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´╗┐Title: The Divine Comedy, Volume 3, Paradise
Author: Dante Alighieri
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Divine Comedy, Volume 3, Paradise [Paradiso]

by Dante Aligheri

Translated by Charles Eliot Norton



CANTO I. Proem.--Invocation.--Beatrice and Dante ascend to the
Sphere of Fire.--Beatrice explains the cause of their ascent.

CANTO II. Proem.--Ascent to the Moon.--The cause of Spots on the
Moon.--Influence of the Heavens.

CANTO III. The Heaven of the Moon.--Spirits whose vows had been
broken.--Piccarda Donati.--The Empress Constance.

CANTO IV. Doubts of Dante, respecting the justice of Heaven and
the abode of the blessed, solved by Beatrice.--Question of Dante
as to the possibility of reparation for broken vows.

CANTO V. The sanctity of vows, and the seriousness with which
they are to be made or changed.--Ascent to the Heaven of
Mercury.--The shade of Justinian.

CANTO VI. Justinian tells of his own life.--The story of the
Roman Eagle.--Spirits in the planet Mercury.--Romeo.

CANTO VII. Discourse of Beatrice.--The Fall of Man.--The scheme
of his Redemption.

CANTO VIII. Ascent to the Heaven of Venus.--Spirits of Lovers,
Source of the order and the varieties in mortal things.

CANTO IX. The Heaven of Venus.--Conversation of Dante with
Cunizza da Romano,--With Folco of Marseilles.--Rahab.--Avarice of
the Papal Court.

CANTO X. Ascent to the Sun.--Spirits of the wise, and the learned
in theology.--St. Thomas Aquinas.--He names to Dante those who
surround him.

CANTO XI. The Vanity of worldly desires,--St. Thomas Aquinas
undertakes to solve two doubts perplexing Dante.--He narrates the
life of St. Francis of Assisi.

CANTO XII. Second circle of the spirits of wise religious men,
doctors of the Church and teachers.--St. Bonaventura narrates the
life of St. Dominic, and tells the names of those who form the
circle with him.

CANTO XIII. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks again, and explains the
relation of the wisdom of Solomon to that of Adam and of Christ,
and declares the vanity of human judgment.
CANTO XIV. At the prayer of Beatrice, Solomon tells of the
glorified body of the blessed after the Last Judgment.--Ascent to
the Heaven of Mars.--Souls of the Soldiery of Christ in the form
of a Cross with the figure of Christ thereon.--Hymn of the

CANTO XV. Dante is welcomed by his ancestor, Cacciaguida.--
Cacciaguida tells of his family, and of the simple life of
Florence in the old days.

CANTO XVI. The boast of blood.--Cacciaguida continues his
discourse concerning the old and the new Florence.

CANTO XVII. Dante questions Cacciaguida as to his fortunes.--
Cacciaguida replies, foretelling the exile of Dante, and the
renown of his Poem.

CANTO XVIII. The Spirits in the Cross of Mars.--Ascent to the
Heaven of Jupiter.--Words shaped in light upon the planet by the
Spirits.--Denunciation of the avarice of the Popes.

CANTO XIX. The voice of the Eagle.--It speaks of the mysteries of
Divine justice; of the necessity of Faith for salvation; of the
sins of certain kings.

CANTO XX. The Song of the Just.--Princes who have loved
righteousness, in the eye of the Eagle.--Spirits, once Pagans, in
bliss.--Faith and Salvation.--Predestination.

CANTO XXI. Ascent to the Heaven of Saturn.--Spirits of those who
had given themselves to devout contemplation.--The Golden
Stairway.--St. Peter Damian.--Predestination.--The luxury of
modern Prelates.

CANTO XXII. Beatrice reassures Dante.--St. Benedict appears.--He
tells of the founding of his Order, and of the falling away of
its brethren. Beatrice and Dante ascend to the Starry Heaven.--
The constellation of the Twins.--Sight of the Earth.

CANTO XXIII. The Triumph of Christ.

CANTO XXIV. St. Peter examines Dante concerning Faith, and
approves his answer.

CANTO XXV. St. James examines Dante concerning Hope.--St. John
appears,with a brightness so dazzling as to deprive Dante, for
the time, of sight.

CANTO XXVI. St. John examines Dante concerning Love.--Dante's
sight restored.--Adam appears, and answers questions put to him
by Dante.

CANTO XXVII. Denunciation by St. Peter of his degenerate
successors.--Dante gazes upon the Earth.--Ascent of Beatrice and
Dante to the Crystalline Heaven.--Its nature.--Beatrice rebukes
the covetousness of mortals.

CANTO XXVIII. The Heavenly Hierarchy.

CANTO XXIX. Discourse of Beatrice concerning the creation and
nature of the Angels.--She reproves the presumption and
foolishness of preachers.

CANTO XXX. Ascent to the Empyrean.--The River of Light.--The
celestial Rose.--The seat of Henry VII.--The last words of

CANTO XXXI. The Rose of Paradise.--St. Bernard.--Prayer to
Beatrice.--The glory of the Blessed Virgin.

CANTO XXXII. St. Bernard describes the order of the Rose, and
points out many of the Saints.--The children in Paradise.--The
angelic festival.--The patricians of the Court of Heaven.

CANTO XXXIII. Prayer to the Virgin.--The Beatific Vision.--The
Ultimate Salvation.


CANTO I. Proem.--Invocation.--Beatrice and Dante ascend to the
Sphere of Fire.--Beatrice explains the cause of their ascent.

The glory of Him who moves everything penetrates through the
universe, and shines in one part more and in another less. In the
heaven that receives most of its light I have been, and have seen
things which he who descends from thereabove neither knows how
nor is able to recount; because, drawing near to its own
desire,[1] our understanding enters so deep, that the memory
cannot follow. Truly whatever of the Holy Realm I could treasure
up in my mind shall now be the theme of my song.

[1] The innate desire of the soul is to attain the vision of

O good Apollo, for this last labor make me such a vessel of thy
power as thou demandest for the gift of the loved laurel.[1] Thus
far one summit of Parnassus has been enough for me, but now with
both[2] I need to enter the remaining, arena. Enter into my
breast, and breathe thou in such wise as when thou drewest
Marsyas from out the sheath of his limbs. O divine Power, if thou
lend thyself to me so that I may make manifest the image of the
Blessed Realm imprinted within my head, thou shalt see me come to
thy chosen tree, and crown myself then with those leaves of which
the theme and thou will make me worthy. So rarely, Father, are
they gathered for triumph or of Caesar or of poet (fault and
shame of the human wills), that the Peneian leaf[3] should bring
forth joy unto the joyous Delphic deity, whenever it makes any
one to long for it. Great flame follows a little spark: perhaps
after me prayer shall be made with better voices, whereto
Cyrrha[4] may respond.

[1] So inspire me in this labor that I may deserve the gift of
the laurel.

[2] The Muses were fabled to dwell on one peak of Parnassus,
Apollo on the other. At the opening of the preceding parts of his
poem Dante has invoked the Muses only.

[3] Daphne, who was changed to the laurel, was the daughter of

[4] Cyrrha, a city sacred to Apollo, not far from the foot of
Parnassus, and here used for the name of the god himself.

The lamp of the world rises to mortals through different
passages, but from that which joins four circles with three
crosses it issues with better course and conjoined with a better
star, and it tempers and seals the mundane wax more after its own
fashion[1] Almost such a passage had made morning there and
evening here;[2] and there all that hemisphere was white, and the
other part black, when I saw Beatrice turned upon the left side,
and looking into the sun: never did eagle so fix himself upon it.
And even as a second ray is wont to issue from the first, and
mount upward again, like a pilgrim who wishes to return; thus of
her action, infused through the eyes into my imagination, mine
was made, and I fixed my eyes upon the sun beyond our use. Much
is allowed there which here is not allowed to our faculties,
thanks to the place made for the human race as its proper,
abode.[3] Not long did I endure it, nor so little that I did not
see it sparkling round about, like iron that issues boiling from
the fire. And on a sudden,[4] day seemed to be added to day, as
if He who is able had adorned
the heaven with another sun.

[1] In the spring the sun rises from a point on the horizon,
where the four great circles, namely, the horizon, the zodiac,
theequator, and the equinoctial colure, meet, and, cutting each
other, form three crosses. The sun is in the sign of Aries, "a
better star," because the influence of this constellation was
supposed to be benignant, and under it the earth reclothes
itself. It was the season assigned to the Creation, and to the

[2] There, in the Earthly Paradise; here, on earth. It is the
morning of Thursday, April 123. The hours from the mid-day
preceding to this dawn are undescribed.

[3] The Earthly Paradise, made for man in his original

[4] So rapid was his ascent to the sphere of fire, drawn upward
by the eyes of Beatrice.

Beatrice was standing with her eyes wholly fixed on the eternal
wheels, and on her I fixed my eyes from thereabove removed.
Looking at her I inwardly became such as Glaucus[1] became on
tasting of the herb which made him consort in the sea of the
other gods. Transhumanizing cannot be signified in words;
therefore let the example[2] suffice for him to whom grace
reserves experience. If I was only what of me thou didst the last
create,[3] O Love that governest the heavens, Thou knowest, who
with Thy light didst lift me. When the revolution which Thou,
being desired, makest eternal,[4] made me attent unto itself with
the harmony which Thou attunest and modulatest, so much of the
heaven then seemed to me enkindled by the flame of the sun, that
rain or river never made so broad a lake.

[1] A fisherman changed to a sea-god. The story is in Ovid
(Metamorphoses, xiii.).

[2] Just cited, of Glauens.

[3] In the twenty-fifth Canto of Purgatory, Dante has said that
when the articulation of the brain is perfect God breathes into
it a new spirit, the living soul; and he means here that, like
St. Paul caught up into Paradise, he cannot tell "whether in the
body or Out of the body." (2 Corinthians, xii. 3).

[4] The desire to be united with God is the source of the eternal
revolution of the heavens. "The Empyrean . . . is the cause of
the most swift motion of the Primum Mobile. because of the most
ardent desire of every part of the latter to be conjoined with
every part of that most divine quiet heaven."--Convito, 14.

The novelty of the sound and the great light kindled in me a
desire concerning their cause, never before felt with such
acuteness. Whereupon she, who saw me as I see myself, to quiet my
perturbed mind opened her mouth, ere I mine to ask, and began,
"Thou thyself makest thyself dull with false imagining, so that
thou seest not what thou wouldst see, if thou hadst shaken it
off. Thou art not on earth, as thou believest; but lightning,
flying from its proper site, never ran as thou who thereunto[1]

[1] To thine own proper site,--Heaven, the true home of the soul.

If I was divested of my first doubt by these brief little smiled-
out words, within a new one was I the more enmeshed. And I said,
"Already I rested content concerning a great wonder; but now I
wonder how I can transcend these light bodies." Whereupon she,
after a pitying sigh, directed her eyes toward me, with that look
which a mother turns on her delirious son, and she began, "All
things whatsoever have order among themselves; and this is the
form which makes the universe like to God. Here[1] the high
creatures[2] see the imprint of the eternal Goodness, which is
the end for which the aforesaid rule is made. In the order of
which I speak, all natures are arranged, by diverse lots, more or
less near to their source;[3] wherefore they are moved to diverse
ports through the great sea of being, and each one with an
instinct given to it which may bear it on. This bears the fire
upward toward the moon; this is the motive force in mortal
hearts; this binds together and unites the earth. Nor does this
bow shoot forth.[4] Only the created things which are outside
intelligence, but also those which have understanding and love.
The Providence that adjusts all this, with its own light makes
forever quiet the heaven[5] within which that revolves which hath
the greatest speed. And thither now, as to a site decreed, the
virtue of that cord bears us on which directs to a joyful mark
whatever it shoots. True is it, that as the form often accords
not to the intention of the art, because the material is deaf to
respond, so the creature sometimes deviates from this course; for
it has power, though thus impelled, to incline in another
direction (even as the fire of a cloud may be seen to fall[6]),
if the first impetus, bent aside by false pleasure, turn it
earthwards. Thou shouldst not, if I deem aright, wonder more at
thy ascent, than at a stream if from a high mountain it descends
to the base. A marvel it would be in thee, if, deprived of
hindrance, thou hadst sat below, even as quiet in living fire on
earth would be."

[1] In this order of the universe.

[2] The created beings endowed with souls,--angels and men.

[3] The source of their being, God.

[4] This instinct directs to their proper end animate as well as
inanimate things, as the bow shoots the arrow to its mark.

[5] The Empyrean, within which the Primum Mobile, the first
moving heaven, revolves.

[6] Contrary to its true nature.

Thereon she turned again toward heaven her face.

CANTO II. Proem.--Ascent to the Moon.--The cause of Spots on the
Moon.--Influence of the Heavens.

O ye, who are in a little bark, desirous to listen, following
behind my craft which singing passes on, turn to see again Your
shores; put not out upon the deep; for haply losing me, ye would
remain astray. The water that I sail was never crossed. Minerva
inspires, and Apollo guides me, and nine Muses point out to me
the Bears.

Ye other few, who have lifted tip your necks be. times to the
bread of the Angels, oil which one here subsists, but never
becomes sated of it, ye may well put forth your vessel over the
salt deep, keeping my wake before you on the water which turns
smooth again. Those glorious ones who passed over to Colchos
wondered not as ye shall do, when they saw Jason become a

The concreate and perpetual thirst for the deiform realm was
bearing us on swift almost as ye see the heavens. Beatrice was
looking upward, and I upon her, and perhaps in such time as a
quarrel[1] rests, and flies, and from the notch is unlocked,[2] I
saw myself arrived where a wonderful thing drew my sight to
itself; and therefore she, from whom the working of my mind could
not be hid, turned toward me, glad as beautiful. "Uplift thy
grateful mind to God," she said to me, "who with the first
star[3] has conjoined us."

[1] The bolt for a cross-bow.

[2] The inverse order indicates the instantaneousness of the act.

[3] The moon.

It seemed to me that a cloud had covered us, lucid, dense, solid,
and polished, like a diamond which the sun had struck. Within
itself the eternal pearl had received us, even as water receives
a ray of light, remaining unbroken. If I was body (and here[1]
it is not conceivable how one dimension brooked another, which
needs must be if body enter body) the desire ought the more to
kindle us to see that Essence, in which is seen how our nature
and God were united. There will be seen that which we hold by
faith, not demonstrated, but it will be known of itself like the
first truth which man believes.[2]

[1] On earth, by mortal faculties.

[2] Not demonstrated by argument, but known by direct cognition,
like the intuitive perception of first principles, per se notu.

I replied, "My Lady, devoutly to the utmost that I can, do I
thank him who from the mortal world has removed me. But tell me
what are the dusky marks of this body, which there below on earth
make people fable about Cain?"[1]

[1] Fancying the dark spaces on the surface of the moon to
represent Cain carrying a thorn-bush for the fire of his

She smiled somewhat, and then she said, "If the opinion of
mortals errs where the key of sense unlocks not, surely the
shafts of wonder ought not now to pierce thee, since thou seest
that the reason following the senses has short wings. But tell me
what thou thyself thinkest of it." And I, "That which here above
appears to us diverse, I believe is caused by rare and dense
bodies." And she, "Surely enough thou shalt see that thy belief
is submerged in error, if then listenest well to the argument
that I shall make against it. The eighth sphere[1] displays to
you many lights, which may be noted of different aspects in
quality and quantity. If rare and dense effected all this,[2] one
single virtue, more or less or equally distributed, would be in
all. Different virtues must needs be fruits of formal
principles;[3] and by thy reckoning, these, all but one, would
be destroyed. Further, if rarity were the cause of that darkness
of which you ask, either this planet would be thus deficient of
its matter through and through, or else as a body distributes the
fat and the loan, so this would interchange the leaves in its
volume. If the first were the case, it would be manifest in the
eclipses of the sun, by the shining through of the light, as when
it is poured out upon any other rare body. This is not so;
therefore we must look at the other, and if it happen that I
quash this other, thy opinion will be falsified. If it be that
this rare passes not through,[4] there needs must be a limit,
beyond which its contrary allows it not to pass further; and
thence the ray from another body is poured back, just as color
returns through a glass which hides lead behind itself. Now thou
wilt say that the ray shows itself dimmer there than in the other
parts, by being there reflected from further back. From this
objection experiment, which is wont to be the fountain to the
streams of your arts, may deliver thee, if ever thou try it. Thou
shalt take three mirrors, and set two of them at an equal
distance from thee, and let the other, further removed, meet
thine eyes between the first two. Turning toward them, cause a
light to be placed behind thy back, which may illumine the three
mirrors, and return to thee thrown back front all. Although the
more distant image reach thee not so great in quantity, thou wilt
then see how it cannot but be of equal brightness.

