future vision (capable of motivating change for successful result), but denies the skill of pre-destination (control God exercises over man), as Boethius110 did. God and Paradiso are extra temporal zones and therefore outside the flow of events. Similarly he cannot, see the influence of the course of the river it sees.
Dante is concerned about the integrity of individual free will without which responsibility for sin is meaningless. Cacciaguida reveals that Dante’s fast approaching exile from Florence is engineered by the corrupt Papacy111. Like Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, whom Phaedra his stepmother fell in love with but repulsed and then lied about the situation by accusing his father, and indirectly bringing him to his death.
Dante will be accused of a crime, which is perpetrated by his accuser(s), for barratry. Dante was therefore sentenced with four others with a fine and banishment with fifteen others. The Whites were expelled from Florence because of dishonesty. He therefore broke away from them in disgust and took refuge with Bartolommeo della Scala at Verona, where he met the young Can Grande, the most celebrated of the della Scala family. The Ghibelline Della Scala family became lords of Verona112 in the 1260s. Under Can Francesco (Can Grande) della Scala (1291-1329) the city reached its greatest power…
Dante took refuge with him Francesco Can Grande della Scala (1291-1329), Dante’s patron at Verona. ‘Paradiso’ was dedicated to who sheltered him for years. He received the last thirteen Cantos of the Paradiso from Dante’s son Jacopo, which were left unfinished at Dante’s death,.
Can Grande became lord of Verona in 1311, was an Imperial Vicar, and in 1318 the head of the Ghibelline party. He was an art patron, and kept a civilised and stately court. Can Grande was one of the great military men of his age. In 1311 he showed his mettle by recovering Brescia and taking Vicenza.
Henry VII’s son Edward VI was nine years old when Pope Clement VIII cheated Henry. Henry of Luxembourg became Emperor Henry VII (1308-1313). Pope Clement V tried to use him to further his own ambitions. Henry VII was hailed by Dante as the Liberator. He reached Mila
n but failed as honest broker to resolve the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. He was driven into leadership of the Ghibelline party and aligned himself with Federico III of Sicily. Pope Clement then swung back to the Guelphs, and rejected the alliance. Henry VII died of disease in 1313, as he was marching on Florence and planning a campaign against Naples, ending the dreams of Dante and the Florentine exiles.
Nevertheless, says Cacciaguida, you will be more famous than your enemies. He tells Dante to be cautious about telling his Vision for fear of inciting his enemies. He is equally anxious of ‘lose life’ by failing to transmit his great poetry to future generations. Cacciaguida replies that he should strike proudly and tell all of this truth, while using the most important names since they bring honour.
This is the because Dante uses famous names as examples, to encourage those who read to understand and take note. Cacciaguida supports Dante’s heritage, destiny, and mission. His counsel to Dante is one of continuing endurance, courage, steadfastness, truthfulness, and fortitude.

Paradiso Canto 18:The Sixth Heaven, Jupiter: Righteous Kings and Rulers. The Celestial Eagle. Dante’s Invectives against ecclesiastical Avarice.

1. Now was alone rejoicing in its word// That soul beatified, and I was tasting//My own, the bitter tempering with the sweet,
2. And the Lady who to God was leading me// Said: “Change thy thought; consider that I am//Near unto Him who every wrong disburdens.”
3. Unto the loving accents of my comfort//I turned me round, and then what love I saw// Within those holy eyes I here relinquish;
4. Not only that my language I distrust//But that my mind cannot return so far//Above itself, unless another guide it.
5. Thus much upon that point can I repeat// That, her again beholding, my affection// From every other longing was released.
6. While the eternal pleasure, which direct// Rayed upon Beatrice, from her fair face
// Contented me with its reflected aspect,
7. Conquering me with the radiance of a smile//She said to me, “Turn thee about and listen//Not in mine eyes alone is Paradiso.”
8. Even as sometimes here do we behold//The affection in the look, if it be such//That all the soul is wrapt away by it,
9. So, by the flaming of the effulgence holy// To which I turned, I recognized therein
// The wish of speaking to me somewhat farther.
10. And it began: “In this fifth resting-place//Upon the tree that liveth by its summit// And aye bears fruit, and never loses leaf,
11. Are blessed spirits that below, ere yet//They came to Heaven, were of such great renown// That every Muse therewith would affluent be.
12. Therefore look thou upon the cross’s horns//He whom I now shall name will there enact//What doth within a cloud its own swift fire.”
13. I saw athwart the Cross a splendour drawn//By naming Joshua, (even as he did it,) //Nor noted I the word before the deed;
14. And at the name of the great Maccabee//I saw another move itself revolving// And gladness was the whip unto that top.
15. Likewise for Charlemagne and for Orlando// Two of them my regard attentive followed// As followeth the eye its falcon flying.
16. William thereafterward, and Renouard//And the Duke Godfrey, did attract my sight // Along upon that Cross, and Robert Guiscard.
17. Then, moved and mingled with the other lights//The soul that had addressed me showed how great//An artist ’twas among the heavenly singers.
18. To my right side I turned myself around// My duty to behold in Beatrice//Either by words or gesture signified;
19. And so translucent I beheld her eyes// So full of pleasure, that her countenance// Surpassed its other and its latest wont.
20. And as, by feeling greater delectation//A man in doing good from day to day//Becomes aware his virtue is increasing,
21. So I became aware that my gyration//With heaven together had increased its arc
// That miracle beholding more adorned.
22. And such as is the change, in little lapse//Of time, in a pale woman, when her face //Is from the load of bashfulness unladen,
23. Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned//Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star//The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.
24. Within that Jovial torch did I behold//The sparkling of the love which was therein
// Delineate our language to mine eyes.
25. And even as birds uprisen from the shore//As in congratulation o’er their food// Make squadrons of themselves, now round, now long,
26. So from within those lights the holy creatures//Sang flying to and fro, and in their figures// Made of themselves now D, now I, now L.
27. First singing they to their own music moved// Then one becoming of these characters// A little while they rested and were silent.
28. divine Pegasea, thou who genius//Dost glorious make, and render it long-lived// And this through thee the cities and the kingdoms,
29. Illume me with thyself, that I may bring//heir figures out as I have them conceived // Apparent be thy power in these brief verses!
30. Themselves then they displayed in five times seven//Vowels and consonants; and I observed//The parts as they seemed spoken unto me.
31. ‘Diligite justitiam,’ these were//First verb and noun of all that was depicted//’Qui judicatis terram’ were the last.
32. Thereafter in the M of the fifth word//Remained they so arranged, that Jupiter// Seemed to be silver there with gold inlaid.
33. And other lights I saw descend where summit of the M was //The, and pause there singing//The good, I think, that draws them to itself.
34. Then, as in striking upon burning logs//Upward there fly innumerable sparks// Whence fools are wont to look for auguries,
35. More than a thousand lights seemed thence to rise//And to ascend, some more, and others less// Even as the Sun that lights them had allotted;
36. And, each one being quiet in its place//The head and neck beheld I of an eagle// Delineated by that inlaid fire.
37. He who there paints has none to be his guide//But Himself guides; and is from Him remembered// That virtue which is form unto the nest.
38. The other beatitude, that contented seemed//At first to bloom a lily on the M// By a slight motion followed out the imprint.
39. gentle star! what and how many gems//Did demonstrate to me, that all our justice // Effect is of that heaven which thou ingemmest!
40. Wherefore I pray the Mind, in which begin// Thy motion and thy virtue, to regard
// Whence comes the smoke that vitiates thy rays;
41. So that a second time it now be wroth//With buying and with selling in the temple // Whose walls were built with signs and martyrdoms!
42. soldiery of heaven, whom I contemplate// Implore for those who are upon the earth // All gone astray after the bad example!
43. Once ’twas the custom to make war with swords//But now ’tis made by taking here and there//The bread the pitying Father shuts from none.
44. Yet thou, who writest but to cancel, think//That Peter and that Paul, who for this vineyard//Which thou art spoiling died, are still alive!
45. Well canst thou say: “So steadfast my desire// Is unto him who willed to live alone // And for a dance was led to martyrdom,
46. That I know not the Fisherman nor Paul.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 18: The Sixth Heaven, Jupiter: Righteous Kings and Rulers. The Heavenly Eagle. Dante’s Invectives against ecclesiastical Greed.

Not wanting to be left out of the emotional chaos, Beatrice catches Dante’s eye and reminds him that she has the ear of “Him who lightens every unjust hurt” and God is on Dante’s side. On looking at her, Dante is surprised at witnessing the untold love shining from her eyes. Dante ignores all his other doubts when looking at her. Beatrice quickly speaks to break the spell. She tells Dante that Cacciaguida has more to say.

Cacciaguida wants to introduce Dante to the rest of the souls forming the image of the cross. Their famous names would make great additions to your poem, he says to encourage Dante. As Cacciaguida introduced the souls, they flash into Dante’s view. Pride of personality or chitta involves four aspects of human personality through the intellect, mind and ego. The soul of Cacciaguida already in heaven also focuses on family name, fame, caste, rank, and power.

First comes the famous Joshua (who led the Hebrews to conquer the Jericho); Maccabeus ( the Hebrew warrior who freed the Jews from a tyrant), Charlemagne (the restorer of the Holy Empire), Roland (Charlemagne’s nephew who once gave his life to save his uncle’s in battle), William of Orange (a warrior who turned cleric), Renouard (a Saracen giant who converted to Christianity), Duke Geoffrey of Bouillon (who successfully led the First Crusade), and Robert Guiscard (defender of Pope Gregory VII). And then finally, Cacciaguida disappears into the crowd of lights, where he starts to sing with the others.

Trying to keep the names straight in his head, Dante turns to Beatrice to see what to do next. She is glowing more brightly, which means that they are now rising into the next heaven. Dante now sees only white Jupiter. Even at first glance, Dante can tell the souls of Jupiter think themselves artists, because they are already forming letters and words with their glowing bodies. He compares them to flocks of birds forming letters in the air. The letters only appear for a moment before the souls break off and form new ones. Therefore Dante invokes the Muses to help him remember the letters as they come so he can spell out their message in his mind.

His prayer is answered, and he gets a final Latin message: ‘diligite iusitiam, qui iudicatis terram’ which from Latin translates to, “Love justice113, you who judge the earth.” After forming the last ‘M’, other souls descend – to improve the shape. Dante compares these acrobatics of light to the shower of sparks that arise when one pokes a burning log.
When the souls are done arranging themselves, Dante sees the ‘M’ has become an eagle’s head. Now, massive crowds of other lights surge forward and he sees an eagle with a body. Dante thanks God that such justice appears in the Heavens. The Eagle is the emblem of Imperial Rome, and the symbol for justice.

Dante prays to God to turn His mind against Rome because it has “produced the smoke that dims your rays.” He means Rome houses many false and greedy Popes. This leads into a general rant against the corrupt Church. Dante beseeches God to let His anger fall on clerics who buy and sell indulgences in the churches, and on pretentious men who only play at being virtuous.
Finally, Dante addresses his most scathing criticism at Pope John XXII, telling him to remember that his soul will burn in Hell, while the words of St. Peter and St. Paul – whom he tries to “erase” – will live forever.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 18: The Sixth Heaven, Jupiter: Righteous Kings and Rulers. The Celestial Eagle; Dante’s Invectives against ecclesiastical Avarice
In an amazing, intense and striking moment, Beatrice tells Dante to attend to Cacciaguida’s final speech. Dante becomes wholly absorbed in the love in her eyes, the joy from her lovely face, and is conquered over by her smile. Beatrice gently and affectionately rebukes him: ‘not only in my eyes is Paradiso.’

Earthly love114 is there, in Dante, but is it spiritualized? Worship in Dante’s eyes and in his smile gives it an irresistible erotic content. This is old Courtly love transfigured but is still alive. Divine Philosophy is a path of religion and the Church Militant is represented by Cacciaguida. The grandfather names the many faces of Paradiso who spent both contemplative life and active life. Dante prefers to hear the warrior who combines Fortitude with Love.

Cacciaguida compares the universe to a tree, with God at the crown of the tree. Mars is the fifth canopy of that tree and Cacciaguida names seven spirits moving and flaring along the Cross, they move and flare. Dante then turns to later history with Charlemagne115, Roland116, William of Orange and Renard117. Last as examples of the warriors who fought for the faith, we have Godfrey of Bouillon118 and Robert Guiscard119. Dante is celebrating the aggressive Jewish and Christian history, and the right of Israelites and Christians to adopt these strategy of aggression.

Then, the red blush of Mars is replaced by the white light of Jupiter as Dante and Beatrice rise into a wider orbit, and into the sixth sphere of Justice and Wisdom. Jupiter120 is the Roman god of Roman Emperors, and therefore is a Christian God. Jupiter is a temperate planet between the cold of Saturn and the heat of Mars. Here Dante sees the spirits rising like a flock of birds to form one by one the 35 alphabets of the opening text of the Book of Solomon which states: ‘Diligite justitiam qui judicatis terram: love righteousness you judges over earth.’
Dante calls on the Muse to help keep each letter and the spirits pause until they have spelled out the whole sentence. Then they form the M. of the last word, terram: Earth. This is M of Monarchia, in Dante’s essay on kingship, which he states is a symbol of the Empire and Imperial Law. M of Mente is also the Mind of God.

More spirits join them and eventually form the head and neck of an Eagle, the emblem of Rome, the Divine sign of the Roman Empire and Justice, above the filled-in M representing the body and wings. The spirits during this process entwine themselves with the shapes of lilies indicating the Frankish influence on Christian history. The eagle, with the Scala ladder, was also part of Can Grande’s coat of arms. The Mind of God inspires the earthly forms, the nests, where intellect builds, and creates justice.

Dante now asks that Divine Mind to turn itself towards Boniface’s corrupt Rome, where smoke obscures Divine light, where indulgences are sold, where excommunication is used to wage war, and where the Pope is in love with gold Florins stamped with the head of John the Baptist, Florence having been dragged to destruction by the seductions of his political dance.

Paradiso Canto 19: The Eagle discourses of Salvation, Faith, and Virtue. Condemnation of the vile Kings of A.D. 1300.

1. Appeared before me with its wings outspread//The beautiful image that in sweet fruition// Made jubilant the interwoven souls;
2. Appeared a little ruby each, wherein// Ray of the sun was burning so enkindled// That each into mine eyes refracted it.
3. And what it now behoves me to retrace//Nor voice has e’er reported, nor ink written // Nor was by fantasy e’er comprehended;
4. For speak I saw, and likewise heard, the beak// And utter with its voice both ‘I’ and ‘My’// When in conception it was ‘We’ and ‘Our.’
5. And it began: “Being just and merciful//Am I exalted here unto that glory// Which cannot be exceeded by desire;
6. And upon earth I left my memory// Such, that the evil-minded people there// Commend it, but continue not the story.”
7. So doth a single heat from many embers// Make itself felt, even as from many loves // Issued a single sound from out that image.
8. Whence I thereafter: “O perpetual flowers//Of the eternal joy, that only one// Make me perceive your odours manifold,
9. Exhaling, break within me the great fast//Which a long season has in hunger held me// Not finding for it any food on earth.
10. Well do I know, that if in heaven its mirror//Justice Divine another realm doth make // Yours apprehends it not through any veil.
11. You know how I attentively address me// To listen; and you know what is the doubt // That is in me so very old a fast.”
12. Even as a falcon, issuing from his hood// Doth move his head, and with his wings applaud him// Showing desire, and making himself fine,
13. Saw I become that standard, which of lauds//Was interwoven of the grace divine
//With such songs as he knows who there rejoices.
14. Then it began: “He who a compass turned//On the world’s outer verge, and who within it//Devised so much occult and manifest,
15. Could not the impress of his power so make//On all the universe, as that his Word //Should not remain in infinite excess.
16. And this makes certain that the first proud being//Who was the paragon of every creature//By not awaiting light fell immature.
17. And hence appears it, that each minor nature//Is scant receptacle unto that good
//Which has no end, and by itself is measured.
18. In consequence our vision, which perforce// Must be some ray of that intelligence
//With which all things whatever are replete,
19. Cannot in its own nature be so potent// That it shall not its origin discern//
Far beyond that which is apparent to it.
20. Therefore into the justice sempiternal//The power of vision that your world receives // As eye into the ocean, penetrates;
21. Which, though it see the bottom near the shore//Upon the deep perceives it not, and yet//’Tis there, but it is hidden by the depth.
22. There is no light but comes from the serene//That never is o’ercast, nay, it is darkness//Or shadow of the flesh, or else its poison.
23. Amply to thee is opened now the cavern//Which has concealed from thee the living justice//Of which thou mad’st such frequent questioning.
24. For saidst thou: ‘Born a man is on the shore//Of Indus, and is none who there can speak// Of Christ, nor who can read, nor who can write;
25. And all his inclinations and his actions//Are good, so far as human reason sees// Without a sin in life or in discourse:
26. He dieth unbaptised and without faith//Where is this justice that condemneth him? //Where is his fault, if he do not believe?’
27. Now who art thou, that on the bench wouldst sit//In judgment at a thousand miles away//With the short vision of a single span?
28. Truly to him who with me subtilizes//If so the Scripture were not over you//For doubting there were marvellous occasion.
29. animals terrene, O stolid minds//The primal will, that in itself is good//Ne’er from itself, the Good Supreme, has moved.
30. So much is just as is accordant with it//No good created draws it to itself//But it, by raying forth, occasions that.”
31. Even as above her nest goes circling round// The stork when she has fed her little ones// And he who has been fed looks up at her,
32. So lifted I my brows, and even such//Became the blessed image, which its wings// Was moving, by so many counsels urged.
33. Circling around it sang, and said: “As are//My notes to thee, who dost not comprehend them// Such is the eternal judgment to you mortals.”
34. Those lucent splendours of the Holy Spirit//Grew quiet then, but still within the standard// That made the Romans reverend to the world.
35. It recommenced: “Unto this kingdom never// Ascended one who had not faith in Christ//Before or since he to the tree was nailed.
36. But look thou, many crying are, ‘Christ, Christ!’//Who at the judgment shall be far less near// To him than some shall be who knew not Christ.
37. Such Christians shall the Ethiop condemn//When the two companies shall be divided // The one for ever rich, the other poor.
38. What to your kings may not the Persians say//When they that volume opened shall behold//In which are written down all their dispraises?
39. There shall be seen, among the deeds of Albert// That which ere long shall set the pen in motion//For which the realm of Prague shall be deserted.
40. There shall be seen the woe that on the Seine//He brings by falsifying of the coin
//Who by the blow of a wild boar shall die.
41. There shall be seen the pride that causes thirst//Which makes the Scot and Englishman so mad//That they within their boundaries cannot rest;
42. Be seen the luxury and effeminate life//Of him of Spain, and the Bohemian//
Who valour never knew and never wished;
43. Be seen the Cripple of Jerusalem//His goodness represented by an I// While the reverse an M shall represent;
44. Be seen the avarice and poltroonery//Of him who guards the Island of the Fire// Wherein Anchises finished his long life;
45. And to declare how pitiful he is// Shall be his record in contracted letters// Which shall make note of much in little space.
46. And shall appear to each one the foul deeds//Of uncle and of brother who a nation // So famous have dishonoured, and two crowns.
47. And he of Portugal and he of Norway//Shall there be known, and he of Rascia too //Who saw in evil hour the coin of Venice.
48. happy Hungary, if she let herself//Be wronged no farther! and Navarre the happy
//If with the hills that gird her she be armed!
49. And each one may believe that now, as Hansel//Thereof, do Nicosia and Famagosta //Lament and rage because of their own beast,
50. Who from the others’ flank departeth not.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 19: The Eagle discourses of Salvat and Virtue. Condemnation of the vile Kings of AD 1300.

The Eagle is now visible. According to Dante, each of the souls seems like individual rubies reflecting the light of the sun that blinds him. The Eagle speaks. He says he is honoured here in Heaven because it is both just and merciful. Dante notices that even though the Eagle’s voice is from a combination of all the souls’ voices, it is just one voice.

Dante respectfully asks the Eagle to answer a question, but never voice the query. He knows the Eagle can read his mind. The Eagle shakes his head and flaps his wings and begins to speak.
It says that when God made the universe, He “could not imprint His power into all / the universe without His Word remaining / in infinite excess of such a vessel;” in fact the universe could not even contain all of God’s goodness. This is proven, the Eagle says, by Adam’s sinful fall. Dante’s worldly sight, which is only one ray of God’s Intelligence, cannot possibly see the entirety of Divine Justice.

Without further hesitation Eagle asks Dante a question: If a man is born in some foreign place, never hears of The Christ, and lives a virtuous a life as a mortal, how can it be just for God to condemn him to Hell at his death? The Eagle answers Dante’s question with another question: If it is a just punishment, only God can understand why.

The Eagle continues to censure and rebuke evil Christian rulers. He reaffirms that nobody has ever raised this high in Heaven without belief in The Christ, and no one ever will. But of those that shout “Christ! Christ!” there are some so false that Ethiopians (or nonChristians) will be forgiven much sooner than they will.

The Eagle continues to name several unjust Christian rulers and their crimes: Albert of Austria121, whose reign will lay waste to the Bohemian lands; Philip the Fair122, who counterfeits money and will be killed by a wild boar; various English and Scottish kings123, who cannot keep within their countries’ boundaries but constantly wage war on each other; Ferdinando IV of Castile124, who will be known for his laziness; Wenceslaus IV125, who will be famous for his lust; Charles of Anjou126 (called the “Cripple of Jerusalem”), whose bad deeds will outnumber his good ones one thousand to one; Fredrick II of Aragon127, who will commit so many sins that they must be written in shorthand in God’s book; Dionysius of Portugal; Hakaam V of Norway128; and Stephen Urosh II of Serbia129.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 19: The Eagle discourses of Salvation, Faith, and Virtue. Condemnation of the vile Kings of AD 1300.

The multiple spirits forming the shape of the Eagle speak with one voice, like the glow from many coals. The refracted light shines on Dante. The eagle tries to tell what has never before been spoken, written or imagined. He says the evil recognise Justice even if they fail to follow it. Quickly Dante asks to be enlightened, because his hidden question is that about the justice of the un-baptised who lived without knowledge of the faith and are excluded from salvation.

The eagle shakes its feathers before replying. God has measured out the universe, what is visible and what is concealed, and his Word is infinitely beyond human beings. Even Lucifer as one of the angels was too limited to understand everything without God’s help, fell through his own impatience. Human vision is even more limited, and God’s justice is not to be questioned. It is a matter of faith. Conformity with God’s will is what is required.

The answer is clear: Only those who believe in The Christ rise into Paradiso. The Old Testament and other pagans who entered we assume anticipated his coming, or were guided to belief. Dante clearly agonised over the question, as he did over that of the un-baptised infants in Limbo. Trajan and Ripheus are visible in this sphere and new light is cast on the issue. They are fifth and sixth spirits. Ripheus believes in The Christ and brought back to life as the Roman emperor Trajan.

The Eagle asserts there are many who think themselves Christians whose behaviour belies it. He reveals the unjust actions of the Christian kings of 1300, and the state of the Empire. Dante’s political ideal was of a central secular authority derived from the laws and ideas of Imperial Rome, separate from the Church, and with no power over spiritual or papal matters. Equally he envisaged a purified Papacy not involved in secular politics

Paradiso Canto 20: The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of Old; Benevolence of the Divine Will

1. When he who all the world illuminates// Out of our hemisphere so far descends// That on all sides the daylight is consumed,
2. The heaven, that erst by him alone was kindled// Doth suddenly reveal itself again // By many lights, wherein is one resplendent.
3. And came into my mind this act of heaven//When the ensign of the world and of its leaders// Had silent in the blessed beak become;
4. Because those living luminaries all//By far more luminous, did songs begin//Lapsing and falling from my memory.
5. gentle Love, that with a smile dost cloak thee//How ardent in those sparks didst thou appear//That had the breath alone of holy thoughts!
6. After the precious and pellucid crystals//With which begemmed the sixth light I beheld//Silence imposed on the angelic bells,
7. I seemed to hear the murmuring of a river//That clear descendeth down from rock to rock// Showing the affluence of its mountain-top.
8. And as the sound upon the cithern’s neck//Taketh its form, and as upon the vent// Of rustic pipe the wind that enters it,
9. Even thus, relieved from the delay of waiting//That murmuring of the eagle mounted up//Along its neck, as if it had been hollow.
10. There it became a voice, and issued thence//From out its beak, in such a form of words//As the heart waited for wherein I wrote them.
11. “The part in me which sees and bears the sun//In mortal eagles,” it began to me// “Now fixedly must needs be looked upon;
12. For of the fires of which I make my figure// Those whence the eye doth sparkle in my head//Of all their orders the supremest are.
13. He who is shining in the midst as pupil//Was once the singer of the Holy Spirit// Who bore the ark from city unto city;
14. Now knoweth he the merit of his song//In so far as effect of his own counsel// By the reward which is commensurate.
15. Of five, that make a circle for my brow//He that approacheth nearest to my beak
// Did the poor widow for her son console;
16. Now knoweth he how dearly it doth cost// Not following Christ, by the experience
// Of this sweet life and of its opposite.
17. He who comes next in the circumference//Of which I speak, upon its highest arc// Did death postpone by penitence sincere;
18. Now knoweth he that the eternal judgment// Suffers no change, albeit worthy prayer// Maketh below to-morrow of to-day.
19. The next who follows, with the laws and me//Under the good intent that bore bad fruit// Became a Greek by ceding to the pastor;
20. Now knoweth he how all the ill deduced//From his good action is not harmful to him//Although the world thereby may be destroyed.
21. And he, whom in the downward arc thou seest//Guglielmo was, whom the same land deplores//That weepeth Charles and Frederick yet alive;
22. Now knoweth he how heaven enamoured is//With a just king; and in the outward show//Of his effulgence he reveals it still.
23. Who would believe, down in the errant world//That e’er the Trojan Ripheus in this round// Could be the fifth one of the holy lights?
24. Now knoweth he enough of what the world//Has not the power to see of grace divine//Although his sight may not discern the bottom.”
25. Like as a lark that in the air expatiates//First singing and then silent with content
// Of the last sweetness that doth satisfy her,
26. Such seemed to me the image of the imprint/ Of the eternal pleasure, by whose will
// Doth everything become the thing it is.
27. And notwithstanding to my doubt I was//As glass is to the colour that invests it// To wait the time in silence it endured not,
28. But forth from out my mouth, “What things are these?”//Extorted with the force of its own weight//Whereat I saw great joy of coruscation.
29. Thereafterward with eye still more enkindled// The blessed standard made to me reply// To keep me not in wonderment suspended:
30. “I see that thou believest in these things//Because I say them, but thou seest not how//So that, although believed in, they are hidden.
31. Thou doest as he doth who a thing by name//Well apprehendeth, but its quiddity
//Cannot perceive, unless another show it.
32. ‘Regnum coelorum’ suffereth violence//From fervent love, and from that living hope //That overcometh the Divine volition;
33. Not in the guise that man o’ercometh man//But conquers it because it will be conquered//And conquered conquers by benignity.
34. The first life of the eyebrow and the fifth//Cause thee astonishment, because with them// Thou seest the region of the angels painted.
35. They passed not from their bodies, as thou thinkest//Gentiles, but Christians in the steadfast faith//Of feet that were to suffer and had suffered.
36. For one from Hell, where no one e’er turns back//Unto good will, returned unto his bones//And that of living hope was the reward,-
37. Of living hope, that placed its efficacy//In prayers to God made to resuscitate him
// So that ’twere possible to move his will.
38. The glorious soul concerning which I speak//Returning to the flesh, where brief its stay//Believed in Him who had the power to aid it;
39. And, in believing, kindled to such fire//Of genuine love, that at the second death// Worthy it was to come unto this joy.
40. The other one, through grace, that from so deep//A fountain wells that never hath the eye// Of any creature reached its primal wave,
41. Set all his love below on righteousness// Wherefore from grace to grace did God unclose//His eye to our redemption yet to be,
42. Whence he believed therein, and suffered not//From that day forth the stench of paganism//And he reproved therefor the folk perverse.
43. Those Maidens three, whom at the right-hand wheel//Thou didst behold, were unto him for baptism// More than a thousand years before baptizing.
44. thou predestination, how remote//Thy root is from the aspect of all those//Who the First Cause do not behold entire!
45. And you, O mortals! hold yourselves restrained//In judging; for ourselves, who look on God//We do not know as yet all the elect;
46. And sweet to us is such a deprivation// Because our good in this good is made perfect//That whatsoe’er God wills, we also will.”
47. After this manner by that shape divine// To make clear in me my short-sightedness // Was given to me a pleasant medicine;
48. And as good singer a good lutanist//Accompanies with vibrations of the chords// Whereby more pleasantness the song acquires,
49. So, while it spake, do I remember me// That I beheld both of those blessed lights// Even as the winking of the eyes concords,
50. Moving unto the words their little flames.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 20: The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of Old; Benevolence of the Divine Will (Sixth Heaven: Sphere of Jupiter)

The Eagle becomes silent but then the various souls that make up its image begin singing. Dante compares this series of events to setting the sun, and the later appearance of thousands of stars which mirror the same sun. Eventually the “jewels” of the Sixth Heaven stop singing and that sound is quickly replaced by a curious murmur coming from the Eagle.

The murmuring becomes a crescendo and travels up the Eagle’s throat, until it spills in a single thundering voice, whose words are so powerful they are inscribed in Dante’s mind.

The Eagle tells Dante to look at his eye. In it is an image of six of the highest-ranking souls: one in the pupil itself, and five along the eyebrow. The Eagle then identifies each soul by name. First, placed in the eye itself is King David, the “singer of the Holy Spirit” and bearer of the Ark of the Covenant. Through his writings of the Psalms, David learned that he must accept God’s inspiration instead of being a passive instrument for His genius. For this virtuous exercise of free will, David was saved.

Second, placed on the eyebrow of the Eagle is the Roman Emperor Trajan who earned the results of refusing to follow The Christ. He later learned, and received the rewards of living a more virtuous life.
The third soul is Hezekiah, who went crazy because of extreme fear when the prophet Isaiah told him it was time for him to die. Hezekiah immediately wept and prayed to God for clemency – according to Dante that is a sign of regret. God rewards him with fifteen more years on earth.

The fourth soul is Constantine, whose well-intentioned monetary donation to Pope Sylvester had the unforeseen outcome of whetting the clerics’ appetite for cash. It also planted the seeds for all the existing problems of the corrupt Church. Despite the ill effects of his gift, though, Constantine learned that it was not his fault, and God saved him.

Fifth is William II of Hauteville. Although known for his just rule, William’s throne was passed onto Charles of Anjou and Frederick II of Aragon, both corrupt rulers. However, like Constantine, he is absolved of any fault for these future rulers, whom he could not influence. God rewarded him for his “just rule” with a place in Heaven.

Finally, the sixth and last soul is Ripheus, a Trojan warrior in Virgil’s Aeneid, who died a pagan and yet was saved. The lesson he learned was that God works in mysterious ways and that mankind should not waste its time trying to work through God’s logic.

During this complete interval, Dante thinks each introduction is like the lark’s song – glorious in its sound but falling eventually into a silence just as sweet. Dante however still has doubts. And before he can check them out, they came tumbling out of his mouth: “Can such things be?”

The Eagle suddenly becomes more watchful and before responding to Dante, all its lights start flashing wildly. Dante’s state of mind is wild because he believes that what he has been told has not cultivated an understanding. How that be so? It means Dante does not understand the essence of his churchian teachings.

The Eagle explains what he means. The Will of God, he explains, “is won because it would / be won,” meaning: God chooses whom He saves. Dante had grave doubts why the emperor Trajan and Ripheus were here. He believes both to have died as unbelievers, but the Eagle says they died as Christians. Trajan did indeed go to Hell, but because he was headed in the right direction when death overtook him, God gave him another chance. Trajan was allowed to come back to his body. He re-died a second time, after repenting. It was this second life: as a Christian and that won him his salvation.

Ripheus died before The Christ’s coming. But he was always virtuous and for some unknown reason, God gave him a glimpse of the future where Christianity reigned. Based on this prophetic vision, Ripheus converted even before anyone had heard about The Christ. His conversion was legitimized by a baptism. Who baptized him if there were no Christian priests at the time? The Three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope, and Charity descended from Heaven to baptize Ripheus three thousand years before The Christ and got into Heaven.

Dante cries out at how unpredictable and unfathomable God’s destiny plans are to human beings. On second thought, Dante reasons, it is not such a bad thing that man does not know God’s plans. The “incompleteness of our knowledge” gives each and every man an incentive to be virtuous, and get into Heaven.

Dante reflects the Eagle’s discourse has shown him how short-sighted he is and how man should never assume he can predict God’s plans. He remembers with a smile that the souls being reviewed flashed and winked playfully at him during the Eagle’s explanation.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 20: The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of Old; Benevolence of the Divine Will

When the Eagle130 falls silent Dante is able to hear the spirits singing, just as the stars shine out with Divine light when the Sun vanishes. Then the Eagle speaks again, Dante weaves similes to express the transitions. Eagle tells him to gaze at its eye intently, since the six most important131 of the just spirits132 are there. David, whose psalms are rewarded in Paradiso was the earthly ancestor of Jesus The Christ, born at the time when Aeneas133 came into Italy, so making manifest the Divine ordination of the Roman Empire.

Then Trajan134 became Emperor (98-117AD) after the mutiny of the Praetorian Guard (97). He was the first Emperor of Provincial origin. He oversaw the greatest extent of the Roman Empire. Pope Gregory135 supposedly interceded on his behalf through prayer, to bring about Trajan’s deliverance from Hell, to allow him time for repentance. Dante explains that God’s will was not altered in that his return from Hell to his body at Gregory’s intercession was predestined and he was then saved at the second death.

Prayer136 does not alter God’s plan but fulfils what God has ordained to be fulfilled by prayer. This seems at odds with Dante’s previous thoughts on free will137 but the implication is that while some events are ‘pre-determined’ others are free. God here guides history but does not predetermine it. As an example, Dante cites Hezekiah the King of Judah, whose life was extended for his past sincerity, virtue, and his penitent prayers. The word came through the tongue and actions of Isaiah through a prophecy the redeemed shall have joy of the body as well on the soul.
If there are any questions on prayer Aquinas taught that what God decrees is dependable because prayer does not alter the Divine plan, but fulfils what God ordained to be fulfilled by prayer. Aquinas te ‘Angelic Dominican Doctor’ of theology, and medieval philosopher 1225-1274 achieved synthesis between Aristotelian philosophy and Christian thought. He was the pupil of Albertus Magnus, a man of sweetness and holiness. He was canonized in 1323, two years after Dante’s death, and influenced Dante greatly.

Constantine in 324, after becoming sole ruler of the eastern and western empire (Byzantium) was renamed Constantinople in 330 and made the second Rome. It became the Christian capital but consolidated Diocletian’s structure of the absolute state, to emphasise the divine nature of the Emperor. He died in 337 after receiving baptism on his deathbed.