[1] The heaven of the fixed stars.

[2] If all this difference were caused merely by difference in
rarity and density.

[3] The stars exert various influences; hence their differences,
from which the variety of their influence proceeds, must be
caused by different formal principles or intrinsic causes.

[4] Extends not through the whole substance of the moon.

"Now, as beneath the blows of the warm rays that which lies under
the snow remains bare both of the former color[1] and the cold,
thee, thus remaining in thy intellect, will I inform with light
so living that it shall tremble in its aspect to thee.[2]

[1] The color of the snow.

[2[My argument has removed the error which covered thy mind, and
nov I will tell thee the true cause of the variety in the
surface of the moon.

"Within the heaven of the divine peace revolves a body, in whose
virtue lies the being of all that it contains.[1] The following
heaven[2] which has so many sights, distributes that being
through divers essences[3] from it distinct, and by it
contained. The other spheres, by various differences, dispose the
distinctions which they have within themselves unto their ends
and their seeds.[4] These organs of the world thus proceed, as
thou now seest, from grade to grade; for they receivefrom above,
and operate below. Observe me well, how I advance through this
place to the truth which thou desirest, so that hereafter thou
mayest know to keep the ford alone. The motion and the virtue of
the holy spheres must needs be inspired by blessed motors, as the
work of the hammer by the smith. And the heaven, which so many
lights make beautiful, takes its image from the deep Mind which
revolves it, and makes thereof a seal. And as the soul within
your dust is diffused through different members, and conformed to
divers potencies, so the Intelligence[5] displays its own
goodness multiplied through the stars, itself circling upon its
own unity. Divers virtue makes divers alloy with the precious
body that it quickens, in which, even as life in you, it is
bound. Because of the glad nature whence, it flows, the virtue
mingled through the body shines,[6] as gladness through the
living pupil. From this,[7] comes whatso seems different between
light and light, not from dense and rare; this is the formal
principle which produces, conformed unto its goodness, the dark
and the bright."

[1] Within the motionless sphere of the Empyrean revolves that
of the Primum Mobile, from whose virtue, communicated to it from
the Empyrean, all the inferior spheres contained within it derive
their special mode of being.

[2] The heaven of the Fixed Stars.

[3] Through the planets, called essences because each has a
specific mode of being.

[4] "The rays of the heavens are the way by which their virtue
descends to the things below."--Convito, ii. 7.

[5] Which moves the heavens.

[6] The brightness of the stars comes from the joy which radiates
through them.

[7] From the divers virtue making divers alloy.

CANTO III. The Heaven of the Moon.--Spirits whose vows had been
broken.--Piccarda Donati.--The Empress Constance.

That sun which first had heated my breast with love, proving and
refuting, had uncovered to me the sweet aspect of fair truth; and
I, in order to confess myself corrected and assured so far as was
needful, raised my head more erect to speak. But a vision
appeared which held me to itself so close in order to be seen,
that of my confession I remembered not.

As through transparent and polished glasses, or through clear and
tranquil waters, not so deep that their bed be lost, the
lineaments of our faces return so feebly that a pearl on a white
brow comes not less readily to our eyes, so I saw many faces
eager to speak; wherefore I ran into the error contrary to that
which kindled love between the man and the fountain.[1] Suddenly,
even as I became aware of them, supposing them mirrored
semblances, I turned my eyes to see of whom they were; and I saw
nothing; and I turned them forward again, straight into the light
of the sweet guide who, smiling, was glowing in her holy eyes.
"Wonder not because I smile," she said to me, "at thy puerile
thought, since thy foot trusts itself not yet upon the truth, but
turns thee, as it is wont, to emptiness. True substances are
these which thou seest, here relegated through failure in their
vows. Therefore speak with them, and hear, and believe; for the
veracious light which satisfies them allows them not to turn
their feet from itself."

[1] Narcissus conceived the image to be a true face; Dante takes
the real faces to be mirrored semblances.

And I directed me to the shade that seemed most eager to speak,
and I began, even like a man whom too strong wish confuses, "O
well-created spirit, who in the rays of life eternal tastest the
sweetness, which untasted never is understood, it will be
gracious to me, if thou contentest me with thy name, and with
your destiny." Whereon she promptly, and with smiling eyes, "Our
charity locks not its door to a just wish, more than that which
wills that all its court be like itself. I was in the world a
virgin sister,[1] and if thy mind well regards, my being more
beautiful will not conceal me from thee; but thou wilt recognize
that I am Piccarda,[2] who, placed here with these other blessed
Ones, am blessed in the slowest sphere. Our affections, which are
inflamed only in the pleasure of the Holy Spirit, rejoice in
being formed according to His order;[3] and this allotment, which
appears so low, is forsooth given to us, because our vows
were neglected or void in some part." Whereon I to her, In your
marvellous aspects there shines I know not what divine which
transmutes you from our first conceptions; therefore I was not
swift in remembering; but now that which you say to
me assists me, so that refiguring is plainer to me. But tell
me, ye who are happy here, do ye desire a highher place, in
order to see more, or to make yourselves more friends?"
With those other shades she first smiled a little; then
answered me so glad, that she seemed to burn in the first
fire of love, "Brother, virtue of charity[4] quiets our will,
and makes us wish only for that which we have, and for
aught else makes us not thirsty. Should we desire to be
higher up, our desires would be discordant with the will of
Him who assigns us to this place, which thou wilt see is
not possible in these circles, if to be in charity is here
necesse,[5] and if its nature thou dost well consider. Nay, it is
essential to this blessed existence to hold ourselves within the
divine will, whereby our very wills are made one. So that as we
are, from stage to stage throughout this realm, to all the realm
is pleasing, as to the King who inwills us with His will. And His
will is our peace; it is that sea whereunto is moving all that
which It creates and which nature makes."

[1] A nun, of the order of St. Clare.

[2] The sister of Corso Donati and of Forese: see Purgatory,
Canto XXIII. It may not be without intention that the first
blessed spirit whom Dante sees in Paradise is a relative of his
own wife, Gemma dei Donati.

[3] Rejoice in whatever grade of bliss is assigned to thern in
that order of the universe which is the form that makes it like
unto God.

[4] Charity here means love, the love of God.

[5] Of necessity; the Latin word being used for the
rhyme's sake. "Mansionem Deus haber non potest ubi
charitas non est" B. Alberti Magni, De adhoerendo Deo, c.

Clear was it then to me, how everywhere in Heaven is Paradise,
although the grace of the Supreme Good rains not there in one

But even as it happen, if one food sates, and for another the
appetite still remains, that this is asked for, and that declined
with thanks; so did I, with gesture and with speech, to learn
from her, what was the web whereof she did not draw the shuttle
to the head.[1] "Perfect life and high merit in-heaven a lady
higher up," she said to me, "according to whose rule, in your
world below, there are who vest and veil themselves, so that till
death they may wake and sleep with that Spouse who accepts every
vow which love conforms unto His pleasure. A young girl, I fled
from the world to follow her, and in her garb I shut myself, and
pledged me to the pathway of her order. Afterward men, more used
to ill than good, dragged me forth from the sweet cloister;[2]
and God knows what then my life became. And this other splendor,
which shows itself to thee at my right side, and which glows with
all the light of our sphere, that which I say of me understands
of herself.[3] A sister was she; and in like manner from her head
the shadow of the sacred veils was taken. But after she too was
returned unto the world against her liking and against good
usage, from the veil of the heart she was never unbound.[4] This
is the light of the great Constance,[5] who from the second
wind of Swabia produced the third and the last power."

[1] To learn from her what was the vow which she did not

[2] According to the old commentators, her brother Corso forced
Piccarda by violence to leave the convent, in order to make a
marriage which he desired for her.

[3] Her experience was similar to that of Piccarda.

[4] She remained a nun at heart.

[5] Constance, daughter of the king of Sicily, Roger 1.; married,
in 1186, to the Emperor, Henry VI., the son of Frederick
Barbarossa, and father of Frederick II, who died in 1250, the
last Emperor of his line.

Thus she spoke to me, and then began singing "Ave Maria," and
Singing vanished, like a heavy thing through deep water. My
sight, that followed her so far as was possible, after it lost
her turned to the mark of greater desire, and wholly rendered
itself to Beatrice; but she so flashed upon my gaze that at first
the sight endured it not: and this made me more slow in

CANTO IV. Doubts of Dante, respecting the justice of Heaven and
the abode of the blessed, solved by Beatrice.--Question of Dante
as to the possibility of reparation for broken vows.

Between two viands, distant and attractive in like measure, a
free man would die of hunger, before he would bring one of them
to his teeth. Thus a lamb would stand between two ravenings of
fierce wolves, fearing equally; thus would stand a dog between
two does. Hence if, urged by my doubts in like measure, I was
silent, I blame not myself; nor, since it was necessary, do I

I was silent, but my desire was depicted on my face, and the
questioning with that far more fervent than by distinct speech.
Beatrice did what Daniel did, delivering Nebuchadnezzar from
anger, which had made him unjustly cruel, and said, "I see
clearly how one and the other desire draws thee, so that thy care
so binds itself that it breathes not forth. Thou reasonest, 'If
the good will endure, by what reckoning doth the violence of
others lessen for me the measure of desert?' Further, it gives
thee occasion for doubt, that the souls appear to return to the
stars, in accordance with the opinion of Plato.[1] These are the
questions that thrust equally upon thy wish; and therefore I will
treat first of that which hath the most venom.[2]

[1] Plato, in his Timaeus (41, 42), says that the creator of the
universe assigned each soul to a star, whence they were to be
sown in the vessels of time. " He who lived well during his
appointed time was to return to the star which was his
habitation, and there he would have a blessed and suitable
existence." Dante's doubt has arisen from the words of Piccarda,
which implied that her station was in the sphere of the Moon.

[2] The conception that the souls after death had their abode in
the stars would be a definite heresy, and hence far more
dangerous than a question concerning the justice of Heaven, for
such a question might be consistent with entire faith in that

"Of the Seraphim he who is most in God, Moses, Samuel, and
whichever John thou wilt take, I say, and even Mary, have not
their seats in another heaven than those spirits who just now
appeared to thee, nor have they more or fewer years for their
existence; but all make beautiful the first circle, and have
sweet life in different measure, through feeling more or less the
eternal breath.[1] They showed themselves here, not because this
sphere is allotted to them, but to afford sign of the celestial
condition which is least exalted. To speak thus is befitting to
your mind, since only by objects of the sense doth it apprehend
that which it then makes worthy of the understanding. For this
reason the Scripture condescends to your capacity, and attributes
feet and hands to God, while meaning otherwise; and Holy Church
represents to you with human aspect Gabriel and Michael and the
other who made Tobias whole again.[2] That which Timaeus, reasons
of the souls is not like this which is seen here, since it seems
that he thinks as he says. He says that the soul returns to its
own star, believing it to have been severed thence, when nature
gave it as the form.[3] And perchance his opinion is of other
guise than his words sound, and may be of a meaning not to be
derided. If he means that the honor of their influence and the
blame returns to these wheels, perhaps his bow hits on some
truth. This principle, ill understood, formerly turned awry
almost the whole world, so that it ran astray in naming Jove,
Mercury, and Mars.[4]

[1] The abode of all the blessed is the Empyrean,--the first
circle, counting from above; but there are degrees in
blessedness, each spirit enjoying according to its capacity; no
one is conscious of any lack.

[2] The archangel Raphael.

[3] The intellectual soul is united with the body as its
substantial form. That by means of which anything performs its
functions (operatur) is its form. The soul is that by which the
body lives, and hence is its form.--Summa Theol., I. lxxvi. 1,
6, 7.

[4] The belief in the influence of the stars led men to assign
to them divine powers, and to name their gods after them.

The other dubitation which disturbs thee has less venom, for
its malice could not lead thee from me elsewhere. That our
justice seems unjust in the eyes of mortals is argument of
faith,[1] and not of heretical iniquity. But in order that your
perception may surely penetrate unto this truth, I will make thee
content, as thou desirest. Though there be violence when he who
suffers nowise consents to him who compels, these souls were not
by reason of that excused; for will, unless it wills, is not
quenched,[2] but does as nature does in fire, though violence a
thousand times may wrest it. Wherefore if it bend much or little,
it follows the force; and thus these did, having power to return
to the holy place. If their will had been entire, such as held
Lawrence on the gridiron, and made Mucius severe unto his hand,
it would have urged them back, so soon as they were loosed, along
the road on which they had been dragged; but will so firm is too
rare. And by these words, if thou hast gathered them up as thou
shouldst, is the argument quashed that would have given thee
annoy yet many times.

[1] Mortals would not trouble themselves concerning the justice
of God, unless they had faith in it. These perplexities are then
arguments or proofs of faith; as St. Thomas Aquinas says, "The
merit of faith consists in believing what one does not see." But
in this case, as Beatrice goes on to show, mere human
intelligence if Sufficient to see that the injustice is only

[2] Violence has no power over the will; the original will may,
however, by act of will, be changed.

"But now another path runs traverse before thine eyes, such that
by thyself thou wouldst not issue forth therefrom ere thou wert
weary. I have put it in thy mind for certain, that a soul in
bliss cannot lie, since it is always near to the Primal Truth;
and then thou hast heard from Piccarda that Constance retained
affection for the veil; so that she seems in this to contradict
me. Often ere now, brother, has it happened that, in order to
escape peril, that which it was not meet to do has been done
against one's liking; even as Alcmaeon (who thereto entreated by
his father, slew his own mother), not to lose piety, pitiless
became. On this point, I wish thee to think that the violence is
mingled with the will, and they so act that the offences cannot
be excused. Absolute will consents not to the wrong; but the will
in so far consents thereto, as it fears, if it draw back, to fall
into greater trouble. Therefore when Piccarda says that, she
means it of the absolute will; and I of the other so that we both
speak truth alike."

Such was the current of the holy stream which issued from the
fount whence every truth flows forth; and such it set at rest one
and the other desire.

"O beloved of the First Lover, O divine one," said I then, "whose
speech inundates me, and warms me so that more and more it
quickens me, my affection is not so profound that it can suffice
to render to you grace for grace, but may He who sees and can,
respond for this. I clearly see that our intellect is never
satisfied unless the Truth illume it, outside of which no truth
extends. In that it reposes, as a wild beast in his lair, soon as
it has reached it: and it can reach it; otherwise every desire
would be in vain. Because of this,[1] the doubt, in likeness of a
shoot, springs up at the foot of the truth; and it is nature
which urges us to the summit from height to height. This[2]
invites me, this gives me assurance, Lady, with reverence to ask
you of another truth which is obscure to me. I wish to know if
man can make satisfaction to you[3] for defective vows with other
goods, so that in your scales they may not be light?" looked at
we with such divine eyes, full of the sparks of love, that my
power, vanquished, turned its back, and almost I lost myself with
eyes cast down.

[1] Of this constant desire for truth.

[2] This natural impulse.

[3] To you, that is, to the court of Heaven.

CANTO V. The sanctity of vows, and the seriousness with which
they are to be made or changed.--Ascent to the Heaven of
Mercury.--The shade of Justinian.

"If I flame upon thee in the heat of love, beyond the fashion
that on earth is seen, go that I vanquish the valor of thine
eyes, marvel not, for it proceeds from perfect vision,[1] which
according as it apprehends, so moves its feet to the apprehended
good. I see clearly how already shines in thy intellect the
eternal light, which, being seen, alone ever enkindles love. And
if any other thing seduce your love, it is naught but some
vestige of that, illrecognized, which therein shines through.
Thou wishest to know if for a defective vow so much can be
rendered with other service as may secure the soul from suit."

[1] From the brightness of my eyes illuminated by the divine

Thus Beatrice began this canto, and even as one who breaks not
off his speech, she thus continued her holy discourse. "The
greatest gift which God in His largess bestowed in creating, and
the most conformed unto His goodness and that which He esteems
the most, was the freedom of the will, with which all the
creatures of intelligence, and they alone, were and are endowed.
Now will appear to thee, if from this thou reasonest, the high
worth of the vow, if it be such that God consent when thou
consentest;[1] for, in closing the compact between God and man,
sacrifice is made of this treasure, which is such as I say, and
it is made by its own act. What then can be rendered in
compensation? If thou thinkest to make good use of that which
thou hast offered, with illgotten gain thou wouldst do good

[1] If the vow be valid through its acceptance by God.

[2] The intent to put what had been vowed to another (though
good) use, affords no excuse for breaking a vow.

"Thou art now assured of the greater point; but since Holy Church
in this gives dispensation, which seems contrary to the truth
which I have disclosed to thee, it behoves thee still to sit a
little at table, because the tough food which thou hast taken
requires still some aid for thy digestion. Open thy mind to that
which I reveal to thee, and enclose it therewithin; for to have
heard without retaining doth not make knowledge.

"Two things combine in the essence of this sacrifice; the one is
that of which it consists, the other is the covenant. This last
is never cancelled if it be not kept; and concerning this has
my preceding speech been so precise. On this account it was
necessary for the Hebrews still to make offering, although some
part of the offering might be changed, as thou shouldst know.[1]
The other, which as the matter[2] is known to thee, may truly be
such that one errs not if for some other matter it be changed.
But let not any one shift the load upon his shoulder at his own
will, without the turning both of the white and of the yellow
key.[3] And let him deem every permutation foolish, if the thing
laid down be not included in the thing taken up, as four in
six.[4] Therefore whatever thing is, through its own worth, of
such great weight that it can draw down every balance, cannot be
made good with other spending.

[1] See Leviticus, xxvii., in respect to commutation allowed.

[2] That is, as the subject matter of the vow, the thing of which
sacrifice is made.

[3] Without the turning of the keys of St. Peter, that is,
without clerical dispensation; the key of gold signifying
authority, that of silver, knowledge. Cf. Purgatory, Canto IX.

[4] The matter substituted must exceed in worth that of the
original vow, but not necessarily in a definite proportion.

"Let not mortals take a vow in jest; be faithful, and not
squint-eyed in doing this, as Jephthah was in his first.
offering;[1] to whom it better behoved to say, 'I have done ill,'
than, by keeping his vow, to do worse. And thou mayest find the
great leader of the Greeks in like manner foolish; wherefore
Iphigenia wept for her fair face, and made weep for her both the
simple and the wise, who heard speak of such like observance. Be,
ye Christians, more grave in moving; be not like a feather on
every wind, and think not that every water can wash you. Ye have
the Old and the New Testament, and the Shepherd of the Church,
who guides you; let this suffice you for your salvation. If evil
covetousness cry aught else to you, be ye men, and not silly
sheep, so that the Jew among you may not laugh at you. Act not
like the lamb, that leaves the milk of his mother, and, simple
and wanton, at its own pleasure combats with itself."

[1] See Judges, xi.

Thus Beatrice to me, even as I write; then all desireful turned
herself again to that region where the world is most alive.[1]
Her silence, and her transmuted countenance imposed silence on my
eager mind, which already had new questions in advance. And even
as an arrow, that hits the mark before the bowstring is quiet, so
we ran into the second realm.[2] Here I saw my lady so joyous as
she entered into the light of that heaven, that thereby the
planet became more lucent. And if the star war, changed and
smiled, what did I become, who even by my nature am transmutable
in every wise!

[1] Looking upward, toward the Empyrean.

[2] The Heaven of Mercury, where blessed spirits who have been
active in the pursuit of honor and fame show themselves.

As in a fishpond, which is tranquil and pure, the fish draw to
that which comes from without in such manner that they deem. it
their food, so indeed I saw more than a thousand splendors
drawing toward. us, and in each one was heard,--"Lo, one who
shall increase our loves!"[1] And as each came to us, the shade
was seen full of joy in the bright effulgence that issued from

[1] By giving us occasion to manifest our love.

Think, Reader, if that which is here begun should not proceed,
how thou wouldst have distressful want of knowing more; and by
thyself thou wilt see how desirous I was to hear from these of
their conditions, as they became manifest to mine eyes. "O
well-born,[1] to whom Grace concedes to see the thrones of the
eternal triumph ere the warfare is abandoned,[2] with the light
which spreads through the whole heaven we are enkindled, and
therefore if thou desirest to make thyself clear concerning us,
at thine own pleasure sate thyself." Thus was said to me by one
of those pious spirits; and by Beatrice, "Speak, speak securely,
and trust even as to gods." "I see clearly, how thou dost nest
thyself in thine ownlight, and that by thine eyes thou drawest
it, because they sparkle when thou smilest; but I know not who
thou art, nor why thou hast, O worthy soul, thy station in the
sphere which is veiled to mortals by another's rays."[3] This I
said, addressed unto the light which first had spoken to me;
whereon it became more lucent far than it had been. Even as the
sun, which, when the heat has consumed the tempering of dense
vapors, conceals itself by excess of light, so, through greater
joy, the holy shape bid itself from me within its own radiance,
and thus close enclosed, it answered me in the fashion that the
following canto sings.

[1] That is, born to good, to attain blessedness.

[2] Ere thy life on earth, as a member of the Church Militant, is

[3] Mercury is veiled by the Sun.

CANTO VI. Justinian tells of his own life.--The story of the
Roman Eagle.--Spirits in the planet Mercury.--Romeo.

After Constantine turned the Eagle counter to the course of the
heavens which it had followed behind the ancient who took to wife
Lavinia,[1] a hundred and a hundred years and more[2] the bird of
God held itself on the verge of Europe, near to the Mountains[3]
from which it first came forth, and there governed the world
beneath the shadow of the sacred wings, from hand to hand, and
thus changing, unto mine own arrived. Caesar I was,[4] and am
Justinian, who, through will of the primal Love which I feel,
drew out from among the laws what was superfluous and vain.[5]
And before I was intent on this work, I believed one nature to be
in Christ, not more,[6] and with such faith was content. But the
blessed Agapetus, who was the supreme pastor, directed me to the
pure faith with his words. I believed him; and that which was in
his faith I now see clearly, even as thou seest every
contradiction to be both false and true.[7] Soon as with the
Church I moved my feet, it pleased God, through grace, to inspire
me with the high labor, and I gave myself wholly to it. And I
entrusted my armies to my Belisarius, to whom the right hand of
Heaven was so joined that it was a sign that I should take

[1] Constantine, transferring the seat of Empire from Rome to
Byzantium, carried the Eagle from West to East, counter to the
course along which Aeneas had borne it when he went from Troy to
found the Roman Empire.

[2] From A. D. 324, when the transfer was begun, to 527, when
Justinian became Emperor.

[3] Of the Troad, opposite Byzantium.

[4] On earth Emperor, but in Heaven earthly dignities exist no

[5] The allusion is to Justinian's codification of the Roman Law.

[6] The divine nature only. Dante here follows Brunetto Latini
(Li Tresor, I. ii. 87) in an historical error.

[7] Of the two terms of a contradictory proposition one is true,
the other false.

"Now here to the first question my answer comes to the stop; but
its nature constrains me to add a sequel to it, in order that
thou mayst see with how much reason[1] move against the ensign
sacrosanct, both he who appropriates it to himself,[2] and he who
opposes himself to it.[3] See how great virtue has made it worthy
of reverence," and he began from the hour when Pallas[4] died to
give it a kingdom. "Thou knowest it made in Alba its abode for
three hundred years and move, till at the end the three fought
with the three[4] for its sake still. And thou knowest what it
did, from the wrong of the Sabine women clown to the sorrow of
Lucretia, in seven kings, conquering the neighboring
peoples round about. Thou knowest what it did when borne by the
illustrious Romans against Brennus, against Pyrrhus, and against
the other chiefs and allies; whereby Torquatus, and Quinctius who
was named from his neglected locks, the Decii and the Fabii
acquired the fame which willingly I embalm. It struck to earth
the pride of the Arabs, who, following Hannibal, passed the
Alpine rocks from which thou, Po, glidest. Beneath it, in their
youth, Scipio and Pompey triumphed, and to that hill beneath
which thou wast born, it seemed bitter.[5] Then, near the time
when all Heaven willed to bring the world to its own serene
mood, Caesar by the will of Rome took it: and what it did from
the Var even to the Rhine, the Isere beheld, and the Saone, and
the Seine beheld, and every valley whence the Rhone is filled.
What afterward it did when it came forth from Ravenna, and leaped
the Rubicon, was of such flight that neither tongue nor pen
could follow it. Toward Spain it wheeled its troop; then
toward Dyrrachium, and smote Pharsalia so that to the
warm Nile the pain was felt. It saw again Antandros and
Simois, whence it set forth, and there where Hector lies; and
ill for Ptolemy then it shook itself. Thence it swooped
flashing down on Juba; then wheeled again unto your west,
where it heard the Pompeian trumpet. Of what it did with the
next standard-bearer,[7] Bruttis and Cassius are barking in
Hell; and it made Modena and Perugia woful. Still does the
sad Cleopatra weep therefor, who, fleeing before it, took
from the asp sudden and black death. With him it ran far as
the Red Sea shore; with him it set the world in peace so
great that on Janus his temple was locked up. But what the
ensign which makes me speak had done before, and after
was to do, through the mortal realm that is subject to it,
becomes in appearance little and obscure, if in the hand of
the third Caesar[8] it be looked at with clear eye, and with
pure affection. For the living Justice which inspires me
granted to it, in the hand of him of whom I speak, the glory
of doing vengeance for Its own ire[9]--now marvel here at that
which I unfold to thee,--then with Titus it ran to do vengeance
for the avenging of the ancient sin.[2] And when the Lombard
tooth bit the Holy Church, under its wings Charlemagne,
conquering, succored her.

[1] Ironical. The meaning is, "how wrongly."

[2] The Ghibelline.

[3] The Guelph.

[4] Son of Evander, King of Latium, sent by his father to aid
Aeneas. His death in battle against Turnus led to that of Turnus
himself, and to the possession of the Latian kingdom by Aeneas.

[5] The Horatii and Curiatii.

[6] According to popular tradition Fiesole was destroyed by the
Romans after the defeat of Catiline.

[7] Augustus.

[8] Tiberius.

[9] It was under the authority of Rome that Christ was crucified,
whereby the sin of Adam. was avenged.

[10] Vengeance was taken on the Jews, because although the death
of Christ was divinely ordained, their crime in it was none the

"Now canst thou judge of such as those whom I accused above, and
of their crimes, which are the cause of all your ills. To the
public ensign one opposes the yellow lilies,[1] and the other
appropriates it to a party, so that it is hard to see which is
most at fault. Let the Ghibellines practice, let them practice
their art under another ensign, for he ever follows it ill who
parts justice and it. And let not this new Charles[2] strike it
down with his Guelphs, but let him fear its talons, which from a
loftier lion have stripped the fell. Often ere now the sons have
wept for the sin of the father; and let him not believe that for
his lilies Goa win change His arms.

[1] The fleur-de-lys of France.

[2] Charles II., King of Apulia, son of Charles of Anjou.

"This little star is furnished with good spirits who have been
active in order that honor and fame may follow them. And when the
desires thus straying mount here, it must needs be that the rays
of the true love mount upward less living.[1] But in the
commeasuring of our wages with our desert is part of our joy,
because we see them neither less nor greater. Hereby the living
Justice so sweetens the affection in us, that it can never
be bent aside to any wrong. Diverse voices make sweet notes; thus
in our life diverse benches[2] render sweet harmony among these

[1] The desire for fame interferes with, though it may not wholly
prevent, the true love of God.

[2] The different grades of the blessed.

"And within the present pearl shines the light of Romeo, whose
great and beautiful work was ill rewarded. But the Provencals who
wrought against him are not smiling; and forsooth he goes an ill
road who makes harm for himself of another's good deed.[1] Four
daughters, and each a queen, had Raymond Berenger, and Romeo, a
humble person and a pilgrim, did this[2] for him. And then
crooked words moved him to demand a reckoning of this just man,
who rendered to him seven and five for ten. Then he departed,
poor and old, and if the world but knew the heart he had, while
begging his livelihood bit by bit, much as it lauds him it would
laud him more."

[1] According to Giovanni Villani (vi. 90), one Romeo, a pilgrim,
came to the court of Raymond Berenger IV., Count of Provence (who
died, in 1245), and winning the count's favor, served him with
such wisdom and fidelity that by his means his master's revenues
were greatly increased, and his four daughters married to four
kings,--Margaret, to Louis IX. of France, St. Louis; Eleanor, to
Henry III. of England; Sanzia, to Richard, Earl of Cornwall
(brother of Henry III.), elected King of the Romans; and
Beatrice, to Charles of Anjou (brother of Louis IX.), King of
Apulia and Sicily. The Provencal nobles, jealous of Romeo,
procured his dismissal, and he departed, with his mule and his
pilgrim's staff and scrip, and was never seen more.

[2] The making each a queen.

CANTO VII. Discourse of Beatrice.--The Fall of Man.--The scheme
of his Redemption.

"Osanna sanctus Deus Sabaoth, superillustrans claritate tua
felices ignes horum malacoth!"[1]--thus, turning to its own
melody, this substance,[2] upon which a double light is
twinned,[3] was seen by me to sing. And it and the others moved
with their dance, and like swiftest sparks veiled themselves to
me with sudden distance. I was in doubt, and was saying to
myself, "Tell her, tell her," I was saying, "tell her, my Lady,
who slakes my thirst with her sweet distillings;" but that
reverence which lords it altogether over me, only by BE and by
ICE,[4] bowed me again like one who drowses. Little did Beatrice
endure me thus, and she began, irradiating me with a smile such
as would make a man in the fire happy, "According to my
infallible advisement, how a just vengeance could be justly
avenged has set thee thinking. But I will quickly loose thy mind:
and do thou listen, for my words will make thee a present of a
great doctrine.

[1] "Hosanna! Holy God of Sabaoth, beaming with thy brightness
upon the blessed fires of these realms."

[2] Substance, as a scholastic term, signifies a being subsisting
by itself with a quality of its own. "Substantiae nomen
significat essentiam cui competit sic esse, id est per se esse;
quod tamen esse non est ipsa ejus essentia."--Summa Theol. I.
iii. 5.

[3] The double light of Emperor and compiler of the Laws.

[4] Only by the sound of her name.

"By not enduring for his own good a curb upon the power which
wills, that man who was not born,--damning himself, damned all
his offspring; wherefore the human race lay sick below for many
centuries, in great error, till it pleased the Word of God to
descend where He, by the sole act of His eternal love, united
with Himself in person the nature which had. removed itself from
its Maker.