Donating Constantine was a forged document of the Middle Ages, in which Pope Sylvester I was supposed to have cured Constantine of leprosy. The Pope transferred his capital to Constantinople, leaving the Pope with temporal power in Italy. Dante saw this as the source of the fatal involvement of the Church in temporal power, and as a result the Empire’s involvement in coveting the spiritual power of the Church. The Emperor could not give up temporal power, nor could the Pope receive it. Byzantium was renamed Constantinople in 330 and made the second Rome. Dante implies that Constantine was not to blame for an action that intended good138. Dante unites Truth and Goodness, to be known by the intellect, out of which flows the transcendent joy of Love. Though Truth and Love coexist in God, intellect and knowledge in Man is the cause of human love.

William the Good, the Norman King of Sicily and Naples reigned over ‘The Two towns of Italy and considered a model ruler by Dante. Last Ripheus a Trojan, who was killed at the fall of Troy, ‘was the most just of the Trojans, who never wavered from right, though the gods did not recognise his righteousness.’ Dante connects this incident with ‘God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feared him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.’

Aquinas suggests the good unbeliever will receive inspiration, or a teacher, from God to achieve his change-over. Dante struggles with the whole idea, on its natural justice. The eagle, the imprint of justice, is like a lark in the air. Dante’s doubt is about what he sees still shines through him as if through glass. It is as if philosophically139 he hears a thing’s name but does not understand its reality. The Eagle seeing he accepts through faith and not understanding enlightens him.

Angelic Orders are arranged in three triplets. Dante now celebrates the three theological virtues once more. They are the faith of Trajan and Ripheus, the hope in Gregory’s prayers and the love with which he acted on earth. Together they cause God to instil belief in Him even before the coming of Christ. Human vision is inadequate to understand all God’s rules, and cannot judge who will eventually be redeemed, and so we need faith to bridge the gap.

Paradiso Canto 21: The Seventh Heaven, Saturn: The Contemplative. The Celestial Stairway. St. Peter Damiano. His Invectives against the Luxury of the Prelates.

1. Already on my Lady’s face mine eyes//Again were fastened, and with these my mind // And from all other purpose was withdrawn;
2. And she smiled not; but “If I were to smile,”//She unto me began, “thou wouldst become// Like Semele, when she was turned to ashes.
3. Because my beauty, that along the stairs// Of the eternal palace more enkindles// As thou hast seen, the farther we ascend,
4. If it were tempered not, is so resplendent// That all thy mortal power in its effulgence//Would seem a leaflet that the thunder crushes.
5. We are uplifted to the seventh splendour// That underneath the burning Lion’s breast//Now radiates downward mingled with his power.
6. Fix in direction of thine eyes the mind// And make of them a mirror for the figure
// That in this mirror shall appear to thee.”
7. He who could know what was the pasturage// My sight had in that blessed countenance// When I transferred me to another care,
8. Would recognize how grateful was to me//Obedience unto my celestial escort// By counterpoising one side with the other.
9. Within the crystal which, around the world//Revolving, bears the name of its dear leader//Under whom every wickedness lay dead,
10. Coloured like gold, on which the sunshine gleams//A stairway I beheld to such a height// Uplifted, that mine eye pursued it not.
11. Likewise beheld I down the steps descending//So many splendours, that I thought each light//That in the heaven appears was there diffused.
12. And as accordant with their natural custom//The rooks together at the break of day // Bestir themselves to warm their feathers cold;
13. Then some of them fly off without return// Others come back to where they started from// And others, wheeling round, still keep at home;
14. Such fashion it appeared to me was there// Within the sparkling that together came // As soon as on a certain step it struck,
15. And that which nearest unto us remained// Became so clear, that in my thought I said//”Well I perceive the love thou showest me;
16. But she, from whom I wait the how and when// Of speech and silence, standeth still; whence I// Against desire do well if I ask not.”
17. She thereupon, who saw my silentness//In the sight of Him who seeth everything
// Said unto me, “Let loose thy warm desire.”
18. And I began: “No merit of my own// Renders me worthy of response from thee//
But for her sake who granteth me the asking,
19. Thou blessed life that dost remain concealed// In thy beatitude, make known to me // The cause which draweth thee so near my side;
20. And tell me why is silent in this wheel// The dulcet symphony of Paradiso// That through the rest below sounds so devoutly.”
21. “Thou hast thy hearing mortal as thy sight,”//It answer made to me; “they sing not here// For the same cause that Beatrice has not smiled.
22. Thus far adown the holy stairway’s steps// Have I descended but to give thee welcome//With words, and with the light that mantles me;
23. Nor did more love cause me to be more ready//For love as much and more up there is burning// As doth the flaming manifest to thee.
24. But the high charity, that makes us servants//Prompt to the counsel which controls the world//Allotteth here, even as thou dost observe.”
25. “I see full well,” said I, “O sacred lamp//How love unfettered in this court sufficeth // To follow the eternal Providence;
26. But this is what seems hard for me to see// Wherefore predestinate wast thou alone //Unto this office from among thy consorts.”
27. No sooner had I come to the last word// Than of its middle made the light a centre // Whirling itself about like a swift millstone.
28. When answer made the love that was therein:// “On me directed is a light divine
// Piercing through this in which I am embosomed,
29. Of which the virtue with my sight conjoined// Lifts me above myself so far, I see//
The supreme essence from which this is drawn.
30. Hence comes the joyfulness with which I flame// For to my sight, as far as it is clear // The clearness of the flame I equal make.
31. But that soul in the heaven which is most pure// That seraph which his eye on God most fixes// Could this demand of thine not satisfy;
32. Because so deeply sinks in the abyss//Of the eternal statute what thou askest//From all created sight it is cut off.
33. And to the mortal world, when thou returnest//This carry back, that it may not presume// Longer tow’rd such a goal to move its feet.
34. The mind, that shineth here, on earth doth smoke;//From this observe how can it do below//That which it cannot though the heaven assume it?”
35. Such limit did its words prescribe to me//The question I relinquished, and restricted //Myself to ask it humbly who it was.
36. “Between two shores of Italy rise cliffs//And not far distant from thy native place// So high, the thunders far below them sound,
37. And form a ridge that Catria is called// ‘Neath which is consecrate a hermitage// Wont to be dedicate to worship only.”
38. Thus unto me the third speech recommenced//And then, continuing, it said: “Therein //Unto God’s service I became so steadfast,
39. That feeding only on the juice of olives//Lightly I passed away the heats and frosts // Contented in my thoughts contemplative.
40. That cloister used to render to these heavens// Abundantly, and now is empty grown //So that perforce it soon must be revealed.
41. I in that place was Peter Damiano;// And Peter the Sinner was I in the house// Of Our Lady on the Adriatic shore.
42. Little of mortal life remained to me// When I was called and dragged forth to the hat//Which shifteth evermore from bad to worse.
43. Came Cephas, and the mighty Vessel came//Of the Holy Spirit, meagre and barefooted// Taking the food of any hostelry.
44. Now some one to support them on each side// The modern shepherds need, and some to lead them// So heavy are they, and to hold their trains.
45. They cover up their palfreys with their cloaks// So that two beasts go underneath one skin;//O Patience, that dost tolerate so much!”
46. At this voice saw I many little flames//From step to step descending and revolving
// And every revolution made them fairer.
47. Round about this one came they and stood still// And a cry uttered of so loud a sound// It here could find no parallel, nor I
48. Distinguished it, the thunder so o’ercame me.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 21: The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of Old; Benevolence of the Divine Will (Seventh Heaven: Sphere of Saturn)

Dante turns to face Beatrice, but she is not smiling. She explains that were she to smile, Dante would turn to ashes because they have climbed so high that they have reached the point where Dante’s mortal senses cannot bear the brilliance of God’s reflected love. She announces that they are now in the Seventh Heaven.

Beatrice tells him to look where he would usually look and he will see the reflected image of what comes next. Dante therefore looks at Beatrice’s eyes. There he sees the landscape of Saturn reflected. And rising from it is a magnificent golden ladder extending so high that Dante cannot see its top.

Climbing down the steps of the ladder are thousands of souls. Dante compares their movements, of gathering and flitting about once they reach the surface of Saturn, to moving a flock of jackdaws. Dante turns his attention to the nearest soul and thinks he is bright; he must be eager to speak. But he must await permission from Beatrice before speaking to the soul. At this unspoken thought, Beatrice quickly gives the signal and Dante’s words are unleashed to explore.

Dante asks the soul why he has stepped up so close. He asks why there is an unnatural silence in this sphere, when every other sphere thunders with glorious music. The soul chooses to answer the second question first. It is quiet here, he says, because were we to sing, we would burst your eardrums. In other words, Dante’s mortal hearing could not handle the glory of song at this level of Heaven.

In response to the first question, the soul answers that he descended the golden ladder with the express purpose of meeting Dante. But he qualifies his answer with a humbling remark. It is not that God favours this soul more than the others; only that this soul is governed by God’s will. Therefore it obeys when told to move down the ladder.

Dante understands aligning one’s will with God’s will, but Dante still does not understand why this soul in particular is predestined to meet him. Before he can even say the last words, the spirit soul begins spinning as fast as it can go.

As expected, this spinning makes the soul grow brighter, and says his sight is excellent which is why God blesses him with so much grace, but also tells Dante to stop asking the ‘why’ because nobody can know the mind of God. He then tells Dante it would be well to remind his comrade humans of that when he returns to earth. Such self-importance makes Dante step back. Understandably retiring the self-effacing Dante submissively asks the soul his identity.

The blazing soul responds that he once worshipped God in a place called Catria, in the monastery of Santa Croce di Forte Avellana. In his meditation there, he was happy to live on a vegetarian diet cooked only in olive juice. That monastery, the soul continues used to turn out virtuous souls like clockwork, but “it is now barren.” Then he introduces himself as St. Peter Damian. Dante nods in realization.

St. Peter Damian continues his story. He was called “Peter the Sinner” when he first came to the monastery. From this place, he was reluctantly dragged out to become the Pope. This gave Peter an opportunity to blast the Papal Seat. He recounts how popes were once good, as when St. Paul wore the hat; he walked “barefoot” and was “lean.” But now, Peter shakes his head, the popes are “so plump // that they have need of one to prop them up // on this side, one of that, and one in front, // and one to hoist them saddle ward.”

Peter’s words attract other souls, who are now gathered round in a spectacle of light. When Peter stops speaking, they cry out in agreement. Dante then drops like an anchor. Their combined voices overwhelm his senses, as St. Peter had already warned Dante before.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 21: The Eagle praises the Righteous Kings of Old; Benevolence of the Divine Will (Seventh Heaven: Sphere of Saturn)

Dante has traversed three spheres educating him on an active religious life despite his personal and political scope. He has understood the virtues of practical wisdom, fortitude and justice. He is now in the sphere of Saturn140 we reach the contemplative spiritual life of the individual, and the fourth cardinal virtue of temperance141.

Dante’s eyes are fixed on Beatrice who dare not smile142 lest she overpowers him, as we enter the higher and more deeply religious sphere. Saturn shines, as presumably it did at Creation, in the sign of Leo, a position associated astrologically with strength of will. Saturn itself is associated with patience, caution and self-discipline, the characteristics of temperance. Saturn is a reminder of the Golden Age when mythical Saturn ruled the earth. It was a time of simplicity, moderation and primal innocence.

Dante sees a ladder (eagle and ladder, was Can Grande della Scala’s coat of arms143,) stretching upwards, as Jacob did in his dream (Genesis 28:12). Like the motion of a swarm of birds the spirits gather. Dante, who has by now balanced the joys of obedience and contemplation, turns his eyes towards Beatrice. He begs obedience to her wishes before he dares to question the spirit nearest to him.

The spirit answers Dante’s question. Beatrice’s smile had earlier explained the same as the soul was now doing: this sphere is silent because there is no singing in the seventh sphere lest it overpowers Dante’s mind. That is why the soul is near him because he is assigned to speak with Dante. On being asked why he was predestined to carry out the role, Dante is told the human mind should not inquire into God’s will. Blessed spirits in Paradiso take their being from Divine Love and therefore cannot be in conflict with God’s will. He is assigned and that should be enough.
The soul reveals he is Saint Peter Damian of Ravenna, and a onetime Abbot of the monastery of Santa Croce di Fonte Avellana in the Apennines, beneath Monte Catria, near Gubbio. Dante found refuge there after the death of Henry VII. Pope Clement V tried to use him to further his own ambitions. Henry was in Italy between 1310 and 1313, and was hailed by Dante as the Liberator.
Peter’s parents’ poverty lead to him to be abandoned as an infant, but he was rescued and educated by his brother Damian. He was made Cardinal against his will, by Pope Stephen IX. He was an ardent reformer of Church discipline and one of the chief ecclesiastical writers of the eleventh century. Peter Damian stands for simplicity and moderation reminiscent of the early Church. The soul supported by other spirits, condemns the excesses of the modern Church, which has abandoned the simplicity and moderation of the early Fathers. Peter Damian is supported in a deep resonance of agreement by the descent of further spirits. Dante is overcome by this thunder of condemnation.

Paradiso Canto 22. St. Benedict. His Lamentation over the Corruption of Monks. The Eighth Heaven, the Fixed Stars.

1. Oppressed with stupor, I unto my guide// Turned like a little child who always runs //For refuge there where he confideth most;
2. And she, even as a mother who straightway//Gives comfort to her pale and breathless boy// With voice whose wont it is to reassure him,
3. Said to me: “Knowest thou not thou art in heaven// And knowest thou not that heaven is holy all//And what is done here cometh from good zeal?
4. After what wise the singing would have changed thee// And I by smiling, thou canst now imagine// Since that the cry has startled thee so much,
5. In which if thou hadst understood its prayers//Already would be known to thee the vengeance// Which thou shalt look upon before thou diest.
6. The sword above here smiteth not in haste//Nor tardily, howe’er it seem to him// Who fearing or desiring waits for it.
7. But turn thee round towards the others now// For very illustrious spirits shalt thou see// If thou thy sight directest as I say.”
8. As it seemed good to her mine eyes I turned// And saw a hundred spherules that together//With mutual rays each other more embellished.
9. I stood as one who in himself represses//The point of his desire, and ventures not
// To question, he so feareth the too much.
10. And now the largest and most luculent//Among those pearls came forward, that it might// Make my desire concerning it content.
11. Within it then I heard: “If thou couldst see// Even as myself the charity that burns // Among us, thy conceits would be expressed;
12. But, that by waiting thou mayst not come late//To the high end, I will make answer even//Unto the thought of which thou art so chary.
13. That mountain on whose slope Cassino stands//Was frequented of old upon its summit// By a deluded folk and ill-disposed;
14. And I am he who first up thither bore//The name of Him who brought upon the earth//The truth that so much sublimateth us.
15. And such abundant grace upon me shone// That all the neighbouring towns I drew away//From the impious worship that seduced the world.
16. These other fires, each one of them, were men//Contemplative, enkindled by that heat//Which maketh holy flowers and fruits spring up.
17. Here is Macarius, here is Romualdus//Here are my brethren, who within the cloisters //Their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart.”
18. And I to him: “The affection which thou showest// Speaking with me, and the good countenance// Which I behold and note in all your ardours,
19. In me have so my confidence dilated//As the sun doth the rose, when it becomes// As far unfolded as it hath the power.
20. Therefore I pray, and thou assure me, father// If I may so much grace receive, that I// May thee behold with countenance unveiled.”
21. He thereupon: “Brother, thy high desire// In the remotest sphere shall be fulfilled// Where are fulfilled all others and my own.
22. There perfect is, and ripened, and complete//Every desire; within that one alone//
Is every part where it has always been;
23. For it is not in space, nor turns on poles//And unto it our stairway reaches up//Whence thus from out thy sight it steals away.
24. Up to that height the Patriarch Jacob saw it//Extending its supernal part, what time // So thronged with angels it appeared to him.
25. But to ascend it now no one uplifts//His feet from off the earth, and now my Rule
// Below remaineth for mere waste of paper.
26. The walls that used of old to be an Abbey//Are changed to dens of robbers, and the cowls// Are sacks filled full of miserable flour.
27. But heavy usury is not taken up// So much against God’s pleasure as that fruit// Which maketh so insane the heart of monks;
28. For whatsoever hath the Church in keeping//Is for the folk that ask it in God’s name // Not for one’s kindred or for something worse.
29. The flesh of mortals is so very soft// That good beginnings down below suffice not // From springing of the oak to bearing acorns.
30. Peter began with neither gold nor silver//And I with orison and abstinence// And Francis with humility his convent.
31. And if thou lookest at each one’s beginning//And then regardest whither he has run // Thou shalt behold the white changed into brown.
32. In verity the Jordan backward turned// And the sea’s fleeing, when God willed were more// A wonder to behold, than succour here.”
33. Thus unto me he said; and then withdrew//To his own band, and the band closed together// Then like a whirlwind all was upward rapt.
34. The gentle Lady urged me on behind them//Up o’er that stairway by a single sign
//So did her virtue overcome my nature;
35. Nor here below, where one goes up and down//By natural law, was motion e’er so swift// That it could be compared unto my wing.
36. Reader, as I may unto that devout// Triumph return, on whose account I often// For my transgressions weep and beat my breast,-
37. Thou hadst not thrust thy finger in the fire//And drawn it out again, before I saw//The sign that follows Taurus, and was in it.
38. glorious stars, O light impregnated//With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge // All of my genius, whatsoever it be,
39. With you was born, and hid himself with you//He who is father of all mortal life//When first I tasted of the Tuscan air;
40. And then when grace was freely given to me// To enter the high wheel which turns you round// Your region was allotted unto me.
41. To you devoutly at this hour my soul//Is sighing, that it virtue may acquire//For the stern pass that draws it to itself.
42. “Thou art so near unto the last salvation,”//Thus Beatrice began, “thou oughtest now// To have thine eves unclouded and acute;
43. And therefore, ere thou enter farther in//Look down once more, and see how vast a world//Thou hast already put beneath thy feet;
44. So that thy heart, as jocund as it may//Present itself to the triumphant throng// That comes rejoicing through this rounded ether.”
45. I with my sight returned through one and all// The sevenfold spheres, and I beheld this globe//Such that I smiled at its ignoble semblance;
46. And that opinion I approve as best// Which doth account it least; and he who thinks //Of something else may truly be called just.
47. I saw the daughter of Latona shining//Without that shadow, which to me was cause // That once I had believed her rare and dense.
48. The aspect of thy son, Hyperion// Here I sustained, and saw how move themselves // Around and near him Maia and Dione.
49. Thence there appeared the temperateness of Jove// ‘Twixt son and father, and to me was clear// The change that of their whereabout they make;
50. And all the seven made manifest to me//How great they are, and eke how swift they are// And how they are in distant habitations.
51. The threshing-floor that maketh us so proud//To me revolving with the eternal Twins // Was all apparent made from hill to harbour!
52. Then to the beauteous eyes mine eyes I turned.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 22. St. Benedict. His Lamentation over the Corruption of Monks. The Eighth Heaven, the Fixed Stars.

Dante recovers from his experience in the sphere of Saturn and Beatrice indulges him like a pampering mother. With a comforting voice, she explains the souls here are devout Christians, and are ardent ‘missionaries’. Dante has already experienced how threateningly devastating the cries from the sphere can be. Beatrice asks Dante to imagine just how much more dazed he would be if he actually understood what the souls were saying.

Beatrice tells Dante not to worry – the bad popes will get what they deserve and it is coming to them. She then tells him to turn towards the gathered spirits because there are some celebrities here. Dante is intimidated by the crowd, which he describes are like “a hundred little suns.” He is too timid to ask a question. As if it was all preplanned, the largest and brightest soul comes forward and speaks. He says that if Dante could only see how much love they have for him, he would not be afraid to ask his question.

This soul comes from a town called Cassino and he was the first person to carry God’s truth up to Montecassino. He is St. Benedict who then turns toward his fellow souls and explains to Dante that here, everyone is contemplative who meditated on God during their earthly life. He introduces Macarius (a follower of St. Anthony of Egypt) and Romualadus (founder of the Camaldolese Order). Dante replies to St. Benedict’s kindness who gives him confidence to ask a question: Dante then asks if he can see St. Benedict’s “human face.”

St. Benedict gently replies with a negative but says that Dante’s desire will be fulfilled in the highest of Heaven’s spheres. Upon mentioning the Empyrean, Benedict goes into raptures. He raves about how everything is in its proper place there, and how the Empyrean is “not in space, and has no poles.” He explains that it is the final ending point of the golden ladder.
St. Benedict continues on the subject of the ladder. Jacob could see to the very top of the ladder where the angels thronged. But now, nobody on earth is worthy of climbing the ladder. He laments that his Benedictine Order has also gone to waste. This of course is the fault of the corrupt Church. St. Benedict fumes over simonist clerics whose “hearts . [have gone] mad with greed.”

After this speech St. Benedict steps back into the crowd and the souls disappear. Beatrice, then, makes a mystic sign and, in a flash, she and Dante fly up the ladder, headed toward the Eighth Heaven. Beatrice tells Dante that they are so close to the highest heaven that Dante needs to have “vision clear and keen.” She then instructs him to look down and see everything he has already overcome between earth and heaven. Only then will he be worthy of entering the highest spheres.

Dante gazes downward and sees the dizzying descent of the seven heavenly spheres down to Earth, which looks “scrawny” from this height. Dante has so much contempt for Earth and its sinners that he describes it as “the little threshing floor / that so incites our savagery.” Dante then serenely turns his eyes up towards Beatrice.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 22. St. Benedict. His Lamentation over the Corruption of Monks. The Eighth Heaven, the Fixed Stars.

Beatrice, in the image of ‘mother and child’, reassures Dante that vengeance will be taken on the corrupt Papacy. Beatrice vaguely prophesies retribution144 on the crooked Papacy in Dante’s lifetime.

One of the spirits Dante sees is Benedict145 the Christian Saint (480-543) and founder of the oldest Western monastic order, the Benedictines. Here in the sphere of temperance Benedict represents the self-control and discipline, obedience and simplicity of the virtue. He in turn indicates Macarius the Egyptian (301-391), a disciple of Saint Anthony, one of the monks of the Sinaitic desert. Saint Anthony (251-356) whose pigs belonging to the monks once infested Florence, and its neighbourhood, were fed on the fraudulent gain made from selling remissions (indulgences).

Dante meets the soul of Romualadus a member of the Onesti family of Ravenna. He was a monk of Camaldolese in the Casentino district, who saw a vision of the heavenly ladder, and founded the Camaldolese Order, a white-robed stricter branch of the Benedictines. He died in 1027.

Dante asks whether he will see the clear form of the Saint and is told to wait until he sees the last sphere of the Empyrean, where all the spirits (souls) are. Benedict confirms that saints like himself will be visible in the other spirits in the Empyrean, which is outside space. The Empyrean is outside space. Benedict then bemoans the state of his own Order, and the monks whose greed is worse than the interest got through usury, since they hold their possessions in trust for the faithful. Then he and his companions vanish in a whirlwind.

Dante and Beatrice now climb the mystic ladder of Contemplation146, faster than one can on Earth where nature’s law of gravity applies. They enter the stellar heavens in the constellation of Gemini, Dante’s birth-sign and Dante invokes the power of the sign. Gemini’s astrological associations are with intellect and logic. Such aptitude in language and writing, leads to inquisitiveness and energetic restlessness.
Beatrice now encourages him to look back at Earth and its littleness, down through all the seven spheres of the ‘planets’, representing the seven virtues (theological and cardinal). He sees the unclouded reverse side of the Moon of faith, that seen from Heaven, and the sun of wisdom, with love and hope, Venus and Mercury, close to it: and the measured justice of Jupiter, between warlike Mars and Saturn’s simplicity and discipline, the Church militant and the Church contemplative. He sees all their orbits and the ‘threshing-floor’, of Italy and Florence, from the mountains to the mouth of the Arno. Dante is remembering the threshing-floor of Atad beyond the Jordan (see Genesis 50:10) where Joseph147 and the elders carried the body of his father Jacob, who had seen the vision of the ladder, and wrestled with the Angel, ‘and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation.’

Paradiso Canto 23: The Triumph of Christ. The Virgin Mary. The Apostles. Gabriel.

1. Even as a bird, ‘mid the beloved leaves// Quiet upon the nest of her sweet brood// Throughout the night, that hideth all things from us,
2. Who, that she may behold their longed-for looks// And find the food wherewith to nourish them// In which, to her, grave labours grateful are,
3. Anticipates the time on open spray// And with an ardent longing waits the sun//Gazing intent as soon as breaks the dawn:
4. Even thus my Lady standing was, erect//And vigilant, turned round towards the zone // Underneath which the sun displays less haste;
5. So that beholding her distraught and wistful// Such I became as he is who desiring // For something yearns, and hoping is appeased.
6. But brief the space from one When to the other//Of my awaiting, say I, and the seeing//The welkin grow resplendent more and more.
7. And Beatrice exclaimed: “Behold the hosts//Of Christ’s triumphal march, and all the fruit//Harvested by the rolling of these spheres!”
8. It seemed to me her face was all aflame// And eyes she had so full of ecstasy// That I must needs pass on without describing.
9. As when in nights serene of the full moon//Smiles Trivia among the nymphs eternal // Who paint the firmament through all its gulfs,
10. Saw I, above the myriads of lamps// A Sun that one and all of them enkindled// E’en as our own doth the supernal sights,
11. And through the living light transparent shone//The lucent substance so intensely clear//Into my sight, that I sustained it not.
12. Beatrice, thou gentle guide and dear//To me she said: “What overmasters thee// A virtue is from which naught shields itself.
13. There are the wisdom and the omnipotence//That oped the thoroughfares ‘twixt heaven and earth//For which there erst had been so long a yearning.”
14. As fire from out a cloud unlocks itself//Dilating so it finds not room therein//And down, against its nature, falls to earth,
15. So did my mind, among those aliments//Becoming larger, issue from itself//And that which it became cannot remember.
16. “Open thine eyes, and look at what I am://Thou hast beheld such things, that strong enough//Hast thou become to tolerate my smile.”
17. I was as one who still retains the feeling//Of a forgotten vision, and endeavours//In vain to bring it back into his mind,
18. When I this invitation heard, deserving//Of so much gratitude, it never fades//Out of the book that chronicles the past.
19. If at this moment sounded all the tongues//That Polyhymnia and her sisters made
// Most lubrical with their delicious milk,
20. To aid me, to a thousandth of the truth//It would not reach, singing the holy smile //And how the holy aspect it illumed.
21. And therefore, representing Paradiso//The sacred poem must perforce leap over//Even as a man who finds his way cut off;
22. But whoso thinketh of the ponderous theme//And of the mortal shoulder laden with it// Should blame it not, if under this it tremble.
23. It is no passage for a little boat//This which goes cleaving the audacious prow// Nor for a pilot who would spare himself.
24. “Why doth my face so much enamour thee//That to the garden fair thou turnest not// Which under the rays of Christ is blossoming?
25. There is the Rose in which the Word Divine//Became incarnate; there the lilies are // By whose perfume the good way was discovered.”
26. Thus Beatrice; and I, who to her counsels//Was wholly ready, once again betook me // Unto the battle of the feeble brows.
27. As in the sunshine, that unsullied streams//Through fractured cloud, ere now a meadow of flowers// Mine eyes with shadow covered o’er have seen,
28. So troops of splendours manifold I saw//Illumined from above with burning rays// Beholding not the source of the effulgence.
29. power benignant that dost so imprint them!//Thou didst exalt thyself to give more scope//There to mine eyes, that were not strong enough.
30. The name of that fair flower I e’er invoke//Morning and evening utterly enthralled // My soul to gaze upon the greater fire.
31. And when in both mine eyes depicted were//The glory and greatness of the living star// Which there excelleth, as it here excelled,
32. Athwart the heavens a little torch descended//Formed in a circle like a coronal// And cinctured it, and whirled itself about it.
33. Whatever melody most sweetly soundeth//On earth, and to itself most draws the soul// Would seem a cloud that, rent asunder, thunders,
34. Compared unto the sounding of that lyre//Wherewith was crowned the sapphire beautiful//Which gives the clearest heaven its sapphire hue.
35. “I am Angelic Love, that circle round//The joy sublime which breathes from out the womb// That was the hostelry of our Desire;
36. And I shall circle, Lady of Heaven, while//Thou followest thy Son, and mak’st diviner // The sphere supreme, because thou enterest there.”
37. Thus did the circulated melody//Seal itself up; and all the other lights//Were making to resound the name of Mary.
38. The regal mantle of the volumes all//Of that world, which most fervid is and living // With breath of God and with his works and ways,
39. Extended over us its inner border// So very distant, that the semblance of it// There where I was not yet appeared to me.
40. Therefore mine eyes did not possess the power//Of following the incoronated flame // Which mounted upward near to its own seed.
41. And as a little child, that towards its mother//Stretches its arms, when it the milk has taken// Through impulse kindled into outward flame,
42. Each of those gleams of whiteness upward reached//So with its summit, that the deep affection// They had for Mary was revealed to me.
43. Thereafter they remained there in my sight//’Regina coeli’ singing with such sweetness// That ne’er from me has the delight departed.
44. O, what exuberance is garnered up//Within those richest coffers, which had been
// Good husbandmen for sowing here below!
45. There they enjoy and live upon the treasure//Which was acquired while weeping in the exile//Of Babylon, wherein the gold was left.
46. There triumpheth, beneath the exalted Son//Of God and Mary, in his victory//Both with the ancient council and the new,
47. He who doth keep the keys of such a glory.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 23: The Triumph of Christ. The Virgin Mary. The Apostles. Gabriel.

In the Eighth Heaven, Beatrice stands eagerly facing the east. Her eyes are waiting for the appearance of the Sun. Dante compares her to a mother bird perched on the branches by her nest waiting for dawn so she can go about her business of finding food for the fledglings.

Before long, the horizon grows paler and at the first sign of light, Beatrice announces to Dante, “there you see the troops // of the triumphant Christ!” Beatrice’s face is burning with joy, which Dante finds indescribable. He turns his eye towards the dawn and compares the rising sun and above its thousand shining hosts to the moon shining among all the stars. He sees Christ the Sun in this sphere, and is almost blinded.

Beatrice tells Dante he is seeing a power nobody can resist. It is the Being that opened the path between Heaven and Earth for the first time since Adam’s fall. Dante feels his mind opening and expanding at the mind boggling sight. He compares the revelation to “lightning breaking from a cloud, / expanding so it cannot be pent, [and] against its nature, down to earth descend[s].”
Beatrice tells Dante that since he has had a glimpse of Christ, he can now “bear the power of [her] smile.” Dante is blown out of the water with his goddess-worship of her. He swears the vision of her smile is burned into his memory but he cannot begin to describe it. Dante says he is travelling through dangerous waters that are so treacherous that even his words can be defeated.

Beatrice has had enough of Dante’s sycophantic moaning and teaches him to look at the garden that is blooming under sun-Christ. There, she tells him, is the rose which represents the Word of God made flesh, as well as lilies, whose fragrance guides men to heaven.

Dante turns his eyes toward the spectacle and sees a flower-filled meadow, overrun by the flaming troops of Christ, all shadowed by the sun shining above. Dante cannot see the sun itself, because his eyes are too weak.

He can see Mary, the rose, who descends in the guise of a living star. A ring of light surrounds her like “a revolving garland.” Each of the souls in that wheeling garland is singing rapturously and their combined voices make a sound so sweet the sweetest melody of earth would sound like crude thunder next to it. Dante can just barely make out the words. The souls call themselves “angelic love.”

It is the same love that announced to Mary her immaculate conception of Jesus. It promises to wheel around Mary until she has moved up again into the highest Heaven and made it more divine than it already is. After this song, all the souls answer, singing the name of “Mary” thunderously.

The Virgin Mary rises and is following The Christ, but the Ninth Heaven is so far above Dante’s vantage point that he cannot see her as she enters the highest Spheres. All he can see is the host of souls beneath, all stretching their hands upwards in desire for The Christ and His mother. After she disappears, they sing the Easter hymn “Regina coeli” (“Queen of heaven”) in her honour.

Dante takes this peaceful moment to praise the virtuous souls who have been saved. He notes with great joy that these blessed souls will enjoy boundless riches here in Heaven because of their resistance to material greed in the world below. He ends with a celebratory hymn for the triumphant St. Peter, the keeper of the keys of Heaven.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 23: The Triumph of Christ. The Virgin Mary. The Apostles. Gabriel.

Beatrice waits like the bird at dawn, turning east from Gemini (home base) towards the constellation of Cancer the place of summer solstice. Dante’s Gemini birth-sign is Beatrice but his star represents his fate also. The heavens are lit by a vision of The Christ and his host and it is brighter than the Sun and Moon. It is more than Dante can endure, and he loses awareness.
He is called by Beatrice who wishes him to look at her smile, of faith, hope and love. In the stellar heavens Dante has seen the vision of Christ is again able to see her smile once more. It is more beautiful, which he can now endure, but is still beyond his power to describe. A strong desire for something else takes away the power of fluent speech.

It is hard to express in words the things seen, in this case the Divine Pageant. The singing is so sweet; the sweetness evades the powers of speech to describe it.

Dante cannot understand the nature of the hymn sung, and it overpowers his mind. Speech cannot communicate the nature of Dante’s information, while gazing at Beatrice. Beatrice therefore urges Dante to speak, in this Mercury on the planet of communication. The hymnal is of Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred songs and poetry.

Beatrice points towards the vision of Christ’s garden, the rose of Virgin Mary as well as the lilies of Apostles. The Christ has moved higher towards the Empyrean to do without Dante’s powers of sight. The Archangel Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation148, falls in flame like a coronet to crown the Virgin. He circles her until she follows Christ into the higher the Primum Mobile, while the saints sing the Easter Antiphon, and their fires stretch upwards towards her like children reaching for their mother. Here the saints have their spiritual treasure earned on earth, the Babylon of Exile149, where they rejected earthly treasures. Here Peter triumphs over the church, and holds the key to redemption. The vision is of The Christ’s Ascension (elevation of the Power of The Christ) and Mary’s Assumption (struggle of Holy Spirit against sin and death). In this sphere of the stellar Heavens Dante, student and pilgrim, will be examined by the Apostles. After his journey and his ‘education’, Dante is examined by the Apostles (Saints Peter, James and John) concerning his understanding of the theological virtues. Saint Peter examines Dante regarding faith and his belief. Saint James examines Dante concerning hope. Saint John examines Dante concerning love. Dante is puzzled as to how to reconcile the structure of the heavenly spheres with that of the angelic orders.

Paradiso Canto 24: The Radiant Wheel. St. Peter examines Dante on Faith.

1. “O company elect to the great supper// Of the Lamb benedight, who feedeth you
// So that for ever full is your desire,
2. If by the grace of God this man foretaste//Something of that which falleth from your table//Or ever death prescribe to him the time,
3. Direct your mind to his immense desire// And him somewhat bedew; ye drinking are// For ever at the fount whence comes his thought.”
4. Thus Beatrice; and those souls beatified//Transformed themselves to spheres on steadfast poles//Flaming intensely in the guise of comets.
5. And as the wheels in works of horologes//Revolve so that the first to the beholder // Motionless seems, and the last one to fly,
6. So in like manner did those carols, dancing//In different measure, of their affluence // Give me the gauge, as they were swift or slow.
7. From that one which I noted of most beauty//Beheld I issue forth a fire so happy//That none it left there of a greater brightness;
8. And around Beatrice three several times//It whirled itself with so divine a song// My fantasy repeats it not to me;
9. Therefore the pen skips, and I write it not// Since our imagination for such folds//Much more our speech, is of a tint too glaring.
10. “O holy sister mine, who us implores// With such devotion, by thine ardent love//Thou dost unbind me from that beautiful sphere!”
11. Thereafter, having stopped, the blessed fire//Unto my Lady did direct its breath// Which spake in fashion as I here have said.
12. And she: “O light eterne of the great man// To whom our Lord delivered up the keys // He carried down of this miraculous joy,
13. This one examine on points light and grave//As good beseemeth thee, about the Faith// By means of which thou on the sea didst walk.
14. If he love well, and hope well, and believe// From thee ’tis hid not; for thou hast thy sight// There where depicted everything is seen.
15. But since this kingdom has made citizens//By means of the true Faith, to glorify it
// ‘Tis well he have the chance to speak thereof.”
16. As baccalaureate arms himself, and speaks not//Until the master doth propose the question// To argue it, and not to terminate it,
17. So did I arm myself with every reason// While she was speaking, that I might be ready// For such a questioner and such profession.
18. “Say, thou good Christian; manifest thyself//What is the Faith?” Whereat I raised my brow//Unto that light wherefrom was this breathed forth.
19. Then turned I round to Beatrice, and she//Prompt signals made to me that I should pour//The water forth from my internal fountain.
20. “May grace, that suffers me to make confession,”//Began I, “to the great centurion // Cause my conceptions all to be explicit!”
21. And I continued: “As the truthful pen//Father, of thy dear brother wrote of it//Who put with thee Rome into the good way,
22. Faith is the substance of the things we hope for// And evidence of those that are not seen;//And this appears to me its quiddity.”
23. Then heard I: “Very rightly thou perceives//If well thou understandest why he placed it// With substances and then with evidences.”
24. And I thereafterward: “The things profound// That here vouchsafe to me their apparition//Unto all eyes below are so concealed,
25. That they exist there only in belief//Upon the which is founded the high hope// And hence it takes the nature of a substance.
26. And it behoveth us from this belief//To reason without having other sight//And hence it has the nature of evidence.”
27. Then heard I: “If whatever is acquired//Below by doctrine were thus understood// No sophist’s subtlety would there find place.”
28. Thus was breathed forth from that enkindled love;//Then added: “Very well has been gone over//Already of this coin the alloy and weight;
29. But tell me if thou hast it in thy purse?”//And I: “Yes, both so shining and so round // That in its stamp there is no peradventure.”
30. Thereafter issued from the light profound//That there resplendent was: “This precious jewel// Upon the which is every virtue founded,
31. Whence hadst thou it?” And I: “The large outpouring//Of Holy Spirit, which has been diffused// Upon the ancient parchments and the new,
32. A syllogism is, which proved it to me// With such acuteness, that, compared therewith// All demonstration seems to me obtuse.”
33. And then I heard: “The ancient and the new//Postulates, that to thee are so conclusive// Why dost thou take them for the word divine?”
34. And I: “The proofs, which show the truth to me// Are the works subsequent, whereunto Nature// Ne’er heated iron yet, nor anvil beat.”
35. ‘Twas answered me: “Say, who assureth thee//That those works ever were? the thing itself// That must be proved, nought else to thee affirms it.”
36. “Were the world to Christianity converted,”//I said, “withouten miracles, this one//Is such, the rest are not its hundredth part;
37. Because that poor and fasting thou didst enter//Into the field to sow there the good plant// Which was a vine and has become a thorn!”
38. This being finished, the high, holy Court//Resounded through the spheres, “One God we praise!”//In melody that there above is chanted.
39. And then that Baron, who from branch to branch//Examining, had thus conducted me// Till the extremest leaves we were approaching,
40. Again began: “The Grace that dallying// Plays with thine intellect thy mouth has opened// Up to this point, as it should opened be,
41. So that I do approve what forth emerged;// But now thou must express what thou believest//And whence to thy belief it was presented.”
42. “O holy father, spirit who beholdest//What thou believedst so that thou o’ercamest //Towards the sepulchre, more youthful feet,”
43. Began I, “thou dost wish me in this place// The form to manifest of my prompt belief // And likewise thou the cause thereof demandest.
44. And I respond: In one God I believe// Sole and eterne, who moveth all the heavens // With love and with desire, himself unmoved;
45. And of such faith not only have I proofs//Physical and metaphysical, but gives them // Likewise the truth that from this place rains down
46. Through Moses, through the Prophets and the Psalms// Through the Evangel, and through you, who wrote// After the fiery Spirit sanctified you;
47. In Persons three eterne believe, and these// One essence I believe, so one and trine // They bear conjunction both with ‘sunt’ and ‘est.’
48. With the profound condition and divine//Which now I touch upon, doth stamp my mind// Ofttimes the doctrine evangelical.
49. This the beginning is, this is the spark//Which afterwards dilates to vivid flame// And, like a star in heaven, is sparkling in me.”
50. Even as a lord who hears what pleaseth him//His servant straight embraces, gratulating// For the good news as soon as he is silent;
51. So, giving me its benediction, singing//Three times encircled me, when I was silent // The apostolic light, at whose command
52. I spoken had, in speaking I so pleased him

Summary

Paradiso Canto 24: Eighth Heaven: Sphere of the Fixed Stars; The Radiant Wheel. St. Peter examines Dante on Faith.

After the continued upward movement of The Christ and Mary, Beatrice speaks to the souls still gathered. They pray to allow Dante a taste of the supper of Christ. Dante surveys the hosts forming circles around fixed poles and dancing. One soul boldly comes forward and dances three times around Beatrice. He is singing such a beautiful song that Dante is paralyzed.
When he stops dancing, Beatrice identifies him as the “great man to whom our Lord bequeathed the keys.” He is St. Peter. She asks him to test Dante on faith to ensure he is made worthy of moving into “this realm.” On hearing Beatrice, Dante does not freak out. Like a fine student, he arms himself for his interrogator. St. Peter wastes no time and turns cheerfully to Dante. He asks ostensibly a simple question: what is faith?

Dante looks to Beatrice for permission to speak. Dante answers: “Like your brother, St. Paul, wrote, ‘Faith is the substance of the things we hope for // and is the evidence of things not seen’.” St. Peter nods. He then asks Dante why faith is both “substance and evidence.”

Dante answers that faith speaks of “the deep things [which] are hidden from sight below” like ‘Heaven’ and ‘blessedness’ but cannot be seen by mortal eyes, but they are taken on faith. This is why faith is a substance. Since mortals must reason from this blind faith, it is also evidence of unseen things.

St. Peter again approves Dante’s definition of faith but goes on to compare faith to a coin. He declares a coin is an “alloy and.has its weight.” He then asks if Dante carries such a coin in his purse. Dante answers in concurrence.

St. Peter then continues: ‘where does faith come from?” Dante, without any hesitation says, “faith comes from inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as is witnessed in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testament.” Then St. Peter asks, ‘why do you consider the Scriptures to be the word of God?’ Dante says: ‘Such miracles as the ones recorded in the Bible must have been created. They cannot be simply the work of Nature. Therefore the only other answer to Saint Peter’s question is: miracles are created by God.

St. Peter becomes awkward. He however points out that if these miracles are only attested in the Scriptures and Dante believes these miracles do they legitimize the Scriptures and vice versa? Dante’s reasoning is roundabout. He therefore again asks Dante how he knows the Scriptures are real? Dante identifies St. Peter’s trick question in the midst of a maze of other questions. Dante says the answer is simple: faith. Nothing else can “attest.these works to you.” That is the ‘winning blow’ because the question did not stop until this climax. Everyone therefore celebrates with a singing of “Te Deum laudamus” (“We Praise You, O God”).

St. Peter confirms Dante’s faith and compliments him on the eloquence of his answers. He therefore asks Dante to state what he believes. Dante answers with his creed: ‘I believe in one God who moves Heaven with his love, and this belief comes from the proof of the Scriptures. I believe in the Holy Trinity – One in Three and Three in One.’ St. Peter leans forward and embraces Dante and celebrates by blessing Dante, singing, and dancing around him in circles.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 24: Eighth Heaven: Sphere of the Fixed Stars; The Radiant Wheel. St. Peter examines Dante on Faith.

Beatrice calls on the company of Saints and Saint Peter (He is Simon Peter, called the Fisherman: ‘I will make you become fishers of men’. Mark 1:16 descends in flame, sweeping three times150 around Beatrice. She asks him to examine Dante on the subject of faith151, despite his prior knowledge of Dante’s powers of faith, hope and love. Jesus entrusted the keys of the Church, the faith, to Peter ‘the fisherman’, the ‘rock’ on which the Church would be built (Matthew 16:18). Peter died at Rome as a martyr in the persecutions under Nero. His memorial monument at the cemetery on the Vatican Hill was built about AD160-170. The Bishops of Rome and the Popes were his successors. Dante waits to be questioned.

When asked what faith is, Dante quotes Saint Paul, Saul of Tarsus, born about 10AD, Jewish by birth but a Roman citizen. He underwent changeover on the road to Damascus (Acts 1-9). He was martyred in Rome with Saint Peter on the same day. Faith is an intellectual virtue to the Catholic Church, and therefore Dante here quotes Saint Paul’s definition.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), a Dominican priest commented that faith is not a substance but rather a quality, whereas a substance exists in itself. Dante therefore responds to that philosophical point. Aquinas refers to faith on substance and quality; Aristotle states God is the Prime Mover; and Aquinas confirms the existence of God. Dante agrees with Aquinas that what are realities in heaven is only belief below. “Belief” is the substance of faith on earth. Humankind therefore has basis from such faith even if there is no further knowledge. Faith therefore falls under the definition of evidence of those unseen realities also. In other words on Earth faith is the substance and evidence for, of what will be seen (as substance) in heaven. Therefore faith requires no evidence.

Dante confirms he believes in the words St. Peter has spoken, and when asked for the sources for his belief, he cites the Old and New Testaments supported by miracles. Dante echoes Augustine152, that change of the world without miracles, would have been a greater miracle than any recorded, certifying to their reality. With the spirits sing in praise of God. Peter sanctions Dante’s answers.

Peter then asks Dante to make a statement of what it is he believes. Dante replies that God, himself unmoving, moves the universe with love and desire, and gains this not only from physical and metaphysical knowledge but also from the Scriptural truth that flows from it. In Metaphysics Aristotle shows the Prime Mover, that causes motion but is not itself moved153, must be eternal, large, and actual. It must be the prime object of desire, and of intellectual apprehension. From these five qualities Aquinas builds his five proofs of the existence of God and Christianised Aristotelianism.154

Dante asserts his belief in the Trinity, based on sources in the Testaments. Saint Peter then circles round Dante three times, singing.

Paradiso Canto 25: The Laurel Crown; St. James examines Dante on Hope. Dante’s Blindness.
1. If e’er it happen that the Poem Sacred// To which both heaven and earth have set their hand// So that it many a year hath made me lean,
2. O’ercome the cruelty that bars me out//From the fair sheepfold, where a lamb I slumbered//An enemy to the wolves that war upon it,
3. With other voice forthwith, with other fleece//Poet will I return, and at my font//
Baptismal will I take the laurel crown;
4. Because into the Faith that maketh known//All souls to God there entered I, and then// Peter for her sake thus my brow encircled.
5. Thereafterward towards us moved a light//Out of that band whence issued the first-fruits//Which of his vicars Christ behind him left,
6. And then my Lady, full of ecstasy// Said unto me: “Look, look! behold the Baron// For whom below Galicia is frequented.”
7. In the same way as, when a dove alights// Near his companion, both of them pour forth// Circling about and murmuring, their affection,
8. So one beheld I by the other grand//Prince glorified to be with welcome greeted// Lauding the food that there above is eaten.
9. But when their gratulations were complete// Silently ‘coram me’ each one stood still //So incandescent it o’ercame my sight.
10. Smiling thereafterwards, said Beatrice://”Illustrious life, by whom the benefactions // Of our Basilica have been described,
11. Make Hope resound within this altitude//Thou knowest as oft thou dost personify it// As Jesus to the three gave greater clearness.”-
12. “Lift up thy head, and make thyself assured//For what comes hither from the mortal world// Must needs be ripened in our radiance.”
13. This comfort came to me from the second fire//Wherefore mine eyes I lifted to the hills//Which bent them down before with too great weight.
14. “Since, through his grace, our Emperor wills that thou// Shouldst find thee face to face, before thy death// In the most secret chamber, with his Counts,
15. So that, the truth beholden of this court// Hope, which below there rightfully enamours//Thereby thou strengthen in thyself and others,
16. Say what it is, and how is flowering with it//Thy mind, and say from whence it came to thee.”//Thus did the second light again continue.
17. And the Compassionate, who piloted//The plumage of my wings in such high flight // Did in reply anticipate me thus:
18. “No child whatever the Church Militant//Of greater hope possesses, as is written//In that Sun which irradiates all our band;
19. Therefore it is conceded him from Egypt// To come into Jerusalem to see//Or ever yet his warfare be completed.
20. The two remaining points, that not for knowledge//Have been demanded, but that he report//How much this virtue unto thee is pleasing,
21. To him I leave; for hard he will not find them//Nor of self-praise; and let him answer them//And may the grace of God in this assist him!”
22. As a disciple, who his teacher follows//Ready and willing, where he is expert// That his proficiency may be displayed,
23. “Hope,” said I, “is the certain expectation//Of future glory, which is the effect// Of grace divine and merit precedent.
24. From many stars this light comes unto me//But he instilled it first into my heart// Who was chief singer unto the chief captain.
25. ‘Sperent in te,’ in the high Theody//He sayeth, ‘those who know thy name;’ and who // Knoweth it not, if he my faith possess?
26. Thou didst instil me, then, with his instilling//In the Epistle, so that I am full//And upon others rain again your rain.”
27. While I was speaking, in the living bosom// Of that combustion quivered an effulgence// Sudden and frequent, in the guise of lightning;
28. Then breathed: “The love wherewith I am inflamed// Towards the virtue still which followed me// Unto the palm and issue of the field,
29. Wills that I breathe to thee that thou delight//In her; and grateful to me is thy telling // Whatever things Hope promises to thee.”
30. And I: “The ancient Scriptures and the new// The mark establish, and this shows it me// Of all the souls whom God hath made his friends.
31. Isaiah saith, that each one garmented//In his own land shall be with twofold garments// And his own land is this delightful life.
32. Thy brother, too, far more explicitly// There where he treateth of the robes of white // This revelation manifests to us.”
33. And first, and near the ending of these words//”Sperent in te” from over us was heard// To which responsive answered all the carols.
34. Thereafterward a light among them brightened// So that, if Cancer one such crystal had// Winter would have a month of one sole day.
35. And as uprises, goes, and enters the dance//A winsome maiden, only to do honour // To the new bride, and not from any failing,
36. Even thus did I behold the brightened splendour// Approach the two, who in a wheel revolved// As was beseeming to their ardent love.
37. Into the song and music there it entered//And fixed on them my Lady kept her look // Even as a bride silent and motionless.
38. “This is the one who lay upon the breast//Of him our Pelican; and this is he// To the great office from the cross elected.”
39. My Lady thus; but therefore none the more// Did move her sight from its attentive gaze// Before or afterward these words of hers.
40. Even as a man who gazes, and endeavours//To see the eclipsing of the sun a little
// And who, by seeing, sightless doth become,
41. So I became before that latest fire// While it was said, “Why dost thou daze thyself // To see a thing which here hath no existence?
42. Earth in the earth my body is, and shall be//With all the others there, until our number// With the eternal proposition tallies.
43. With the two garments in the blessed cloister//Are the two lights alone that have ascended:// And this shalt thou take back into your world.”
44. And at this utterance the flaming circle// Grew quiet, with the dulcet intermingling //Of sound that by the trinal breath was made,
45. As to escape from danger or fatigue// The oars that erst were in the water beaten // Are all suspended at a whistle’s sound.
46. Ah, how much in my mind was I disturbed// When I turned round to look on Beatrice // That her I could not see, although I was
47. Close at her side and in the Happy World!

Summary

Paradiso Canto 25: The Laurel Crown; St. James examines Dante on Hope. Dante’s Blindness.

The examination By St. Peter makes Dante reflective. He imagines if his poem ever gets completed, and he survives the cruel years ahead, he would like to return to Florence. One day he would brag with the laurel leaf as a recognized poet. He wished to give homage to his beloved Florence in spite of its flaws, because that is where his faith in God began. For now, Dante must remain content with the crown that St. Peter gives him for his faith.

Then another soul (St. James) steps forward from the throng and Beatrice is excited. She urges Dante to look and see this new arrival. He is someone mortals honour by going to Galicia. St. Peter steps forward as well to meet his old friend. Dante compares their warm greeting to two doves embracing each other. Then they both fall silent and turn, blazing in brilliance, towards Dante.

Beatrice intervenes, and asks St. James to do another examination on Dante, however this time on hope. St. James is the Biblical figure commonly associated with hope and feels compassion for Dante. He therefore softens his inquisition. He tells Dante because God has blessed him by letting him see Heaven before his time, Dante must know what hope is. He asks:”What is hope? Do you have it and where does it come from?”

Strangely, Beatrice answers for Dante. She claims there is no doubt that Dante has much hope because he is allowed to see God’s kingdom before his death155. Dante adds:”Hope is the certain expectation of future glory” and it is a result of God’s grace. As for where it comes from, there are many texts confirming existence of hope. They can be found in David’s Psalms and St. James’s Epistle.

St. James responds with a burst of light signifying his approval. He goes on to ask Dante what it is exactly that he hopes for. Dante replies: Other than “getting into heaven,” I hope for what Isaiah prophesied, that “the elect / shall wear a double garment [both body and soul] in their land.” That is Dante’s hope. Everyone then bursts into song, warbling “Sperent in te” (“Let them hope in you”).

Suddenly, a new soul joins the party. He is truly bright and Dante compares his arrival to a “happy maiden rise and / enter the dance to honour the new bride.” He approaches the flames of St. Peter and St. James and also joins in celebration. Beatrice tells us who this man is by identifying him as the soul who “was asked / from on the Cross to serve in the great task.” That is St. John, to whom Jesus, while on the Cross, told to take care of the Virgin Mary, going so far to tell John that Mary is now his mother. Dante squints to try to see the dazzling St. John, but is rebuked.

St. John asks Dante why he tries to see what he cannot (‘I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God John 3:3.). He then dispels a false assumption Dante voiced earlier. Contrary to popular belief, St. John indicates: ‘I do not have my body up here with my soul. My body, like everyone else’s, is buried on earth; only The Christ and Mary are allowed to wear both body and soul in Heaven. Make sure you tell people that when you return to Earth.’

When he stops speaking, all three men stop their celebration. Something goes wrong. As he turns his face toward Beatrice Dante discovers that he is blind (But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. lacketh. 2 Peter 1:5-7). He cannot see her.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 25: The Laurel Crown; St. James examines Dante on Hope. Dante’s Blindness.

Dante dreams in hope156 of returning to his native city, the ‘lovely fold’ in triumph. He refused to accept a laurel crown at Bologna in 1318, when invited by Giovanni del Virgilio, because he was still hoping to return to Florence, and be crowned there. Beatrice is a symbol of Divine Philosophy. She announces the arrival of Saint James, and the two Saints rest there like spiritual doves. James represents Hope. This disciple of Jesus was a fisherman of Galilee, and the brother of John the Evangelist. He was tried in Jerusalem in 44 AD by Herod Agrippa and executed. Dante ascribes to him the authorship of the Epistle more usually attributed to the apostle James, the ‘brother of the Lord’.

Dante is now examined as to what Hope is and its source. He replies ‘Hope is the certain expectation of future bliss, coming from the grace of God and preceding merit.’ James asks what hope promises and Dante refers to the Testaments. His hope then is of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. Dante continually links faith, hope and love as an indivisible trinity. Love is the driving force behind all this faith, and the messenger of hope.

A light flashes out brightly. Saint John joins the other two Apostles making a triplet signifying the three virtues of faith, hope and love. Dante uses images of the virgin and the bride to heighten the emotion. Saint John, the disciple of Jesus, and brother of James is the presumed author of the Fourth Gospel. He is identified by Dante with John the Divine. His emblem in art is an eagle. The four beasts are identified with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the fourth beast being a flying eagle.) At the Last Supper he was ‘leaning on Jesus’s bosom’. Jesus, on the cross, committed Mary to his charge. Dante is temporarily blinded by the dazzle of Saint John’s splendour, like a man who gazes at the sun’s eclipse.

Paradiso Canto 26: Eighth Heaven: Sphere of the Fixed Stars

1. While I was doubting for my vision quenched// Out of the flame refulgent that had quenched it// Issued a breathing, that attentive made me,
2. Saying: “While thou recoverest the sense//Of seeing which in me thou hast consumed// ‘Tis well that speaking thou shouldst compensate it.
3. Begin then, and declare to what thy soul// Is aimed, and count it for a certainty//Sight is in thee bewildered and not dead;
4. Because the Lady, who through this divine//Region conducteth thee, has in her look // The power the hand of Ananias had.”
5. I said: “As pleaseth her, or soon or late// Let the cure come to eyes that portals were // When she with fire I ever burn with entered.
6. The Good, that gives contentment to this Court// The Alpha and Omega is of all//The writing that love reads me low or loud.”
7. The selfsame voice, that taken had from me// The terror of the sudden dazzlement //To speak still farther put it in my thought;
8. And said: “In verity with finer sieve//Behoveth thee to sift; thee it behoveth//To say who aimed thy bow at such a target.”
9. And I: “By philosophic arguments//And by authority that hence descends// Such love must needs imprint itself in me;
10. For Good, so far as good, when comprehended//Doth straight enkindle love, and so much greater//As more of goodness in itself it holds;
11. Then to that Essence (whose is such advantage//That every good which out of it is found// Is nothing but a ray of its own light)
12. More than elsewhither must the mind be moved//Of every one, in loving, who discerns// The truth in which this evidence is founded.
13. Such truth he to my intellect reveals//Who demonstrates to me the primal love//Of all the sempiternal substances.
14. The voice reveals it of the truthful Author//Who says to Moses, speaking of Himself//’I will make all my goodness pass before thee.’
15. Thou too revealest it to me, beginning// The loud Evangel, that proclaims the secret//Of heaven to earth above all other edict.”
16. And I heard say: “By human intellect//And by authority concordant with it// Of all thy loves reserve for God the highest.
17. But say again if other cords thou feelest//Draw thee towards Him, that thou mayst proclaim//With how many teeth this love is biting thee.”
18. The holy purpose of the Eagle of Christ//Not latent was, nay, rather I perceived//
Whither he fain would my profession lead.
19. Therefore I recommenced: “All of those bites//Which have the power to turn the heart to God//Unto my charity have been concurrent.
20. The being of the world, and my own being// The death which He endured that I may live// And that which all the faithful hope, as I do,
21. With the forementioned vivid consciousness//Have drawn me from the sea of love perverse// And of the right have placed me on the shore.
22. The leaves, wherewith embowered is all the garden// Of the Eternal Gardener, do I love// As much as he has granted them of good.”
23. As soon as I had ceased, a song most sweet//Throughout the heaven resounded, and my Lady// Said with the others, “Holy, holy, holy!”
24. And as at some keen light one wakes from sleep//By reason of the visual spirit that runs// Unto the splendour passed from coat to coat,
25. And he who wakes abhorreth what he sees// So all unconscious is his sudden waking //Until the judgment cometh to his aid,
26. So from before mine eyes did Beatrice// Chase every mote with radiance of her own // That cast its light a thousand miles and more.
27. Whence better after than before I saw// And in a kind of wonderment I asked// About a fourth light that I saw with us.
28. And said my Lady: “There within those rays//Gazes upon its Maker the first soul//That ever the first virtue did create.”
29. Even as the bough that downward bends its top//At transit of the wind, and then is lifted//By its own virtue, which inclines it upward,
30. Likewise did I, the while that she was speaking// Being amazed, and then I was made bold// By a desire to speak wherewith I burned.
31. And I began: “O apple, that mature// Alone hast been produced, O ancient father
// To whom each wife is daughter and daughter-in-law,
32. Devoutly as I can I supplicate thee// That thou wouldst speak to me; thou seest my wish;//And I, to hear thee quickly, speak it not.”
33. Sometimes an animal, when covered, struggles//So that his impulse needs must be apparent// By reason of the wrappage following it;
34. And in like manner the primeval soul// Made clear to me athwart its covering//How jubilant it was to give me pleasure.
35. Then breathed: “Without thy uttering it to me// Thine inclination better I discern// Than thou whatever thing is surest to thee;
36. For I behold it in the truthful mirror// That of Himself all things parhelion makes/ And none makes Him parhelion of itself.
37. Thou fain wouldst hear how long ago God placed me// Within the lofty garden, where this Lady// Unto so long a stairway thee disposed.
38. And how long to mine eyes it was a pleasure// And of the great disdain the proper cause// And the language that I used and that I made.
39. Now, son of mine, the tasting of the tree// Not in itself was cause of so great exile // But solely the o’erstepping of the bounds.
40. There, whence thy Lady moved Virgilius//Four thousand and three hundred and two circuits// Made by the sun, this Council I desired;
41. And him I saw return to all the lights//Of his highway nine hundred times and thirty // Whilst I upon the earth was tarrying.
42. The language that I spake was quite extinct//Before that in the work interminable // The people under Nimrod were employed;
43. For nevermore result of reasoning//(Because of human pleasure that doth change
// Obedient to the heavens) was durable.
44. A natural action is it that man speaks;//But whether thus or thus, doth nature leave // To your own art, as seemeth best to you.
45. Ere I descended to the infernal anguish// ‘El’ was on earth the name of the Chief Good// From whom comes all the joy that wraps me round
46. ‘Eli’ he then was called, and that is proper//Because the use of men is like a leaf//On bough, which goeth and another cometh.
47. Upon the mount that highest o’er the wave//Rises was I, in life or pure or sinful//From the first hour to that which is the second,
48. As the sun changes quadrant, to the sixth.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 26: Eighth Heaven: Sphere of the Fixed Stars

Through the intimidating darkness, Dante hears St. John’s voice reassure him by telling he should keep discussing his experiences that were life changing. Those that are distressing often find their lives in “hell on Earth” with family and friends. Both are experiences that are substantial and alter life and circumstances. Dante must acknowledge these occurrences that are life changing before being able to see again. Beatrice (his spiritual teacher), assures Dante can cure himself of his spiritual blindness, but he must reveal what he is wishing for (He who overcomes will retain his name in the book of life, reach godhood, and be with Jesus as He is with the Father: Revelations 3:14-22).

When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything. Dante is realizing he is facing another examination. Dante answers: like everyone in this place each desires God’s love. Although feeling blinded, Dante can somehow feel St. John’s annoyance with his answer, which manifests itself as a burst of light. St. John growls, telling Dante he has got to be more specific than that. Dante must reveal who directed his love towards God because he who loves God, lives an Angel’s life on earth, fasting and being vigilant, praising God and praying, and having kind thoughts about every human being.

He answers that he himself did. As a human being, he says he has God’s love imprinted in him. Because he tries to be virtuous, that love turns toward God. He continues that anyone who is good cannot help but love God. Dante asserts that God himself confirmed this when he told Moses, “I shall show you all goodness.” Furthermore, Dante claims that St. John himself agrees in his Gospel, where he celebrates the mystery of Heaven, The Christ Incarnate.

St. John confirms Dante’s answer but presses him further, by asking if there are any other reasons he loves God. Dante knows what St. John wants to hear: “I love God because He created the world, because Jesus died so that I might live, and because He gives me hope of reaching Heaven. I love God in the exact proportion, which He allotted to me.” This is observably the acceptable answer, because the whole company bursts out into song, singing about the four animals of the Apocalypse. (Four six-winged Horses of the Apocalypse. Pestilence, Famine, Death, and War are legendary quartet of doom: Revelation 4:8).

Then a miracle occurs. Dante sees a glimmer of light; then he sees even more light; and then there is so much light that he almost goes blind. He then suddenly regains his sight. He realizes as he gazes at the wonderful world that he can now see even better than he did before. Dante suddenly realizes that a fourth soul has joined them.

Beatrice, reading Dante’s mind, tells him who the new person: he is the “first soul / ever created by the Primal Force.” It is Adam himself. Confused but then inspired by Beatrice’s words, Dante turns to Adam and begs him to speak. Dante knows Adam knows what Dante wants. Therefore Dante asks Adam why he does not just revisit with the unspoken questions.
Adam confirms he can indeed see Dante’s mind reflected in the ‘perfect mirror’ of God’s mind. Adam summarizes Dante’s four questions: How long has it been since Adam was in Eden? How long did he stay in Eden? What was the true cause of God’s anger? What language did Adam speak?

Adam wastes no time in answering, but takes the third question first: God was not angry because Adam ate the forbidden fruit, but because he trespassed the boundary God had set for him. Adam confirmed he has been gone from Eden for 6498 years. Lastly he told Dante the language he spoke then is long gone.

Adam then assured Dante that nothing that man makes, including language, lasts for too long. Adam says Heaven gave man the ability to speak, but God does not care what language a person chooses. In Adam’s language God was called ‘I’; the subsequent language called him ‘El’. Adam confirmed that he lived in Eden for seven hours.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 26: Eighth Heaven: Sphere of the Fixed Stars

John reassures Dante that he will regain his sight through Beatrice just as Ananias of Damascus (disciple of Jesus) sent to restored the sight of the blind Saul of Tarsus. John prompts Dante to assert his continuing Love157 for Beatrice. Has it passed beyond the physical, and becomes wholly spiritualised? Although the Divine Comedy maintains the physical intensity of his love he eventually says Love is the beginning and end of godhood, the Alpha and Omega. He refers to all the scriptures that Love in all its forms, is Divine Love, the Good, God Himself. Love is one continuum that comes from the Divine to the earthly. All Love is one.

John presses him further. Dante relies on three authorities, firstly Aristotle, who taught that God is the supreme object towards whom the Heavens yearn. In his Metaphysics the Prime Mover is the object of longing or of intellectual apprehension. The good is the object of love, and since God is the supreme good He is the supreme object of love, and the more a mind sees the good the more it must focus on that supreme object, with love. The scripture regarding Moses is the next authority, where the Lord says to Moses ‘I will make all my goodness pass before thee’ in Exodus. The third authority is John the Evangelist (Christ’s ‘Eagle’) himself in Revelation ‘I am Alpha and Omega the beginning and the ending.’

John tells Dante to keep his highest Love for God. But on being questioned further Dante confesses that all things which share in the Divine Good inspire love in him, including the world’s creation, his own being, the redemption, and Man’s hope of Paradiso. Goodness inspires love, and love yearns for goodness.

Goodness is not Love, but it is the object through which one is longing for it. Yet in some sense, for Dante and others here in Heaven, God and Goodness, are Love. It denotes both a yearning and a commitment. It engenders actions that are intended for good. Goodness implies both a desired outcome and commitment to actions that cause it.

Goodness makes a seeker sensitive and is therefore an affect of primal empathy and love. From those qualities other cardinal virtues take birth: justice, moderation, self-control and practical wisdom. Love arises with Virtue, since the desire and the actions are both rooted in primal empathy. Man’s love in Dante’s scheme is a desire for God’s love towards His creation. Dante’s orthodox view is that God is Truth and ultimate Goodness. Love for His creation is fundamental. From that Dante derives a vision of the Truth which depends on grace and right exercise of the free will. Therefore Love of Creation (Holy Spirit) is the outcome of Dante’s vision viewed through the Father’s Grace.

Beatrice clears Dante’s sight so that he sees even more clearly when the spirit of Adam appears. Dante raises his head and Adam sees all things including Dante’s hidden questions reflected in the Divine mirror (Creation) where every created thing is perfectly reflected in Awareness, though none of those created things perfectly reflect God’s Consciousness.
Adam answers Dante’s questions. His original sin lay in disobedience, rather than the eating of the fruit of the tree (svadhisthana or sacral chakra, the potential vortex of emotion and sexual pleasure). His existence on Earth, in exile, and in Limbo was for more than five thousand years. According to Eusebius, Adam was on earth for 930 years and in Limbo for 4302 years. Dante makes his point that, Nature (Holy Spirit) allows human abilities of the five organs of action like speech, languages and products of the mind (emotions). Over time and space they vary and decay. Adam’s language therefore vanished before Babel was built.

Paradiso 27: St. Peter’s reproof of bad Popes. The Ascent to the Ninth Heaven, the ‘Primum Mobile.’