"Now direct thy sight to the discourse which follows. This
nature, united with its Maker, became sincere and good, as it had
been created; but by itself it had been banished from Paradise,
because it turned aside from the way of truth and from its own
life. The punishment therefore which the cross afforded, if it be
measured by the nature assumed, none ever so justly stung; and,
likewise, none was ever of such great wrong, regarding the Person
who suffered, with whom this nature was united. Therefore from
one act issued things diverse; for unto God and unto the Jews one
death was pleasing: by it earth trembled and the heavens were
opened. No more henceforth ought it to seem perplexing to thee,
when it is said that a just vengeance was afterward avenged by a
just court,

"But I see now thy mind tied up, from thought to thought, within
a knot the loosing of which is awaited with great desire, Thou
sayest, 'I discern clearly that which I bear; but it is occult to
we why God should will only this mode for our redemption.' This
decree, brother, stands buried to the eyes of every one whose wit
is not full grown in the flame of love. Truly, inasmuch as on
this mark there is much gazing, and little is discerned, I will
tell why such mode was most worthy. The Divine Goodness, which
from Itself spurns all rancor, burning in Itself so sparkles that
It displays the eternal beauties. That which distils
immediately[1] from It, thereafter has no end, for when It
seals, Its imprint is not removed. That which from It immediately
rains down is wholly free, because it is not subject unto the
power of the new things.[2] It is the most conformed to It, and
therefore pleases It the most; for the Holy Ardor which
irradiates every thing is most living in what is most resemblance
to Itself. With all these things[3] the human creature is
advantaged, and if one fail, he needs must fall from his
nobility. Sin alone is that which disfranchises him, and makes
him unlike the Supreme Good, so that by Its light he is little
illumined. And to his dignity he never returns, unless, where sin
makes void, he fill up for evil pleasures with just penalties.
Your nature, when it sinned totally in its seed,[4] was removed
from these dignities, even as from Paradise; nor could they be
recovered, if thou considerest full subtly, by any way, without
passing by one of these fords:--either that God alone by His
courtesy should forgive, or that man by himself
should make satisfaction for his folly. Fix now thine eye within
the abyss of the eternal counsel, fixed as closely on my speech
as thou art able. Man within his own limits could never make
satisfaction, through not being able to descend so far with
humility in subsequent obedience, as disobeying he intended to
ascend; and this is the reason why man was excluded from power
to make satisfaction by himself. Therefore it behoved God by His
own paths[5] to restore man to his entire life, I mean by one, or
else by both. But because the work of the workman is so much the
more pleasing, the more it represents of the goodness of the
heart whence it issues, the Divine Goodness which imprints the
world was content to proceed by all Its paths to lift you up
again; nor between the last night and the first day has there
been or will there be so lofty and so magnificent a procedure
either by one or by the other; for God was more liberal in giving
Himself to make man sufficient to lift himself up again, than if
only of Himself He had pardoned him. And all the other modes were
scanty in respect to justice, if the Son of God had not humbled
himself to become incarnate.

[1] Without the intervention of a second cause.

[2] That is, of the heavens, new as compared with the First

[3] That is, with immediate creation, with immortality, with free
will, with likeness to God, and the love of God for it.

[4] Adam.

[5] "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth."--Psalm
xxv. 10. Truth may be here interpreted, according to St. Thomas
Aquinas, as justice.

"Now to fill completely every desire of thine, I return to a
certain place to clear it up, in order that thou mayest see there
even, as I do. Thou sayest, 'I see the water, I see the fire,
the air; and the earth, and all their mixtures come to
corruption, and endure short while, and yet these things were
created;' so that, if what I have said has been true, they ought
to be secure against corruption. The Angels, brother, and the
sincere[1] country in which thou art, may be called created, even
as they are, in their entire being; but the elements which thou
hast named, and those things which are made of them, are informed
by a created power.[2] The matter of which they consist was
created; the informing power in these stars which go round about
them was created. The ray and the motion of the holy lights draw
out from its potential elements[3] the soul of every brute and of
the plants; but the Supreme Benignity inspires your life without
intermediary, and enamors it of Itself so that ever after it
desires It. And hence[4] thou canst argue further your
resurrection, if thou refleetest bow the human flesh was made
when the first parents were both made."

[1] Sincere is here used in the sense of incorruptible, or
perhaps unspoiled,--the quality of the Heavens as contrasted with
the Earth.

[2] The elements axe informed, that is, receive their specific
being not immediately from Goa, but mediately through the
informing Intelligences.

[3] Literally, "from the potentiate mingling," that is, from the
matter endowed with the potentiality of becoming informed by the
vegetative and the sensitive soul.

[4] From the principle that what proceeds immediately from Goa is

CANTO VIII. Ascent to the Heaven of Venus.--Spirits of Lovers,
Source of the order and the varieties in mortal things.

The world in its peril[1] was wont to believe that the beautiful
Cypriote[2] revolving in the third epicycle rayed out mad love;
wherefore the ancient people in their ancient error not only unto
her did honor with sacrifice and with votive cry, but they
honored Dione[3] also and Cupid, the one as her mother, the other
as her son, and they said that he had sat in Dido's lap[4] And
from her, from whom I take my beginning, they took the name of
the star which the sun wooes, now at her back now at her
front.[5] I was not aware of the ascent to it; but of being in
it, my Lady, whom I saw become more beautiful, gave me full

[1] In heathen times.

[2] Venus, so called from her birth in Cyprus.

[3] Dione, daughter of Oceanus and Thetis, mother of Venus.

[4] Under the form of Ascanius, as Virgil tells in the first book
of the Aeneid.

[5] According as it is morning or evening star.

And even as in a flame a spark is seen, and as voice from voice
is distinguished when one is steady and the other goes and
returns, I saw in that light other lamps moving in a circle more
and less rapidly, in the measure, I believe, of their inward
vision. From a cold cloud winds never descended, or visible or
not, go swift, that they would not seem impeded and slow to him
who had seen these divine lights coming to us, leaving the
circling begun first among the high Seraphim. And within those
who appeared most in front was sounding HOSANNA, so that never
since have I been without desire of hearing it again. Then one
came nearer to us, and alone began, "We all are ready to thy
pleasure, that thou mayest joy in us. With one circle, with one
circling, and with one thirst,[1] we revolve with the celestial
Princes,[2] to whom thou in the world once said: 'Ye who
intelligent move the third heaven;' and we are so full of love
that, to please thee, a little quiet will not be less sweet to

[1] One circle in space, one circling in eternity, one thirst for
the vision of God.

[2] The third in ascending order of the hierarchy of the Angels,
corresponding with the heaven of Venus.

After my eyes had offered themselves reverently to my Lady, and
she had of herself made them contented and assured, they turned
again to the light which had promised so much; and, "Tell who ye
are," was my utterance, stamped with great affection. And how
much greater alike in quantity and quality did I see it become,
through the new gladness which was added to its gladnesses when I
spoke! Become thus, it said to me,[1] "The world had me below
short while; and had it been longer much evil had not been which
will be. My joy which rays around me, and hides me like a
creature swathed in its own silk, holds me concealed from thee.
Much didst thou love me, and thou hadst good reason; for had I
stayed below I had showed thee of my love far more than the
leaves. That left bank which is bathed by the Rhone, after it has
mingled with the Sorgue, awaited me in due time for its lord;[2]
and that born of Ansonia[3] which is towned with Bari, with
Gaeta, and with Catona,[4] whence the Tronto and the Verde
disgorge into the sea. Already was shining on my brow the crown
of that land which the Danube waters after it abandons its German
banks;[5] and the fair Trinacria[6] (which is darkened, not by
Typhoeus but by nascent sulphur, on the gulf between Pachynus and
Pelorus which receives greatest annoy from Eurus[7]) would be
still awaiting its kings descended through me from Charles and
Rudolph,[8] if evil rule, which always embitters the subject
people, had not moved Palermo to shout, 'Die! Die!'[9] And if my
brother had taken note of this,[10] he would already put to
flight the greedy poverty of Catalonia, in order that it might
not do him harm: for truly there is need for him or for some
other to look to it, so that on his laden bark more load be not
put. His own nature, which descended niggardly from a liberal
one, would have need of such a soldiery as should not care to put
into a chest."[11]

[1] It is Charles Martel, son of Charles II. of Naples, who
speaks. He was born about 1270, and in 1294 he was at Florence
for more than twenty days, and at this time may have become
acquainted with Dante. Great honor was done him by the
Florentines, and he showed great love to them, so that he won
favor from everybody, says Villani. He died in 1295.

[2] Charles of Anjou, grandfather of Charles Martel, had received
this part of Provence as dowry of his wife Beatrice, the youngest
daughter of Raymond Berenger.

[3] A name for Italy, used only by the poets.

[4] Bari on the Adriatic, Gaeta on the Mediterranean, and Catons
at the too of Italy, together with the two rivers named, give
roughly the boundaries of the Kingdom of Naples.

[5] The mother of Charles Martel was sister of Ladislaus IV.,
King of Hungary. He died without offspring, and Charles II.
claimed the kingdom by right of his wife.

[6] Sicily; the gulf darkened by sulphurous fumes is the Bay of
Calabria, which lies exposed to Eurus, that is, to winds from the

[7] The sea between Cape Pachynus, the extreme southeastern
point of the island, and Cape Pelorus, the extreme northeastern,
lies exposed to the violence of Eurus or the East wind. Clouds of
smoke from Etna sometimes darken it. The eruptions of Etna were
ascribed by Ovid (Metam. v., 346-353) to the struggles of
Typhoeus, one of the rebellious Giants. Ovid's verses suggested
this description.

[8] From his father, Charles H., or his grandfather, Charles of
Anjou, and from the Emperor Rudolph of Hapsburg, who was the
father of Clemence, Charles Martel's wife.

[9] By the insurrection which began at Palermo in 1282,--the
famous Sicilian Vespers,--the French were driven from the island.

[10] This brother was Robert, the third son of Charles II. He had
been kept as a hostage in Catalonia from 1288 to 1295, and when
he became King of Naples in 1309 he introduced into his service
many Catalonian officials. The words of Charles Martel are
prophetic of the evils wrought by their greed.

[11] Officials who would not, by oppression of the subjects, seek
their private gain.

"Because I believe that the deep joy which thy speech, my lord,
infuses in me is seen by thee there where every good ends and
begins[1] even as I see it in myself, it is the more grateful to
me; and this also I hold dear, that thou discernest it, gazing
upon God.[2] Thou hast made me glad; and in like wise do thou
make clear to me (since in speaking thou bast moved me to doubt)
how bitter can issue from sweet seed." This I to him; and he to
me, "If I am able to show to thee a truth, thou wilt hold thy
face to that which thou askest, as thou dost hold thy back. The
Good which turns and contents all the realm which thou ascendest,
makes its providence to be a power in these great bodies.[3] And
not the natures only are foreseen in the Mind which by itself is
perfect, but they together with their salvation.[4] For
whatsoever this bow shoots falls disposed to its foreseen end,
even as a thing directed to its aim. Were this not so, the
heavens through which thou journeyest would produce
their effects in such wise that they would not be works of art
but ruins; and that cannot be, if the Intelligences which move
these stars are not defective, and defective also the prime
Intelligence which has not made them perfect.[5] Dost thou wish
that this truth be made still clearer to thee?" And I, "No,
truly; because I see it to be impossible that Nature should weary
in that which is needful."[6] Whereupon he again, "Now say, would
it be worse for man on earth if he were not a citizen?"[7] "Yes,"
answered I, "and here I ask not the reason."[8] "And can he be
so, unless he live there below in divers manner through divers
offices?[9] No; if your master[10] writes well of this." So he
went on deducing far as here; then he concluded, "Hence it
behoves that the roots of your works must be diverse.[11]
Wherefore one is born Solon, and another Xerxes, another
Melchisedech, and another he who, flying through the air, lost
his son. The revolving nature, which is the seal of the mortal
wax, performs its art well, but does not distinguish one inn from
another.[12] Hence it happens that Esau differs in seed from
Jacob, and Quirinus comes from so mean a father that he is
ascribed to Mars. The generated nature would always make its path
like its progenitors, if the divine foresight did not conquer.
Now that which was behind thee is before thee, but that
 thou mayest know that I have joy in thee, I wish that thou cloak
thee with a corollary.[13] Nature, if she find fortune discordant
with herself, like every other seed out of its region, always
makes bad result. And if the world down there would fix attention
on the foundation which nature lays, following that, it would
have its people good. But ye wrest to religion one who shall be
born to gird on the sword, and ye make a king of one who is for
preaching; wherefore your track is out of the road."

[1] Is seen in the mind of God.

[2] My own joy is the dearer in that thou seest that it is more
grateful to me because known by thee.

[3] The providence of God is fulfilled through the influences of
the Heavens acting upon the natures subject to them.

[4] That is, together with the good ends for which they are
created and ordained.

[5] Defect in the subordinate Intelligences would imply defect in
God, which is impossible.

[6] It is impossible that the order of nature should fail, that
order being the design of God in creation.

[7] That is, united with other men in society.

[8] Because man is by nature a social animal, and cannot attain
his true end except as a member of a community.

[9] Society cannot exist without diversity in the functions of
its members.

[10] Aristotle, "the master of human reason, who treats of this
in many places, for instance in his Ethics, i. 7, where he speaks
of man as "by nature social," so that his end is accomplished
only in society.

[11] Human dispositions, the roots of human works, must be
diverse in order to produce diverse effects.

[12] The spheres pour down their various influences without
discrimination in the choice of the individual upon whom they
fall. Hence sons may differ in their dispositions from their

[13] This additional statement completes the instruction, as a
cloak completes the clothing of a body.

CANTO IX. The Heaven of Venus.--Conversation of Dante with
Cunizza da Romano,--With Folco of Marseilles.--Rahab.--Avarice of
the Papal Court.

After thy Charles, O beautiful Clemence,[1] had enlightened me,
he told to me of the treasons which his seed must suffer. But he
said, "Be silent, and let the years revolve:" so that I can tell
nothing, save that just lament shall follow on your wrongs.[2]

[1] The widow of Charles Martel.

[2] Those who have done the wrong shall justly lament therefor.

And now the life of that holy light had turned again unto the Sun
which fills it, as that Good which suffices for every thing. Ah,
souls deceived, and creatures impious, who from such Good turn
away your hearts, directing your foreheads unto vanity!

And lo! another of those splendors made towards me, and in
brightening outwardly was signifying its will to please me. The
eyes of Beatrice, which were fixed upon me, as before, made me
assured of dear assent to my desire. "I pray thee give swift
quittance to my wish, blessed spirit," I said, "and afford me
proof that what think I can reflect on thee."[1] Whereon the
light which was still new[2] to me, from out its depth, wherein
erst it was singing, proceeded, as one whom doing good delights,
"In that part[3] of the wicked Italian land, which lies between
Rialto and the founts of the Brenta and the Piave, rises a
hill,[4] and mounts not very high, whence a torch descended which
made a great assault upon that district. From one root both I and
it were born; Cunizza was I called; and I am refulgent here
because the light of this star overcame me. But gladly do I
pardon to myself the cause of my lot, and it gives me no
annoy;[5] which perhaps would seem difficult to your vulgar. Of
this resplendent and dear jewel of our kingdom,[6] who is nearest
to me, great fame has remained, and ere it die away this
hundredth year shall yet come round five times. See if man ought
to make himself excellent, so that the first may leave another
life! And this the present crowd, which the Tagliameuto and the
Adige shut in,[7] considers not; nor yet by being scourged doth
it repent. But it will soon come to pass that at the marsh Padua
will discolor the water which bathes Vicenza, because her people
are stubborn against duty.[8] And where the Sile and the Cagnano
unite, one lords it, and goes with his head high, for catching
whom the web is already spun.[9] Feltro will yet weep the crime
of its impious shepherd, which will be so shameful, that, for a
like, none ever entered Malta.[10] Too large would be the vat
which would hold the Ferrarese blood, and weary he who should
weigh it, ounce by ounce, which this courteous priest will give
to show himself a partisan;[11] and such gifts will be conformed
to the living of the country. Above are mirrors, ye call them
Thrones,[12] wherefrom God shines on us in his judgments, so
that these words seem good to us."[13] Here she was silent, and
had to me the semblance of being turned elsewhither by the wheel
in which she set herself as she was before.[14]

[1] That thou, gazing on the mind of God, seest therein my

[2] Still unknown by name.

[3] The March of Treviso, lying between Venice (Rialto) and the

[4] The hill on which stood the little stronghold of Romano, the
birthplace of the tyrant Azzolino, or Ezzolino, whom Dante had
seen in Hell (Canto XII.) punished for his cruel misdeeds, in the
river of boiling blood. Cunizza was his sister.

[5] The sin which has limited the capacity of bliss, the sin
which has determined the low grade in Paradise of Cunizza, is
forgiven and forgotten, and she, like Piccarda, wishes only for
that blessedness which she has.