1. “Glory be to the Father, to the Son// And Holy Ghost!” all Paradiso began// So that the melody inebriate made me.
2. What I beheld seemed unto me a smile//Of the universe; for my inebriation// Found entrance through the hearing and the sight.
3. joy! O gladness inexpressible!//O perfect life of love and peacefulness!//O riches without hankering secure!
4. Before mine eyes were standing the four torches//Enkindled, and the one that first had come//Began to make itself more luminous;
5. And even such in semblance it became//As Jupiter would become, if he and Mars
// Were birds, and they should interchange their feathers.
6. That Providence, which here distributeth//Season and service, in the blessed choir
// Had silence upon every side imposed.
7. When I heard say: “If I my colour change// Marvel not at it; for while I am speaking // Thou shalt behold all these their colour change.
8. He who usurps upon the earth my place//My place, my place, which vacant has become// Before the presence of the Son of God,
9. Has of my cemetery made a sewer//Of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One // Who fell from here, below there is appeased!”
10. With the same colour which, through sun adverse//Painteth the clouds at evening or at morn//Beheld I then the whole of heaven suffused.
11. And as a modest woman, who abides//Sure of herself, and at another’s failing//From listening only, timorous becomes,
12. Even thus did Beatrice change countenance//And I believe in heaven was such eclipse// When suffered the supreme Omnipotence;
13. Thereafterward proceeded forth his words//With voice so much transmuted from itself// The very countenance was not more changed.
14. “The spouse of Christ has never nurtured been// On blood of mine, of Linus and of Cletus// To be made use of in acquest of gold;
15. But in acquest of this delightful life//Sixtus and Pius, Urban and Calixtus//fter much lamentation, shed their blood.
16. Our purpose was not, that on the right hand//Of our successors should in part be seated// The Christian folk, in part upon the other;
17. Nor that the keys which were to me confided//Should e’er become the escutcheon on a banner// That should wage war on those who are baptized;
18. Nor I be made the figure of a seal//To privileges venal and mendacious// Whereat I often redden and flash with fire.
19. In garb of shepherds the rapacious wolves//Are seen from here above o’er all the pastures!//O wrath of God, why dost thou slumber still?
20. To drink our blood the Caorsines and Gascons//Are making ready. O thou good beginning// Unto how vile an end must thou needs fall!
21. But the high Providence, that with Scipio//At Rome the glory of the world defended // Will speedily bring aid, as I conceive;
22. And thou, my son, who by thy mortal weight//Shalt down return again, open thy mouth// What I conceal not, do not thou conceal.”
23. As with its frozen vapours downward falls//In flakes our atmosphere, what time the horn// Of the celestial Goat doth touch the sun,
24. Upward in such array saw I the ether//Become, and flaked with the triumphant vapours//Which there together with us had remained.
25. My sight was following up their semblances// And followed till the medium, by excess// The passing farther onward took from it;
26. Whereat the Lady, who beheld me freed//From gazing upward, said to me: “Cast down// Thy sight, and see how far thou art turned round.”
27. Since the first time that I had downward looked//I saw that I had moved through the whole arc//Which the first climate makes from midst to end;
28. So that I saw the mad track of Ulysses//Past Gades, and this side, well nigh the shore // Whereon became Europa a sweet burden.
29. And of this threshing-floor the site to me//Were more unveiled, but the sun was proceeding//Under my feet, a sign and more removed.
30. My mind enamoured, which is dallying//At all times with my Lady, to bring back// To her mine eyes was more than ever ardent.
31. And if or Art or Nature has made bait// To catch the eyes and so possess the mind // In human flesh or in its portraiture,
32. All joined together would appear as nought//To the divine delight which shone upon me// When to her smiling face I turned me round.
33. The virtue that her look endowed me with//From the fair nest of Leda tore me forth // And up into the swiftest heaven impelled me.
34. Its parts exceeding full of life and lofty//Are all so uniform, I cannot say// Which Beatrice selected for my place.
35. But she, who was aware of my desire//Began, the while she smiled so joyously//That God seemed in her countenance to rejoice:
36. “The nature of that motion, which keeps quiet// The centre and all the rest about it moves// From hence begins as from its starting point.
37. And in this heaven there is no other Where// Than in the Mind Divine, wherein is kindled// The love that turns it, and the power it rains.
38. Within a circle light and love embrace it// Even as this doth the others, and that precinct//He who encircles it alone controls.
39. Its motion is not by another meted//But all the others measured are by this//As ten is by the half and by the fifth.
40. And in what manner time in such a pot//May have its roots, and in the rest its leaves //Now unto thee can manifest be made.
41. Covetousness, that mortals dost ingulf//Beneath thee so, that no one hath the power// Of drawing back his eyes from out thy waves!
42. Full fairly blossoms in mankind the will;//But the uninterrupted rain converts// Into abortive wildings the true plums.
43. Fidelity and innocence are found//Only in children; afterwards they both//Take flight or e’er the cheeks with down are covered.
44. One, while he prattles still, observes the fasts// Who, when his tongue is loosed, forthwith devours//Whatever food under whatever moon;
45. Another, while he prattles, loves and listens//Unto his mother, who when speech is perfect//Forthwith desires to see her in her grave.
46. Even thus is swarthy made the skin so white//In its first aspect of the daughter fair //Of him who brings the morn, and leaves the night.
47. Thou, that it may not be a marvel to thee//Think that on earth there is no one who governs;//Whence goes astray the human family.
48. Ere January be unwintered wholly//By the centesimal on earth neglected//Shall these supernal circles roar so loud
49. The tempest that has been so long awaited//Shall whirl the poops about where are the prows;//So that the fleet shall run its course direct,
50. And the true fruit shall follow on the flower.”

Summary

Paradiso 27: St. Peter’s reproof of dreadful Popes. The Ascent to the Ninth Heaven, the ‘Primum Mobile.’

After Adam’s enlightening words158, all the souls sing the hymn “Gloria,” which celebrates the Holy Trinity. The song is about One and Two is One – the song defining the Trinity is so uplifting that it seems to Dante that “the universe had smiled.” The five souls – St. Peter, St. James, St. John, Adam, and Beatrice – all flame before Dante’s eyes. And suddenly, St. Peter changes colour. Where he was once white, he now shines red.

The choir falls silent, as if it is as shocked as Dante. Then St. Peter tells them not to be surprised because all of them will be changing colour159 soon because down on earth, the current pope, Boniface III, is commandeering Peter’s position as pope and doing a dreadful job of it. He is so corrupt that Heaven considers the Papacy vacant. Boniface is making Peter’s realm of mankind a “sewer of blood,” which accounts for the wardrobe change. In ominous harmony with St. Peter’s words, the sky turns a blushing red – like clouds at sunset. And Beatrice, too, suddenly flushes like a chaste woman (Hindu women have been the custodians of the Hindu race. She is a woman who has one husband. Through mind, body and speech another man does not attract her) who hears about another woman’s loss of sexual innocence.

All of Life is about vague changes. No one person can experience all that life has to offer. It is only through sharing – experiences, feelings and insights – that one can hope to grow beyond meager personal lifetimes. Childhood innocence is about a well meaning heart, full of curiosity, imagination, and being care free. This fragile vulnerable, morally pure mind has not experienced adolescence but this is about a special time of change for women.

Then St. Peter speaks again, and his voice is very different from before. He roars that his blood and the blood of good popes – Linus, Cletus, Sixtus, Pius, Urban, and Calixtus – was never far from trying to gain increasing individual creature comforts and riches. These good Popes did not want structural or doctrinal disunity among people practicing Christianity. They did not wage war on the innocent. They did not stamp a papal seal on vices of murder, self aggrandisement and indulgences by urging like-minded cooperation from the immoral.

St. Peter rants against the shepherds (popes) who are really wolves in disguise. He names the greedy popes with disgust. But then, without faltering warns, Providence will bring Divine vengeance (law of karma) against these double-dealing popes. Dante, he claims, will help their cause by bringing his poetry of honest words to mankind. St. Peter urges Dante to tell the truth in his writing.

St. Peter then falls silent, and Dante looks up to see souls flying up to the Empyrean, (Ninth Sphere of Pure Thought); flying like snowflakes in reverse. Dante tries to follow them all the way up, but his mortal eyes cannot see the Empyrean. Beatrice sees this and tells Dante to look down upon the earth once again.

Dante obeys and is now able to see the earth in even greater detail, despite being higher up than the last time he gazed downward. This time he can see the sea which Ulysses sailed across and even the island of Crete. Dante turns back to Beatrice and his heart almost stops on beholding her dazzling beauty. But her increasing beauty means they are ascending into “heaven’s swiftest sphere.” When they land, Beatrice speaks.

She tells him that this place is the root of the universe; the Primum Mobile was created first. The “where” of this Heaven is in God’s Mind and it is surrounded in Light and Love. It spins the fastest of all the Heavens. Time also began here.

Now Beatrice begins a tirade against mankind’s sins of careless living that are both destructive and lead to greater capital vices. To be careless in any area of life is to gamble with disaster. She reprimands them for their greed, which causes them to sin and lose forever the salvation of Heaven. Free will160 she claims “has a good blossoming in men,” but as soon as they grow out of their childhood (birth to adolescence) and can speak well, they use their free will badly and lose their innocence.

She explains the source of the problem to Dante: “on earth no king holds sway; / therefore, the family of humans strays.” In other words, man needs to be ruled. But, she promises, before another thousand years pass, Providence will set things right, turning the backwards-running prows of mankind’s ships around “so that the fleet runs straight.”

Discussion

Paradiso 27: St. Peter’s reproof of bad Popes. The Ascent to the Ninth Heaven161, the ‘Primum Mobile.’

Paradiso is singing and celebrating the Trinity and Dante sees the Universe’s smile in honour of the Holy Light (three virtues): the three Apostles ( Peter, James and John representing faith, hope and love) and Adam burn with Light in front of Dante’s eyes: and Peter glows red with righteous wrath. Angels’ colours flame, gold and white symbolise love knowledge and purity. Dante has made a triple journey from the human to the divine, from time to eternity, and from Florentine chaos to Heavenly order.

Then with a triple repetition, of ‘my place’, Peter speaks about the Pope (Boniface in 1300) who usurps that place as head of the Church. Beatrice, though herself innocent, blushes as a modest woman at hearing the denunciation. He gives examples of the great and good Popes Linus (66-76AD) and Cletus (76-88AD), Sixtus, Saint Sixtus or Sextus I (115-125), Pius (140-155AD), Calixtus (217-222AD) and Urban (222-230 AD) who according to tradition died for the faith. He condemns factionalism that promotes contentious minorities, the use of the keys as symbols of a battle standard for heaven, or the use of his papal figure as a seal on corrupt Papal documents.

He anticipates the Papacies of the Gascon Clement V (1305-1314), and John XXII from Cahors (1316-1334) who were unwilling to accept the violent chaos of Rome after their election. Dante then links the workings of Divine Providence that supported Rome from the brink of defeat against Carthage under Scipio. He expects the unspecified retribution that will overtake the Papacy.
The ether fills with the spirits like snowflakes travelling upwards. Dante the successful traveller up towards heaven looks down towards Earth. Dante and Beatrice enter the stellar heavens in the sign of Gemini, Dante’s birth sign, associated with intellect and language. The seven ‘planetary spheres’ signify the seven virtues. Dante looks back to see the full Ptolemaic arranged structure of the solar system. In Gemini, he is separated from the sun, in Aries, by the sign of Taurus.

It is now sunset over Jerusalem. (Jupiter snatched Europa from Phoenician Tyre, the modern Lebanon, at the longitude of Jerusalem) Dante looking down sees from the dark of sunset at Jerusalem to sunlit Gibraltar (where Ulysses that symbol of restless self-will sailed to the West between the Pillars of Hercules). Dante turns his eyes to Beatrice whose smiling face exceeds in beauty whatever art or nature could create.
They are drawn up into the Primum Mobile, the sphere ‘below’ the Empyrean, and Beatrice explains that this is the sphere from which all the other circling of Dante’s Universe derives. The Light and Love of God clasp it, as it clasps the other lower spheres. Time has its origin here, below the timeless Empyrean. Time has its origin in the Primum Mobile, the moving sphere ‘below the Empyrean’ (in the Mind of God).Time was created in the instant of God’s Creation
And Beatrice then condemns the greed of the human race, and its lack of good government in Empire or Papacy.
A sin arising from excessive love for what should be loved only in moderation, food is related to Avarice and Lust. The Siren symbolizes the temptation towards this excessive desire among others. But she gives promise of improvement before long In Dante’s time January began a little later in the real year each time, and so eventually it would fall outside winter altogether.

Paradiso: Canto 28: God and the Angelic Hierarchies.

1. After the truth against the present life//Of miserable mortals was unfolded// By her who doth in Paradiso my mind,
2. As in a looking-glass a taper’s flame//He sees who from behind is lighted by it// Before he has it in his sight or thought,
3. And turns him round to see if so the glass//Tell him the truth, and sees that it accords// Therewith as doth a music with its metre,
4. In similar wise my memory recollecteth//That I did, looking into those fair eyes//Of which Love made the springes to ensnare me.
5. And as I turned me round, and mine were touched//By that which is apparent in that volume//Whenever on its gyre we gaze intent,
6. A point beheld I, that was raying out//Light so acute, the sight which it enkindles
// Must close perforce before such great acuteness.
7. And whatsoever star seems smallest here//Would seem to be a moon, if placed beside it// As one star with another star is placed.
8. Perhaps at such a distance as appears//A halo cincturing the light that paints it// When densest is the vapour that sustains it,
9. Thus distant round the point a circle of fire//So swiftly whirled, that it would have surpassed//Whatever motion soonest girds the world;
10. And this was by another circumcinct//That by a third, the third then by a fourth//By a fifth the fourth, and then by a sixth the fifth;
11. The seventh followed thereupon in width//So ample now, that Juno’s messenger// Entire would be too narrow to contain it.
12. Even so the eighth and ninth; and every one//More slowly moved, according as it was//In number distant farther from the first.
13. And that one had its flame most crystalline//From which less distant was the stainless spark//I think because more with its truth imbued.
14. My Lady, who in my anxiety//Beheld me much perplexed, said: “From that point// Dependent is the heaven and nature all.
15. Behold that circle most conjoined to it// And know thou, that its motion is so swift //Through burning love whereby it is spurred on.”
16. And I to her: “If the world were arranged//In the order which I see in yonder wheels // What’s set before me would have satisfied me;
17. But in the world of sense we can perceive//That evermore the circles are diviner// As they are from the centre more remote
18. Wherefore if my desire is to be ended// In this miraculous and angelic temple// That has for confines only love and light,
19. To hear behoves me still how the example// And the exemplar go not in one fashion // Since for myself in vain I contemplate it.”
20. “If thine own fingers unto such a knot//Be insufficient, it is no great wonder// So hard hath it become for want of trying.”
21. My Lady thus; then said she: “Do thou take// What I shall tell thee, if thou wouldst be sated//And exercise on that thy subtlety.
22. The circles corporal are wide and narrow// According to the more or less of virtue
// Which is distributed through all their parts.
23. The greater goodness works the greater weal// The greater weal the greater body holds// If perfect equally are all its parts.
24. Therefore this one which sweeps along with it//The universe sublime, doth correspond// Unto the circle which most loves and knows.
25. On which account, if thou unto the virtue// Apply thy measure, not to the appearance// Of substances that unto thee seem round,
26. Thou wilt behold a marvellous agreement//Of more to greater, and of less to smaller // In every heaven, with its Intelligence.”
27. Even as remaineth splendid and serene// The hemisphere of air, when Boreas//Is blowing from that cheek where he is mildest,
28. Because is purified and resolved the rack//That erst disturbed it, till the welkin laughs// With all the beauties of its pageantry;
29. Thus did I likewise, after that my Lady//Had me provided with her clear response// And like a star in heaven the truth was seen.
30. And soon as to a stop her words had come//Not otherwise does iron scintillate//When molten, than those circles scintillated.
31. Their coruscation all the sparks repeated//And they so many were, their number makes// More millions than the doubling of the chess.
32. I heard them sing hosanna choir by choir//To the fixed point which holds them at the ‘Ubi,’// And ever will, where they have ever been.
33. And she, who saw the dubious meditations//Within my mind, “The primal circles,” said// “Have shown thee Seraphim and Cherubim.
34. Thus rapidly they follow their own bonds// To be as like the point as most they can // And can as far as they are high in vision.
35. Those other Loves, that round about them go// Thrones of the countenance divine are called// Because they terminate the primal Triad.
36. And thou shouldst know that they all have delight//As much as their own vision penetrates// The Truth, in which all intellect finds rest.
37. From this it may be seen how blessedness//Is founded in the faculty which sees// And not in that which loves, and follows next;
38. And of this seeing merit is the measure//Which is brought forth by grace, and by good will;// Thus on from grade to grade doth it proceed.
39. The second Triad, which is germinating//In such wise in this sempiternal spring//That no nocturnal Aries despoils,
40. Perpetually hosanna warbles forth//With threefold melody, that sounds in three// Orders of joy, with which it is intrined.
41. The three Divine are in this hierarchy// First the Dominions, and the Virtues next;
// And the third order is that of the Powers.
42. Then in the dances twain penultimate//The Principalities and Archangels wheel; // The last is wholly of angelic sports.
43. These orders upward all of them are gazing// And downward so prevail, that unto God// They all attracted are and all attract.
44. And Dionysius with so great desire// To contemplate these Orders set himself/ He named them and distinguished them as I do.
45. But Gregory afterwards dissented from him//Wherefore, as soon as he unclosed his eyes// Within this heaven, he at himself did smile.
46. And if so much of secret truth a mortal// Proffered on earth, I would not have thee marvel//For he who saw it here revealed it to him,
47. With much more of the truth about these circles.”

Summary

Paradiso: Canto 28: God and the Angelic Hierarchies.

Ninth Heaven (Nirvana): the Primum Mobile

After Beatrice’s hopeful prophecy about a ‘heaven on earth’, Dante notices something reflected in Beatrice’s eyes, like the image of a double candle in a mirror. He looks into her eyes to see if he is not just imagining it. When he realizes it is there, he turn around to find it.

He sees a point of light so bright that it nearly blinds him and the source is far larger than any star. Around it encircle nine rings of flame. The first ring away is orbiting the Point the fastest. The other rings are revolving more slowly the farther out they go. The object is huge.

He also notices the ring with the purest light is the one closest to the Point (Consciousness). Dante believes, the closest ring is most like the Point itself. Dante is at a loss by what this is. Beatrice comes to the rescue. She explains all of Nature (Awareness) depends on this ‘thing’ and says the first ring spins the fastest because it has the most desire for God. Seeker must make efforts towards a Cosmic Connection for Awareness to become One with Consciousness. Here there is final release from the cycle of reincarnation attained by extinction of all desires. It is a state of final beatitude that transcends suffering, karma, and samsara and is sought by Buddhist and Hindu seekers.

Dante thinks for a moment and ponders: if the actual universe were like this, he would be happy (because Earth which is of the smallest “ring” would be the purest and closest to God). So why is the universe not like this model? Beatrice smiles knowingly and says, it is acceptable that the reader does not understand Dante.

Nobody has tried figuring out Dante’s reasoning before. In the material universe, to Dante, the blessedness of a material object depends on how much angelic power it has. That means in ‘matter’, a greater power corresponds to its greater size: the bigger an object, the more power it has, and more blessed it is. Therefore the biggest sphere of Primum Mobile is closest to God
In this model, each ring represents a specific Angelic Intelligence which is not really ‘material’; it is only ‘power’. The ring with the most ‘power’ is closest to God. When matching this model to the material (matter) universe, the angel with the greatest power who is closest to God matches the sphere with the greatest power (the Primum Mobile) but is the farthest away from God in an inverse relationship. This is Dante’s understanding.

Dante compares this ‘dawning of understanding’ to the north wind, Boreas (Greek god of the cold north wind and bringer of winter), blowing away clouds from the sky and making it clear. After Beatrice finishes talking, each of the nine rings grows brighter, their individual sparks shine more brilliantly and Dante hears voices singing a hymn to the fixed Point in the centre.
Beatrice speaks again, naming each of the rings for Dante’s benefit. From the centre outwards, the first ring contains the Seraphim, then the Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Beatrice goes on to say that Dionysius, a scholar, was famous for making this hierarchy known to mortals. Later, a certain Gregory came and disputed Dionysius’s findings. But when Gregory died and came to Heaven, he saw he was wrong. Finally, she tells Dante it should not surprise him that man knows this heavenly secret because its source was St. Peter himself, who saw it and himself served as Dionysius’ source.

Discussion

Paradiso: Canto 28: God and the Angelic Hierarchies.

Ninth Heaven: the Primum Mobile

Dante now sees a reflection in Beatrice’s eyes as in a mirror (her eyes communicate love downwards, through creation, and draws it upwards through contemplation) He turns to see a single intense point of light around which nine concentric circles wheel, turning faster and brighter the nearer they are to the inner point, which represents their closeness to the ultimate Truth. According to Aristotle, Heaven and all Nature hang from this point, the Prime Mover, which is without magnitude but without parts and indivisible.

The circles are those of the Intelligences, placed in Angelic Orders. Dante is puzzled why these circles are in reverse the arrangement of the heavenly spheres, where the sphere nearest to God, the Primum Mobile, is the widest and fastest.

Beatrice explains that the heavenly spheres are arranged to produce maximum benefit. The outermost sphere the Primum Mobile which contains all the others must be the most excellent. Because it contains the most virtue, it corresponds to the circle closest to God. There is therefore a spiritual rather than a spatial arrangement. God is both centre and circumference. Dante sees the truth of this, and the circles glitter with sparks like molten iron, and sing Hosanna.

Beatrice then explains the nine Orders, arranged in three triplets. Beatrice says blessedness depends on sublimity of seeing the vision of ‘truth ‘where every mind is stilled’, on love, which is a consequence of that vision. The extent of vision is dependent on grace and the right exercise of the will. Dante therefore pins his life and work to rightness of his faith and vision and less on the degree of his love that follows from it.

Love flows from the Knowledge of ultimate Truth: God has Love for his creation, and Man has love for God because of his desire for the good. Dante figures that Love is only one of the seven virtues demanding right use of free will about Knowledge. Therefore Knowledge of Truth and Love co-exist.

The Angels (Order of Thrones, the ‘mirrors’ of God’s judgement) are divided in three Hierarchies, each of three Orders, or three triplets of circles. In the first triplet, Seraphs with their wings, and Cherubs with their eyes emphasise movement towards God (Love) and insight into His being (Knowledge).

Thrones signify the Power of God, manifested through the Angels who are drawing them towards Him. They are the mirrors of his judgments, and represent steadfastness on the Path. Joy is connected with the Seraphim. Trust in God’s power come with the Thrones.

In the second triplet, the Dominions are images of God’s dominion of Virtues which indicate Divine strength and fortitude. The Powers represent Divine power and majesty. In the third, outermost triplet, Principalities, or Princedoms, Archangels and Angels are concerned with the things of this world, love of the Holy Spirit, and communication about the gifts of God to man.

The Angels collectively apply to all the nine Hierarchies, signifying ‘messengers’ and the higher Angels who can execute the functions of the lower, while having their special additional qualities. So Christ is the Angel of the Great Counsel. Dionysius162 and Gregory163 had different arrangements of the Orders, Gregory realising the truth of the former when he arrived in heaven.

Paradiso Canto 29: Ninth Heaven: the Primum Mobile

Beatrice’s Discourse of Creation of Angels and Fall of Lucifer; Her Reproof of Foolish and Avaricious Preachers.

1. At what time both the children of Latona// Surmounted by the Ram and by the Scales// Together make a zone of the horizon,
2. As long as from the time the zenith holds them//In equipoise, till from that girdle both//Changing their hemisphere disturb the balance,
3. So long, her face depicted with a smile// Did Beatrice keep silence while she gazed // Fixedly at the point which had o’ercome me.
4. Then she began: “I say, and I ask not//What thou dost wish to hear, for I have seen it// Where centres every When and every ‘Ubi.’
5. Not to acquire some good unto himself//Which is impossible, but that his splendour // In its resplendency may say, ‘Subsisto,’
6. In his eternity outside of time//Outside all other limits, as it pleased him// Into new Loves the Eternal Love unfolded.
7. Nor as if torpid did he lie before;//For neither after nor before proceeded//The going forth of God upon these waters.
8. Matter and Form unmingled and conjoined//Came into being that had no defect// E’en as three arrows from a three-stringed bow.
9. And as in glass, in amber, or in crystal//A sunbeam flashes so, that from its coming // To its full being is no interval,
10. So from its Lord did the triform effect//Ray forth into its being all together// Without discrimination of beginning.
11. Order was con-created and constructed//In substances, and summit of the world// Were those wherein the pure act was produced.
12. Pure potentiality held the lowest part;//Midway bound potentiality with act// Such bond that it shall never be unbound.
13. Jerome has written unto you of angels//Created a long lapse of centuries//Or ever yet the other world was made;
14. But written is this truth in many places//By writers of the Holy Ghost, and thou//Shalt see it, if thou lookest well thereat.
15. And even reason seeth it somewhat// For it would not concede that for so long// Could be the motors without their perfection.
16. Now dost thou know both where and when these Loves//Created were, and how; so that extinct//In thy desire already are three fires.
17. Nor could one reach, in counting, unto twenty// So swiftly, as a portion of these angels// Disturbed the subject of your elements.
18. The rest remained, and they began this art//Which thou discernest, with so great delight// That never from their circling do they cease.
19. The occasion of the fall was the accursed//Presumption of that One, whom thou hast seen//By all the burden of the world constrained.
20. Those whom thou here beholdest modest were//To recognise themselves as of that goodness//Which made them apt for so much understanding;
21. On which account their vision was exalted//By the enlightening grace and their own merit//So that they have a full and steadfast will.
22. I would not have thee doubt, but certain be// ‘Tis meritorious to receive this grace // According as the affection opens to it.
23. Now round about in this consistory// Much mayst thou contemplate, if these my words// Be gathered up, without all further aid.
24. But since upon the earth, throughout your schools// They teach that such is the angelic nature//That it doth hear, and recollect, and will,
25. More will I say, that thou mayst see unmixed// The truth that is confounded there below// Equivocating in such like prelections.
26. These substances, since in God’s countenance// They jocund were, turned not away their sight//From that wherefrom not anything is hidden;
27. Hence they have not their vision intercepted//By object new, and hence they do not need// To recollect, through interrupted thought.
28. So that below, not sleeping, people dream// Believing they speak truth, and not believing;//And in the last is greater sin and shame.
29. Below you do not journey by one path//Philosophising; so transporteth you//Love of appearance and the thought thereof.
30. And even this above here is endured// With less disdain, than when is set aside// The Holy Writ, or when it is distorted.
31. They think not there how much of blood it costs// To sow it in the world, and how he pleases// Who in humility keeps close to it.
32. Each striveth for appearance, and doth make// His own inventions; and these treated are// By preachers, and the Evangel holds its peace.
33. One sayeth that the moon did backward turn// In the Passion of Christ, and interpose herself// So that the sunlight reached not down below;
34. And lies; for of its own accord the light//Hid itself; whence to Spaniards and to Indians// As to the Jews, did such eclipse respond.
35. Florence has not so many Lapi and Bindi//As fables such as these, that every year
// Are shouted from the pulpit back and forth,
36. In such wise that the lambs, who do not know// Come back from pasture fed upon the wind// And not to see the harm doth not excuse them.
37. Christ did not to his first disciples say// ‘Go forth, and to the world preach idle tales,’ // But unto them a true foundation gave;
38. And this so loudly sounded from their lips// That, in the warfare to enkindle Faith
// They made of the Evangel shields and lances.
39. Now men go forth with jests and drolleries//To preach, and if but well the people laugh//The hood puffs out, and nothing more is asked.
40. But in the cowl there nestles such a bird// That, if the common people were to see it// They would perceive what pardons they confide in,
41. For which so great on earth has grown the folly// That, without proof of any testimony// To each indulgence they would flock together.
42. By this Saint Anthony his pig doth fatten//And many others, who are worse than pigs// Paying in money without mark of coinage.
43. But since we have digressed abundantly// Turn back thine eyes forthwith to the right path// So that the way be shortened with the time.
44. This nature doth so multiply itself// In numbers, that there never yet was speech// Nor mortal fancy that can go so far.
45. And if thou notest that which is revealed//By Daniel, thou wilt see that in his thousands// Number determinate is kept concealed.
46. The primal light, that all irradiates it// By modes as many is received therein// As are the splendours wherewith it is mated.
47. Hence, inasmuch as on the act conceptive//The affection followeth, of love the sweetness// Therein diversely fervid is or tepid.
48. The height behold now and the amplitude//Of the eternal power, since it hath made // Itself so many mirrors, where ’tis broken,
49. One in itself remaining as before.”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 29: Ninth Heaven: the Primum Mobile

Beatrice’s Discourse of Creation of Angels and Fall of Lucifer; Her Reproof of Foolish and Avaricious Preachers.

Beatrice becomes silent while Dante observes the model of heavenly spheres arranged to produce maximum benefit. Then she speaks again answering all Dante’s unspoken questions even before they are uttered. She tells him the Story of Creation. She is qualified to tell such a story, she says, because she has observed the Mind of God. The Hindu tradition perceives the existence of cyclical nature of the universe and everything within it.

According to Beatrice, God did not create the universe to acquire more goodness. He only wished to see Himself reflected as perfection and glory in His creation. By inserting Himself into His foundation Creation was an outpouring of God’s Love and also a trigger to the beginning of Time.

Beatrice goes on to say God created three substances first: of pure form, pure matter, and a combination of the two; these all flashed into existence spontaneously and simultaneously, in a burst of Light. They were then divided into an ordered hierarchy with pure act (or angels) at the top and pure potentiality (matter) at the bottom, and then there was the combination of the two in between.

Beatrice then contradicts St. Jerome, who had claimed that Angels were created long before the universe. She argued if the angels were created solely to move the heavens, then they would have no use if they were created before the universe. However, what happened is that soon after Creation, a number of angels, led by Lucifer, revolted against God, and were thrown downwards to earth, the lowest of the Spheres. The rest of the angels rejoiced and began their tasks by keeping the universe in motion.

Lucifer fell because of his pride, while the rest of the angels, content in the knowledge that God had a purpose for them. They remained patient and loyal. God rewarded them with the knowledge to move the universe. With his grace, their wills remained intact. Because they aligned with the perfect vision of God their will was and is always in conformity with His.

Beatrice knew the scriptural teachings on earth were ambiguous. Because angels love God so perfectly, they never turn their faces away from His face. They constantly gaze at perfection, so they have no need of memory, unlike humans who are not perfect in their knowledge of them.

Beatrice therefore goes into a diatribe against teachers and preachers who are too proud of their own genius and do not seek truth and divinity. She speaks against philosophers who care more for show than for Truth and lead their field of followers astray. She strongly criticises those who deliberately pervert the meaning the Holy Scriptures and fill people’s minds with gibberish while the true Gospels remain silent.

A popular intellectual invention was the idea that an eclipse which brought darkness to the world was a specifically engineered lunar eclipse for Jerusalem. Beatrice contemptuously denies this. She maintained rightly that it was not just dark in Jerusalem, but all around the world (pralaya: period of dissolution or destruction of the manifested universe at the end of a kalpa according to Hindu philosophy). Many people, Beatrice said, believe false stories, but are unaware of their falseness. That does not excuse them from sin.

According to Beatrice, Jesus did not tell his followers to go forth and preach false stories, about The Christ. He only gave them true teaching to act as their arsenal to reach The Christ. She comments that now people preach with “jests and jeers,” preaching in ridiculous cowls, in which the Devil rears his ugly head. All of these lessons allow the false teachers to swindle people out of their money.

Beatrice then gets back on track. She now sweetly claims: there are an infinite number of angels because they represent the infinite number of ways God can express his love.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 29: Ninth Heaven: the Primum Mobile

Beatrice’s Discourse of Creation of Angels and Fall of Lucifer; Her Reproof of Foolish and Avaricious Preachers.

Beatrice is silent for as long as it takes the sun to set and the opposing full moon to rise or vice versa. Beatrice and Dante are like Mother and child: the Sun expanding and rising despite images of waste and neglect. She then explains that God, out of love, created his creatures so that they might know Existence (sat). Time was created in the triple creation, of form, matter and being, out of Timelessness, like three arrows from a bow. Light or Truth (chit) requires no time to travel through a translucent medium: its speed is Infinite (anand). Therefore her conclusion is: God is sat-chit-anand or existence-knowledge-bliss

Order and substance were created instantaneously in the form of Angelic presences, contradicting Jerome (342-420)164. Human intellect can know things which it did not know, because of inherent potentially and is able to create what it has not previously created. Creatures are born and develop just as the world develops over time, but Angels were created in that first official order.
Having explained the triple165 where and when and how of the Angelic creation, Beatrice explains that unlike Satan who fell through pride the other Angels opened themselves to God, and understood their place humbly. That is a virtue. It is also a virtue to open oneself to grace. Angels have understanding and free will about this virtue. They do not require memory since they see past, present and future, in the present which is true and promises no false prophecy.

Beatrice condemns the vain displays of philosophy by some but more over the misuse and neglect of scriptures. The fraudulent preachers obtain wealth that goes to feed more than just Saint Anthony’s pigs. Saint Anthony’s (251-356) was the patron of the pigs that infested Florence, and its neighbourhood. The pigs belonged to the monks who were fed on the fraudulent gain made from selling remissions (indulgences).

The Angels are of great a number. Light is reflected in all the elements of creation. As she and Dante prepare to enter the Empyrean, their splendours vary in qualities.

Paradiso Canto 30: The Tenth Heaven, or Empyrean. The River of Light. The Two Courts of Heaven. The White Rose of Paradiso. The great Throne.

1. Perchance six thousand miles remote from us// Is glowing the sixth hour, and now this world//Inclines its shadow almost to a level,
2. When the mid-heaven begins to make itself//So deep to us, that here and there a star// Ceases to shine so far down as this depth,
3. And as advances bright exceedingly//The handmaid of the sun, the heaven is closed // Light after light to the most beautiful;
4. Not otherwise the Triumph, which forever// Plays round about the point that vanquished me// Seeming enclosed by what itself encloses,
5. Little by little from my vision faded// Whereat to turn mine eyes on Beatrice// My seeing nothing and my love constrained me.
6. If what has hitherto been said of her// Were all concluded in a single praise// Scant would it be to serve the present turn.
7. Not only does the beauty I beheld// Transcend ourselves, but truly I believe// Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
8. Vanquished do I confess me by this passage// More than by problem of his theme was ever//O’ercome the comic or the tragic poet;
9. For as the sun the sight that trembles most//Even so the memory of that sweet smile // My mind depriveth of its very self.
10. From the first day that I beheld her face// In this life, to the moment of this look// The sequence of my song has ne’er been severed;
11. But now perforce this sequence must desist//From following her beauty with my verse// As every artist at his uttermost.
12. Such as I leave her to a greater fame//Than any of my trumpet, which is bringing
//Its arduous matter to a final close,
13. With voice and gesture of a perfect leader// She recommenced: “We from the greatest body// Have issued to the heaven that is pure light;
14. Light intellectual replete with love// Love of true good replete with ecstasy//Ecstasy that transcendeth every sweetness.
15. Here shalt thou see the one host and the other//Of Paradiso, and one in the same aspects//Which at the final judgment thou shalt see.”
16. Even as a sudden lightning that disperses//The visual spirits, so that it deprives// The eye of impress from the strongest objects,
17. Thus round about me flashed a living light// And left me swathed around with such a veil// Of its effulgence, that I nothing saw.
18. “Ever the Love which quieteth this heaven//Welcomes into itself with such salute// To make the candle ready for its flame.”
19. No sooner had within me these brief words// An entrance found, than I perceived myself// To be uplifted over my own power,
20. And I with vision new rekindled me// Such that no light whatever is so pure// But that mine eyes were fortified against it.
21. And light I saw in fashion of a river//Fulvid with its effulgence, ‘twixt two banks// Depicted with an admirable Spring.
22. Out of this river issued living sparks// And on all sides sank down into the flowers
// Like unto rubies that are set in gold;
23. And then, as if inebriate with the odours//They plunged again into the wondrous torrent//And as one entered issued forth another.
24. “The high desire, that now inflames and moves thee//To have intelligence of what thou seest//Pleaseth me all the more, the more it swells.
25. But of this water it behoves thee drink//Before so great a thirst in thee be slaked.”
//Thus said to me the sunshine of mine eyes;
26. And added: “The river and the topazes//Going in and out, and the laughing of the herbage// Are of their truth foreshadowing prefaces;
27. Not that these things are difficult in themselves//But the deficiency is on thy side// For yet thou hast not vision so exalted.”
28. There is no babe that leaps so suddenly//With face towards the milk, if he awake
//Much later than his usual custom is,
29. As I did, that I might make better mirrors// Still of mine eyes, down stooping to the wave//Which flows that we therein be better made.
30. And even as the penthouse of mine eyelids//Drank of it, it forthwith appeared to me//Out of its length to be transformed to round.
31. Then as a folk who have been under masks// Seem other than before, if they divest // The semblance not their own they disappeared in,
32. Thus into greater pomp were changed for me// The flowerets and the sparks, so that I saw// Both of the Courts of Heaven made manifest.
33. splendour of God! by means of which I saw// The lofty triumph of the realm veracious// Give me the power to say how it I saw!
34. There is a light above, which visible// Makes the Creator unto every creature// Who only in beholding Him has peace,
35. And it expands itself in circular form// To such extent, that its circumference// Would be too large a girdle for the sun.
36. The semblance of it is all made of rays//Reflected from the top of Primal Motion// Which takes therefrom vitality and power.
37. And as a hill in water at its base// Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty// When affluent most in verdure and in flowers,
38. So, ranged aloft all round about the light// Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand// All who above there have from us returned.
39. And if the lowest row collect within it//So great a light, how vast the amplitude//Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves!
40. My vision in the vastness and the height// Lost not itself, but comprehended all// The quantity and quality of that gladness.
41. There near and far nor add nor take away//For there where God immediately doth govern// The natural law in naught is relevant.
42. Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal//That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odour// Of praise unto the ever-vernal Sun,
43. As one who silent is and fain would speak// Me Beatrice drew on, and said: “Behold //Of the white stoles how vast the convent is!
44. Behold how vast the circuit of our city!//Behold our seats so filled to overflowing// That here henceforward are few people wanting!
45. On that great throne whereon thine eyes are fixed//For the crown’s sake already placed upon it//Before thou suppest at this wedding feast
46. Shall sit the soul (that is to be Augustus//On earth) of noble Henry, who shall come // To redress Italy ere she be ready.
47. Blind covetousness, that casts its spell upon you//Has made you like unto the little child//Who dies of hunger and drives off the nurse.
48. And in the sacred forum then shall be//A Prefect such, that openly or covert//On the same road he will not walk with him.
49. But long of God he will not be endured//In holy office; he shall be thrust down//Where Simon Magus is for his deserts,
50. And make him of Alagna lower go!”

Summary

Paradiso Canto 30: The Tenth Heaven, or Empyrean. The River of Light. The Two Courts of Heaven. The White Rose of Paradiso. The great Throne.

Dante is back on Earth. From here he describes the constellations166 as seen from the ground during a sunrise. He travels through each star as its firmament gives way to the dawn. Dante is making a contrast between the disappearance of stars and the ongoing fading of the Point (Sun in The Christ Centre) from his inner sight. This is happening as he and Beatrice ascend towards the Empyrean, and rising towards the centre of the rings of angels and into the centre Point. According to legend, the first Humans to Ascend into Devas (Sprits of Shining Lights) became the twelve Empyrean Lords. Davas are Humans, who have achieved ascension through adversity which awakens their potential to become demi-gods. Empyrean Lords represent the four cardinal directions-Azphel the north, Ariel the south, Siel the east, and Israphel the west-and they were traditionally perceived as supporting the world together from these four points, with the remaining eight Lords to aid them. Each Lord or Lady is associated with certain symbols and virtues.

When he cannot see the Point, Dante turns to Beatrice who looks even more beautiful. She looks so stunning that Dante admits he cannot capture Beatrice’s beauty in language. In truth, her beauty is so striking that her image refuses to remain in his memory long enough for him to record it.

Beatrice speaks, and tells Dante they have reached the highest heaven: here it is a place of pure light, intellect, and love. Here, Dante will find “both ranks of Paradiso”: the angels and blessed souls. He will see the Virgin Mary in her completeness, clothed in both her body and soul.

Dante is suddenly enveloped in the living light of the Empyrean and its effect is like lightning – he is blinded and can see little in this brilliance. Beatrice’s voice penetrates his light-suffused blindness. She tells him that this is the way the Empyrean welcomes all its souls, who are preparing their soul for the ultimate Light for enlightenment.

Suddenly, Dante realizes he is floating. In this new sensation he sees a dazzling sight that looks like a beautiful painting; Dante sees a river of reddish-gold light (sushumna) flowing between two riverbanks (ida and pingala) covered with flowers. Out of the odd-colored water (cerebrospinal fluid), sparks are seen rising and falling. Some ruby coloured sparks settle on the flowers and look as if they are set in gold. Other sparks plunge back into the water, as if to drink. Dante is performing yoga which means to “yoke” or “unify”, and bring together and identify his Awareness with the One Consciousness referred to as God.

Beatrice’s voice reappears. She tells Dante she approves of his desire to see more of this intoxicating sight, but to slake his thirst he should first drink from the river. Then she adds that everything Dante is seeing (rivers, gems, flowers) – is but a shadow of its true self. Dante must therefore learn to perceive truth from illusion. He must learn to see better if he wants to perceive things for what they really are.

Dante hurries to the river, hoping to drink from it to better his sight. As he bathes his eyes in the brilliance, the river itself seems to change before his eyes. It is no longer straight, but round, and all the flowers and gems come into focus. They are two hosts of Heaven – the angels and the blessed saints sitting in Heaven’s court. Overwhelmed by the sight, Dante prays to God to let him keep the memory of what he is seeing.

Up above, a huge dome of light illuminates everything below. Dante gazes at it, and realizes he is seeing the endpoint of a single ray of light, coming from God. It is reflected from the top of the Primum Mobile (geocentric Universe). This single ray of God’s light powers the entire universe. At the top of the dome, which acts as a mirror (Creation), Dante sees the entire Celestial Rose (Holy Spirit) with its hosts (evolution in progress) reflected in the pool at its base.

Then Dante turns his eyes to the Rose itself and reaps the fruit (by making a Cosmic Connection) of his perfected vision (Soul is perfected through a series of incarnations until it arrives at a level of spiritual development that obviates the need for further experience. He realizes that he can see everything no matter how near or far away. Beatrice leads Dante into the rose, which blooms under the endless light of the sun (which is God). She brags there are only a finite numbers of people living in the ‘big city’ which has become small for new entries still left for the blessed. They are those with equal vision, balanced mind, faith, devotion and wisdom. He asks for inner spiritual strength to resist temptations and to control the mind.

Dante then notices one empty seat with a crown fixed above it. Beatrice explains that this seat is saved for King167 Henry VIII of Luxembourg who “shall / show Italy the righteous way – but when / she is unready.”

Henry VIII was the man Dante believed would unite Italy and take the crown of the Holy Roman Empire to bring peace to Europe. After being crowned king of Germany and being given papal sanction to come quell the quarrelling factions in Italy, Henry VIII made Dante’s hopes soar. But his victory was short-lived. He could not stop the warring Italian parties. He did eventually gain the emperor’s crown, but was not sanctioned by Pope Clement V and eventually died in battle.

Beatrice therefore continues, scolding Italy for driving away Henry, like a starving child who drives away his nurse. She talks about Pope Clement V’s betrayal of Henry and promises Dante that God will take his vengeance and cast Clement into Hell, where he will replace Pope Boniface III in the Third Pouch of the Eighth Circle, reserved for simonists.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 30: The Tenth Heaven, or Empyrean. The River of Light. The Two Courts of Heaven. The White Rose of Paradiso. The great Throne.

The Angelic display fades like stars at dawn, and Dante turns to Beatrice with Love168 usually reserved for spiritual teachers. In the Empyrean her beauty exceeds all measure, and Dante ceases to be able to describe her further. Here in the Empyrean, Dante will see the redeemed spirits and the angels in their forms as at the Last Judgment. The Empyrean is the pure light of Truth, that Intellectual Light, which is filled with Love. That Love, full of transcendent joy, is the love of true Goodness. Dante unites Truth and Goodness, known by the intellect, out of which flows the transcendent joy of Love. Though Truth and Love coexist in God, intellect (buddhi) and knowledge (gyana) in Man is the cause of human love (bhakti).

Dante is greeted by a light that bathes him. His vision increases, and he sees a River of Light (see Revelation 22:1, and Psalm 46:4, the river of the water of life, symbolizing the flow of divine grace), which gradually changes into a vision of the Courts of Heaven. The light there is formed from light reflected back by the Primum Mobile (Universe) below, making the Creator’s Creation visible to the creature. The spirits are ranked in hierarchy and they reflect the light upwards and outwards. The eye (The Christ) can see an indefinite distance (Infinity) there since the laws of nature do not apply.

Beatrice draws Dante into the glow of the Rose (Sun is Christ, the Rose is Mary, and the lilies are the Apostles), where Beatrice says that the empty throne Dante sees with a crown above it is reserved for Henry VII (died August 1313). Italy will not be ready for his attempt to renew the Empire and Clement will work against him. Clement, dying in April 1314, is destined for Hell.

Paradiso Canto 31: The Glory of Paradiso. Departure of Beatrice. St. Bernard.

1. In fashion then as of a snow-white rose//Displayed itself to me the saintly host//Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride,
2. But the other host, that flying sees and sings//The glory of Him who doth enamour it//And the goodness that created it so noble,
3. Even as a swarm of bees, that sinks in flowers//One moment, and the next returns again//To where its labour is to sweetness turned,
4. Sank into the great flower, that is adorned//With leaves so many, and thence reascended//To where its love abideth evermore.
5. Their faces had they all of living flame//And wings of gold, and all the rest so white //No snow unto that limit doth attain.
6. From bench to bench, into the flower descending//They carried something of the peace and ardour//Which by the fanning of their flanks they won.
7. Nor did the interposing ‘twixt the flower//And what was o’er it of such plenitude//Of flying shapes impede the sight and splendour;
8. Because the light divine so penetrates//The universe, according to its merit//That naught can be an obstacle against it.
9. This realm secure and full of gladsomeness//Crowded with ancient people and with modern// Unto one mark had all its look and love.
10. Trinal Light, that in a single star//Sparkling upon their sight so satisfies them//Look down upon our tempest here below!
11. If the barbarians, coming from some region//That every day by Helice is covered//Revolving with her son whom she delights in,
12. Beholding Rome and all her noble works//Were wonder-struck, what time the Lateran//Above all mortal things was eminent,-
13. I who to the divine had from the human//From time unto eternity, had come//From Florence to a people just and sane,
14. With what amazement must I have been filled//Truly between this and the joy, it was//My pleasure not to hear, and to be mute.
15. And as a pilgrim who delighteth him//In gazing round the temple of his vow//And hopes some day to retell how it was,
16. So through the living light my way pursuing//Directed I mine eyes o’er all the ranks //Now up, now down, and now all round about.
17. Faces I saw of charity persuasive//Embellished by His light and their own smile//And attitudes adorned with every grace.
18. The general form of Paradiso already//My glance had comprehended as a whole//In no part hitherto remaining fixed,
19. And round I turned me with rekindled wish//My Lady to interrogate of things//Concerning which my mind was in suspense.
20. One thing I meant, another answered me//I thought I should see Beatrice, and saw //An Old Man habited like the glorious people.
21. O’erflowing was he in his eyes and cheeks//With joy benign, in attitude of pity/As to a tender father is becoming.
22. And “She, where is she?” instantly I said//Whence he: “To put an end to thy desire //Me Beatrice hath sent from mine own place.
23. And if thou lookest up to the third round//Of the first rank, again shalt thou behold her//Upon the throne her merits have assigned her.”
24. Without reply I lifted up mine eyes//And saw her, as she made herself a crown//Reflecting from herself the eternal rays.
25. Not from that region which the highest thunders//Is any mortal eye so far removed //In whatsoever sea it deepest sinks,
26. As there from Beatrice my sight; but this//Was nothing unto me; because her image // Descended not to me by medium blurred.
27. “O Lady, thou in whom my hope is strong//And who for my salvation didst endure
//In Hell to leave the imprint of thy feet,
28. Of whatsoever things I have beheld//As coming from thy power and from thy goodness// I recognise the virtue and the grace.
29. Thou from a slave hast brought me unto freedom//By all those ways, by all the expedients// Whereby thou hadst the power of doing it.
30. Preserve towards me thy magnificence//So that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed// Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body.”
31. Thus I implored; and she, so far away//Smiled, as it seemed, and looked once more at me// Then unto the eternal fountain turned.
32. And said the Old Man holy: “That thou mayst//Accomplish perfectly thy journeying // Whereunto prayer and holy love have sent me,
33. Fly with thine eyes all round about this garden//For seeing it will discipline thy sight // Farther to mount along the ray divine.
34. And she, the Queen of Heaven, for whom I burn//Wholly with love, will grant us every grace// Because that I her faithful Bernard am.”
35. As he who peradventure from Croatia//Cometh to gaze at our Veronica//Who through its ancient fame is never sated,
36. But says in thought, the while it is displayed//”My Lord, Christ Jesus, God of very God//Now was your semblance made like unto this?”
37. Even such was I while gazing at the living//Charity of the man, who in this world// By contemplation tasted of that peace.
38. “Thou son of grace, this jocund life,” began he//”Will not be known to thee by keeping ever//Thine eyes below here on the lowest place;
39. But mark the circles to the most remote//Until thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen// To whom this realm is subject and devoted.”
40. I lifted up mine eyes, and as at morn//The oriental part of the horizon//Surpasses that wherein the sun goes down,
41. Thus, as if going with mine eyes from vale//To mount, I saw a part in the remoteness //Surpass in splendour all the other front.
42. And even as there where we await the pole//That Phaeton drove badly, blazes more //The light, and is on either side diminished,
43. So likewise that pacific oriflamme//Gleamed brightest in the centre, and each side
//In equal measure did the flame abate.
44. And at that centre, with their wings expanded//More than a thousand jubilant Angels saw I// Each differing in effulgence and in kind.
45. I saw there at their sports and at their songs//A beauty smiling, which the gladness was//Within the eyes of all the other saints;
46. And if I had in speaking as much wealth//As in imagining, I should not dare//To attempt the smallest part of its delight.
47. Bernard, as soon as he beheld mine eyes//Fixed and intent upon its fervid fervour
//His own with such affection turned to her
48. That it made mine more ardent to behold.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 31: The Glory of Paradiso. Departure of Beatrice; St. Bernard; Tenth Heaven: Primum Mobile

Inside the Celestial Rose (Mary – the Holy Spirit) Dante sees the host of the blessed spirits. Another host of angels – swoops around from the light of the God to the Rose itself. Angels fly singing in unison. Their wings are gold and they are dressed in a white that is paler than snow. When they fly into the Rose, they spend time with the blessed, and share in the joy of Creation. The Light (of Consciousness) from above is never obstructed.

The hosts come from persons from both the Old Testament and New Testament. They all turn their eyes to the Sun169 above, which is a single star containing the Threefold Light of God (Love-Wisdom-Power) placed originally in the hearts of each. The spectacle amazes Dante. He compares his wonder to when a mortal arrives at the divine place. The experience is likened to a barbarian gazing upon the magnificent city of Rome. Indeed, Dante is so impressed that he is speechless.

All he can do is gape and look at everything, taking in the sights like a pilgrim who has reached the temple he vowed to reach in his Divine Travels170. While he is renewing himself, the stupefied, Dante tries to memorize every detail. Everywhere he looks he sees faces upturned with an expression of utter love. When he is finally satisfied he turns back to Beatrice. He asks about those things he still doubts. Each seeker has to climb up and down steep a mountain. At every stage the pilgrim is likely to assume that he or she has reached the sanctum.

Religion satisfies the deep inward craving in man who is not always content with leading an animal existence and wants spiritual support, comfort and harmony. Dante understands ‘Man cannot live by bread alone.’ He is truly aware that it is trials and tribulations of life that turned his attention to spiritual solace. His uncertainty still asked if he had truly reached a healing for the depths of despair.

But where Beatrice usually stands, Dante sees a fatherly elder. He is dressed like one of the blessed. Dante asks him about Beatrice’s whereabouts. The kindly elder tells Dante Beatrice sent him down to help him along the final leg of his spiritual journey. She meanwhile has taken her rightful place in the Rose – in the third from highest tier of thrones.

Still feeling alienated Dante looks up to find his guru Beatrice. Although he is far from her seat, he sees every detail of her shining face. He then fervently prays to her. He is familiar with her and for all she has done for him by sending for him down into Hell. He thanks her but also then begs for her generosity to continue, so when he dies, his soul will be welcomed by her.

In response to his prayer, Beatrice smiles and acknowledges him, before turning her eyes back to God above. The elder now tells Dante that he should look around the garden around him because it will improve his sight in preparation for God’s own light.

Someone then identifies himself as a devotee of the Virgin Mary and introduces himself as Bernard. Dante is so awestruck to meet the famous St. Bernard that he feels like a heathen who sees the miracle of Veronica (portrait of Jesus The Christ transposed on her veil) for the first time. But Bernard turns Dante’s attention back to the Celestial Rose, telling him not just to look at the base but higher up, and at each row, in the corners, and finally at the Queen of Heaven herself, Mary.

Dante obeys. As his eyes travel up the Rose, he discovers one spot brighter than the rest – just like the Sun in the sky. This spot has one brilliant centre, which Dante calls an oriflamme171 (golden flame). Around this flame, thousands of singing angels encircle. Mary is in the centre. She is so lovely that when she smiles at the angels sporting around her, Dante is at a loss for words.

Dante gazes at the scene in admiration. Dante also notices St. Bernard looking at Mary with eyes of unreserved adoration. His enthusiasm is contagious and makes Dante look at her even more ardently.

Discussion

Paradiso Canto 31: The Glory of Paradiso. Departure of Beatrice. St. Bernard. Tenth Heaven: Primum Mobile

The Angels fly like bees between the redeemed, in the form of a white rose, and God. Their faces are aflame, their wings golden, and the rest are white. The three colours are symbolizing love, knowledge and purity. They fly without obscuring vision or the divine light.

Dante is struck dumb, just as the barbarians were on seeing Rome, having made the triple journey (from ‘self’ to Self) from the human to the divine, from time to eternity, and from Florentine chaos to Heavenly order. This was not dissimilar to the ancient Egyptian journey from the temple entrance to the sanctuary as a journey from the human world to the divine … in that order: from more human and to the less divine.

Dante gazes at the multitude and remembers it all. He then turns to Beatrice but finds Saint Bernard172 there instead, representing loving contemplation, and standing at the threshold of the Divine. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) the Cistercian monk and theologian, son of a noble Burgundian family, who founded the great monastery at Clairvaux in France was Abbot there till his death. He had a particular devotion to the Virgin. He opposed the celebration of her Immaculate Conception of Jesus. He dedicated all the monasteries of the Cistercian Order to her.

St. Bernard explains that Beatrice has brought him to Dante, and he shows her to him, now seated on the third level. Dante offers Beatrice, as his guardian and guide to virtue. That is his sublime wish and she receives it with her smile. This is the duty of a real woman (Shakti) because she is the symbolism of Divine Philosophy. Shakti is a woman’s real empowerment. Dante in gratitude celebrates her goodness, and her grace that has led him to freedom and the hope of salvation, and asks for her protection. She then turns towards the Divine Light.

Dante gazes at Bernard like a pilgrim gazing at Christ’s image on the cloth of Veronica. Saint Veronica gave her handkerchief to Jesus to wipe his brow as he carried the Cross. When he returned it to her it was said to carry the imprint of Jesus’ features. It was once exhibited at Rome each year at New Year and Easter.

Bernard tells Dante to look higher towards the Virgin, and he looks at her with adoration. She shines out like the rising Sun, and there a thousand Angels each of a different species in Medieval angelology, are dancing and singing. The scene is beyond Dante’s ability to relate. Bernard has brought Dante to gaze at the Virgin, the essential feminine aspect of God’s universe, its grace and kindness.

Paradiso Canto 32: St. Bernard points out the Saints in the White Rose Tenth Heaven of the Empyrean

1. Paradiso Canto 32: St. Bernard points out the Saints in the White Rose
2. Absorbed in his delight, that contemplator//Assumed the willing office of a teacher //And gave beginning to these holy words:
3. “The wound that Mary closed up and anointed//She at her feet who is so beautiful //She is the one who opened it and pierced it.
4. Within that order which the third seats make//Is seated Rachel, lower than the other //With Beatrice, in manner as thou seest.
5. Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and her who was//Ancestress of the Singer, who for dole//Of the misdeed said, ‘Miserere mei,’
6. Canst thou behold from seat to seat descending//Down in gradation, as with each one’s name// I through the Rose go down from leaf to leaf.
7. And downward from the seventh row, even as//Above the same, succeed the Hebrew women// Dividing all the tresses of the flower;
8. Because, according to the view which Faith//In Christ had taken, these are the partition//By which the sacred stairways are divided.
9. Upon this side, where perfect is the flower//With each one of its petals, seated are //Those who believed in Christ who was to come.
10. Upon the other side, where intersected//With vacant spaces are the semicircles//Are those who looked to Christ already come.
11. And as, upon this side, the glorious seat//Of the Lady of Heaven, and the other seats //Below it, such a great division make,
12. So opposite doth that of the great John//Who, ever holy, desert and martyrdom//Endured, and afterwards two years in Hell.
13. And under him thus to divide were chosen//Francis, and Benedict, and Augustine//And down to us the rest from round to round.
14. Behold now the high providence divine//For one and other aspect of the Faith//In equal measure shall this garden fill.
15. And know that downward from that rank which cleaves//Midway the sequence of the two divisions//Not by their proper merit are they seated;
16. But by another’s under fixed conditions//For these are spirits one and all assoiled
//Before they any true election had.
17. Well canst thou recognise it in their faces//And also in their voices puerile//If thou regard them well and hearken to them.
18. Now doubtest thou, and doubting thou art silent//But I will loosen for thee the strong bond//In which thy subtile fancies hold thee fast.
19. Within the amplitude of this domain//No casual point can possibly find place//No more than sadness can, or thirst, or hunger;
20. For by eternal law has been established//Whatever thou beholdest, so that closely //The ring is fitted to the finger here.
21. And therefore are these people, festinate//Unto true life, not ‘sine causa’ here//More and less excellent among themselves.
22. The King, by means of whom this realm reposes//In so great love and in so great delight//That no will ventureth to ask for more,
23. In his own joyous aspect every mind//Creating, at his pleasure dowers with grace
//Diversely; and let here the effect suffice.
24. And this is clearly and expressly noted//For you in Holy Scripture, in those twins//Who in their mother had their anger roused.
25. According to the colour of the hair//Therefore, with such a grace the light supreme //Consenteth that they worthily be crowned.
26. Without, then, any merit of their deeds//Stationed are they in different gradations //Differing only in their first acuteness.
27. ‘Tis true that in the early centuries//With innocence, to work out their salvation//Sufficient was the faith of parents only.
28. After the earlier ages were completed//Behoved it that the males by circumcision
//Unto their innocent wings should virtue add;
29. But after that the time of grace had come//Without the baptism absolute of Christ //Such innocence below there was retained.
30. Look now into the face that unto Christ//Hath most resemblance; for its brightness only//Is able to prepare thee to see Christ.”
31. On her did I behold so great a gladness//Rain down, borne onward in the holy minds //Created through that altitude to fly,
32. That whatsoever I had seen before//Did not suspend me in such admiration//Nor show me such similitude of God.
33. And the same Love that first descended there//”Ave Maria, gratia plena,” singing//In front of her his wings expanded wide.
34. Unto the canticle divine responded//From every part the court beatified//So that each sight became serener for it.
35. “O holy father, who for me endures//To be below here, leaving the sweet place//In which thou sittest by eternal lot,
36. Who is the Angel that with so much joy//Into the eyes is looking of our Queen//Enamoured so that he seems made of fire?”
37. Thus I again recourse had to the teaching//Of that one who delighted him in Mary //As doth the star of morning in the sun.
38. And he to me: “Such gallantry and grace//As there can be in Angel and in soul//All is in him; and thus we fain would have it;
39. Because he is the one who bore the palm//Down unto Mary, when the Son of God //To take our burden on himself decreed.
40. But now come onward with thine eyes, as I//Speaking shall go, and note the great patricians//Of this most just and merciful of empires.
41. Those two that sit above there most enrapture//As being very near unto Augusta
//Are as it were the two roots of this Rose.
42. He who upon the left is near her placed//The father is, by whose audacious taste//The human species so much bitter tastes.
43. Upon the right thou seest that ancient father//Of Holy Church, into whose keeping Christ// The keys committed of this lovely flower.
44. And he who all the evil days beheld//Before his death, of her the beauteous bride
//Who with the spear and with the nails was won,
45. Beside him sits, and by the other rests//That leader under whom on manna lived//The people ingrate, fickle, and stiff-necked.
46. Opposite Peter seest thou Anna seated//So well content to look upon her daughter //Her eyes she moves not while she sings Hosanna.
47. And opposite the eldest household father//Lucia sits, she who thy Lady moved//When to rush downward thou didst bend thy brows.
48. But since the moments of thy vision fly//Here will we make full stop, as a good tailor //Who makes the gown according to his cloth,
49. And unto the first Love will turn our eyes// That looking upon Him thou penetrate
//As far as possible through his effulgence.
50. Truly, lest peradventure thou recede//Moving thy wings believing to advance//By prayer behoves it that grace be obtained;
51. Grace from that one who has the power to aid thee//And thou shalt follow me with thy affection// That from my words thy heart turn not aside.”
52. And he began this holy orison.

Summary

Paradiso Canto 32: St. Bernard points out the Saints in the White Rose Tenth Heaven of the Empyrea 173

Even though St. Bernard is in rapture gazing at his beloved Mary, he does not forget his duty of teaching Dante. He therefore speaks. St. Bernard lists a few of the names sitting in the Celestial Rose. Beginning with Mary (who allegedly closed the wound of ‘original sin’ which Eve opened), to Eve while kneeling at Mary’s feet. He then stoops towards Rachel and Beatrice in the third rank, then Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and then at Ruth.

Underneath these women, from the seventh rank down, Hebrew women174 fill the rest of the seats forming the vertical radius of the Rose. This radius divides the rose in half. On the left side, in which all the seats are filled; sit all the souls who believed in The Christ before Jesus came. The right side, which still has a few empty seats, is reserved for those who believed in The Christ after Jesus came. On the other side, opposite from Eve, sits St. John the Baptist. Below him sit St. Francis, St. Benedict, and Augustine.

Going further down, Dante sees another major partition in the rose. In the entire bottom half sit rank upon rank of children – saved for their innocence. Here, Dante’s mind forms a doubt, which St. Bernard immediately catches, but he urges Dante to be silent and just listen. Dante’s doubt concerns the ranking of the children. He wonders how innocent children – with no power over their own free will – can be ranked differently.

Bernard explains that nobody in this kingdom finds his or her place by chance. God has reasons for ranking the children as He does, but human minds cannot comprehend the rationale. We must be content with that. Bernard cites the twins Jacob and Esau as proof of God’s inscrutable reason. God assigned at His pleasure different hair colours to each child.

Regarding the children, Bernard tells Dante that in the early days, a child’s innocence guaranteed his salvation, but that after the advent of The Christ, a child had to be baptized and circumcised (in the case of boys); otherwise he would be sent to reside in the Limbo portion of Hell.

Now Bernard tells Dante to look at Mary, whose face is most like The Christ’s. Dante obeys. He sees all around her fly angels. The same angel who knelt before her in an earlier time hovers before her and sings the “Ave Maria.” Inspired, both hosts join in the hymn. All the while, their faces grow ever more joyful.

Dante asks Bernard the identity of the angel who seems to flame in front of Mary. The saint responds that this is the angel who carried news of Mary’s pregnancy down to her: It is the angel Gabriel. Then he continues his lesson, drawing Dante’s attention to the occupants of the seats above, whom he calls the “roots of this Rose.”

On the left is Adam; on the right is St. Peter; to the right of St. Peter is St. John the Evangelist; to Adam’s left sits Moses; Anna (mother of Mary) sits opposite Peter. Finally, opposite Adam, sits Lucia.

Now St. Bernard decides time is running out and that they should stop and try to turn their eyes toward God, but to do that, they must go through Mary. Therefore, St. Bernard turns to Mary and begins praying to her on Dante’s behalf.

Discussion

Canto 32: St. Bernard points out the Saints in the White Rose Tenth Heaven of the Empyrean

St. Bernard now explains the ranks of the blessed. Bernard names examples of the redeemed who sit beside and below the Virgin Holy Spirit. The ranks are separated on either side of the Virgin; those born before The Christ’s coming, were placed on the left, and those who manifested after, were placed on the right.

Those before The Christ, were placed in the first seven ranks in a descending order. In the first rank herself, are Eve, Rachel (Jacob’s wife, with Beatrice: both signifying contemplation, and therefore they were higher than the next two): Sarah (Abraham’s wife), Rebekah (Isaac’s wife), Judith (The Jewish patriotic heroine and a symbol of The Jewish struggle against oppression. She is usually shown holding the head of Holofernes the Assyrian general whom she decapitated with a sword. Ruth (Psalm 29) the Moabite (great grandmother of David who taught him to Worship the Lord in His transcendental beauty and in the eminence of His holiness) also is placed on the left side.

On the Virgin’s right side, are those who came with or after The Christ. Here are John the Baptist, and below him Francis (who carried the stigmata), Benedict (opposite that other contemplative Rachel) and Augustine. This arrangement is Dante’s view of their relative nearness to God. Lower down and running across the ranks is the division of the children who died before they had time to acquire merit, ranked there according to God’s justice. They have differing qualities according to God’s breathing of their spirits into them at birth, and were saved by their parents’ merit in ancient times, first their parents’ faith and innocence, then the Jewish rite of circumcision: An outwards physical sign of purity and willingness to obey God and be one of His chosen (Genesis 17:10). Once The Christ had come baptism became necessary, and the unbaptized condemned to Limbo.

St. Bernard is made to express this orthodox view by Dante that an unbaptized child must remain in Limbo, where spirits live ‘without hope, and in longing’. However Bernard himself in his treatise addressed to Hugh of Saint Victor, holds back from this terrible conclusion. ‘We must suppose that the ancient sacraments were efficacious as long as it can be shown that they were not notoriously prohibited.

Gabriel the Archangel Messenger now celebrates Mary, by singing the ‘Ave Maria’, and Bernard answers Dante’s question about him. Bernard now points out the souls on the right and left of Mary in the first rank. On the left is Adam, then Moses, on the right Peter and John. Saint Anne, Mary’s mother, is opposite Peter, Saint Lucy, Dante’s patron saint, is opposite Adam. Bernard now turns, as in life, to the Virgin, and exhorts Dante to pray to her with him, so that he might obtain her grace and assistance.

Paradiso: Canto 33: Prayer to the Virgin. The Threefold Circle of the Trinity. Mystery of the Divine and Human Nature.

1. “Thou Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son//Humble and high beyond all other creature//The limit fixed of the eternal counsel,
2. Thou art the one who such nobility//To human nature gave, that its Creator// Did not disdain to make himself its creature.
3. Within thy womb rekindled was the love// By heat of which in the eternal peace//After such wise this flower has germinated.
4. Here unto us thou art a noonday torch//Of charity, and below there among mortals // Thou art the living fountain-head of hope.
5. Lady, thou art so great, and so prevailing//That he who wishes grace, nor runs to thee// His aspirations without wings would fly.
6. Not only thy benignity gives succor//To him who asketh it, but oftentimes// Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
7. In thee compassion is, in thee is pity// In thee magnificence; in thee unites//Whate’er of goodness is in any creature.
8. Now doth this man, who from the lowest depth//Of the universe as far as here has seen// One after one the spiritual lives,
9. Supplicate thee through grace for so much power//That with his eyes he may uplift himself//Higher towards the uttermost salvation.
10. And I, who never burned for my own seeing// More than I do for his, all of my prayers// Proffer to thee, and pray they come not short,
11. That thou wouldst scatter from him every cloud//Of his mortality so with thy prayers // That the Chief Pleasure be to him displayed.
12. Still farther do I pray thee, Queen, who canst//Whate’er thou wilt, that sound thou mayst preserve// After so great a vision his affections.
13. Let thy protection conquer human movements// See Beatrice and all the blessed ones// My prayers to second clasp their hands to thee!”
14. The eyes beloved and revered of God//Fastened upon the speaker, showed to us//How grateful unto her are prayers devout;
15. Then unto the Eternal Light they turned//On which it is not credible could be// By any creature bent an eye so clear.
16. And I, who to the end of all desires//Was now approaching, even as I ought//The ardour of desire within me ended.
17. Bernard was beckoning unto me, and smiling// That I should upward look; but I already//Was of my own accord such as he wished;
18. Because my sight, becoming purified//Was entering more and more into the ray// Of the High Light which of itself is true.
19. From that time forward what I saw was greater//Than our discourse, that to such vision yields//And yields the memory unto such excess.
20. Even as he is who seeth in a dream//And after dreaming the imprinted passion// Remains, and to his mind the rest returns not,
21. Even such am I, for almost utterly// Ceases my vision, and distilleth yet//Within my heart the sweetness born of it;
22. Even thus the snow is in the sun unsealed// Even thus upon the wind in the light leaves//Were the soothsayings of the Sibyl lost.
23. Light Supreme, that dost so far uplift thee//From the conceits of mortals, to my mind // Of what thou didst appear re-lend a little,
24. And make my tongue of so great puissance// That but a single sparkle of thy glory // It may bequeath unto the future people;
25. For by returning to my memory somewhat// And by a little sounding in these verses // More of thy victory shall be conceived!
26. I think the keenness of the living ray// Which I endured would have bewildered me //If but mine eyes had been averted from it;
27. And I remember that I was more bold// On this account to bear, so that I joined// My aspect with the Glory Infinite.
28. grace abundant, by which I presumed//To fix my sight upon the Light Eternal// So that the seeing I consumed therein!
29. I saw that in its depth far down is lying//Bound up with love together in one volume // What through the universe in leaves is scattered;
30. Substance, and accident, and their operations// All interfused together in such wise // That what I speak of is one simple light.
31. The universal fashion of this knot// Methinks I saw, since more abundantly//In saying this I feel that I rejoice.
32. One moment is more lethargy to me//Than five and twenty centuries to the emprise // That startled Neptune with the shade of Argo!
33. My mind in this wise wholly in suspense// Steadfast, immovable, attentive gazed// And evermore with gazing grew enkindled.
34. In presence of that light one such becomes// That to withdraw therefrom for other prospect//It is impossible he e’er consent;
35. Because the good, which object is of will//Is gathered all in this, and out of it//That is defective which is perfect there.
36. Shorter henceforward will my language fall//Of what I yet remember, than an infant’s// Who still his tongue doth moisten at the breast.
37. Not because more than one unmingled semblance//Was in the living light on which I looked//For it is always what it was before;
38. But through the sight, that fortified itself//In me by looking, one appearance only
// To me was ever changing as I changed.
39. Within the deep and luminous subsistence//Of the High Light appeared to me three circles// Of threefold colour and of one dimension,
40. And by the second seemed the first reflected//As Iris is by Iris, and the third// Seemed fire that equally from both is breathed.
41. how all speech is feeble and falls short//Of my conceit, and this to what I saw// Is such, ’tis not enough to call it little!
42. Light Eterne, sole in thyself that dwellest//Sole knowest thyself, and, known unto thyself//And knowing, lovest and smilest on thyself!
43. That circulation, which being thus conceived//Appeared in thee as a reflected light //When somewhat contemplated by mine eyes,
44. Within itself, of its own very colour//Seemed to me painted with our effigy//Wherefore my sight was all absorbed therein.
45. As the geometrician, who endeavours//To square the circle, and discovers not// By taking thought, the principle he wants,
46. Even such was I at that new apparition//I wished to see how the image to the circle // Conformed itself, and how it there finds place;
47. But my own wings were not enough for this//Had it not been that then my mind there smote// A flash of lightning, wherein came its wish.
48. Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy// But now was turning my desire and will// Even as a wheel that equally is moved,
49. The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.