[6] Folco, or Foulquet, of Marseilles, once a famous singer of
songs of love, then a bishop. He died in 1213.

[7] The people of the region where Cunizza lived.

[8] The Paduan Guelphs, resisting the Emperor, to whom they owed
duty, were defeated more than once, near Vicenza, by Can Grande,
during the years in which Dante was writing his poem.

[9] The Sile and the Cagnano unite at Treviso, whose lord,
Ricciardo da Camino, was assassinated in 1312.

[10] An act of treachery on the part of the Bishop and Lord of
Feltro, Alessandro Novello, in delivering up Ghibelline exiles
from Ferrara, of whom thirty were beheaded; a treason so vile
that in the tower called Malta, where ecclesiastics who committed
capital crimes were imprisoned, no such crime as his was ever

[11] That is, of the Guelphs, by whom the designation of The
Party was appropriated.

[12] The Thrones were, according to St. Gregory, that order of
Angels through whom God executes his judgments.

[13] Because we see reflected from the Thrones the judgment of
God above to fall on the guilty.

[14] See Canto VIII., near the beginning.

The next joy, which was already known to me as an illustrious
thing,[1] became to my sight like a fine ruby whereon the sun
should strike. Through joy effulgence is gained there on high,
even as a smile here; but below[2] the shade darkens outwardly,
as the mind is sad.

[1] By the words of Cunizza.

[2] In Hell.

"God sees everything, and thy vision, blessed spirit, is in Him,"
said I, "so that no wish can steal itself away from thee. Thy
voice, then, that ever charms the heavens, with the song of those
pious fires which make a cowl for themselves with their six
wings,[1] why does it not satisfy my desires? Surely I should not
wait for thy request if I in-theed myself, as thou thyself
in-meest."[2] "The greatest deep in which the water spreads,"[3]
began then his words, "except of that sea which garlands the
earth, between its discordant shores stretches so far counter to
the sun, that it makes a meridian where first it was wont to make
the horizon.[4] I was a dweller on the shore of that deep,
between the Ebro and the Magra,[5] which, for a short way,
divides the Genoese from the Tuscan. With almost the same sunset
and the same sunrise sit Buggea and the city whence I was, which
once made its harbor warm with its own blood.[6] That people to
whom my name was known called me Folco, and this heaven is
imprinted by me, as I was by it. For the daughter of Belus,[7]
harmful alike to Sichaeus and Creusa, burned not more than I, so
long as it befitted my hair;[8] nor she of Rhodopea who was
deluded by Demophoon;[9] nor Alcides when he had enclosed Iole in
his heart.[10] Yet one repents not here, but smiles, not for the
fault which returns not to the memory, but for the power which
ordained and foresaw. Here one gazes upon the art which adorns so
great a work, and the good is discerned whereby the world above
turns that below.

[1] The Seraphim, who with their wings cover their faces. See
Isaiah, vi. 2.

[2] If I saw thee inwardly as thou seest me. Dante invents the
words he uses here, and they are no less unfamiliar in Italian
than in English.

[3] The Mediterranean.

[4] According to the geography of the time the Mediterranean
stretched from east to west ninety degrees of longitude.

[5] Between the Ebro in Spain and the Magra in Italy lies
Marseilles, under almost the same meridian as Buggea (now Bougie)
on the African coast.

[6] When the fleet of Caesar defeated that of Pompey with its
contingent of vessels and soldiers of Marseilles, B. C. 49.

[7] Dido.

[8] Till my hair grew thin and gray.

[9] Phyllis, daughter of the king of Thrace, who hung herself
when deserted by Demophoon, the son of Theseus.

[10] The excess of the love of Hercules for Iole led to his

"But in order that thou mayst bear away satisfied all thy wishes
which have been born in this sphere, it behoves me to proceed
still further. Thou wouldst know who is in this light, which
beside me here so sparkles, as a sunbeam on clear water. Now know
that therewithin Rahab[1] is at rest, and being joined with our
order it is sealed by her in the supreme degree. By this heaven
in which the shadow that your world makes comes to a point[2] she
was taken up before any other soul at the triumph of Christ. It
was well befitting to leave her in some heaven, as a palm of the
high victory which was won with the two hands,[3] because she
aided the first glory of Joshua within the Holy Land, which
little touches the memory of the Pope.

[1] "By faith the harlot Rabab perished not with them that
believed not."--Hebrews, xi. 31. See Joshua, ii. 1-21; vi. 17;
James, ii. 25.

[2] The conical shadow of the earth ended, according to Ptolemy,
at the heaven of Venus. Philalethes suggests that there may be
here an allegorical meaning, the shadow of the earth being shown
in feebleness of will, worldly ambition, and inordinate love,
which have allotted the souls who appear in these first heavens
to the lowest grades in Paradise.

[3] Nailed to the cross. The glory of Joshua was the winning of
the Holy Land for the inheritance of the children of Israel.

"Thy city, which is plant of him who first turned his back on his
Maker, and whose envy[1] has been so bewept, produces and
scatters the accursed flower[2] which has led astray the sheep
and the lambs, because it has made a wolf of the shepherd. For
this the Gospel and the great Doctors are deserted, and there is
study only of the Decretals,[3] as is apparent by their margins.
On this the Pope and the Cardinals are intent; their thoughts go
not to Nazareth, there where Gabriel spread his wings. But the
Vatican, and the other elect parts of Rome, which have been the
burial place for the soldiery that followed Peter, shall soon be
free from this adultery."[4]

[1] "Through envy of the devil came death into the world."--
Wisdom of Solomon, ii. 24.

[2] The lily on its florin.

[3] The books of the Ecclesiastical Law.

[4] By the removal in 1305 of the Papal Court to Avignon.

CANTO X. Ascent to the Sun.--Spirits of the wise, and the learned
in theology.--St. Thomas Aquinas.--He names to Dante those who
surround him.

Looking upon His Son with the Love which the one and the other
eternally breathe forth, the Primal and Ineffable Power made
everything which revolves through the mind or through space with
such order that he who contemplates it cannot be without taste of
Him.[1] Lift then thy sight, Reader, with me to the lofty wheels,
straight to that region where the one motion strikes on the
other;[2] and there begin to gaze with delight on the art of that
Master who within Himself so loves it that His eye never departs
from it. See how from that point the oblique circle which bears
the planets[3] branches off, to satisfy the world which calls on
them;[4] and if their road had not been bent, much virtue in the
heavens would be in vain, and well-nigh every potency dead here
below.[5] And if from the straight line its departure had been
more or less distant, much of the order of the world, both below
and above, would be defective. Now do thou remain, Reader, upon
thy bench,[6] following in thought that which is fore. tasted, if
thou wouldst be glad far sooner than weary. I have set before
thee; henceforth feed thee by thyself, for that theme whereof I
have been made scribe wrests all my care unto itself.

[1] All things, as well the spiritual and invisible objects of
the intelligence as the corporal and visible objects of sense,
were made by God the Father, operating through the Son, with the
love of the Holy Spirit, and made in such order that he who
contemplates the creation beholds the partial image of the

[2] At the equinox, the season of Dante's journey, the sun in
Aries is at the intersection of the ecliptic and the equator of
the celestial sphere, and his apparent motion in his annual
revolution cuts the apparent diurnal motion of the fixed stars,
which is performed in circles parallel to the equator.

[3] The ecliptic.

[4] Which invokes their influence.

[5] Because on the obliquity of their path depends the variety of
their influence.

[6] As a scholar.

The greatest minister of nature, which imprints the world with
the power of the heavens, and with its light measures the time
for us, in conjunction with that region called to mind above, was
circling through the spirals in which from day to day he earlier
presents himself.[1] And I was with him; but of the ascent I was
not aware, otherwise than as a man is aware, before his first
thought, of its coming. Beatrice is she who thus conducts from
good to better so swiftly that her act extends not through time.

[1] In that spiral course in which, according to the Ptolemaic
system, the sun passes from the equator to the tropic of Cancer,
rising earlier every day.

How lucent of itself must that have been which, within the sun
where I entered, was appareiit not by color but by light! Though
I should call on genius, art, and use, I could not tell it so
that it could ever be imagined; but it may be believed, and sight
of it longed for. And if our fancies are low for such loftiness,
it is no marvel, for beyond the sun was never eye could go.
Such[1] was here the fourth family of the High Father, who always
satisfies it, showing how He breathes forth, and how He
begets.[2] And Beatrice began, "Thank, thank thou the Sun of
the Angels, who to this visible one has raised thee by His
grace." Heart of mortal was never so disposed to devotion, and so
ready, with its own entire pleasure, to give itself to God, as I
became at those words; and all my love was so set on Him that
Beatrice was eclipsed in oblivion. It displeased her not; but she
so smiled thereat that the splendor of her smiling eyes divided
upon many things my singly intent mind.

[1] So lucent, brighter than the sun.

[2] Showing himself in the Holy Spirit and in the Son.

I saw many living and surpassing effulgences make a centre of
us, and make a crown of themselves, more sweet in voice than
shining in aspect. Thus girt we sometimes see the daughter of
Latona, when the air is pregnant so that it holds the thread
which makes the girdle.[1] In the court of Heaven, wherefrom I
return, are found many jewels so precious and beautiful that they
cannot be brought from the kingdom, and of these was the song of
those lights. Who wings not himself so that he may fly up
thither, let him await the tidings thence from the dumb.

[1] When the air is so full of vapor that it forms a halo.

After those burning suns, thus singing, had circled three times
round about us, like stars near fixed poles, they seemed to me as
ladies not loosed from a dance, but who stop silent, listening
till they have caught the new notes. And within one I heard
begin, "Since the ray of grace, whereby true love is kindled, and
which thereafter grows multiplied in loving, so shines on thee
that it conducts thee upward by that stair upon which, without
reascending, no one descends, he who should deny to thee the wine
of his flask for thy thirst, would not be more at liberty than
water which descends not to the sea.[1] Thou wishest to know with
what plants this garland is enflowered, which, round about her,
gazes with delight upon the, beautiful Lady who strengthens thee
for heaven. I was of the lambs of the holy flock[2] which Dominic
leads along the way where one fattens well if he stray not.[3]
This one who is nearest to me on the right was my brother and
master; and he was Albert of Cologne,[4] and I Thomas of Aquino.
If thus of all the rest thou wishest to be informed, come,
following my speech, with thy sight circling around upon the
blessed chaplet. That next flaming issues from the smile of
Gratian, who so assisted one court and the other that it pleases
in Paradise.[5] The next, who at his side adorns our choir, was
that Peter who, like the poor woman, offered his treasure to Holy
Church.[6] The fifth light, which is most beautiful among us,[7]
breathes from such love, that all the world there below is greedy
to know tidings of it.[8] Within it is the lofty mind, wherein
wisdom so profound was put, that, if the truth is true, to see so
much no second has arisen.[9] At his side thou seest the light of
that candle, which, below in the flesh, saw most inwardly the
angelic nature, and its ministry.[10] In the next little light
smiles that advocate of the Christian times, with whose discourse
Augustine provided himself.[11] Now if thou leadest the eye of
the mind, following my praises, from light to light, thou
remainest already thirsting for the eighth. Therewithin, through
seeing every good, the holy soul rejoices which makes the deceit
of the world manifest to whoso hears him well.[12] The body
whence it was hunted out lies below in Cieldauro,[13] and from
martyrdom and from exile it came unto this peace. Beyond thou
seest flaming the burning breath of Isidore, of Bede, and of
Richard who in contemplation was more than man.[14] The one from
whom thy look returns to me is the light of a spirit to whom in
grave thoughts death seemed to come slow. It is the eternal light
of Sigier,[15] who reading in the Street of Straw syllogized
truths which were hated."

[1] He would be restrained against his nature, as water prevented
from flowing down to the sea.

[2] Of the Order of St. Dominic.

[3] Where one acquires spiritual good, if he be not
distracted by the allurement of worldly things.

[4] The learned Doctor, Albertus Magnus.

[5] Gratian was an Italian Benedictine monk, who lived in
the 12th century, and compiled the famous work known
as the Decretum Gratiani, composed of texts of Scripture,
of the Canons of the Church, of Decretals of the Popes,
and of extracts from the Fathers, designed to show the
agreement of the civil and ecclesiastical law,--a work
pleasing in Paradise because promoting concord between
the two authorities.

[6] Peter Lombard, a theologian of the 12th century,
known as Magister Sententiarum, from his compilation of
extracts relating to the doctrines of the Church, under the
title of Sententiarum Libri IV. In the proem to his work he
says that he desired, "like the poor widow, to cast
something from his penury into the treasury of the Lord."

[7] Solomon.

[8] It was matter of debate whether Solomon was among
the blessed or the damned.

[9] "Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding
heart; so that there was none like thee before thee,
neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."--1 Kings,
iii. 12.

[10] Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of St. Paul
(Acts, xvii. 34), to whom was falsely ascribed a book of
great repute, written in the fourth century, " On the
Celestial Hierarchy."

[11] Paulus Orosius, who wrote his History against the
Pagans, at the request of St. Augustine, to defend
Christianity from the charge brought against it by the
Gentiles of being the source of the calamities which had
befallen the Roman world. His work might be regarded as
a supplement to St. Augustine's De Civitate Dei.

[12] Boethins, statesman and philosopher. whose work,
De Consolatione Philosophiae, was one of the books held in
highest esteem by Dante.

[13] Boethius, who was put to death in Pavia, in 524, was buried
in the church of S. Pietro in Ciel d' Oro--St. Peter's of the
Golden Ceiling.

[14] Isidore, bishop of Seville, died 636; the Venerable Bede,
died 735; Richard, prior of the Monastery of St. Victor, at
Paris, a mystic of the 12th century; all eminent theologians.

[15] Sigier of Brabant, who lectured, applying logic to questions
in theology, at Paris, in the 13th century, in the Rue du

Then, as a horologe which calls us at the hour when the
Bride of God[1] rises to sing matins to her Bridegroom
that he may love her, in which the one part draws and
urges the other, sounding ting! ting! with such sweet
note that the well-disposed spirit swells with love, so saw
I the glorious wheel move, and render voice to voice in
concord and in sweetness which cannot be known save
there where joy becomes eternal.

[1] The Church.

CANTO XI. The Vanity of worldly desires,--St. Thomas Aquinas
undertakes to solve two doubts perplexing Dante.--He narrates the
life of St. Francis of Assisi.

O insensate care of mortals, how defective are those syllogisms
which make thee downward beat thy wings! One was going after the
Laws, and one after the Aphorisms,[1] and one following the
priesthood, and one to reign by force or by sophisms, and one to
rob, and one to civic business; one, involved in pleasure of the
flesh, was wearying himself, and one was giving himself to
idleness, when I, loosed from all these things, with Beatrice,
was thus gloriously received on high in Heaven.

[1] The Aphorisms of Hippocrates, meaning here, the study of

When each[1] had returned unto that point of the circle at which
it was at first, it stayed, as a candle in a candlestick. And
within that light which first had spoken to me I heard, as
smiling it began, making itself more clear, "Even as I am
resplendent with its radiance, so, looking into the Eternal
Light, I apprehend whence thou drawest the occasion of thy
thoughts. Thou art perplexed, and hast the wish that my speech be
bolted again in language so open and so plain that it may be
level to thy sense, where just now I said, 'where well one
fattens,' and there where I said, 'the second has not been born;'
and here is need that one distinguish well.

[1] Each of the lights which had encircled. Beatrice and Dante.

"The Providence which governs the world with that counsel, in
which every created vision is vanquished ere it reach the depth,
in order that the bride[1] of Him, who with loud cries espoused
her with His blessed blood, might go toward her beloved, secure
in herself and also more faithful to Him, ordained two princes in
her favor, who on this side and that should be to her for guides.
The one was all seraphic in ardor,[2] the other, through wisdom,
was a splendor of cherubic light[3] on earth. Of the one I will
speak, because both are spoken of in praising one, whichever be
taken, for unto one end were their works.

[1] The Church.

[2] St. Francis of Assisi

[3] St. Dominic.