Summary

Paradiso: Canto 33: Prayer to the Virgin. The Threefold Circle of the Trinity. Mystery of the Divine and Human Nature.

Tenth Heaven: the Empyrean

St. Bernard’s articulate prayer to Mary (Holy Spirit – Nature) first praises her for allowing mankind to redeem itself through her son, The Christ. Her love, devotion, silence and joy of fulfillment was the foundation on which the Celestial Rose was built. To the souls, Mary is the torch of charity, and to the mortals below, she is hope.

Bernard then appeals to her compassion, saying that those who would advance even higher than this point may not make it far without her loving-kindness. She is known for helping all those who beseech her, as well as many who have not yet done so. Mary is the Inaccessible Durga175. She is the Mother of the Universe. She is also the Power behind Creation, Preservation and Dissolution of the world. She is a manifestation of Divine Shakti and represents the combined powers of all the gods and goddesses.

Dante, who travelled through all the Divine Realms, begs to receive enough virtue to rise even further and see the face of God (Revelation 22:4). St. Bernard understands that to love another person is to see God. To Find God is to have His Face Revealed to You in Your Heart, for God Dwells in Man. And they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads. He asks Dante to remember write what he saw because it should help others through his poetic mission. Then, suddenly the entire host of Heaven, including Beatrice, joins in the prayer. The Virgin Mary gazes down on Dante with approving eyes, and then raises them to the Light above.

A smiling St. Bernard signals Dante to look up as well but Dante already has his face fervently upturned and his spiritual vision ‘self’ and Self is improving with every second that passes. Everything he sees from this point is too great for words and even his memory fails him when he thinks of it. He only remembers it as a dream. He can recall only the sweetness of the memory. He compares his loss of language to the mischievous wind which carried away the leaves on which the prophetess Sibyl wrote. This 5th century BC Italian prophetess of the future was given the power of prophecy by Apollo who also granted her wish to live for as many years as the number of grains of sand she could hold in her hands.

Dante prays to God to allow him to remember some glimmer of what he saw as he looked into the Light. He begs for the memory so that he can convey its glory in his poetry and help bring people of the future to Heaven. The Divine Light176 which Dante sees is bright. He is afraid if he turns away from it, he will again lose his efforts to stay on the path of righteousness. (He lost himself when he was expelled from Florence).

In the Light, he fancies seeing an image: a book, bound by love, which lists and categorizes all the scattered information in the universe. Dante’s memory about this experience is so dim that he argues the twenty-five centuries since the Argonauts’ journey177 has never produced as much forgetfulness.

The Light is so beautiful and perfect that Dante never wants to look away from it; anything else seen after this would seem defective. From here on, Dante claims, his memory of God and Creation178 (reflections) is so feeble that his words must be as weak as those of an infant at his mother’s breast. Even as he gazes at God, the image alters.

Three circles179 appear, each in three different crystal clear colours of love180, but all of the same size. The second circle reflects the first and third circle is fiery with the Love exuded by the first two. After a little while, Dante notices, the second circle “within itself and coloured like itself // to me seemed painted with our effigy.”

Dante agrees and tries to figure out Causal Memory181. When Dante finds he cannot solve the mystery of the Incarnation182 on his own, he sees a flash of light, and suddenly he gets his wish. He understands; but readers are not allowed this final solution because with this ultimate burst of God’s love, Dante’s causal memory disappears183. He is conscious of nothing but his free will, at long last in complete harmony with God’s will. Both automatic responses from the introspective unconscious mind and the unaware subconscious mind play into human consciousness as the wakeful awareness.

Discussion

Paradiso: Canto 33: Prayer to the Virgin. The Threefold Circle of the Trinity. Mystery of the Divine and Human Nature.

Tenth Heaven: the Empyrean

St. Bernard’s prayer to the Virgin Mary is on track because of what he associates her with. Meanwhile, Dante associates her with Love, Hope, Grace, Kindness, Pity, Generosity, and other human excellences. She is an embodiment of nurturing, empathetic, and a loving humanity, taking on many of the positive and benign attributes of the ancient goddesses.

Bernard asks the Virgin184 for her grace towards Dante so that he might see the final vision of her protection thereafter. The prayer touches on the incarnation and redemption, the hope of salvation, the end of Dante’s mission, the grace he needs to achieve it. He must be true to it to deserve the sympathy of the blessed, Bernard’s praise and devotion. This prayer on behalf of another is an essentially loving act. Beatrice prays for Dante also. The Virgin turns her eyes towards Bernard and then towards God.

Dante now looks into the Divine Light. His power of vision is beyond speech and memory (in the unconscious), and like a dreamer he retains (in the subconscious) only the impression and the sweetness. He asks for the power to reveal a little of what he saw and felt, and dared to endure. His Vision, in the moment of supreme Stillness, beyond Time, is of a Universal Unity, bound together by Love in simplicity of Light. Within it is the concentrated and perfect Good, the object of will and desire, which the eye cannot turn away from to another sight. Outside it all things are in some way defective in their goodness.

Dante is therefore consistent in treating God as the essential Good, and the intellectual Light of Truth, which is desired by Man, Love as the desire for the Good binding all together. His speech is inadequate, but as his power of vision increases he sees a triple rainbow in the deep light, symbolising the Trinity, and within it the human form, symbolising Man’s unity with God in his essential nature. Dante cannot exactly measure a circle’s circumference. Finally his mind is struck as if by lightning, and his will is empowered. The Vision itself loses power in his imagination, but his desire and will to achieve salvation is set in motion by Divine Love that moves the sun and the other stars.