"Between the Tupino and the water[1] which descends from the
hill chosen by the blessed Ubaldo, hangs the fertile slope of a
high mountain, wherefrom Perugia at Porta Sole[2] feeleth cold
and heat, while behind it Nocera and Gualdo weep because of their
heavy yoke.[3] On that slope, where it most breaks its steepness,
rose a Sun upon the world, as this one sometimes does from the
Ganges. Therefore let him who talks of that place not say
Ascesi,[4] for he would speak short, but Orient,[5] if be would
speak properly. He was not yet very far from his rising when he
began to make the earth feel some comfort from his great virtue.
For, still a youth, he ran to strife[6] with his father for a
lady such as unto whom, even as unto death, no one unlocks the
gate of pleasure; and before his spiritual court et coram
patre[7] to her he had himself united; thereafter from day to day
he loved her more ardently. She, deprived of her first
husband,[8] for one thousand and one hundred years and more,
despised and obscure, had stood without wooing till he came;[9]
nor had it availed[10] to hear, that he, who caused fear to all
the world, found her at the sound of his voice secure with
Amyclas;[11] nor had it availed to have been constant and bold,
so that where Mary remained below, she wept with Christ upon the
cross. But that I may not proceed too obscurely, take henceforth
in my diffuse speech Francis and Poverty for these lovers. Their
concord and their glad semblances made love, and wonder, and
sweet regard to be the cause of holy thoughts;[12] so that the
venerable Bernard first bared his feet,[13] and ran following
such great peace, and, running, it seemed to him that he was
slow. Oh unknown riches! oh fertile good! Egidius bares his feet
and Sylvester bares his feet, following the bridegroom; so
pleasing is the bride. Then that father and that master goes on
his way with his lady, and with that family which the humble cord
was now girding.[14] Nor did baseness of heart weigh down his
brow at being son of Pietro Bernardone,[15] nor at appearing
marvellously despised; but royally he opened his bard intention
to Innocent, and received from bim the first seal for his
Order.[16] After the poor people had increased behind him, whose
marvellous life would be better sung in glory of the heavens, the
holy purpose of this archimandrite[17] was adorned with a second
crown by the Eternal Spirit, through Honorius.[18] And when,
through thirst for martyrdom, he had preached Christ and the rest
who followed him in the proud presence of the Sultan,[19] and
because he found the people too unripe for conversion, and in
order not to stay in vain, had returned to the fruit of the
Italian grass,[20] on the rude rock,[21] between the Tiber and
the Arno, he took from Christ the last seal,[22] which his limbs
bore for two years. When it pleased Him, who had allotted him to
such great good, to draw him up to the reward which he had gained
in making himself abject, he commended his most dear lady to his
brethren as to rightful heirs, and commanded them to love her
faithfully; and from her lap, his illustrious soul willed to
depart, returning to its realm, and for his body he willed no
other bier.[23]

[1] The Chiassi, which flows from the hill chosen for his
hermitage by St. Ubaldo.

[2] The gate of Perugia, which fronts Monte Subasio, on which
Assisi lies, some fifteen miles to the south.

[3] Towns, southeast of Assisi, oppressed by their rulers.

[4] So the name Assisi was sometimes spelled, and here with a
play on ascesi (I have risen).

[5] As the sun at the vernal equinox, the sacred season of the
Creation and the Resurrection, rises in the due east or orient,
represented in the geographical system of the time by the Ganges,
so the place where this new Sun of righteousness arose should be
called Orient.

[6] Devoting himself to poverty against his father's will.

[7] Before the Bishop of Assisi, and "in presence of his
father," he renounced his worldly possessions.

[8] Christ.

[9] St. Francis was born in 1182.

[10] To procure suitors for her,

[11] When Caesar knocked at the door of Amyclas his voice caused
no alarm, because Poverty made the fisherman secure.--Lucan,
Pharsalia, V. 515 ff.

[12] In the hearts of those who behold them.

[13] The followers of Francis imitated him in going barefoot.

[14] The cord for their only girdle.

[15] Perhaps, because his father was neither noble nor famous.

[16] In or about 1210 Pope Innocent III. approved the Rule of St.

[17] "The head of the fold:" a term of the Greek Church,
designating the head of one or more monasteries.

[18] In 1223, Honorius III. confirmed the sanction of the Order.

[19] Probably the Sultan of Egypt, at the time of the Fifth
Crusade, in 1219.

[20] To the harvest of good grain in Italy.

[21] Mount Alvernia.

[22] The Stigmata.

[23] St. Francis died in 1226.

"Think now of what sort was he,[1] who was a worthy colleague to
keep the bark of Peter on the deep sea to its right aim; and this
was our Patriarch:[2] wherefore thou canst see that whoever
follows him as he commands loads good merchandise. But his flock
has become so greedy of strange food that. it cannot but be
scattered over diverse meadows; and as his sheep, remote and
vagabond, go farther from him, the emptier of milk they return to
the fold. Truly there are some of them who fear the harm, and
keep close to the shepherd; but they are so few that little cloth
suffices for their cowls. Now if my words are not obscure, if thy
hearing has been attentive, if thou recallest to mind that which
I have said, thy wish will be content in part, because thou wilt
see the plant wherefrom they are hewn,[3] and thou wilt see how
the wearer of the thong reasons--'Where well one fattens if one
does not stray.'

[1] How holy he must have been.

[2] St. Dominic.

[3] The plant of which the words are splinters or chips; in other
terms, "thou wilt understand the whole ground of my assertion,
and thou wilt see what a Dominican, wearer of the leather thong
of the Order, means, when he says that the flock of Dominic
fatten, if they stray not from the road on which he leads them."

CANTO XII. Second circle of the spirits of wise religious men,
doctors of the Church and teachers.--St. Bonaventura narrates the
life of St. Dominic, and tells the names of those who form the
circle with him.

Soon as the blessed flame uttered the last word of its speech the
holy mill-stone[1] began to rotate, and had not wholly turned in
its gyration before another enclosed it with a circle, and
matched motion with motion, song with song; song which in those
sweet pipes so surpasses our Muses, our Sirens, as a primal
splendor that which it reflects.[2] As two bows parallel and of
like colors are turned across a thin cloud when Juno gives the
order to her handmaid[3] (the outer one born of that within,
after the manner of the speech of that wandering one[4] whom love
consumed, as the sun does vapors), and make the people here
presageful, because of the covenant which God established with
Noah concerning the world, that it is nevermore to be flooded; so
the two garlands of those sempiternal roses turned around us, and
so the outer responded to the inner. After the dance and the
other great festivity, alike of the singing and of the flaming,
light with light joyous and courteous, had become quiet together
at an instant and with one will (just as the eyes which must
needs together close and open to the pleasure that moves them),
from the heart of one of the new lights a voice proceeded, which
made me seem as the needle to the star in turning me to its place
and it began,[5] "The love which makes me beautiful draws me to
speak of the other leader by whom[6] so well has been spoken here
of mine. It is fit that where one is the other be led in, so that
as they served in war with one another, together likewise may
their glory shine.

[1] The garland of spirits encircling Beatrice and Dante.

[2] As an original ray is brighter than one reflected.

[3] Iris.

[4] Echo.

[5] It is St. Bonaventura, the biographer of St. Francis, who
speaks. He became General of the Order in 1256, and died in 1276.

[6] By whom, through one of his brethren.

"The army of Christ, which it had cost so dear to arm afresh,[1]
was moving slow, mistrustful, and scattered, behind the
standard,[2] when the Emperor who forever reigns provided for the
soldiery that was in peril, through grace alone, not because it
was worthy, and, as has been said, succored his Bride with two
champions, by whose deed, by whose word, the people gone astray
were rallied.

[1] The elect, who had lost grace through Adam's sin, were armed
afresh by the costly sacirifice of the Son of God.

[2] The Cross.

"In that region where the sweet west wind rises to open the new
leaves wherewith Europe is seen to reclothe herself, not very far
from the beating of the waves behind which, over their long
course, the sun sometimes bides himself to all men, sits the
fortunate Callaroga, under the protection of the great shield on
which the Lion is subject and subjugates.[1] Therein was born the
amorous lover of the Christian faith, the holy athlete, benignant
to his own, and to his enemies harsh.[2] And when it was created,
his mind was so replete with living virtue, that in his mother it
made her a prophetess.[3] After the espousals between him and the
faith were completed at the sacred font, where they dowered each
other with mutual safety, the lady who gave the assent for him
saw in a dream the marvellous fruit which was to proceed from him
and from his heirs;[4] and in order that he might be spoken of
as he was,[5] a spirit went forth from here[6] to name him with
the possessive of Him whose he wholly was. Dominic[7] he was
called; and I speak of him as of the husbandman whom Christ
elected to his garden to assist him. Truly he seemed the
messenger and familiar of Christ; for the first love that was
manifest in him was for the first counsel that Christ gave.[8]
Oftentimes was he found by his nurse upon the ground silent and
awake, as though he said, 'I am come for this.' O father of him
truly Felix! Omother of him truly Joan, if this, being
interpreted, means as is said![9]

[1] The shield of Castile, on which two lions and two castles are
quartered, one lion below and one above.

[2] St. Dominic, born in 1170.

[3] His mother dreamed that she gave birth to a dog, black and
white in color, with a lighted torch in its mouth, which set the
world on fire; symbols of the black and white robe of the Order,
and of the flaming zeal of its brethren. Hence arose a play of
words on their name, Domini cani, "the dogs of the Lord."

[4] The godmother of Dominic saw in dream a star on the forehead
and another on the back of the head of the child, signifying the
light that should stream from him over East and West.

[5] That his name might express his nature.

[6] From heaven.

[7] Dominicus, the possessive of Dominus, "Belonging to the

[8] "Sell that thou hast and give to the poor."--Matthew, xix.

[9] Felix, signifying "happy," and Joanna, "full of grace."

"Not for the world,[1] for which men now toil, following him
of Ostia and Thaddeus,[2] but for the love of the true manna, be
became in short time a great teacher, such that he set himself to
go about the vineyard, which quickly fades if the vinedresser is
bad; and of the Seat[3] which was formerly more benign unto the
righteous poor (not through itself but through him who sits there
and degenerates[4]), he asked not to dispense or two or three
for six,[5] not the fortune of the first vacancy, non decimas,
quae sunt pauperum Dei,[6] but leave to fight against the errant
world for that seed[7] of which four and twenty plants are
girding thee. Then with doctrine and with will, together with the
apostolic office,[8] he went forth like a torrent which a lofty
vein pours out, and on the heretical stocks his onset smote with
most vigor there where the resistance was the greatest. From him
proceeded thereafter divers streams wherewith the catholic garden
is watered, so that its bushes stand more living.

[1] The goods of this world.

[2] Henry of Susa, cardinal of Ostia, who wrote a much studied
commentary on the Decretals, and Thaddeus of Bologna, who, says
Giovanni Villani, "was the greatest physician in Christendom."
The thought is the same as that at the beginning of Canto XI,
where Dante speaks of "one following the Laws, and one the

[3] The Papal chair.

[4] The grammatical construction is imperfect; the meaning is
that the change in the temper of the see of Rome is due not to
the fault of the Church itself, but to that of the Pope.

[5] Not for license to compound for unjust acquisitions by de.
voting a part of them to pious uses.

[6] "Not the tithes which belong to God's poor."

[7] The true faith; "the seed is the word of God."--Luke, viii.

[8] The authority conferred on him by Innocent III.

If such was one wheel of the chariot on which the Holy Church
defended itself and vanquished in the field its civil strife,[1]
surely the excellence of the other should be very plain to thee,
concerning which Thomas before my coming was so courteous. But
the track which the highest part of its circumference made is
derelict;[2] So that the mould is where the crust was.[3] His
household, which set forth straight with their feet upon his
footprints, are so turned round that they set the forward foot on
that behind;[4] and soon the quality of the barvest of this bad
culture shall be seen, when the tare will complain that the chest
is taken from it.[5] Yet I say, he who should search our volume
leaf by leaf might still find a page where he would read, 'I am
that which I am wont:' but it will not be from Casale nor from
Acquasparta,[6] whence such come unto the Written Rule that one
flies from it, and the other contracts it.

[1] The heresies within its own borders.

[2] The track made by St. Francis is deserted.

[3] The change of metaphor is sudden; good wine makes a crust,
bad wine mould in the cask.

[4] They go in an opposite direction from that followed by the

[5] That it is taken from the chest in the granary to be burned.

[6] Frate Ubertino of Casale, the leader of a party of zealots
among the Franciscans, enforced the Rule of the Order with
excessive strictness; Matteo, of Acquasparta, general of the
Franciscans in 1257, relaxed it.

"I am the life of Bonaventura of Bagnoregio, who in great offices
set sinister[1] care behind me. Illuminato and Augustin are here,
were among the first barefoot poor that in the cord made
friends to God. Hugh of St. Victor[2] is here with them, and
Mangiadore, and Peter of Spain,[3] who down below shines in
twelve books;
Nathan the prophet, and the Metropolitan Chrysostom,[4] and
Anselm,[5] and that Donatus[6] who deigned to set his hand to the
first art; Raban[7] is here, and at my side shines the Calabrian
abbot Joachim,[8] endowed with prophetic spirit.

[1] Sinister, that is, temporal.

[2] Hugh (1097-1141), a noted schoolman, of the famous monastery
of St. Victor at Paris.

[3] Peter Mangiador, or Comestor, "the Eater," so called as being
a devourer of books. He himself wrote books famous in their time.
He was chancellor of the University at Paris, and died in 1198.
The Summae logicales of Peter of Spain, in twelve books, was long
held in high repute. He was made Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum in
1273, and was elected Pope in 1276, taking the name of John XXI.
He was killed in May, 1277, by the fall of the ceiling of the
chamber in which he was sleeping in the Papal palace at Viterbo.
He is the only Pope of recent times whom Dante meets in Paradise.

[4] The famous doctor of the Church, patriarch of Constantinople.

[5] Born about 1033 at Aosta in Piedmont, consecrated Arch.
bishop of Canterbury in 1093, died 1109; magnus et subtilis
doctor in theologia."

[6] The compiler of the treatise on grammar (the first of the
seven arts of the Trivium. and the Quadrivium), which was in use
throughout the Middle Ages.

[7] Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz, in the ninth century; a
great scholar and teacher, "cui similem suo tempore non habuit

[8] Joachim, Abbot of Flora, whose mystic prophecies had great

"The flaming courtesy of Brother Thomas, and his discreet
discourse, moved me to celebrate[1] so great a paladin; and with
me moved this company."

[1] Literally, "to envy;" hence, perhaps, "to admire," "to
praise," "to celebrate;" but the meaning is doubtful.

CANTO XIII. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks again, and explains the
relation of the wisdom of Solomon to that of Adam and of Christ,
and declares the vanity of human judgment.

Let him imagine,[1] who desires to understand well that which I
now saw (and let him retain the image like a firm rock, while I
am speaking), fifteen stars which in different regions vivify the
heaven with brightness so great that it overcomes all thickness
of the air; let him imagine that Wain[2] for which the bosom of
our heaven suffices both night and day, so that in the turning of
its pole it disappears not; let him imagine the mouth of that
horn[3] which begins at the point of the axle on which the primal
wheel goes round,--to have made of themselves two signs in the
heavens, like that which the daughter of Minos made, when she
felt the frost of death,[4] and one to have its rays within the
other, and both to revolve in such manner that one should go
first and the other after; and he will have as it were the shadow
of the true constellation, and of the double dance, which was
circling the point where I was; because it is as much beyond our
wont as the motion of the heaven which outspeeds all the rest is
swifter than the movement of the Chiana.[5] There was sung riot
Bacchus, not Paean, but three Persons in a divine nature, and it
and the human in one Person. The singing and the revolving
completed each its measure, and those holy lights gave attention
to us, making themselves happy from care to care.[6]

[1] To form an idea of the brightness of the two circles of
spirits, let the reader imagine fifteen of the brightest separate
stars, joined with the seven stars of the Great Bear, and with
the two brightest of the Lesser Bear, to form two constellations
like Ariadne's Crown, and to revolve one within the other, one
following the movement of the other.