Endnotes
1 Piccarda Donati: noblewoman who i, sister of Corso Donati and of Dante’s friend Forese Donati, She is on the Sphere of the Moon, the lowest sphere of Heaven. Her placement here is due to “vows neglected and, in part, no longer valid.” When she was alive, Piccarda, a nun, was forcibly removed from her convent by her brother Corso, in order to marry her to a Florentine man and further her family’s political interests. She died soon after her wedding. In her acquiescence to her brother’s wishes, though forced, she neglected her vows to God.
2 Justinian I (482-565 AD): Byzantine Emperor commonly known as Justinian the Great who sought to revive the Empire’s greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. He was the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin as a first language in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire. A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. A devastating outbreak of bubonic plague in early 540s marked the end of an age of splendour. The Empire entered a period of territorial decline not to be reversed until the 9th century.
3 After the death of their prophet Mohammed the Saracens became great warriors, conquered many countries and established Islam in them. In 711 the Saracens invaded a great part of Spain and founded a powerful kingdom which lasted seven hundred years. They intended to conquer the land of the Franks next, and then all Europe. The Frankish king at that time was a very weak man – he was one of a number of kings who were called the “Do-nothings.” They reigned from about 638 to 751, spent all their time in amusements and pleasures, and left affairs of the government to be managed by Mayors of the Palace, who at first managed the king’s household and later became guardians of kings who came to the throne when very young. Several young kings, even when they were old enough to rule, gave less attention to business than to pleasure. Mayors made war, led armies in battle, raised money and spent it, and carried on the government as they pleased, without consulting the king.
One of the most famous mayors was Pepin who had the king dressed in his finest clothes, paraded through the city of Paris, where the court was held, was cheered by the people, and he acknowledged their greetings most graciously. At the close of the ceremony the royal “nobody” retired to his country house and was not heard of again for a year. Pepin died in 714 AD and his son Charles, who was twenty-five years old at that time, succeeded him as mayor of the palace. This Charles is known in history as Charles Martel. He had fought in many of his father’s battles and so had become a skilled soldier. His men were devoted to him.
While he was mayor he led armies in several wars against the enemies of the Franks. The most important of his wars was one with the Saracens, who came across the Pyrenees from Spain and invaded the land of the Franks, intending to establish Islam. Their army was led by Abd-er-Rahman, the Saracen governor of Spain. On his march through the southern districts of the land of the Franks Abd-er-Rahman destroyed many towns and villages, killed people, and seized all the property he could carry off.
Meanwhile Charles Martel got together a great army of Franks and Germans and marched against the Saracens. Both Christians and Muslims fought with terrible earnestness and Abd-er-Rahman was killed. The battle of Tours, or Poitiers, is regarded as one of the decisive battles of the world. It decided Christians should be the ruling power in Europe. After his defeat of the Saracens Charles Martel was looked upon as the great champion of Christianity; and to the day of his death, in 741, he was in reality, though not in name, the king of the Franks.
Charles Martel had two sons, Pepin and Carloman. For a time they ruled together, but Carloman wished to lead a religious life, so he went to a monastery and became a monk. Then Pepin was sole ruler. Pepin was quite low in stature but had great strength and courage. In the early years of Pepin’s rule as mayor of the palace the throne was occupied by a king named Childeric. Like his father and the other “do-nothing” kings, Childeric cared more for pleasures and amusements than for affairs of government. Pepin was the real ruler, and after a while he began to think that he ought to have the title of king, as he had all the power and did all the work of governing and defending the kingdom. So he sent some friends to Rome to consult the Pope. The Pope gave his consent, and Pepin was crowned king of the Franks; and thus the reign of Childeric ended and that of Pepin began.
During nearly his whole reign Pepin was engaged in war. Several times he went to Italy to defend the Pope against the Lombards. These people occupied certain parts of Italy, including the province still called Lombardy. Pepin conquered them and gave as a present to the Pope that part of their possessions which extended for some distance around Rome. This was called “Pepin’s Donation.” It was the beginning of what is known as the “temporal power” of the Popes, that is, their power as rulers of part of Italy. Pepin died in 768.
4 Cunizza da Romano (born in 1198): Italian noblewoman; daughter of Ezzelino II da Romano and Adelaide di Mangona but sister to Ezzelino III. As a young girl, Cunizza married Ricardo di San Bonifacio, Lord of Verona, but eloped with the court poet Sordello, who took her to his parents’ house. Later she married Aimerio of the Counts of Braganze. She spent her last days in Florence in the household of Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti, where Dante came to know her in person.
5 Folco of Marseilles was a French poet who later became a Cistercian monk and finally served as Bishop of Toulouse. Folco claims Lucifer founded Florence whose coins are stamped with a lily;
6 Rahab (Book of Joshua) was a harlot who lived in Jericho in the Promised Land and helped the Israelites because of her faith and deep concern for the salvation of others. She did not perish because she had given shelter to all, including spies. Joshua saved her alive and her father’s household. She lives is Israel to this day in the Faith Hall of Fame.
7 St. Thomas was a Jew and one of the twelve Apostles and a dedicated follower of Jesus. At the Last Supper, the Apostles were told Jesus was going ahead to prepare a place for them to which they also might come. Thomas pleaded they did not understand but received assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday merited for him the title of “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later, on a later apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his scepticism and was shown Jesus’ wounds sustained on the cross. St. Thomas became convinced and exclaimed: “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles he was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar Coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.”
8 St Francis of the Franciscan Order was born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181. His father Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had not only given birth to a son but had already baptized him Giovanni after John the Baptist. Pietro never wanted in his son to be a man of God; he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was. Infatuation with France, he renamed his son Francesco. Francis enjoyed his father’s wealth and the permissiveness of the times and everyone loved the always happy leader like Francis. A dreamer by nature he did poorly in school, but no one tried to control him or teach him. He spent nights in wild parties and attracted to himself a whole retinue of young people addicted to evil and accustomed to vice. Francis himself said, “I lived in sin” during that time.
Francis wanted more than wealth, but not holiness! Francis wanted to be a noble knight and got his first chance when Assisi declared war on their long-time enemy, the nearby town of Perugia. Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered in the fight. Only those wealthy enough to expect to be ransomed were taken prisoner. Francis was chained in a harsh, dark dungeon and after a year was ransomed. The experience did not change what he wanted from life either: Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream. But Francis never got farther than one day’s ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home.
Francis’ conversion did not happen overnight. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis’ turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God’s grace overwhelmed him with joy. Then one day while riding through the countryside, Francis, came face to face with a leper. Despite the smell, Francis jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God…that he had passed.
His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard The Christ on the crucifix speak to him, “Francis, repair my church.” Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father’s shop and sold it to get money to repair the church. His father saw this as theft and waste of money. The father Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounces all rights as his heir.
The kind bishop told Francis to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. Robbers later beat him later and took his clothes. From then on Francis had nothing…and everything. Francis went back to obey God’s call. He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands. Scandal and avarice were working on the Church from the inside while outside heresies flourished by appealing to those longing for something different or adventurous.
Soon Francis started to preach. He preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. Francis must knew about the decay in the Church. Slowly companions came to Francis. He knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. “Here is our rule,” Francis said – as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more – live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe.
Francis never wanted to found a religious order. His companions came from all walks of life, from fields and towns, nobility and common people, universities, the Church, and the merchant class. Francis practiced true equality by showing honour, respect, and love to every person whether they were beggar or pope. Francis’ brotherhood included all of God’s creation and love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. Francis really felt that God’s creations, were part of his brotherhood.
Following the Gospel literally, Francis and his companions went out to preach two by two. At first, listeners were hostile to men in rags trying to talk about God’s love. Francis did not try to abolish poverty, he tried to make it holy. They worked for all necessities and only begged if they had to but would not let them accept any money. Possessing something was the death of love for Francis. His simplicity of life extended to ideas and deeds. When Francis wanted approval for his brotherhood, he went straight to Rome to see Pope Innocent III. He threw Francis out, but later called him back.
Francis did find persecution and martyrdom of a kind – not among the Moslems, but among his own brothers. When he returned to Italy, he came back to a brotherhood that had grown to 5000 in ten years. He finally gave up authority in his order. Francis’ final years were filled with suffering as well as humiliation. Years of poverty and wandering had made Francis ill. That was when he wrote his beautiful Canticle of the Sun that expresses his brotherhood with creation in praising God. Francis never recovered from this illness. He died on October 4, 1226 at the age of 45. Francis is considered the founder of all Franciscan orders and the patron saint of ecologists and merchants.
9 Saint Bonaventure: born in Latium, then part of the Papal States. Almost nothing is known of his childhood, other than his parents were Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella. He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris,under Alexander of Hales, and under Alexander’s successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253 he held the Franciscan chair at Paris. A dispute between seculars and mendicants delayed his reception as Master until 1257, where his degree was taken in company with Thomas Aquinas. Three years earlier his fame had earned him the position of lecturer on The Four Books of Sentences-a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century-and in 1255 he received the degree of master, the medieval equivalent of doctor. It was by his order that Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar himself, was interdicted from lecturing at Oxford and compelled to put himself under the surveillance of the Order at Paris. Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyon in 1274.
Bonaventure died suddenly and in suspicious circumstances and was likely poisoned. He steered the Franciscans on a moderate and intellectual course that made them the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits. His theology was marked by an attempt completely to integrate faith and reason. He thought of Jesus as the “one true master” who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding, and is perfected by mystical union with God.
10 Saint Dominic: (1170-1221). Son of Felix Guzman and Bl. Joan of Aza, was born at Calaruega, Spain, studied at the Univ. at Palencia, and was probably ordained there while pursuing his studies and appointed canon at Osma in 1199. He was noted for its strict adherence to the rule of St. Benedict. In 1203 he accompanied Bishop Diego de Avezedo of Osma to Languedoc where Dominic preached against the Albigensians (heresy) and helped reform the Cistercians. Dominic founded an institute for women and attached several preaching friars to it.
When papal legate Peter of Castelnan was murdered by the Albigensians in 1208, Pope Innocent III launched a crusade against them headed by Count Simon IV of Montfort which was to continue for the next seven years. Dominic followed the army and preached to the heretics but with no great success. In 1214 Simon gave him a castle at Casseneuil and Dominic with six followers founded an order devoted to the conversion of the Albigensians. He failed to gain approval for his order of preachers at the fourth General Council of the Lateran in 1215 but received Pope Honorius III’s approval in the following year, and the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) was founded.
Dominic spent the last years of this life organizing the order, traveling all over Italy, Spain and France preaching and attracting new members and establishing new houses. The new order was phenomenally successful in conversion work as it applied Dominic’s concept of harmonizing the intellectual life with popular needs. He convoked the first general council of the order at Bologna in 1220 and died there the following year on August 6, after being forced by illness to return from a preaching tour in Hungary. He was canonized in 1234 and is the patron saint of astronomers.
11 Wisdom of Solomon: also called Jedediah (“beloved of Yahweh”), was the second son of David by his wife Bathsheba, and favourite of his father. Solomon was not the logical heir to the throne and in doing so he committed no wrong according to Israelitish ideas. Solomon was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne. His successful reign of forty years speaks for his intelligence, ability, and statesmanship for the most part peaceful relations with foreign powers. Solomon was enabled to devote himself fully to the internal organization of his kingdom and the embellishment of his Court, and give much attention to the erection of a national temple to the Almighty. The integrity of the actual soil of Israel was secured by the erection of fortresses in strong positions and by the maintenance of a large force of war-chariots. Solomon wedded the Pharaoh’s daughter. The Egyptian sovereign had attacked and burnt Gezer and destroyed the Canaanites inhabitants, but bestowed it as a dowry on the princess. It was now rebuilt and with Jerusalem was fortified by Solomon. Solomon’s foreign policy was one of international friendship and peace. What Solomon gained by such alliance was knowledge of the Phoenician manner of trading.
Solomon’s internal policy was one of justice and concentration of power and authority. He also took steps to make the royal authority stronger, more efficient, and more far-reaching, chiefly, with a view to the collection of revenue and the maintenance of an army. According to our present biblical data, Solomon went beyond any ancient monarch in the luxury of the harem. The enormous number of wives (70) and concubines (300) attributed to him must be made up by counting all the female slaves of the palace among the concubines.
Hebrew historian claim Solomon was unsurpassed for sagacity and knowledge. On his accession to the throne, it is related that Jehovah appeared to him at Gibeon in a dream, and bade him choose a boon; and the young king, instead of asking for long life or riches or success in war, prayed to be endowed with an understanding heart that he might judge the people committed to him. His request was granted if he kept Jehovah’s commandments. In consequence of this endowment, he was reputed to be wiser than all men; people flocked from all quarters to hear his wisdom; and the Queen of Sheba, in particular, came to prove him with hard questions. He was at once a philosopher and a poet.
12 Cacciaguida degli Elisei (1091-1148) an Italian Crusader and the great-great-grandfather of Dante Alighieri;
13 Emperor Trajan: Non Italian Roman leader until 98 AD who who overindulged in wine and had a liking for young boys and war
14 Ripheus: Trojan hero who was killed defending Troy against the Greeks. In reward for his love of justice God made him an astonishing exception to the law that in pagan times, no one could be saved. “Ripheus also fell, uniquely the most just of all the Trojans, the most faithful preserver of equity; but the gods decided otherwise” Virgil, Aeneid II.
15 Patriarch Jacob dreams about a golden ladder to heaven when fleeing from his brother Esau. The Bible describes it reaching from Earth to Heaven where the streets are golden with pearly gates (Genesis 28:10-19);
The theme of a ladder to heaven is used by Early Church Fathers. Saint Irenaeus in the 2nd century describes the Christian Church as the “ladder of ascent to God”. In the 3rd century, Origen explains that there are two ladders in the life of a Christian, the ascetic ladder that the soul climbs on the earth, and resulting in increase in virtue, and the soul’s travel after death, climbing up the heavens towards the light of God. In the 4th century, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus speaks of ascending Jacob’s Ladder by successive steps towards excellence, interpreting the ladder as an ascetic path, while Saint Gregory of Nyssa narrates that Moses climbed on Jacob’s Ladder to reach the heavens where he entered the tabernacle not made with hands, thus giving the Ladder a clear mystical meaning.
Jacob is revered in Islam as a prophet and patriarch. Muslim scholars draw a parallel with Jacob’s vision of the ladder and Muhammad’s event of the Mi’raj. It is interpreted by Muslims to be one of the many symbols of God, and the ladder as representing the essence of Islam, which emphasizes following the “straight path”.
Eastern thought gives this and ascetic interpretation based on ashtanga yoga of Patanjali. He encourages climbing the seven chakras by cultivating Love through becoming more balanced and peaceful, with the senses introverted, and living a dedicated life to changing. And so life is mounting as it were by steps. The ladder signifies understanding a riddle of a gradual ascent along the kundalini by means of virtue. It is then possible to ascend from earth (muladhara) to heaven (sahasrahara), not using material steps, but improvement and correction of oneself.
16 Saint Peter Damian is the Doctor of Reform and Renewal. This wise Camaldolese monk, a follower of St Benedict, started a reform with the expansion of his Order and enforced strict guidelines for the clergy everywhere with the authority given to him. Because of his experiences of mystical effects of sacraments, he regarded every person as the whole church and strove in helping others to experience the same. He admired St. Romuald, the Camaldolese founder and fellow natives of Ravenna. He considered himself and the monks at Fonte Avellana and monasteries he himself had started as belonging to the Benedictine family. In fact, he took pains to show that St. Benedict, like himself, had preferred the hermit’s way of life to that of the monks.
The church went through its own ‘dark ages’. Peter helped stamp out Simony and other scandals. God’s grace empowered him to usher in immense reform. No matter how much he felt drawn to prayer and solitude, he remained obedient and humble in what was asked of him. God wanted from him in service to the church. His mission was to faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtues received.
17 St. Benedict: (480-547 AD: An Italian monk who became the founder of the monastic order of Benedictines. He is the Patron Saint of Europe and honoured by both Anglicans and Catholics. The political and social disorder that accompanied the end of the Roman Empire induced many to turn away from society. The idea of an isolated ascetic life had developed in the East, particularly in China, India and especially Egypt, where St. Anthony lived and was inspired. Some individual hermits began to form monastic communities, but for the most part the emphasis was still on the private war between the spirit and the world. Dissatisfied in his studies with his nurse, young Benedict left her secretly and disappeared into the wilderness of the Sabine hills. There, in Subiaco, he lived as a hermit in a cave, receiving food from a neighboring monk who lowered bread to him over a cliff. Dressed in wild animal skins, Benedict fought the wars of the soul. Once when tempted by a vision of a woman, he threw himself into a briar patch to subdue his emotions. Benedict’s soul soon yielded a rich harvest of virtues.
Isolation was not Benedict’s lot. Others sought his guidance, and the monks of a neighboring monastery whose abbot had died prevailed upon Benedict to take his place. But the strict discipline and obedience demanded by the new abbot so angered the monks that they tried to poison him. Detecting the poison, Benedict “went back to the wilderness he loved, to live alone with himself in the presence of his heavenly Father.” However as other men gathered around him, he organized 12 monasteries with 12 monks and an abbot in each. At regular intervals, under Benedict’s direction they all gathered in the chapel to chant psalms and pray silently. About 529 Benedict moved his community to Monte Cassino, a hill 75 miles southeast of Rome. He and his monks demolished an old temple of Apollo on the summit, replacing it with a chapel dedicated to St. Martin, and began construction of monastery buildings which were destroyed by men of the King of Ostrogoths.
The Rule, written during the years at Monte Cassino, was Benedict’s foremost literary achievement. It exerted great influence on the history of monasticism, enabling the Benedictines to expand across Europe and dominate the religious life of the Middle Ages. Unlike the rigorously ascetic and solitary life that was the model for Eastern monasticism, Benedict’s plan involved life in a community in which all members shared. Government was the responsibility of an elected abbot who ruled the monks as a father did his children. The details of daily life were set forward but were not “difficult or grievous.” After 8 hours of sleep the monks got up for the night office, which was followed by six other services during the day. The remainder of the day was spent in labor and in study of the Bible and other spiritual books. Benedict believed that the life of the monk depended on his brothers in the community to which he was bound for life. The monk’s daily duties and responsibilities were carefully outlined. He was to leave behind the world and grow to “greater heights of knowledge and virtue” in the seclusion of the monastery.
Benedict changed the monastic movement in the West. The chaotic pattern of isolated individuals or disorderly communities was transformed by a sense of organization and practicality. Men were brought together in communities ruled by discretion and moderation. In subsequent centuries the Rule of Benedict guided communities located over all of Europe.
18 Mary and Christ: The actualisation of Christian Church becomes apparent in a twofold way: the visible manifestation of Mary’s inner portrait as perceived by her representatives in the different epochs of time and her actual concrete configuration in her members. The history of the Church shows the different shifts in emphasis and the close correlation between both aspects, idea and reality
The first centuries are characterized by the image of the Church as mystery. The strong symbolical representation of this mystery is shown by Augustine’s notion of the body of the Church as the Eucharistic Body of Christ. The Marian dimension must be seen against typological basis: with Mary as the typos of the Church.”He places Mary before the Church as her ideal image and as member of the body of Christ as part of the Church.
Late in the Patristic Period and Middle Ages, from the time of Constantine until the Reformation the notion of the Christian realm became a sociological, political and cultural term. Although the Church was in the fore, her mystery character was present in the renewal movements and in the great theological treatises of that time. While the Church-Mary parallel continued into the Merovingian medieval period (450-751 AD) in the pre-Carollingian era, the Marian reflection was strongly decimated by the Carolingian era (780-900 AD) It changed from the patristic salvation-historical perspective of Mary to a more individualized, privilege-oriented understanding of her.
Mary’s importance in the history of salvation stood in the foreground. Her influence became subjective in the course of salvation: the Mother of God became the Mother of the faithful, who in the present time fulfils the distributing the fruits of salvation. The typology Mary-Church is no longer seen as purely metaphorical, but, rather, Mary is the model for the virginal-fruitful Church and the reason for the Church’s salvific efficacy toward its members. This development remained prevalent throughout the medieval period. Mary’s position remained that of being the Mother of God and the most excellent member of Christ’s body. All gifts, graces and divine influence proceed from Christ, the head of the Church, through Mary, the neck, into the body of the Church.
In the following epoch the image of the Church was affected by the impact of Enlightenment with Rationalism, which brought a new interpretation of Christian teaching aimed at effacing all creedal differences. The Church was to be reduced to a moral institution. The effects of the Enlightenment on the Church were particularly felt in the area of Marian devotion and teaching. She was now a model character of a mother’s love and concern for home duties. The Christologically founded and oriented unity between Christ and Mary is constitutive for Mary’s place in God’s divine plan, in the order of salvation and at the centre of salvation history, and gives her an official
19 Saint James: Jesus was the focus of James’ life who also held a special place in Jesus’ life. He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons. To be named one of the twelve James must have had faith and commitment. Even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen – Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah, as the voice of God spoke from a cloud.
James, along with John, felt that he had the right ask Jesus to give them whatever they asked. They showed their lack of understanding of his mission. Jesus replied that they didn’t know what they were asking. Could they drink of the cup he would drink of? They replied that they could. He assured them they would indeed drink of that cup. The other apostles were furious at this. But Jesus used this opportunity to teach all of them that in order to be great one must be a servant.
James and John did show further lack of understanding of their friend and Lord when he was turned away by Samaritans. They wanted to use their newfound authority as apostles not to heal but to bring fire down on the town. Jesus reprimanded them for their unforgiving, vengeful view of their power. But despite all these misunderstandings, it was still James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest. It must have hurt Jesus that the three of them fell asleep on this agonizing evening.
James did drink of the cup Jesus drank of, after the Resurrection. Acts 12:1 tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. Legends have sprung up that James evangelized Spain before he died but these stories have no basis in historical fact.
20 Saint John the Apostle: St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by Jesus in the first year of public ministry. He became the “beloved disciple” and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother. His later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.
St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The “beloved disciple” died at Ephesus, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque. John is credited with the authorship of three epistles and one Gospel, although many scholars believe that the final editing of the Gospel was done by others shortly after his death. He is also supposed by many to be the author of the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse, although this identification is less certain.
21 Symbolism of Number Nine: The Ennead, or nine pointed star, is an ancient and sacred symbol. It comprises three trinities. The Egyptian, Celtic, Greek and Christian myths all have an ennead of nine gods and goddesses, representing the entire archetypal range of principles. The magic square is also considered sacred and full of power in the Islamic, Tibetan, Buddhist, Celtic, Indian and Jewish traditions. A magic square is when each number is used only once, but the horizontal, vertical and diagonal sums are all equal. The Chinese have patterned their architectural temples along the harmonious principles of the magic square.
‘Multiplying by nine reveals mirror symmetry among numbers. If any number is multiplied by nine the resulting digits always add to nine. For example 2 x 9 = 18; 3 x 9 = 27, 4 x 9 = 36 and so on. Thus, the Hebrews referred to nine as the symbol of immutable Truth.
22 Ennead: an angelic organization of a nine-fold Intelligence composed of Seraphimic (order of angels) beings beyond this universe who come to earth from our future through a Shekhinah (divine feminine as Creatrix) Merkabah to create the programs for the Redemption of Light. It is also known as MUR HAR HEEM, the Gate of the Seraph – the “Many-Eyed’ Ones of the Angelic Heaven. The Ennead is one of the 7 jewels in the Key of Thoth: a template of Divine Principle that aligns various orders of souls within stations of light to the key that the archetypal Thoth registers in within the Akasha.
23 Saint Bernard of Clairvaux: born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France, in the castle of Fontaines near Dijon. Under the care of his pious parents he was sent at an early age to a college at Chatillon, where he was conspicuous for his remarkable piety and spirit of recollection. Here he entered into the studies of theology and Holy Scripture. After the death of his mother, fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he resolved to embrace the newly established and austere institute of the Cistercian Order. He persuaded his brothers and several of his friends to follow his example. In 1113, with thirty young noblemen, he presented himself to the holy Abbot, St. Stephen, at Citeaux. Seeing the great progress he had made in the spiritual life, they sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery, which afterwards became known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux.
St. Bernard was at once appointed Abbot and began that active life which has rendered him the most conspicuous figure in the history of the 12th century. He founded numerous other monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honour of God. The reputation of St. Bernard spread far and wide; even the Popes were governed by his advice. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. In obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff he travelled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. St. Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles. He died in 1153.
24 Indian philosophy has long recognized the law of correspondence. Whatever is in the universe is in the individual as well. The microcosm is the exact miniature of macrocosm. And the solar system is also in the atomic structure of creation. The planets transfigure in the human body also the different physiological systems. The sun is in the Nadachakra, the moon is in the heart, Jupiter is in the stomach, Venus is in the seminal sperm, Saturn is in the solar plexus, Rahu is in the mouth and Ketu is in the legs.
25 Glaucus: Prophetic Greek sea-god who was mortal but became immortal after eating the magical herb
26 In metaphysical models of Action: Reaction, Theists believe an afterlife awaits people when they die. Non-theistic religions (Hinduism & Buddhism) believe in an afterlife, but without reference to a God. The Sadducees who were an ancient Jewish sect believe there was a God but no afterlife. Many religions believe that one’s status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.
Reincarnation refers to an afterlife concept found among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Rosicrucians, Spiritists, Wiccans and Kabbalistic Judaism. Reincarnation of Souls is for spiritual development which continues after death as the deceased begins another earthly life in the physical world, acquiring a superior grade of consciousness and altruism by means of successive reincarnations. This succession leads toward an eventual liberation. One consequence of the Hindu beliefs is that the current lives are both afterlife and a before life. According to those beliefs events in our current life are consequences of actions taken in previous lives, or Karma.
Heaven and hell in Abrahamic religions is where one goes to depending on one’s deeds and/or faith while on Earth, or predestination and Unconditional election, or to the intermediate state to await the Resurrection of the Dead. In most denominations, Heaven is a place of everlasting reward for the righteous to go after they die. Hell in comparison is a place of eternal torment for the wicked.
Despite popular opinion, Limbo, elaborated upon by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, yet, at times, the Church incorporated the theory in its ordinary belief. Limbo is a theory that unbaptized but innocent souls, such as those of infants, virtuous individuals who lived before Jesus Christ was born on earth, or those that die before baptism must wait before going to heaven. The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Catholic Church. All those who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven or the final purification of the elect. Ancient religions[edit]Ancient Egypt[edit]Main article: Death and afterlife in Ancient Egypt
The afterlife still plays an important role in existing Ancient Egyptian religion, and its belief system is one of the earliest known in recorded history. When the body dies, parts of its soul known as ka (body double) and the ba (personality) goes to the Kingdom of the Dead. While the soul dwells in the Fields of Aaru, Osiris demands work as restitution for the protection he provides. Statues were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.
Arriving at one’s reward in afterlife is a demanding ordeal, requiring a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords and formulae of the Book of the Dead. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased’s heart is weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma’at. If the heart was lighter than the feather, they can pass on, but if it is heavier is devoured by the demon Ammit.
Egyptians also believe that being mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an ancient Egyptian “coffin” carved with complex symbols and designs, as well as pictures and hieroglyphs) is the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a mastaba, can the dead live again in the Fields of Yalu and accompany the Sun on its daily ride. Due to the dangers the afterlife posed, the Book of the Dead is placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewellery and ‘curses’. They also used the “opening of the mouth”.
Ancient Egyptian civilization is based on religion; their belief in the rebirth after death is the driving force behind their funeral practices. Death is simply a temporary interruption, rather than complete cessation, of life, and eternal life can be ensured by means like piety to the gods, preservation of the physical form through mummification, and the provision of statuary and other funerary equipment. The Name and Shadow are also living entities. To enjoy the afterlife, all these elements have to be sustained and protected from harm.
The Greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods, would take the dead soul of a person to the underworld (sometimes called Hades or the House of Hades). Hermes would leave the soul on the banks of the River Styx, the river between life and death. Charon, also known as the ferry-man, would take the soul across the river to Hades, if the soul had gold: Upon burial, the family of the dead soul would put coins under the deceased’s tongue. Once crossed, the soul would be judged by Aeacus, Rhadamanthus and King Minos. The soul would be sent to Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel Fields, or the Fields of Punishment. The Elysian Fields were for the
27 Dante’s Spheres: medieval philosophers believed in a geocentric universe, with the Earth at the centre of the universe and all the other stars and planets revolving around it. The revolution of each planet, which Dante calls “spheres” or “Paradisos,” creates a different musical note
28 Medieval philosophers believed the universe was made up of five elements. The northern hemisphere where Jerusalem sits is all earth. The southern hemisphere where the mountain of Purgatory is located is all water. The planet is sequentially surrounded by a layer of air, a higher layer of fire, which gives way to the ether sphere of heavens, where God resides. Dante and Beatrice are ascending through the fire sphere when lightning, which strikes upwards instead of going down, trying to reach its Creator.
29 Apollo and the Nine Muses; Romans and Greeks believed all works of art had their genesis in the Nine Muses.
30 Cocjos: In Greek Legend, Colchos is where Jason stole the Golden Fleece
31 Moon Sphere: represented in the body by the Parasympathetic Nervous System (ida) and balanced by the Sympathetic Nervous System (pingala).
32 Concentrations of matter: Seven zones of increasing subtleness of awareness and existence; magnetically proven.
33 Motive and Hesitation: Motive is the ethical or moral principle that governs thought and action. Moral motive comes from source of goodness known as the Highest Goodness where most people are happy when moral without hesitation. The inner judge governs thoughts of least harmfulness.
34 David and Solomon preceded Nebuchadnezzar who became the emerging power to overcome Jehoiakim who was a wicked king. He is defeated and the conqueror won because God helped him win. Psalm 127:1 reminds Nebuchadnezzar would not have won without God’s help.
35 Nebuchadnezzar: king of ancient Babylon (605-562 BC) who conquered Jerusalem and looted the Temple. King Nebuchadnezzar was walking around his palace boasting about himself and his accomplishments when all of a sudden a voice comes out of heaven and tells him that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them what he wishes. Right after the voice is done speaking, Nebuchadnezzar loses his mind and starts acting as if he was a bull, eating grass like cattle do. He was punished for 7 years for being boastful before he regained his sanity and got his kingdom back (Daniel 4:28-33).
36 According to Ismaili Shia thought, Ten Intellects govern the physical world. Each intellect governs a specific sphere and in turn each inferior sphere, like each inferior intellect is subsumed by the sphere immediately preceding it and contains all spheres inferior to it. Graphically, are a series of concentric circles where the largest circle, the First Intellect, includes all other circles, down the series. The ten intellects correspond with: First, the sphere of spheres; Second, fixed stars; Third, Saturn; Fourth, Jupiter; Fifth, Mars; Sixth, Sun; Seventh, Venus; Eighty, Mercury; Ninth, Moon; and Tenth, the sub-lunary sphere, or the Earth. The Tenth Intellect, rules the sub-lunary world. The Ismailis regard the Tenth Intellect as the “spiritual Adam” contrasted with the terrestrial Adam of the Holy Books. The Tenth Intellect is the Prophet Imam.
37 Plato in his earlier and middle philosophical investigations dismisses the reliance on our eyes and ears to study of the visible heaven. He explains how mind is the cause of all things “that the truly good and ‘binding’ ties and holds everything together.” What kind of ‘binding force’ does Plato attribute to ‘the Good’? His reticence about this concept, despite its centrality in his metaphysics and ethics, is largely responsible for the obscurity of his concept of happiness and what it is to lead a good life, except for the claim that individuals are best off if they ‘do their own thing’. What, then, is ‘the Good’ that is responsible for the goodness of all other things?
Although the Good is not just being, but is superior to it in rank and power.” The analogy with the sun’s maintenance of all that is alive suggests that the Good is the intelligent inner principle that determines the nat
ure of every object capable of goodness so that it fulfills its function in an appropriate way. That he was thinking of an internal ‘binding force’ is a divine maker. It is the use or function that determines what it is to be good. Plato saw an intimate connection between the nature, the function, and the well being of all things, including human beings. Plato’ conception of the good in human life concerned the good state of the human soul in ‘orderly circles’and all human beings have at best only ‘second best souls’ when compared with the world-soul.
Plato believed all human beings have to seek the best obtainable mixture of life, and if even the best of them can be no more than servants of the laws, then Plato regards the ‘human herd’ as a uniform flock. He retained his conviction, that a well-ordered soul is the prerequisite of the good life and that human beings need not only a careful moral education but also a well-regulated life.
38 Lack of action by a victim is not a measure of the extent of violence endured and cannot be used as evidence of trauma or recovery from a constant state of fear;
39 The force; ubiquitous metaphysical power pushing an action;
40 Constance, 1154-98, Holy Roman empress, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, 1165-97, Holy Roman emperor (1191-97) and German king (1190-97), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa). Henry VI conducted an unsuccessful campaign (1191) against Tancred during which Constance was captured. After Tancred’s death (1194) Henry was crowned king of Sicily. When he died (1197) all of Italy revolted against German rule. In order to save the throne of Sicily for her infant son Frederick (later Holy Roman emperor as Frederick II Frederick II, 1194-1250, Holy Roman emperor (1220-50) and German king (1212-20), king of Sicily (1197-1250), and king of Jerusalem (1229-50), son of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and of Constance, heiress of Sicily. She was regent for her son; before her death she named Pope Innocent III his guardian.
41 Losing Life to Fear of being not being heard, understood, of losing control, getting unstuck from vows and promises made, and losing control;
42 “The Light of the body is the eye. If therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). So in our body the divine light of the eyes are the sun and moon and this was conveyed by all divine philanthropists and great seers and saints.
43 Jephthah vowed to God that is he was victorious in battle against the Ammonites he would give to God whatever came through the doors of his house upon his return (Judges 11:1-12:7). Did Jephthah intend to offer his daughter as a human sacrifice? This statement would be a callous remark if she had been put to death. Jephthah offered his daughter to God and was not upset because his daughter would die a virgin. He was upset because she would live and remain a virgin. Such acts of devotion were no greater than that which God requires of all Christians: to offer ourselves as spiritual burnt-offerings in service to God (Romans 12:1).
44 Agamemnon: Greek leader of the Trojan War. Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the god Artemis to obtain a favourable wind for the Greek fleet.
45 Pope Boniface VIII like the popes before him was self-serving leaders of the church. Like Boniface repeated the church leaders’ decree: “We declare it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”. They took every opportunity to flaunt power. “It is to us that the world is entrusted, not to you” he reprimanded Parisian power brokers.
46 In the life of any church, some of its members stray away from the church and from God, because someone else comes along and causes them to stumble (Matt. 18:6-7). In other cases, it is their own lusts that led them astray (Matt. 18:8-9). Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perishes.” (Matt. 18:12-14)
47 Here in Heaven, before the throne of God seekers find eternal joy in the triumph of life received as free grace from one who sits resolved on life’s eternal purpose and decrees. Revelation 12:10: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’
48 Charity is a belief that while one enjoys life, they must make a positive difference in the world by linking with souls and supporting them whenever needed. Crusaders of the Immaculate Heart are church goers who pray on behalf of the souls in Purgatory. The faithful call this works of satisfaction done in his life. This act of charity in favor of the souls departed gains for them a special love of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints, according to the promise of Christ: “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew7: 2). The gratitude of the holy souls induce them in to pray for us in Heaven, so that we may either escape Purgatory, or be blessed by a speedy deliverance.
49 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.(1 Peter 4:6).
50 Justinian I (482-565 AD) who became a Justinian Emperor ruled Eastern Roman Empire. He was both holy and right-living emperor at Constantinople AD 527-65. In 522 he married the actress and courtesan Theodora despite the scandals of her early life, and remained devoted to her until her death in 548, making her an equal and independent colleague in his imperial office. Justinian was determined to restore the Roman Empire by recovering the lost provinces of the West, by codifying and rationalizing the legal system, and by reforming the administration. All this, he thought, depended upon God’s favour, and this he resolved to win by suppressing heresy and paganism. Throughout his reign Justinian promulgated many new laws himself. He kept a careful watch on financial expenditure, but was also a great church-builder, the chief memorial of his reign being the church of Hagia Sophia (532-7) in Constantinople, the supreme masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. In the matter of religion Justinian reinforced the penalties against heretical Christian sects, Jews, and pagans, and strove to achieve orthodoxy throughout the empire.
51 First Roman emperor to profess Christianity; He fought to make himself emperor. According to legend, a cross and the words in hoc appeared to him there, and he forthwith adopted Christianity. He gained control of the East and became sole emperor. He moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. He angered the Romans by refusing to participate in a pagan rite and never entered Rome again. Under his patronage, Christianity began its growth into a world religion. Constantine is revered as a saint in the Orthodox Church.
52 Agapetus was born in Rome, a Roman priest who had been slain during the riots in the days of Pope Symmachus (498-514). A familial relation exists with two other Popes: Felix III (483-492) and Gregory I (590-604). Agapetus collaborated with Cassiodorus in founding at Rome a library of ecclesiastical authors in Greek and Latin and helped with translating the standard Greek philosophers into Latin.
The Byzantine general Belisarius was preparing for an invasion of Italy. King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths begged Agapetus to proceed on an embassy to Constantinople and use his personal influence to appease Emperor Justinian I following the death of Amalasuntha. To defray the costs of the embassy, Agapetus pledged the sacred vessels of the Church of Rome. The Emperor threatened Agapetus with banishment. Agapetus is said to have replied, “With eager longing have I come to gaze upon the Most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a Diocletian, whose threats, however, terrify me not.” Justinian, for the first time in the history of the Church, personally consecrated Anthimus’ legally-elected successor, Mennas. Justinian delivered to the Pope a written confession of faith, which the latter accepted with the proviso that “although he could not admit in a layman the right of teaching religion, yet he observed with pleasure that the zeal of the Emperor was in perfect accord with the decisions of the Fathers”. Shortly afterwards, Agapetus fell ill and died on 536, after a reign as Pope of just ten months.
53 The first era of Byzantine civilization lasted from about AD 324 to 640. During this time, the separate identity of the empire was established. The first great period of the Byzantines occurred during the reign of Justinian I, who took the throne in 527. Justinian re-conquered much of the territory that had fallen into barbarian hands. He also built Constantinople into one of the most splendid cities of the world. The Byzantine Empire was formally separated from Rome in 395, following the death of Emperor Theodosius I. His 17-year-old son Arcadius ruled the Eastern Empire from Constantinople, while his 10-year-old son Honorius was given the Western Empire to rule from Milan. This division, considered temporary at the time, became permanent.
While invaders threatened the foreign affairs of the Byzantines, religious arguments damaged the domestic peace of the empire. A number of heresies-ideas that are different from widely accepted beliefs-were hotly debated by churchmen and laymen alike. One of these heresies was Monophysitism. It concerned the relationship of the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ. Monophysitism believed that Christ had only one nature, one that was divine and not human. In 451 a church council at Chalcedon condemned this belief as heresy. Controversies such as that concerning Monophysitism were more than religious disagreements. They were also a means of opposing the emperor, and so had political as well as religious significance. Periodic quarrels about religious doctrine and church practice also divided Christianity between the Western (Roman Catholic) and Eastern (Eastern Orthodox) churches. These divisions became a permanent schism, or split, in 1054.
54 Pallas was the son of King Evander. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Evander allows Pallas to fight against the Rutuli with Aeneas, who takes him and treats him like his own son Ascanius. In battle, Pallas proves he is a warrior, killing many Rutulians,. Tragically, Pallas is eventually killed by Turnus, who takes his sword-belt, which is decorated with the scene of the fifty slaughtered bridegrooms, as a spoil. Throughout the rest of Book Aeneas is filled with rage at the death of the youth, and mercilessly kills his way to Turnus. Turnus, however, is lured away by Juno so that he might be spared. Pallas’ body is carried on his shield back to Evander, who grieves at his loss. Turnus is finally defeated and begs for his life, Aeneas almost spares him, but catches sight of Pallas’ baldric, Turnus’ fateful spoils. This drives Aeneas into another murderous rage, and the epic ends as he kills Turnus in revenge for Pallas’ death.
55 Romans trace their ancestry to a Trojan hero Aeneas whose father was Anchises, and mother the goddess Aphrodite. Aeneas was raised by Nymphs and received his education from Cheiron, the King of the centaurs. During the Trojan wars, he served under the command of Hector, the Prince of the Trojans. Aeneas was encouraged by Apollo to challenge the Greek warrior Achilles. Poseidon removed Aeneas from the area to preserve him so that he could become the future leader of Troy. However, when Troy was destroyed, Aeneas began an odyssey to find a new home with his fellow Trojans. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, was sent to visit Aeneas twice to remind him of his destiny and to resume his journey to his new land.
After landing in Italy, Aeneas visited Cumaean Sibyl, a prophetess who had access to the underworld through a cave with a hundred openings. Sibyl agreed to be the guide and directed Aeneas to take an item from a nearby magical bough which was sacred to Proserpine, wife of Pluto. Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx, allowed Aeneas to pass because of the item from the magical bough. In the underworld, Aeneas spoke to his father Achises and was told where to settle. He returned from the underworld and sailed again to the Tiber River in a land called Latium.
Aeneas, after beating a rival tribe, began to rule the area where he settled. For twelve generations the throne was passed peacefully down until the thirteenth king – Numitor. His brother Amulius challenged him for the throne, killed his nephews and appointed his niece Rhea Silvia. This position forced Rhea to stay a virgin. Mars, the god of war and farming, became enamored with Rhea and seduced her. She gave birth to two sons, Romulus and Remus. She put the two boys in a basket and tossed it into the Tiber River. The boys were saved by their father Mars, who sent two animals to feed them, until they were discovered by a shepherd Fausulaus. The boys were sheltered by the shepherd and his wife until they had grown. Once united with their grandfather Numitor, they stormed the palace and killed Amulius and restored Numitor to the throne.
Romulus and Remus established their own city on the banks of the Tiber. They argued over the city’s design and name but settle their dispute by seeking a sign from the gods. They decided that whoever saw a flight of vultures first would be the winner. Remus was the first to see six vultures, and shortly after Romulus saw twelve vultures. A fight broke out between their followers. Remus was killed, and Romulus set himself up as ruler. He named the city Rome. After Romulus, six other kings rose to power. Each played a role in expanding the city and making the city’s influence known throughout the world.
56 The Romans, who were already fed up with their Etruscan kings, were spurred to action after a member of the royal family raped a patrician matron named Lucretia. The Roman people expelled their kings, driving them from Rome. Following the last of the kings, the Romans did what they were always good at – copying what they saw around them and adapting it into a form that worked better. Rome replaced the Etruscan rulers with a Republic. That form is the Roman Republic, which endured for 5 centuries, beginning in the year 509 BC.
57 Roman Republic began with the overthrow of the Roman Monarchy and before the Christian era. It began as an ancient Roman civilization dated around 509 BC which began as a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and advised by a senate. A complex constitution gradually developed, centreed on the principles of a separation of powers so that, in theory at least, no single individual wielded absolute power over his fellow citizens.
Roman society was hierarchical evolution of the Constitution of the Roman Republic was heavily influenced by the struggle between the patricians, Rome’s land-holding aristocracy, who traced their ancestry back to the early history of the Roman kingdom, and the plebeians, the far more numerous citizen-commoners. The leaders of the Republic developed a strong tradition and morality requiring public service and patronage in peace and war, making military and political success inextricably linked.
During the first two centuries of its existence the Republic expanded through a combination of conquest and alliance, from central Italy to the entire Italian peninsula. Two centuries later despite the Republic’s traditional and lawful constraints against any individual’s acquisition of permanent political powers, Roman politics was dominated by a small number of Roman leaders. The victor in one of these civil wars, Octavian, reformed the Republic with himself as Rome’s “first citizen”. Annual magistrates were elected as before, but final decisions on matters of policy, warfare, diplomacy and appointments were privileged to Augustus. One of his many titles was imperator from which the title “emperor” is derived, and he is customarily called the first Roman Emperor. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate’s grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian under the first settlement and his adopting the title Augustus in 27 BC, as the defining event ending the Republic.
58 Hannibal Barca of Carthage was the famous General of Carthage who crossed the Alps with his elephants to fight the Romans. This happened around 2,200 years ago. Carthage – with its capital near Tunis in modern-day Tunisia, North Africa – was a trading empire that had co-existed with Rome for many centuries. Eventually the two empires clashed in the series of three wars called the Punic Wars. Rome defeated Carthage three times, finally destroying the city and the empire. During the Second Punic War – he started attacking Spain and then invading Italy over 16 years, inflicting horrific defeats on the Roman forces. He was never defeated in a major engagement by the Romans in Italy but was gradually bottled up in the south of the country. Finally Rome invaded his north African homeland and he was recalled to defend it. There he suffered his first major defeat, which ended the Second Punic War. Hannibal was then on the run and travelled through the Middle East, selling his military skills – usually to the opponents of Rome’s allies. Finally Hannibal was trapped and took poison to avoid capture.
59 Caesar’s Civil War against Pompey: (49-25 BC). After the First Triumvirate war ended, the senate supported Pompey. Meanwhile, Caesar had become a military hero and a champion of the people. The senate feared him and wanted him to give up his army. In 50 BC Caesar wrote the senate that he would give up his army if Pompey would give up his. The senate with fury and demanded that Caesar disband his army at once or be declared an enemy of the people.
Two tribunes faithful to Caesar, Marc Antony and Quintus Cassius Longinus vetoed the bill and were quickly expelled from the senate. They fled to Caesar, who assembled his army and asked for the support of the soldiers against the senate. Caesar’s march to Rome was a triumphal progress. He besieged Pompey until Pompey fled with his fleet to Greece. Returning to Rome, Caesar himself elected consul, and then set out for Greece and later Egypt in pursuit of Pompey.
Caesar, having pursued Pompey to Egypt, remained there for some time, living with Cleopatra, taking her part against her brother and husband Ptolemy XIII, and establishing her firmly on the throne. From Egypt he went to Syria and Pontus, where he defeated Pharnaces II. In the same year he personally put down a mutiny of his army and then set out for Africa, where the followers of Pompey had fled, to end their opposition led by Cato.
60 Cassius and Marcus Brutus are part of the conspiracy to kill Caesar for the good of Rome. Brutus used to be Caesar’s best friend but betrayed him by helping to kill him. Cassius was also part of the killing of Brutus. In the end in the battle of Philippi, Brutus and Cassius join forces to fight against Marc Antony and his troops.
61 Tiberius Gracchus (163 BC) ruled the emperor’s (Augustus) now heirless house for twelve years, and the Roman world, with absolute sway, for about twenty-three. It was a bright time in his life and reputation, while under Augustus he was a private citizen or held high offices. As step son during his father’s lifetime he was of reserve and crafty virtue, as long as Germanicus and Drusus were alive. While his mother lived, he was a compound of good and evil; he was infamous for his cruelty. He veiled his debaucheries, while he loved or feared Sejanus. Finally, he plunged into every wickedness and disgrace. When fear and shame was finally cast off he simply indulged his own inclinations.
After the death of King Herod the Great (74-4 BC), his kingdom was divided amongst his sons. Herod Antipas became the ruler of Galilee. According to the Gospels, Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded at the capricious request of his daughter (Salome), during the time of Jesus in Galilee, (Matthew 14:6-11, Mark 6:21-28). He schemed to kill baby Jesus
62 Titus (39-81 AD) was Roman Emperor from 71-81 AD. He was brought up in the court of Emperor Claudius and enjoyed a successful military career. He went with his father to suppress the Jewish Revolt. Jerusalem was sacked, the Jewish temple was destroyed and much of the population killed or dispersed.
63 Charles I or Charlemagne: Around the time of his birth in 742 his father, Pippin III the Short, was mayor of the palace, an official serving the Merovingian king but actually wielding effective power over the extensive Frankish kingdom. He received practical training for leadership by participating in the political, social, and military activities associated with his father’s court. His early years were a succession of events that had immense implications for the Frankish position in the contemporary world. In 751, with papal approval, Pippin seized the Frankish throne from the last Merovingian king, Childeric III. After meeting with Pope Stephen II at the royal palace Pippin forged an alliance with the pope by committing himself to protect Rome in return for papal sanction of the right of Pippin’s dynasty to the Frankish throne. Pippin in 756 bestowed on the papacy a block of territory stretching across central Italy which formed the basis of a new political entity, the Papal States, over which the pope ruled.
64 Charles I of Anjou was the King of Sicily which he had received through Papal Grant. He was a most controversial figure of 13th century Europe who triggered a revolt of the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, and had repercussions felt throughout the Mediterranean for decades. The Sicilian Vespers put an end to the power of the French prince, Charles of Anjou, to act as arbiter of the fortunes of Italy, Greece and the Holy Land; the Vespers also acted as a central problem in the policies of Charles’s descendants.
65 Desires for Fame are seen in scientists with maniacal desire for success and money which even tempts noble minds.
66 Romeo of Villeneuve tutored the Count’s four daughters, married all of Count Beranger’s four daughters to kings, and then walked away from his glory to become a lonely beggar-pilgrim again.
67 Paschal Time chant: ‘Hosanna holy God of Sabbath, who abundantly illumines with the Light of thy brightness’. Paschal Time is period between Easter Sunday and the Saturday following Whit Sunday. It is the most sacred portion of the Liturgical Year, and the one towards which the whole Cycle converges. St. Gregory states the most sacred part of the Bodily Temple is called the Holy of Holies. It describes the marriage between The Christ and the Spiritual Seeker. It is on this day, that the mission of the Word (AUM) Incarnates and attains the object of human existence; towards which each sincere seeker is unceasingly inclined towards. Mankind is thus raised up from his fall towards materialism and worldliness, and regains The Christ what he lost.
Jesus was the human Man-God who over three days allowed witnesses to shed his physical body but on the day of Easter, Jesus was no longer the Victim of death: He demonstrated he is a Conqueror that destroys physical death, the child of sin. On the third day he proclaims everlasting life, that undying life of every soul (astral and causal being) does not suffer humiliation and the sufferings of physical Agony and on the Cross. On the day of Easter, Jesus regains, by Resurrection the Man-God. It is not Jesus alone that returns to eternal life; the whole human race is able to rise to immortality just like Jesus. ‘By a man came death,’ says the Apostle; ‘and by a Man the Resurrection of the dead: and as in Adam all die, so also in The Christ all shall be made alive ‘ (1 Corinthian: 15: 21, 22).
68 Crucifixion: According to Rabbinic Law capital punishment was limited to four methods of execution: stoning, burning and crucifixion. To terrorize and dissuade its witnesses victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, and public. Affixing was to a tree, to an upright pole or to a combination of an upright and a crossbeam.
69 Thus saith the Lord God,…. Concerning Seir or the Edomites, the prophecy concerning the Moabites being finished: because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance: or, “revenging a revenge” ; the Edomites bore an old grudge against the Jews, not only because their father Jacob had got the birthright and blessing from their father Esau; but because they were made tributaries to them in David’s time, and afterwards severely chastised by Amaziah; these things they laid up in their minds, and vowed revenge whenever they had an opportunity; and now one offered at the destruction of Jerusalem, which they took: and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them: not only by rejoicing at the destruction of the Jews, but by encouraging the Babylonians in it; assisting them therein, joining with them in plundering the city, and in cutting off those with the sword who endeavoured to make their escape (Psalm 137:7).
Vengeance is “revenging with revengement,” that is an unrelenting vengeance. It was not simple hatred, but deep-brooding, implacable revenge. The grudge of Edom or Esau was originally for Jacob’s robbing him of Isaac’s blessing (Genesis 25:23; 27:27-41). This purpose of revenge yielded to the extraordinary kindness of Jacob, through the blessing of Him with whom Jacob wrestled in prayer; but it was revived as a hereditary grudge in the posterity of Esau when they saw the younger branch rising to the pre-eminence which they thought of right belonged to them. For David’s subjugation of Edom to Israel gave vent to their spite by joining the Chaldeans in destroying Jerusalem and then intercepting and killing the fugitive Jews and occupying part of the Jewish land as far as Hebron.
70 Man begins with The Divine Christ in Central Nervous System and is then enclosed in the Physical, Mental/Intellectual, and Causal Sheaths to become an extrovert through the 5 senses and 5 organs of action. Jesus’ life is an example of how to return back to The Christ through active spiritualism.
71 In historical terms, crucifixion was a Roman punishment for running afoul of Roman laws. Pilate hated the Jews, so the idea that the High Priest asked Pilate to execute Jesus whom he hated is a story that makes sense when viewed through the lens of history. The ancient Jewish Court is depicted as breaking just about every one of its most sacred rules.
72 The temple leaders say: “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33).
73 Forgiveness comes from cessation of offence against oneself; Freedom is God’s nature to service-bound servants who offer Love as indisputably the only gift towards immortality.
74 Convivio: (Banquet) written by Dante in the 13th century about a celebration of all things Italian for the Spirit and a plea for resurgence of social heritage embracing art, culture, heritage and communal peace;
75 Charles Martel (688-741) was mayor of the palace of Austrasia. He reunited and ruled the entire Frankish realm and stemmed the Muslim invasion at Poitiers in 732. His byname, Martel, means “the hammer.” Charles was the illegitimate son of Pippin II the mayor of the palace of Austrasia. By this period the Merovingian kings were rulers in name only. The burden of rule lay on the mayors of the palace acting in the name of the king. The assassination of Pippin’s only surviving legitimate son in 714 was followed a few months later by the death of Pippin himself. Pippin left as heirs three grandsons. As an illegitimate son, Charles Martel was entirely neglected in the will. But he was young, strong, and determined, and an intense struggle for power at once broke out in the Frankish kingdom. By 719 Charles alone governed the Franks as mayor. In order to consolidate his military gains, Charles supported St. Boniface and other missionaries in their efforts to convert the German tribes on the eastern frontier to Christianity.
76 The turning back of the Muslims was what assured Charles Martel his place in popular history. But his family’s supplanting of the Merovingian rulers was an achievement of equal significance. Charles himself maintains the fiction of Merovingian power. At first his son Pepin III (also known as Pepin the Short) did the same. He appointed a new puppet king, Childeric III, in 743. But in 751 he decided to replace him on the throne himself. Before doing so he secured the approval of the pope. Such direct involvement in the dynastic politics of Europe was a significant departure for the papacy. Charlemagne’s great empire remained precariously intact for this one reign after his death. Its fragmentation began when Louis died, in 840. But the name of Charlemagne in legend and literature remains vigorously alive. In 840, on the death of Charlemagne’s son Louis the Pious, war broke out between his three sons over their shares of this inheritance. A division between the brothers was finally agreed in 843, in a treaty signed at Verdun. The dividing lines drawn on this occasion proved of lasting and dark significance in the history of Europe.
77 Robert a Castilian from the Middle Ages documents two texts from the second half of the twelfth century: a fragment translated from the Visigoth Forum iudicum and the Homilies d’Organy?. Their importance is in Castilian as seen in the sentences in the Romance tongue of Latin texts from the first half of the twelfth century. The refined, cultivated literature of Provence developed between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the southern half of what today is France and had a powerful influence on the neighbouring cultures of Northern Italy and Catalonia. In Italy it produced the ?Dolce Stil Nuovo?, which is the basis of the poetry of Dante and Petrarch. In Catalonia it was the start of a tradition which lasted until the fourteenth century and produced poets as outstanding as Guillem de Bergued?. While Catalan poetry was born of the rich Provencal tradition, prose received its definitive thrust thanks to Ramon Llull (1232-1315), one of the most interesting figures of medieval Europe.
78 At the opening of the book of First Samuel, the priest Eli is mentioned. So are his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were also serving as priests. But, they didn’t know the Lord. “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD” (1 Sam 2:12).
79 Charles the Bald (823-877) and Holy Roman Emperor (875-877as Charles II) and King of West Francia (840-877). With the borders of his land defined by the Treaty of Verdun, the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith, was the grandson of Charlemagne.
80 Divine Providence: God governs all things (divine action) through secondary causes like Laws of Nature and Karma. The purpose, or goal, of divine providence is to accomplish the will of God. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than a depiction of God at work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power, nor do they work independently. The laws of nature are the rules and principles that God set in place to govern how things work. The same goes for human choice. The doctrine of divine providence can be summarized: “God in eternity past, in the counsel of His own will, ordained everything that will happen; yet in no sense is God the author of sin; nor is human responsibility removed.” God works indirectly through these secondary causes to accomplish His will.
81 Dante who is familiar with Socrates who claims young men group together in when of similar attitude if they listen to the gods that cause them. “This, then, will be one of the laws or patterns relating to gods that speakers and poets will to follow: those gods are not the cause of all things, but only of good ones”.
He goes on to state ‘classes of people exits when a feverishly active city is “luxuriously” developed and holds many craftsmen that citizens need. These classes have different kind of characters and even craftsmen act as warriors. If that was to happen, the city would be destroyed due to each one works for his unsuitable nature, “There is nothing strange in that, by Zeus. You see, it occurred to me while you were speaking that, in the first place, we are not all born alike. On the contrary, each of us differs somewhat in nature form the other, one being suited to one job, another to another”.
82 Clemence of Austria (1262 – 1295) was a daughter of King Rudolph I of Germany and member of the House of Habsburg. In 1281, Clemence married Charles Martel of Anjou and had had three children: Charles I of Hungary who married three times, his second wife was Beatrix of Luxembourg (the wife of John II of Viennois) and his third wife was Elisabeth of Poland. All of his surviving children were with Elisabeth. It is believed that Clemence died in 1293, in relation to the birth of her youngest daughter and namesake, Clemence.
83 Avenged through revenge implies inflicting pain to retaliate for real or imagined wrongs but Charles is a servant of God and says Clemence should be afraid even though he does not bear the sword of vengeance.
84 Charles Martel’s final prophecies slide into silence as Dante rhetorically addresses Charles’s dead or living wife Clemens. Then another spirit flares brightly and Dante interrogates it. This is the soul of Cunizza da Romano, sister of the infamous Ezzelino whose mother dreamed she had given birth to a firebrand that scorched the land. Cunizza was born in the castle of Romano. Famous for her love affairs, she had four husbands and many paramours, of whom Sordello was one. When she was about 67 years old and the last survivor of her father’s family, she liberated her father’s serfs. Dante suggests here she was a penitent. Her brother Ezzelino III da Romano, the tyrant (1194-1259), lord of Verona, Vicenza and Padua, called ‘the son of the devil’, was imperial vicar under Frederick II. Pope Alexander IV declared a crusade against him, and he was defeated at Cassano on the Adda, and subsequently died. He was the head of the Ghibellines in Northern Italy. Dante came across him in the seventh circle of the Inferno among the other tyrants.
She continues with a prediction of Paduan disaster at Vicenza, at the hands of Can Grande; then of the murder of Ricardo da Camino, son of the ‘good Gerard’. Gerard was Captain-General of Treviso from 1283 till his death in 1306 when Ricardo, who was the brother of Gaia, and husband of Giovanna Visconti succeeded him, only to be treacherously murdered at Treviso where the rivers Sile and Cagnano meet. Finally Cunizza prophesies the treachery of Alessandra Novello Bishop of Feltro, who in 1314 surrendered certain Ghibelline gentlemen of Ferrara, in his protection, to Pino della Tosa, who then governed Ferrara as vicar of King Robert, by whom they were killed.
Having delivered herself of these prophecies related to Can Grande’s territories round Verona, Cunizza falls silent. Before doing so she makes a reference to the third Order of Angels, that of Thrones, who signify the Power of God, manifested through the Angels and drawing them towards Him. They are the mirrors of his judgments, and also represent his steadfastness. Joy is connected with the Seraphim: trust in God’s power with the Thrones.
85 Cunizza da Romano (1198-1279): Italian noblewoman who identifies herself as one who lived under the powerful influence of Venus. As a young girl, Cunizza married Ricardo di San Bonifacio, Lord of Verona, but eloped with the court poet Sordello, who took her to his parents’ house. Later she married Aimerio of the Counts of Braganze. She spent her last days in Florence in the household of Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti, where Dante came to know her in person. She excuses her adulterous actions as influence of Venus.
86 Venus is the second planet from the Sun orbiting it every 225 days. She is the goddess of Love and beauty and represents the principle of fecundity and exerts its influence on the seminal protoplasm. It can be counteracted by observing celibacy and sex sublimation.
87 Love towards God flows from the heart and life reflects as purity of the Divine Being towards all.
88 According to the history of Treviso, it first settling sprang up before the arrival of the Romans. With the Roman Empire Treviso became an important trade centre. When the Roman Empire fell, the barbarian invasions (Visigoths, Huns, Ostrogoths, Goths and Lombards) followed; then, about the year 1000, a process of growth began and it led Treviso to become a city-republic town. Around 1000 AD Treviso was protected by walls which surrounded a less wide area of town than that existing one, built in 16th century. In 1306: Gerardo da Camino died after governing the town for 22 years and his body was buried in the Church of St. Francis.
89 March of Treviso was a medieval territory in Venetia, between the Garda and the Julian March. The territory corresponded roughly to the region around the city of Treviso and the dioceses of all four cities. Over time the march of Verona (Verona, Vicenza, and Padua) became merged with that of Treviso. In the High Middle Ages the region was under the domination of the Guelph Caminesi and the Ghibelline Ezzelino families. In time the march came under the control of the Republic of Venice. Rolandino of Padua wrote a Chronicle of the Treviso March around 1262, recounting the history of the Ezzelino and their dominance there.
90 Rehab: In Book of Joshua in the Bible, Rahab was a prostitute. When Joshua sent two messengers to spy on the city of Jericho, Rahab aided them by hiding them in her house and helping them escape. As gratitude for her help, Rahab’s family was spared when the Israelites destroyed Jericho
91 Conceived in the mind of God is what the mind believes:
92 God’s Covenant with Noah: “And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth” (Genesis 9:11-17).
93 Twenty-four Elders: Legions of Beings who are Elders of Creation and existing in each of us as 24 centres of consciousness-power.
94 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of The Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of The Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head”( Ephesians 4:11-15 ).
95 Nathan: Prophet during the reigns of David and Solomon:
96 David’s Sin: David’s son Absalom conspired against the King, and subsequently hanged himself when his counsel was not followed. Absalom was killed at the battle in the wood of Ephraim, and David mourned for him, saying ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’
97 Angelic Intelligences: are emanations of pure spirit (angels) worshipped by mankind as individual ‘gods’. Traditionally there are nine orders of Intelligences;
98 Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, after helping Theseus to escape from the labyrinth, was carried by him to the island of Naxos and was left there asleep. Ariadne, on waking and finding herself deserted, abandoned herself to grief. But Venus took pity on her, and consoled her with the promise that she should have an immortal lover, instead of the mortal one she had lost. The island where Ariadne was left was the favourite island of Bacchus. He found her, consoled her and made her his wife as Minerva had prophesied to Theseus. As a marriage present he gave her a golden crown, enriched with gems, and when she died, he took her crown and threw it up into the sky. As it mounted the gems grew brighter and were turned into stars, and preserving its form Ariadne’s crown remains fixed in the heavens as a constellation.
99 Resurrection from physical death is the rising of the soul as The Christ; it is misunderstood as the rising of the dead physical carcass.
100 Light of God reveals Itself as His Love towards each in humanity – each can look at the “Pure Light and become the Light of God, Truth, the true Light, which lighteth every man’ (Jn 1:4, 9) without exception. That Light cannot be alienated from us, but is ever the essence of our existence, making us ‘the children of light.'” (Jn 12:36) This is the real Gospel, the Good News, of real religion.'” “According to Buddhism, all beings are imbued with a spark of inner divine light…. The Jewish mystics use similar words when they speak of the inner spark or the spark of God. The Koran, referring to man, talks about the little candle flame burning in a niche in the wall of God’s temple; Almost inevitably a spiritual search becomes a search for divine or sacred light. By cultivating our inner core, we search for this light in ourselves as well as the divine.”
101 God’s Love is equal for all; Destinies of mortals depend on whether one grasps these truths to allow each to enjoy that Love;
102 Once purified by his intelligence and control of the mind with determination, giving up objects of sense gratification, is always in trance and who is detached, free from false ego, free from false proprietorship, and peaceful-such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization.
103 Blessed Joachim of Flora was a Cistercian monk of renowned holiness who lived during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Although his sanctity of life was acknowledged by the Church, many of Abbot Joachim’s writings were subsequently found to contain errors. He denied the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit, and this particular error of his was solemnly condemned by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215; but what really generated controversy within the Church during the thirteenth century were his teachings regarding the three ages or dispensations of world history, the age of the Father, which lasted until the Incarnation, which ushered in the age of the Son, during which the Catholic Church would hold sway, and which would subsequently give way to the final age: Apparently, Joachim never considered himself a prophet, merely a scriptural exegete. This extremist position precipitated the solemn condemnation of Joachim’s teachings by Pope Alexander IV in 1256.
104 The Spiritual Sun and its spheres are conserved in beauty, perfection, and deathless spiritual life of the physical parent sun. Here perfected souls become deific and lords of creation. They are the angels of the entire solar system, and in their ascending spheres become archangels, gods, “thrones, dominions, powers,” ruling and governing the planetary worlds of their own system until time shall be no more.
Views of antiquity concerning the Sun Deity, was rejected by those accustomed to image forth their God as a huge man, seated on a huge throne, listening to hymns of praise from the saints in Heaven. In the years that shall be, humanity will all worship the Central Spiritual Sun, with its Elohim, tutelary gods, angels, and guardians of this solar system, and bend their mortal lives on earth, only to be worthy to join these hosts of Heaven. All religious systems on the face of the earth originated in solar worship, most commonly in the acceptance of the physical sun as the sign and symbol of a Spiritual sun. So taught, and so worshiped India, Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, Greece, and Rome. So did the Cabalistic writers of the Jewish Scriptures imply, when they put into the mouths of the Elohim the words-“Let us make man in OUR image “; when they gave the Jewish nation in charge to one of the Elohim, or “Jehovah”; when they filled their Scriptures with a thousand figures of speech, all indicative of Deity in the brightness of solar glory. So wrote the Cabalists in imaging forth the fall of Spirit through the creative sunbeam in the fall of man and the origin of sex.
105 Dante’s Reforming Mission (the Spiritual Journey) comes from the lens of an insightful Woman through Discipleship, Sharing God’s Love and Changing Lives
106 Dante is referring to Book VI in the Aeneid and a Gnostic gospel called “The Vision of St. Paul,” which describes Paul’s journey into the underworld. He emphasizes his self-doubt, personal unworthiness for this journey. Virgil comments on Dante’s “cowardice,” and compares it to the “trick of vision” that even “startles a shying beast”
107 Cacciaguida explains that Dante is a leaf of that family tree of which he is a root. Dante’s great-great-grandfather, whose son was Alighiero I, and who having died, according to Dante, some hundred or so years before had been in Purgatory in the first terrace of Pride, since that time. Cacciaguida’s wife was Alighiera of the Aldighieri family of Ferrara from whom the family name was believed to originate. He himself took part in Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s unsuccessful second Crusade of 1147, under the Emperor Conrad III, and was killed. His brother’s name Eliseo suggests a connection with the Elisei family.
Cacciaguida takes the opportunity to extol the simple virtues of early Florence. The Badia, the bell tower from which the ancient canonical hours were rung (tierce at nine, nones at twelve) was close to the ancient circle of walls, within which, in Cacciaguida’s time Florence was still enclosed. The second circle of walls was built in 1173, the third circle which is still intact in part, was built at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Life was simple, daughters waited to be married, dowries were appropriate, great families lived and dressed modestly: none were decayed or in exile: and the founding of Florence by Catalina’s Romans, and of Fiesole before it by Electra, were remembered.
He himself, a knight, died fighting the Muslim infidel, and he makes clear his view that the Holy Land should of right be administered by Christians. This is ancient Florence speaking, upright and firm, simple and virtuous, staunch and filled with fortitude. Dante is creating echoes of ancient Rome and the Republic, rather than the later Empire, but the effect is Virgilian and calls to mind Augustus’s personal adherence to plain values and simple virtues. Here also is the Church Militant in Crusader action. Dante, the exile, asserts his own Florentine roots in defiance of those who have exiled him, and implies the corruption of modern times compared with Florence’s former greatness.
108 “At these words which the queen spoke to him, the lady of Malehaut coughed, of a set purpose, and lifted her head that had been bowed”: from Romance of Lancelot. The moment was Guinevere’s first open acknowledgement of Lancelot.
109 The son of Phoebus Apollo and Clymene, (wife of the Ethiopian king Merops, and the grandson of Tethys) asked Phoebus for proof of his paternity. He was granted a wish, to drive the chariot of the sun but could not control it. He was killed by Jupiter’s thunderbolt to prevent the earth from being destroyed. The Milky Way was the sign of his journey, still visible in the heavens. His death is mentioned, because Jupiter for the good of all destroyed the one.
110 Bo?thius (475-525), Roman consul and philosopher who was condemned to death by Theodoric, at Pavia; He wrote the Consolation of Philosophy while in prison, defending virtuous life and the ways of God. He stressed truth, in earthly life, and though a Pagan with Christian connections was accepted as a Christian teacher. He argued the timelessness of God’s view of existence, and the validity of Human Free will.
111 Dante singles out the Popes and Cardinals consumed by avarice. The papacy has denied the way of poverty and humility, and embraced the culture of ‘getting and spending’. The Old Man of Crete represents the degeneracy of Empire and Papacy: An ironic reference to the corrupt Pope Boniface. The grandfather envisages a purified Papacy, freed from secular political involvement, with jurisdiction over spiritual affairs. Similarly he envisages a central political authority, the Empire, modelled on Imperial Rome, and uninvolved in Papal and spiritual matters.
112 Verona on the Brenner road to central Europe made it a commercial site of strategic importance since Roman times in 89 BC. During the barbarian invasions of Rome (5th-6th century AD) Odoacer made it his fortress, and Theodoric later made it his favourite residence. Verona later became the seat of a Lombard duchy and then of Frankish counts. In the 12th century it was made a free commune. Verona formed (1164) the Veronese League, which joined (1167) the Lombard League in opposing Emperor Frederick I. The story of Romeo and Juliet embodies the strife between the Guelphs (of whom Romeo’s family were members) and the Ghibellines (Juliet’s family) that tore Verona in the 13th and 14th cent. The Ghibelline Della Scala family became lords of Verona in the 1260s; under Can Francesco (Can Grande) Della Scala (1291-1329) the city reached its greatest power. His successors gradually lost all the city’s possessions, and in 1387 Verona fell to Milan.
113 Dante’s Law of Justice is without Pity in Hell – in fact at the Gate of Hell it declares itself as an emblem of God’s Justice. Divine Justice is merciless and implacable for the spiritually nonaligned who failed to live without hope, the unbaptized and pagans who are condemned to Limbo. Dante is a conformist and his punishments stem from dogmatic rules of church, abuse of freewill and loss of sight to calls of the intellect. Dante believes in the infallible nature of Divine Justice and finds no regret in placing his wife Marcia in Limbo, and Cato at the foot of the Mount of Purgatory. God’s justice is not according to what we deserve by our actions but according to penitence and intention. He assesses that the Law is necessary to curb sin, and ensure the innate good of the soul is not destroyed.
Beatrice indicates that Divine Justice is a matter for faith, and may occasionally seem unjust to human beings. Dante interprets the Crucifixion as a just revenge for the Fall, and the destruction of the Temple by Titus as a just revenge for the Jewish betrayal of Christ to the Romans. Beatrice explains the Crucifixion as just in divine terms, since it punished (or revenged) Adam’s original sin, while unjust in human terms given the divine goodness of Christ. We should be prudent in making judgements of others, since God’s justice may be at work, which is not human justice.
114 Love is the shaping force of Dante’s Hell, Purgatory and Heaven – a philosophy difficulty to understand in our age. Ethical ‘Love’ assessed intellectually and is the dual foundation for Dante’s ascent towards the Godhead. Dante’s concept of Love is derived partly from the Troubadour tradition but he spiritualises the concept. Beatrice therefore has attributes of saintliness as well as the erotic religious celebrating pagan love between man and woman. Dante goes beyond the Courtly Conventions found in troubadour poetry describing the behaviour of the knight and his lady love. He writes about his friend Guido Cavalcanti, who wrote lyrics of Love are an irrational force, entering through the eyes at the sight of beauty, attacking the heart, creating pain of desire and longing, depressing the natural animal spirits, of liver, heart and brain. It is a destructive power, creating a hell of unrequited passion, and near death. Dante transcended this with his ideas of spiritualised Love. He links his ideas and rational capabilities, with the divine contemplation about Beatrice. His pretence goes further. He calls it Divine Philosophy instead of Human Philosophy, and calls it Divine love and not Human Love. Once Dante defines Human Love as Divine love he assigns his ideas towards all those who repent, even if excommunicated by the church. Dante then uses Love in prayer to intercede for departed souls. and redeem.
God seemingly loves the starry spheres of the primal creation, most. The nearer these heavens are to the source of Love, Dante’s hierarchical view of the Universe meets with a hierarchical degree of God’s love. This ideation is evidenced by the stakeholder Sapia’s opinion that Dante’s journey is evidence of God’s love for him.
An interchange between Dante and Virgil on the nature of sharing goodness; Sharing does not diminish because sharing spiritually increases potency of love through being shared. Divine goodness attracts love, and gives more by discovering more of a comeback. The wider love spreads the greater is its sum of mutual understanding among increasing number of spirits who become permeated with such an understanding. According to Dante’s understanding human love becomes spiritualised with understanding and love reflects reciprocally with one another.
In Purgatory, Love is natural love that is error free and rational love, but which may err through abuse and betrayal. Suffering for such a sin in Hell (Inferno) can be repaired and healed in Purgatory and fully exposed in Paradiso. This idea mirrors the Crucifixion, Descent, and Ascent of Christ. It expresses in the community spirits, personal cleansing and re-orientation towards mutual and communal Love. Dante then defines how Rational Love when wrongly directed (Pride, Envy, Wrath), inadequately expressed (Sloth), or excessively manifested expresses as overindulgence (Avarice, Gluttony, Lust).
115 Charlemagne was Charles (Born 742, Ruled 768-814 AD), the son of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks. He conquered the Langobard kingdom in 773-774, and extended his empire into Slav territory. As the Founder of the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Leo III (795-816) crowned him Emperor 23-24 December 800, with the Imperial title ‘Romanorum gubernans imperium’. By the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 812, the Eastern Roman Emperor, Michael I, recognised Charlemagne as Emperor in exchange for the surrender of Istria, Venetia, and Dalmatia. He died at Aix-la-Chapelle in 814 and was entombed in the Dome. He was the legendary rebuilder of Florence, and Justinian earlier mentioned Charlemagne in the summary of Imperial history, as having protected the Church by use of Imperial force and right.
116 Roland (Orlando), Charlemagne’s nephew, and the hero of the battle of Roncesvalles, went down to defeat with his Franks, fighting against the Saracens, while attempting to hold the valley in 778AD. He blew his horn in desperation, to alert his uncle eight miles away, but Charlemagne was misled by the advice of the traitor Ganelon, and did not provide aid. The epic is told in the Old French Chanson de Roland, the ‘Song of Roland’, where the intensity of Roland’s blast on the horn shattered it. The defeat allowed Arab incursions into Narbonne in 793, but Dante proclaims it as part of the continuing war against the Muslim threat to Christianity.
117 William of Orange was a hero of French Romance, historically one of Charlemagne’s knights, who, after fighting the Saracens, retired to die as a monk in 812, and Renard a converted Saracen, his mythical brother-in-law and his companion in battle, who retired with him to become a monk.
118 Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, was a descendant of Charlemagne who led the First Crusade which captured Jerusalem in 1099. (On Friday July 15th he was the first Crusader to drop down from the wall into the city, close by Herod’s Gate) The capture was followed by indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants, ‘the knights riding up to their knees in blood, in the Haram enclosure, where the Mohammadans sought refuge’. He ruled there, as king, until his death of illness the following year, but refused the royal crown and title. He was buried in the Holy Sepulchre where his tomb (and sword) survived until the great fire of 1808. Despite the massacre, he was remembered as the best and wisest of the Christian leaders.
119 Robert Guiscard (1085), the Son of Tancred de Hauteville, was the founder of the Norman dynasty in southern Italy and Sicily. He waged war in Sicily and Southern Italy from 1059 to 1080, against the Greeks and Saracens and won the title Duke of Apulia from Pope Nicholas II in 1059, and died in 1085.
120 Jupiter is associated with Justice and Wisdom, with Jupiter the Roman god, and therefore with the Roman Emperors, and with the Christian God. God’s justice informs the intellect which then creates the conditions for it on earth. She says the evil recognise Justice even if they do not follow it. God’s Justice is beyond human understanding. Dante asks the question concerning the denial of salvation to those who do not know Christianity, and is told that it is a matter of God’s justice and faith in that justice. Even Lucifer was too limited to see all, and fell through his own impatience for greater knowledge.
121 The Emperor Albert Albrecht I of Hapsburg, King of the Germans, and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1298-1308) carried out an aggressive campaign against Bohemia in 1304, confiscating it as an expired fief of the crown.
122 Philip IV of France (1285-1314) debased the coinage by two-thirds in 1302 to defray the cost of his Flemish campaign.
123 Edward I of England (1272-1307) claimed the crown of Scotland and suppressed William Wallace’s popular uprising. Later Scotland obtained national independence under Robert the Bruce, at Bannockburn, in 1314.
124 Ferdinand IV, King of Castile and Leon (1295-1312), was noted for his luxurious style of living at the expense of his kingdom.
125 Wenceslaus of Bohemia, Wenceslas II (1278-1305), was noted for his sybaritic ways according to Dante.
126 Charles II of Anjou, (1243-1309), titular King of Jerusalem, is ineffectual and debased,
127 Frederick King of Sicily (1296-1337), and his uncle James of the Balearic Isles (1276-1311), and his brother James II of Aragon (1291-1327);
128 Dionysius (1279-1325) of Portugal, Hakon (1299-1319) of Norway, Stephen Ouros II (1275-1321) of Serbia, called Rascia from its capital, who issued counterfeit Venetian coins,
129 Andrew III of Hungary, and finally Henry of Lusignan King of Cyprus (died 1324), whose bad rule Dante cites as a warning to Joanna wife of Philip the Fair, concerning her separate kingdom of Navarre.
130 Eagle represents Rome: Dante positions himself outside the political framework of Church versus Empire. He aligns himself to a Rome that was the ancestral source of Florence, and to its great history. According to tradition it was besieged by Caesar, in the Fiesole hills, three miles north-west of Florence. When the town fell a new town was established, in the valley, by the River Arno. The inhabitants were a mixture of Fiesolans and Roman soldiers. The Florentine commoners (Whites) were held to be descended from the Fiesolans, the nobility (Blacks) from the Romans. This was a source of the future conflicts. Dante was for a reformed Papacy and a strong (Holy Roman) Empire, and was active in the expulsion of both Whites and Blacks from Florence, he was therefore opposed by both parties, though ostensibly a Ghibelline (his father having been a Guelf) and courted and vilified by both.
131 Dante’s use of individuals as examples stresses his preoccupations with religious and Roman history, about Italy and Florence, and then his own family.
132 Justice is beyond human understanding. Diving and denial of salvation is a matter of God’s justice and faith in that justice;
133 Aenus the legendary ancestor of the Roman people and a Trojan noble who escaped the sack of Troy and sailed via Carthage; Aeneas is the symbol of the Roman Empire achieved from the ruins of Troy, and the virtuous victor of the Wars in Latium against Turnus. As the ancestor of Rome’s founder Romulus, he is Dante’s Imperial founder also.
134 Trajan the Adopted Emperor (98-117AD), after the mutiny of the Praetorian Guard; The first Emperor of Provincial origin was given the title in 117 and he oversaw the greatest extent of the Roman Empire. Pope Gregory supposedly interceded on his behalf through prayer, to bring about Trajan’s deliverance from hell, and to allow him time for repentance.
135 Pope Gregory I, the Great (540-604), the first monastic Pope, who called himself the servant of God’s servants. He was the founder of the worldly power of the Papacy in Italy. He established the form of the Roman liturgy and its music (Gregorian Chant). He instituted the rule of celibacy for the clergy. The prayers were predestined to save Trajan.
136 Virgil has earlier explained that prayer is ineffective in the Pagan world. But that Christian prayer, showing Love of the departed, can discharge the debt of sin, and speed purgation. Pope Gregory’s intercession by prayer on behalf of Trajan so that he might have time for repentance.
137 Desire of spirits: they desire what they have and possess no other desires. Their will is therefore subsumed in the Divine will. Dante accepts the view that the stars influence human propensities. He is always concerned to follow the ‘soft’ astrological view of planetary influence on human life but not pre-determination of it, so leaving room for the key human attribute of free will: the power of the free will to remain loyal to an ideal.
138 What conforms most closely to the Divine Good is pleasing to God since it reflects Himself. An action if it reveals more of the goodness of the heart it comes from Christ. Dante implies that one is not condemned for an action intended to do good that has evil consequences. So Constantine is not to blame for the evil effects of the Donation. Dante unites Truth and Goodness, to be known by the intellect, out of which flows the transcendent joy of Love. Though Truth and Love coexist in God, intellect and knowledge in Man is the cause of human love.
139 Dante refers to the concept of ‘the whatness of a thing’ as opposed to its name. One can recognise the name without fully understanding the reality.
140 Dante associates Mars as associated with Fortitude, and with the Church Militant through its traditional associations with the war god. Dante suggests the planet Mars was in Leo (signifying courage and pride). He associated Jupiter with Justice and Wisdom, with Jupiter the Roman god, and therefore with the Roman Emperors, and with the Christian God. Saturn he associated with self-control, moderation, temperance and the Golden Age of simplicity and innocence. Saturn in Leo indicates strength of will in astrology
141 The fourth cardinal virtue, temperance indicating self-control, patience, simplicity and contemplation: Saint Benedict signifies the temperance and self-discipline of religious order.
142 When Beatrice smiles with laughing eyes, her smile is a symbol of the theological virtues, her eyes of the cardinal virtues. Here Beatrice’s smile is associated with the theological virtues of faith which expresses compassion for Dante’s lack of trust and belief in the truth revealed directly to him..
143 Francesco del Scala (1291-1329 Dante’s patron at Verona to whom the Paradiso was dedicated and who sheltered him from 1316. He was born in Verona, became lord of Verona in 1311, was an Imperial Vicar, and in 1318 the head of the Ghibelline party. He was an art patron, and kept a civilised and stately court. His elder brother was Bartolommeo, who Dante took refuge with around 1303. As Lord of Verona, his coat of arms was ladder surmounted by the imperial eagle. Dante took refuge with him in the summer of 1302 until Bartolommeo’s death in March 1304.
144 Retribution is the principle of ‘an eye for an eye’ to repay what is damaged;
145 Saint Benedictine was born at Nursia in Umbria, and studied in Rome. He lived as a hermit for several years near Subiaco. He founded the monastery at Monte Cassino on a mountain a spur of Monte Cairo between Rome and Naples. This site was once crowned by altars to Apollo and Venus-Aphrodite. The Rule of his Order demanded poverty, chastity and obedience, manual labour, and irrevocable vows. He was remembered for his many acts of healing.
146 The mystic ladder symbolises Contemplation and the planetary spheres signify the seven virtues, theological and cardinal.
147 Joseph the son of Jacob, his best-beloved son of his old age; His brothers cast him into a pit, stripping him of his coat of many colours, and sold him to the Ishmaelite, who took him to Egypt. There he became an overseer in Potiphar’s household, whose wife tried to seduce him. He refused, and she perjured herself, blaming him, and causing him to be imprisoned
148 Divine providence structures and controls the creation in its nature and its continuing welfare. This is achieved through the angelic intellects present in the planetary spheres. Since God and they are perfect then the results must be regular and not chaotic, art and not disorder. Dante expresses his belief in the completeness of this created Nature. Cunizza da Romano earlier refers to the Angelic Hierarchies, specifically the Order of Thrones, the ‘mirrors’ of God’s judgement. Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation, formed like a coronet of flame, crowns the Virgin Mary.
149 Forced detention and captivity of Jews in Babylonia following the conquest of Kingdom of Judah
150 Triplications: The Angelic Orders are arranged in three triplets. Saint Peter sweeps round Beatrice three times, and after Dante’s successful explanation of faith and his belief, around Dante in the same manner. Dante expresses his belief in the Trinity, and the sources in Scripture from which the belief arose are given here.
151 Dante must have faith in Divine Philosophy, in Beatrice, and not in human philosophy as derived from Classical writing relating to three theological virtues. The keynote of Paradiso is Faith (Belief, Trust, Loyalty etc), and the first canto begins with Dante’s belief in truth in his view. To him the Neoplatonic structure of the Universe is centred on God as the Aristotelian prime mover.
152 Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Christian Saint and influential theologian. One of the four Latin (western) fathers of the Church; he was born at Tagaste in Numidia, and given religious instruction by Monica, his mother.
153 Axle lodged firmly into the majestic of moving wheel, whether visible or invisible, remains fixed at a point while the retinue of part structures keep moving
154 Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the dominant thinker of the middle ages, combined the science and philosophy of Aristotle with the revealed truths of Christianity. Holding that Aristotelianism is true but is not the whole truth, he reconciled the philosophy of Aristotle with the truth of Christian revelation. Aquinas was a committed disciple of Aristotle but was an even more sincere disciple of the Church. He reconceived Aristotle’s ideas to a new context, was able to make distinctions that Aristotle did not formulate, and never hesitated to go beyond Aristotle. The 13th century rediscovery and revival of the corpus of Aristotle’s teaching and Aquinas’ synthesis of it with the tenets of Christian faith effected a dramatic change in medieval political thought. Through his writings, Aquinas provided a solid bridge from the ancients.
155 Seeing God before physical death happens in deep meditation;
156 Hope is the keynote in Purgatorio when Virgil as guide gives Dante hope of reaching the summit of Purgatory and seeing Beatrice. Virgil again gives him hope and promise of seeing Beatrice which eases his weariness. With that Virgil replaces Dante’s fear with hope. Later Statius gives Dante hope of gaining knowledge of cardinal virtues, beyond the purging fire of journey through Inferno and Purgatory.
157 Dante’s Idea of Love went beyond the Courtly Conventions of the troubadour poets, and of his friend Guido Cavalcanti, which represented Love as an irrational force, entering through the eyes at the sight of beauty, attacking the heart, creating the ache and pain of desire and longing, depressing the natural, vital, and animal spirits, of liver, heart and brain, a destructive power, forming a hell of unrequited passion, bringing the lover near death. Dante transcended this with his ideas of spiritualised Love, linking it to the rational capabilities. In Heaven, Dante must go a stage further to the contemplation of Beatrice, Divine Philosophy, beyond Human Philosophy, and a form of Divine not Human Love.
158 Enlightening Words: The Holy Trinity of Father-Son-Holy Spirit is (Consciousness-The Christ-Awareness); Awareness (Creation) is the Mirror Image of Consciousness (God the Father). Only efforts at making the Cosmic Connection (Spiritual Journeys) through entering The Christ (in meditation) leads to Enlightenment regarding the Purpose of Human Existence;
159 Changing Colours of Rainbow: each hierarchical chakra has multiple facets embodied in one simple authority. Each of the chakras are located next to or are associated with a hormonal gland or organ in the body that has close correspondence to the activity (want, anger, greed, covetousness, pride, jealousy/ego) described in the hierarchy. Each chakra is associated with a light spectrum component, spelling out prominence of colours of the rainbow when practitioner follows laws and habits of truth, regular practices of stillness of body, silence of mind, meditation and enlightenment;
160 Free Will according to theological doctrine of divine foreknowledge alleges: if God knows exactly what will happen (right down to every choice a person makes), the “freedom” of choices is questioned. This problem is related to the Aristotelian problem: That means that the future, whatever it is, is completely fixed by past truths: true propositions about the future. Some philosophers follow Philo of Alexandria, in holding that free will is a feature of a human’s soul.
Common thought stresses that free will is a product of the intrinsic human soul, but the ability to make a free choice is through the part of the soul that is united with God, the only being that is not hindered by or dependent on cause and effect.
161 Ninth Heaven (Nirvana): Family of Light Oneness of Energy that links all the heavens in a stretch of colours which unveils the splendour behind it; navagraha is the Cosmic Marker of Influence;
162 Dionysius the Prudent to who were ascribed mystical writings, especially on the Celestial Hierarchy. He possibly composed these mystical sixth century writings. Dionysius was supposed to have learned of the hierarchies and other matters from Saint Paul, who had seen them when rapt up into the third heaven.
163 Pope Gregory I, the Great (540-604), the first monastic Pope, who called himself, the servant of God’s servants. He was the founder of the worldly power of the Papacy in Italy. He established the form of the Roman liturgy and its music (Gregorian Chant) from pagan chants. He instituted the rule of celibacy for the clergy. He interceded through prayer to obtain clemency and justice to the widow, so that Trajan might have a respite for repentance. He gave a different account of the Angelic Hierarchies to that of Dionysius the Areopagite.
164 Jerome: With Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory he is one of the four Latin (western) Fathers of the Church. He retired into the Syrian Desert for four years where he studied Hebrew. He settled in Bethlehem in 386. His translation of the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate, was eventually declared the official version at the Council of Trent. He spoke of the Angels being created long before the rest of the universe, which was contradicted by Aquinas.)
165 Triple: Dante and Beatrice recurrently refer to the “Triple” based on Word, Creator and Love in an expression of the Trinity;
166 Constellations and Stars in Sky: World has associated the heavens, the stars, and the patterns they make in the sky with their gods and goddesses;
167 King represents the mighty Ruler of this universe and the Inner Controller of the three bodies. Humans trust their leaders as the sole refuge one trusts; who is the ocean of mercy and love! Dante in his anguish asks to be elevated, enlightened, guided and protected. He asks that all obstacles be removed from his spiritual path by lifting the veil of ignorance.
168 Beatrice is Dante’s spirit-guide through Paradiso. She is the feminine aspect of every soul and an embodiment of Divine Philosophy, when mortal love transcended. Beatrice is characterized by her beauty, blessedness, her bright and tearful eyes, gentle voice, and her love. She blends the erotic object of desire, with the saint: the friend with the guardian and lover. Beatrice is a spiritualised form of the real girl, embodying erotic charge, saintliness, and symbolizing and demonstrating the philosophic intellect.
She is Dante’s ‘star’, and his guiding light. Beatrice is ‘the light linking truth to intellect’; she is Divine Philosophy, and the source of truth in matters of religion. She is smiling and blessed. The concept of the idealised Beatrice may have a source in Saint Francis’s embrace of ‘Lady Poverty’, the facets of Courtly Love being transferred to a purely spiritual symbol.
169 Silent adorations to the Sun: Who is the silent Witness of all minds, Who is the Indweller in all beings, Who has projected this world for His own sport, Who is the support for this world, body and mind and all movements, and Who is the foundation for all societies and their activities.
170 Divine Travel of Jesus in on Monday 7BC : From the time they (Jesus and his family) left Nazareth until they reached the summit of the Mount of Olives, Jesus experienced one long stress of expectant anticipation. All through a joyful childhood he had reverently heard of Jerusalem and its temple; now he was soon to behold them in reality. From the Mount of Olives and from the outside, on closer inspection, the temple had been all and more than Jesus had expected; but when he once entered its sacred portals, the great disillusionment began.
171 Oriflammes: a scarlet flag, originally of the abbey of St Denis in France, adopted as the national banner of France in the Middle Ages by the King of France. The banner was a symbol, or ideal inspiring devotion or courage;
172 Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) the Cistercian monk and theologian, son of a noble Burgundian family, who founded the great monastery at Clairvaux in France and was Abbot there till his death. He had a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary. He opposed the celebration of her Immaculate Conception. He dedicated all the monasteries of the Cistercian Order to her. He is the type of contemplation. He guides Dante to the final Vision. Bernard is made to express the orthodox view that the unbaptized child must remain in Limbo, where spirits live ‘without hope, in longing’. However Bernard himself in his treatise addressed to Hugh of Saint Victor, holds back from this terrible conclusion. ‘We must suppose that the ancient sacraments were efficacious as long as it can be shown that they were not notoriously prohibited. And after that? It is in God’s hands. Not mine be it to set the limit.’
173 Tenth Heaven or Empyrean or River of Light has Two Courts in Heaven: The White Rose and the Great Throne: Plato speaks of this Internal Heaven in terms which resembles Revelation. He possessed an unshaken confidence in one omnipotent, supreme, overruling power, whose throne was the center of all things, and the abode of angels and blessed spirits. God must be the centre from where all ideas of the Divine Mind flow, as rays in every direction, through all spheres and through all bodies. The inner circumference of this centre is surrounded, filled or formed, by arrangements of the three hierarchies of angels. From this primary circle, or gate of heaven, Lucifer, was hurled into the bottomless abyss. Having placed him near the eternal throne, he became competitor for dominion and power with God himself.
The circles next surrounding the hierarchies are composed of the ministering angels and spirits and messengers of the Deity. Superior angels, or intelligent spirits, who answer to the divine attributes of God, are the pure essences or stream through which the will of the Godhead is communicated to the angels and spirits, and instantaneously conducted to the Anima Mundi.
Round the whole, as an atmosphere round a planet, the Anima Mundi, or universal Spirit of Nature, is placed. It receives impressions or ideas of the Divine Mind, conducts them onward, to the remotest parts of the universe into Infinity itself; including through all bodies, and to all God’s works. This Anima Mundi is Nature of Providence: God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny and the fountain of all second causes. It is the Eye of God, or medium between God and all created things. Next to the Anima Mundi, is that vast region or expanse, called the ethereal heaven, or firmament. Here are fixed stars, planets, and comets that move freely in all directions, and towards all parts of the heavens.
Theologists have divided angels into different ranks Hierarchies, to rule in holy things. Cabalistic writers have defined the Intelligences as superior to all nine orders of spirits, and which answer to and are contained in the ten distinguishing names of God,. They are the pure essences of the Supreme Spirit, through which the Word and Will are communicated to the angels, and providence extends care and protection of Nature.
The first of these divine essences is Jehovah attributed to God the Father. The second is Jah, and is attributed to the Person of the Messiah whose power and influence descend through the angel Masleh. This is the Spirit of Nature, the Soul of the World, or the Omnificent Word which actuated the chaos and divided the unwrought matters into three portions: The first is the Spiritual World composed; the second is made of visible Celestial World; and the third part is forms the Terrestrial World, drawn from the four elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.
El is Light through whom flows grace, goodness, mercy, piety, and munificence, to the angel Zadkiel, and, thence, passing through the. Sphere of Jupiter, who fashions the images of all bodies, bestowing clemency, benevolence, and justice on all. Elohim is hand of God, whose influence penetrates the angel who descends through the sphere of Mars, giving fortitude in war and affliction.
174 According to traditional Judaism, women are endowed with a greater degree of “binah” (intuition, understanding, intelligence) than men. The rabbis inferred this from the fact that woman was “built in” in rather than “formed” It has been said that the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) were superior to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) in prophecy. Women did not participate in the idolatry regarding the Golden Calf. Some traditional sources suggest that women are closer to God’s ideal than men.
175 Durga, ( Sanskrit: “the Inaccessible”) in Hinduism, a principal form of the Goddess also known as Devi and also as Shakti. According to legend, Durga was created for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura, by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods who were otherwise powerless to overcome him. Embodying their collective energy (shakti), she is both derivative from the male divinities and the true source of their inner power. She is also greater than any of them. Born fully grown and beautiful, Durga presents a fierce menacing form to her enemies. She is usually depicted riding a lion and with 8 or 10 arms, each holding the special weapon of one of the gods, who gave them to her for her battle against Ego the buffalo demon.
176 Divine Light: In theology, divine light (also called divine radiance or divine refulgence) is divine presence, of a mysterious ability of God, angels, or human beings to express themselves communicatively through spiritual means, rather than through physical capacities. Elohim is described as creating light by seeing the light to be good. In Hinduism, Diwali – the festival of lights – is a celebration of victory of light over darkness. A mantra in B[had?raGyaka Upanishad (1.3.28) urges God: ‘from darkness, lead us unto Light’.
177 Argonauts is classic myth written in the 3rd century about the adventure of Jason on his journey toward the fabled Golden Fleece
178 Power to remember is memory. Reading Scriptures with healthy skepticism is being filtered by this “power to remember.” Progressive Learning is affected by past activities and experiences- by memories that are morphing constantly.
179 Circles: represent unity, wholeness, and infinity. Without beginning or end, without sides or corners, the circle is also associated with the number One. It signifies the Union of Three people in One Trinity).
180 Three Colours of Love: focuses on the three fundamental dimensions of God’s love that every person can reflect in his or her life: justice, truth, and grace.
181 Causal Memory: Causality is the relation between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect); where the second event is understood as an effect of the first event of personal identity and remembering without knowing.
182 Mystery of Incarnation: Being embodied in the flesh after death and their soul is born into another life.
183 Causal Memory is the repository of infinite recollections of past incarnations; memory disappears but the symptoms appear.
184 “To evoke the qualities of ‘goodness’ particularly in every member of the ‘League’ of spiritual seekers individually and collectively happens through the process of spiritual initiation and by establishing in such a one the status of a qualified good and intellectual person. This is established on the basis of truthfulness, forgiveness, equality, tolerance, education, purity, specific and general knowledge and faith in the transcendental service of Godhead.”
Krishna lists the twenty-six good qualities: “(1) He is very kind to everyone. (2) He does not make anyone his enemy. (3) He is truthful (4) He is equal to everyone. (5) No one can find any fault in him. (6) He is magnanimous. (7) He is mild. (8) He is always clean. (9) He is without possessions. (10) He works for everyone’s benefit. (11) He is very peaceful. (12) He is always surrendered to Krsna. (13) He has no material desires. (14) He is very meek. (15) He is steady. (16) He controls his senses. (17) He does not eat more than required. (18) He is not influenced by the Lord’s illusory energy. (19) He offers respect to everyone. (20) He does not desire any respect for himself. (21) He is very grave. (22) He is merciful. (23) He is friendly.(24) He is poetic. (25) He is expert. (26) He is silent.” They are qualities of a perfect devotee of the Lord who has completely surrendered to the Cosmic Mother Mary who manifests in Nature as the Holy Spirit. The self-realized is therefore worship-able by all conditioned souls, since he has achieved qualitative oneness with the Supreme.

Om Tat Sat

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