[2] Charles's Wain, the Great Bear, which never sets.

[3] The Lesser Bear may be imagined as having the shape of a
horn, of which the small end is near the pole of the heavens
around which the Primum Mobile revolves.

[4] When Ariadne died of grief because of her desertion by
Theseus, her garland was changed into the constellation known as
Ariadne's Crown.

[5] The Chiana is one of the most sluggish of the streams of

[6] Rejoicing in the change from dance and song to tranquillity
for the sake of giving satisfaction to Dante.

Then the light in which the marvellous life of the poor man of
God had been narrated to me broke the silence among those
concordant deities, and said, "Since one straw is threshed, since
seed is now garnered, sweet love invites me to beat out the
other. Thou believest that in the breast, wherefrom the rib was
drawn to form the beautiful cheek whose taste costs dear to all
the world, and in that which, pierced. by the lance, both after
and before made such satisfaction that it overcomes the balance
of all sin, whatever of light it is allowed to human nature to
have was all infused. by that Power which made one and the other;
and therefore thou wonderest at that which I said above, when I
told that the good which in the fifth light is inclosed had no
second. Now open thine eyes to that which I answer to thee, and
thou wilt see thy belief and my speech become in the truth as the
centre in a circle.

"That which dies not and that which can die are naught but the
splendor of that idea which in His love our Lord God brings to
birth;[1] for that living Light which so proceeds from its Lucent
Source that It is not disunited from It, nor from the Love which
with them is intrined, through Its own bounty collects Its
radiance, as it were mirrored, in nine subsistences, Itself
eternally remaining one. Thence It descends to the ultimate
potentialities, downward from act to act, becoming such that
finally It makes naught save brief contingencies: and these
contingencies I understand. to be the generated things which the
heavens in their motion produce with seed and without.[2] The wax
of these, and that which moulds it, are not of one mode, and
therefore under the ideal stamp it shines now more now less;[3]
whence it comes to pass that one same plant in respect to species
bears better or worse fruit, and that ye are born with diverse
dispositions. If the wax were exactly worked,[4] and the heavens
were supreme in their power, the whole light of the seal would be
apparent. But nature always gives it defective,[5] working like
the artist who has the practice of his art and a hand that
trembles. Nevertheless if the fervent Love disposes and imprints
the clear Light of the primal Power, complete perfection is
acquired here.[6] Thus of old the earth was made worthy of the
complete perfection of the living being;[7] thus was the Virgin
made impregnate;[8] so that I commend thy opinion that human
nature never was, nor will be, what it was in those two persons.

[1] The creation of things eternal and things temporal alike is
the splendid manifestation of the idea which the triune God, in
His love, generated. The living light in the Son, emanating from
its lucent source in the Father, in union with the love of the
Holy Spirit, the three remaining always one, pours out its
radiance through the nine orders of the Angelic Hierarchy, who
distribute it by means of the Heavens of which they axe the

[2] Through the various movements and conjunctions of the
Heavens, the creative light descends to the lowest elements,
producing all the varieties of contingent things.

[3] The material of contingent or temporal things, and the
influences which shape them, are of various sort, so that the
splendor of the Divine idea is visible in them in different

[4] If the material were always fit to receive the impression.

[5] Nature, the second Cause, never transmits the whole of the
Creative light.

[6] If, however, the first Cause acts directly,--the fervent
Love imprinting the clear Light of the primal Power,--there can
be no imperfection in the created thing; it answers to the Divine

[7] Thus, by the immediate operation of the Creator, the earth of
which Adam was formed was made the perfect material for the f
ormation of the creature with a living soul.

[8] In like manner, by the direct act of the Creator.

"Now, if I should not proceed further, 'Then how was this man
without peer?' would thy words begin. But, in order that that
which is not apparent may clearly appear, consider who he was,
and the occasion which moved him to request, when it was said to
him, 'Ask.' I have not so spoken that thou canst not clearly see
that he was a king, who asked for wisdom, in order that he might
be a worthy king; not to know the number of the motors here on
high, or if necesse with a contingent ever made necesse;[1] non
si est dare primum motum esse,[2] or if in the semicircle a
triangle can be made so that it should not have one right
angle.[3] Wherefore if thou notest this and what I said, a
kingly prudence is that peerless seeing, on which the arrow of
ray intention strikes.[4] And if thou directest clear eyes to the
'has arisen' thou wilt see it has respect only to kings, who are
many, and the good are few. With this distinction[5] take thou my
saying, and thus it can stand with that which thou believest of
the first father, and of our Delight.[6] And let this be ever as
lead to thy feet, to make thee move slow as a weary man, both to
the YES and to the NO which thou seest not; for he is very low
among the fools who affirms or denies without distinction, alike
in the one and in the other case: because it happens, that
oftentimes the current opinion bends in false direction, and then
the inclination binds the understanding. Far more than vainly
does he leave the bank, since he returns not such as be sets out,
who fishes for the truth, and has not the art;[7] and of this are
manifest proofs to the world Parmenides, Melissus, Bryson,[8] and
many others who went on and knew not whither. So did Sabellius,
and Arius,[9] and those fools who were as swords unto the
Scriptures in making their straight faces crooked. Let not the
people still be too secure in judgment, like him who reckons up
the blades in the field ere they are ripe. For I have seen the
briar first show itself stiff and wild all winter long, then bear
the rose upon its top. And I have seen a bark ere now ran
straight and swift across the sea through all its course, to
perish at last at entrance of the harbor. Let not dame Bertha and
master Martin, seeing one rob, and another make offering, believe
to see them within the Divine counsel:[10] for the one may rise
and the other may fall."

[1] If from two premises, one necessary and one contingent, a
necessary conclusion is to be deduced.

[2] "If a prime motion is to be assumed," that is, a motion not
the effect of another.

[3] He did not ask through idle curiosity to know the number of
the Angels; nor for the solution of a logical puzzle, nor for
that of a question in metaphysics, or of a problem in geometry.

[4] If thou understandest this comment on my former words, to see
so much no second has arisen," my meaning will be clear that his
vision was unmatched in respect to the wisdom which it behoves a
king to possess.

[5] Thus distinguishing, it is apparent that Solomon is not
brought into comparison, in respect to perfection of wisdom, with
Adam or with Christ.

[6] Christ.

[7] Because he returns not only empty-handed, but with his mind

[8] Heathen philosophers who went astray in seeking for the

[9] Sabellius denied the Trinity, Arius denied the
Consubstantiality of the word.

[10] To understand the mystery of predestination.

CANTO XIV. At the prayer of Beatrice, Solomon tells of the
glorified body of the blessed after the Last Judgment.--Ascent to
the Heaven of Mars.--Souls of the Soldiery of Christ in the form
of a Cross with the figure of Christ thereon.--Hymn of the

From the centre to the rim, and so from the rim to the centre,
the water in a round vessel moves, according as it is struck from
without or within. This which I say fell suddenly into my mind
when the glorious life of Thomas became silent, because of the
similitude which was born of his speech and that of Beatrice,
whom after him it pleased thus to begin,[1] "This man has need,
and he tells it not to you, neither with his voice nor as yet in
thought, of going to the root of another truth. Tell him if the
light wherewith your substance blossoms will remain with you
eternally even as it is now; and if it remain, tell how, after
you shall be again made visible, it will be possible that it hurt
not your sight."[2]

[1] St. Thomas had spoken from his place in the ring which
formed a circle around Beatrice and Dante; Beatrice now was
speaking from the centre where she stood.

[2] The souls of the blessed are hidden in the light which
emanates from them; after the resurrection of the body they will
become visible, but then how will the bodily eyes endure such

As, when urged and drawn by greater pleasure, those who are
dancing in a ring with one accord lift their voice and gladden
their motions, so, at that prompt and devout petition, the holy
circles showed new joy in their turning and in their marvellous
melody. Whoso laments because man dies here in order to live
thereabove, has not seen here the refreshment of the eternal

That One and Two and Three which ever lives, and ever reigns in
Three and Two and One, uncircumscribed, and circumscribing
everything, was thrice sung by each of those spirits with such a
melody that for every merit it would be a just reward. And I
heard in the divinest light of the small circle a modest
voice,[1] perhaps such as was that of the Angel to Mary, make
answer, "As long as the festival of Paradise shall be, so long
will our love radiate around us such a garment. Its brightness
follows our ardor, the ardor our vision, and that is great in
proportion as it receives of grace above its own worth. When the
glorious and sanctified flesh shall be put on us again, our
persons will be more pleasing through being all complete;
wherefore whatever of gratuitous light the Supreme Good gives us
will be increased,--light which enables us to see him; so that
our vision needs must increase, our ardor increase which by that
is kindled, our radiance increase which comes from this. But even
as a coal which gives forth flame, and by a vivid glow surpasses
it, so that it defends its own aspect,[2] thus this effulgence,
which already encircles us, will be vanquished in appearance by
the flesh which all this while the earth covers. Nor will so
great a light be able to fatigue us, for the organs of the body
will be strong for everything which shall have power to delight
us." So sudden and ready both one and the other choir seemed to
me in saying "Amen," that truly they showed desire for their dead
bodies, perhaps not only for themselves, but also for their
mothers, for their fathers, and for the others who were dear
before they became sempiternal flames.

[1] Probably that of Solomon, who in the tenth Canto is said to
be "the light which is the most beautiful among us."

[2] The coal is seen glowing through the flame.

And lo! round about, of a uniform brightness, arose a lustre,
outside that which was there, like an horizon which is growing
bright. And even as at rise of early evening new appearances
begin in the heavens, so that the sight seems and seems not true,
it seemed to me that there I began to see new subsistences, and a
circle forming outside the other two circumferences. O true
sparkling of the Holy Spirit, how sudden and glowing it became to
mine eyes, which, vanquished, endured it not! But Beatrice showed
herself to me so beautiful and smiling that she must be left
among those sights which have not followed my memory.

Thence my eyes regained power to raise themselves again, and I
saw myself alone with my Lady transferred to higher salvation.[1]

That I was more uplifted I perceived clearly by the fiery smile
of the star, which seemed to me ruddier than its wont. With all
my heart and with that speech which is one in all men,[2] I made
to God a holocaust such as was befitting to the new grace; and
the ardor of the sacrifice was not yet exhausted in my breast
when I knew that offering had been accepted and propitious; for
with such great glow and such great ruddiness splendors appeared
to me within two rays, that I said, "O Helios,[3] who dost so
array them!"

[1] To a higher grade of blessedness, that of the Fifth Heaven.

[2] The unuttered voice of the soul.

[3] Whether Dante forms this word from the Hebrew Eli (my God),
or adopts the Greek {Greek here} (sun), is uncertain.

Even as, marked out by less and greater lights, the Galaxy so
whitens between the poles of the world that it indeed makes the
wise to doubt,[1] thus, constellated in the depth of Mars, those
rays made the venerable sign which joinings of quadrants in a
circle make. Here my memory overcomes my genius, for that Cross
was flashing forth Christ, so that I know not to find worthy
comparison. But be who takes his cross and follows Christ will
yet excuse me for that which I omit, when in that brightness he
beholds Christ gleaming.

[1] "Concerning the GaJaxy philosophers have held different
opinions."--Convito, 115.

From horn to horn[1] and between the top and the base lights were
moving, brightly scintillating as they met together and in their
passing by. Thus here[2] are seen, straight and athwart, swift
and slow, changing appearance, the atoms of bodies, long and
short, moving through the sunbeam, wherewith sometimes the shade
is striped which people contrive with skill and art for their
protection. And as a viol or harp, strung in harmony of many
strings, makes a sweet tinkling to one by whom the tune is not
caught, thus from the lights which there appeared to me a melody
was gathered through the Cross, which rapt me without
understanding of the hymn. Truly was I aware that it was of holy
praise, because there came to me "Arise and conquer!" as unto one
who understands not, and yet bears. I was so enamoured therewith
that until then had not been anything which had fettered me with
such sweet bonds. Perchance my word appears too daring, in
setting lower the pleasure from the beautiful eyes, gazing into
which my desire has repose. But he who considers that the living
seals[3] of every beauty have more effect the higher they are,
and that I there had not turned round to those eyes, can excuse
me for that whereof I accuse myself in order to excuse myself,
and see that I speak truth; for the holy pleasure is not here
excluded, because it becomes the purer as it mounts.

[1] From arm to arm of the cross.

[2] On earth.

[3] The Heavens, which are "the seal of mortal wax" (Canto
VIII.), increase in power as they are respectively nearer the
Empyrean, so that the joy in each, as it is higher up, is greater
than in the heavens below. To this time Dante had felt no joy
equal to that afforded him by this song. But a still greater joy
awaited him in the eyes of Beatrice, to which, since he entered
the Fifth Heaven, he had not turned, but which there, as
elsewhere, were to afford the supreme delight.

CANTO XV. Dante is welcomed by his ancestor, Cacciaguida.--
Cacciaguida tells of his family, and of the simple life of
Florence in the old days.

A benign will, wherein the love which righteously inspires always
manifests itself, as cupidity does in the evil will, imposed
silence on that sweet lyre, and quieted the holy strings which
the right hand of heaven slackens and draws tight. How unto just
petitions shall those substances be deaf, who, in order to give
me wish to pray unto them, were concordant in silence? Well is it
that be endlessly should grieve who, for the love of thing which
endures not eternally, despoils him of that love.

As, through the tranquil and pure evening skies, a sudden fire
shoots from time to time, moving the eyes which were at rest, and
seems to be a star which changes place, except that from the
region where it is kindled nothing is lost, and it lasts short
while, so, from the arm which extends on the right, to the foot
of that Cross, ran a star of the constellation which is
resplendent there. Nor from its ribbon did the gem depart, but
through the radial strip it ran along and seemed like fire behind
alabaster. Thus did the pious shade of Anchises advance (if our
greatest Muse merits belief), when in Elysium he perceived. his

[1] "And he (Anchises), when he saw Aeneas advancing to meet him
over the grass, stretched forth both hands eagerly, and the tears
poured down his cheeks, and he cried out, 'Art thou come at
length?"--Aeneid, vi. 684-7.

"O sanguis meus! o superinfusa gratia Dei! sicut tibi, cui bis
unquam coeli janua reclusa?"[1] Thus that light; whereat I gave
heed to it; then I turned my sight to my Lady, and on this side
and that I was wonderstruck; for within her eyes was glowing such
a smile, that with my own I thought to touch the depth of my
grace and of my Paradise.

[1] "O blood of mine! O grace of God poured from above! To whom,
as to thee, was ever the gate of Heaven twice opened?"

Then, gladsome to hear and to see, the spirit joined to his
beginning things which I understood not, he spoke so profoundly.
Nor did he hide himself to me by choice, but by necessity, for
his conception was set above the mark of mortals. And when the
bow of his ardent affection was so relaxed that his speech
descended towards the mark of our understanding, the first thing
that was understood by me was, "Blessed be Thou, Trinal, and One
who in my offspring art so courteous." And he went on, "Grateful
and long hunger, derived from reading in the great vouime where
white or dark is never changed,[1] thou hast relieved, my son,
within this light in which I speak to thee, thanks to Her who
clothed thee with plumes for the lofty flight. Thou believest
that thy thought flows to me from that which is first; even as
from the unit, if that be known, ray out the five and six. And
therefore who I am, and why I appear to thee more joyous than any
other in this glad crowd, thou askest me not. Thou believest the
truth; for the less and the great of this life gaze upon the
mirror in which, before thou thinkest, thou dost display thy
thought. But in order that the sacred Love, in which I watch with
perpetual sight, and which makes me thirst with sweet desire, may
be fulfilled the better, let thy voice, secure, bold, and glad,
utter the wish, utter the desire, to which my answer is already

[1] In the mind of God, in which there is no change.

I turned me to Beatrice, and she heard before I spoke, and smiled
to me a sign which made the wings to my desire grow: and I began
thus: "When the first Equality appeared to you, the affection
and the intelligence became of one weight for each of you;
because the Sun which illumined and warmed you is of such
equality in its heat and in its light that all similitudes are
defective. But will and discourse in mortals, for the reason
which is manifest to you, are diversely feathered in their
wings.[1] Wherefore I, who am mortal, feel myself in this
inequality,[2] and therefore I give not thanks, save with my
heart, for thy paternal welcome. Truly I beseech thee, living
topaz that dost ingem this precious jewel, that thou make me
content with thy name?" "O leaf of mine, in whom, while only
awaiting, I took pleasure, I was thy root." Such a beginning he,
answering, made to me. Then he said to me: "He from whom thy
family is named,[3] and who for a hundred years and more has
circled the mountain on the first ledge, was my son and was thy
great-grandsire. Truly it behoves that thou shorten for him his
long fatigue with thy works. Florence, within the ancient circle
wherefrom she still takes both tierce and nones,[4] was abiding
in sober and modest peace. She had not necklace nor coronal, nor
dames with ornamented shoes, nor girdle which was more to be
looked at than the person. Not yet did the daughter at her birth
cause fear to the father, for the time and dowry did not evade
measure on this side and that.[5] She had not houses void of
families;[6] Sardanapalus had not yet arrived[7] there to show
what can be done in a chamber. Not yet by your Uccellatoio was
Montemalo surpassed, which, as it has been surpassed in its rise,
shall be so in its fall.[8] I saw Bellineoin Berti[9] go girt
with leather and bone,[10] and his dame come from her mirror
without a painted face. And I saw them of the Nerli, and them of
the Vecchio,[11] contented with the uncovered skin,[12] and their
dames with the spindle and the distaff. O fortunate women! Every
one was sure of her burial place;[13] and as yet no one was
deserted in her bed for France.[14] One over the cradle kept her
careful watch, and, comforting, she used the idiom which first
amuses fathers and mothers. Another, drawing the tresses from her
distaff, told tales to her household of the Trojans, and of
Fiesole, and of Rome.[15] A Cianghella,[16] a Lapo Salterello
would then have been held as great a marvel as Cincinnatus or
Cornelia would be now.

[1] But will and the discourse of reason, corresponding to
affection and intelligence, are unequal in mortals, owing to
their imperfection.

[2] Which makes it impossible for me to give full expression to
my gratitude and affection.

[3] Alighiero, from whom, it would appear from his station in
Purgatory, Dante inherited the sin of pride, as well as his name.

[4] The bell of the church called the Badia, or Abbey, which
stood within the old walls of Florence, rang daily the hours for
worship, and measured the time for the Florentines. Tierce is the
first division of the canonical hours of the day, from six to
nine; nones, the third, from twelve to three.

[5] They were not married so young as now, nor were such great
dowries required for them.

[6] Palaces too large for their occupants, built for ostentation.

[7] The luxury and effeminacy of Sardanapalus were proverbial.

[8] Not yet was the view from Montemalo, or Monte Mario, of Rome
in its splendor surpassed by that of Florence from the height of
Uccellatoio; and the fall of Florence shall be greater even than
that of Rome.

[9] Bellincion Berti was "an honorable citizen of Florence," says
Giovanni Villani; "a noble soldier," adds Benvenuto da Imola. He
was father of the "good Gualdrada." See Hell, XVI.

[10] With a plain leathern belt fastened with a clasp of bone.

[11] Two ancient and honored families.

[12] Clothed in garments of plain dressed skin not covered with

[13] Not fearing to die in exile.

[14] Left by her husband seeking fortune in France, or other for.
eign lands.

[15] These old tales may be read in the first book of Villani's

[16] "Mulier arrogantissima et intolerabilis . . . multum lubrice
vixit," says Benvenuto da Imola, who describes Lapo Salterello as
temerarius et pravus civis, vir litigiosus et linguosus."

"To such a tranquil, to such a beautiful life of citizens, to
such a trusty citizenship, to such a sweet inn, Mary, called on
with loud cries,[1] gave me; and in your ancient Baptistery I
became at once a Christian and Cacciaguida. Moronto was my
brother, and Eliseo; my dame came to me from the valley of the
Po, and thence was thy surname. Afterward I followed the emperor
Conrad.[2] and he belted me of his soldiery,[3] so much by good
deeds did I come into his favor. Following him I went against the
iniquity of that law[4] whose people usurp your right,[5] though
fault of the shepherd. There by that base folk was I released
from the deceitful world, the love of which pollutes many souls,
and I came from martyrdom to this peace."

[1] The Virgin, called on in the pains of childbirth.

[2] Conrad III. of Suabia. In 1143 he joined in the second

[3] Made me a belted knight.

[4] The law of Mahomet.

[5] The Holy Land, by right belonging to the Christians.

CANTO XVI. The boast of blood.--Cacciaguida continues his
discourse concerning the old and the new Florence.

O thou small nobleness of our blood! If thou makest folk glory in
thee down here, where our affection languishes, it will nevermore
be a marvel to me; for there, where appetite is not perverted, I
mean in Heaven, I myself gloried in thee. Truly art thou a cloak
which quickly shortens, so that, if day by day it be not pieced,
Time goeth round about it with his shears.

With the YOU,[1] which Rome first tolerated, in which her family
least perseveres,[2] my words began again. Whereat Beatrice, who
was a little withdrawn,[3] smiling, seemed like her[4] who
coughed at the first fault that is written of Guenever. I began,
"You are my father, you give me all confidence to speak; you lift
me so that I am more than I. Through so many streams is my mind
filled with gladness that it makes of itself a joy, in that it
can bear this and not burst.[5] Tell me then, beloved first
source of me, who were your ancestors, and what were the years
that were numbered in your boyhood. Tell me of the sheepfold of
St. John,[6] how large it was then, and who were the people
within it worthy of the highest seats."

[1] The plural pronoun, used as a mark of respect. This usage was
introduced in the later Roman Empire.

[2] The Romans no longer show respect to those worthy of it.

[3] Beatrice stands a little aside, theology having no part in
this colloquy. She smiles, not reproachfully, at Dante's

[4] The Dame de Malehault, who coughed at seeing the first kiss
given by Lancelot to Guenever. The incident is not told in any of
the printed versions of the Romance of Lancelot, but it has been
found by Mr. Paget Toynbee in several of the manuscripts.

[5] Rejoices that it has capacity to endure such great joy.

[6] Florence, whose patron saint was St. John the Baptist.

As a coal quickens to flame at the blowing of the winds, so I saw
that light become resplendent at my blandishments, and as it
became more beautiful to my eyes, so with voice more dulcet and
soft, but not with this modern speech, it said to me, "From
that clay on which Ave was said, unto the birth in which my
mother, who. now is sainted, was lightened of me with whom she
was burdened, this fire had come to its Lion[1] five hundred,
fifty, and thirty times to reinflame itself beneath his paw.[2]
My ancestors and I were born in the place where the last ward is
first found by him who runs in your annual game.[3] Let it
suffice to hear this of my elders. Who they were, and whence they
came thither, it is more becoming to leave untold than to

 As he glow'd like a ruddy shield on the Lion's breast.--Maud,
part III. The Lion is the sign Leo in the Zodiac, appropriate to
Mars by supposed conformity of disposition.

[2] Five hundred and eighty revolutions of Mars are accomplished
in a little more than ten hundred and ninety years.

[3] The place designated was the boundary of the division of the
city called that of "the Gate of St. Peter," where the Corso
passes by the Mercato Vecchio or Old Market. The races were run
along the Corso on the 24th June, the festival of St. John the

"All those able to bear arms who at that time were there,
between Mars and the Baptist,[1] were the fifth of them who are
living. But the citizenship, which is now mixed with Campi and
with Certaldo and with Figghine,[2] was to be seen pure in the
lowest artisan. Oh, how much better it would be that those folk
of whom I speak were neighbors, and to have your confine at
Galluzzo and at Trespiano,[3] than to have them within, and to
endure the stench of the churl of Aguglione,[4] and of him of
Signa, who already has his eye sharp for barratry!

[1] Between the Ponte Vecchio, at the head of which stood the
statue of Mars, and the Baptistery,--two points marking the
circuit of the ancient walls.

[2] Small towns not far from Florence, from which, as from many
others, there had been emigration to the thriving city, to the
harm of its own people.

[3] It would have been better to keep these people at a distance,
as neighbors, and to have narrow bounds for the territory of the

[4] The churl of Aguglione was, according to Benvenuto da
Imola, a lawyer named Baldo, "qui fuit magnus canis." He became
one of the priors of Florence in 1311. He of Signa is supposed to
have been one Bonifazio, who, says Buti, "sold his favors and

"If the people which most degenerates in the world[1] had not
been as a stepdame unto Caesar, but like a mother benignant to
her son, there is one now a Florentine[2] who changes money and
traffics, who would have returned to Simifonti, there where his
grandsire used to go begging. Montemurlo would still belong to
its Counts, the Cerchi would be in the parish of Acone, and
perhaps the Buondelmonti in Valdigreve.[3] The confusion of
persons has always been the beginning of the harm of the city, as
in the body the food which is added.[4] And a blind bull falls
more headlong than the blind lamb; and oftentimes one sword cuts
more and better than five. If thou regardest Luni and
Urbisaglia,[5] how they have gone, and how Chiusi and Sinigaglia
are going their way after them, to hear how families are undone
will not appear to thee a strange thing or a bard, since cities
have their term.[6] Your things all have their death even as ye;
but it is concealed in some that last long, while lives are
short. And as the revolution of the heaven of the Moon covers and
uncovers the shores without a pause, so fortune does with
Florence. Wherefore what I shall tell of the high Florentines,
whose fame is hidden by time, should not appear to thee a
marvellous thing. I saw the Ughi, and I saw the Catellini,
Filippi, Greci, Ormanni, and Alberichi, even in their decline,
illustrious citizens; and I saw, as great as they were old, with
those of the Sannella, those of the Area, and Soldanieri, and
Ardinghi, and Bostiebi.[7] Over the gate which at present is
laden with new felony[8] of such weight that soon there will be
jettison from the bark,[9] were the Ravignani, from whom the
Count Guido is descended,[10] and whosoever since has taken the
name of the high Bellincione. He of the Pressa knew already bow
one needs to rule, and Galigaio already had in his house the
gilded hilt and pummel.[11] Great were already the column of the
Vair,[12] the Sacchetti, Giuochi, Fifanti, and Barucci, and
Galli, and they who blush for the bushel.[13] The stock from
which the Calfucci sprang was already great, and already the
Sizii. and Arrigucci had been drawn to curule chairs.[14] Oh how
great did I see those who have been undone by their pride![15]
and the balls of gold[16] made Florence flourish with all their
great deeds. So did the fathers of those who always,when your
church is vacant, become fat, staying in consistory.[17] The
overweening race which is as a dragon behind him who flies, and
to him who shows tooth or purse is gentle as a lamb,[18] already
was coming up, but from small folk, so that it pleased not
Ubertin Donato that his father-in-law should afterwards make him
their relation.[19] Already had Caponsacco descended into the
market place down from Fiesole, and already was Giuda a good
citizen, and Infangato.[20] I will tell a thing incredible and
true: into the little circle one entered by a gate which was
named for those of the Pear.[21] Every one who bears the
beautiful ensign of the great baron[22] whose name and whose
praise the feast of Thomas revives, from him had knighthood
and privilege; although to-day he who binds it with a border
unites himself with the populace.[23] Already there were
Gualterotti and Importuni; and Borgo[24] would now be more
quiet, if they had gone hung for new neighbors. The house of
which was born your weeping,[25] through its just indignation
which has slain you, and put an end to your glad living, was
honored, both itself and its consorts. O Buondelmonte, how ill
didst thou flee its nuptials through the persuasions of another!
[26] Many would be glad who now are sorrowful, if God had
conceded thee to the Ema[27] the first time that thou camest to
the city. But it behoved that Florence in her last peace should
offer a victim to that broken stone which guards the bridge.[28]

[1] If the clergy had not quarrelled with the Emperor, bringing
about factions and disturbances in the world.

[2] "I have not discovered who this is," says Buti.

[3] The Conti Guidi had been compelled to sell to the Florentines
their stronghold of Montemurlo, because they could not defend it
from the Pistoians. The Cerchi and the Buondelmonti had been
forced by the Florentine Commune to give up their fortresses and
to take up their abode in the city, where they became powerful,
and where the bitterness of intestine discord and party strife
had been greatly enhanced by their quarrels.

[4] Food added to that already in process of digestion.

[5] Cities once great, now fallen.

[6] Cities longer-lived than families.

[7] All once great families, but now extinct, or fallen.

[8] Above the gate of St. Peter rose the walls of the abode of
the Cerchi, the head of the White faction.

[9] The casting overboard was the driving out of the leaders of
the Whites in 1302.

[10] The Count Guido married Gualdrada, the daughter of
Bellincione Berti.

[11] Symbols of knighthood; the use of gold in their
accoutrements being reserved for knights.

[12] The family of the Pigli, whose scatcheon was, in heraldic
terms, gules, a pale, vair; in other words, a red shield divided
longitudinally by a stripe of the heraldic representation of the
fur called vair.

[13] The Chiaramontesi, one of whom in the old days, being the
officer in charge of the sale of salt for the Commune, had
cheated both the Commune and the people by using a false measure.
See Purgatory, Canto XII.

[14] To high civic office.

[15] The Uberti, the great family of which Farinata was the most
renowned member.

[16] The Lamberti, who bore golden balls on their shields.

[17] The Visdomini, patrons of the Bishopric of Florence, who,
after the death of a bishop, by deferring the appointment of his
successor grew fat on the episcopal revenues.

[18] The Adimari. Benvenuto da Imola reports that one Boccacino
Adimari, after Dante's banishment, got possession of his
property, and always afterward was his bitter enemy.

[19] Ubertin Donato married a daughter of Bellincion Berti, and
was displeased that her sister should afterwards be given to one
of the Adimari.

[20] There seems to be a touch of humor in these three names of
"Head in bag," "Judas," and "Bemired."

[21] The Peruzzi, who bore the pear as a charge upon their
scutcheon. The incredible thing may have been that the people
were so simple and free from jealousy as to allow a public gate
to bear the name of a private family. The "little circle" was the
circle of the old walls.

[22] Hugh, imperial vicar of Tuscany in the time of Otho II. and
Otho III. He died on St. Thomas's Day, December 21st, 1006, and
was buried in the Badia, the foundation of which is ascribed to
him; there his monument is still to be seen, and there of old, on
the anniversary of his death, a discourse in his praise was
delivered. Several families, whose heads were knighted by him,
adopted his arms, with some distinctive addlition. His scutcheon
was paly of four, argent and gules.

[23] Giano della Bella, the great leader of the Florentine
commonalty in the latter years of the 13th century. He bore the
arms of Hugh with a border of gold.

[24] The Borgo Sant' Apostolo, the quarter of the city in which
these families lived, would have been more tranquil if the
Buondelmonti had not come to take up their abode in it.

[25] The Amidei, who were the source of much of the misery of
Florence, through their long and bitter feud with the
Buondelmonti, by which the whole city was divided.

[26] The quarrel between the Amidei and the Buondelmonti arose
from the slighting by Buondelmonto dei Buondelmonti of a daughter
of the former house, to whom he was betrothed, for a daughter of
the Donati, induced thereto by her mother. This was in 1215.

[27] The Ema, a little stream that has to be crossed in coming
from Montebuono, the home of the Buondelmonti, to Florence.

[28] That victim was Buondelmonte himself, slain by the outraged
Amidei, at the foot of the mutilated statue of Mars, which stood
at the end of the Ponte Vecchio.

"With these families, and with others with them, I saw Florence
in such repose that she had no occasion why she should weep. With
these families I saw her people so glorious and so just, that the
lily was never set reversed upon the staff, nor had it been made
blood-red by division."[1]

[1] The banner of Florence had never fallen into the hands of her
enemies, to be reversed by them in scoff. Of old it had borne a
white lily in a red field, but in 1250, when the Ghibellines
were expelled, the Guelphs adopted a red lily in a white field,
and this became the ensign of the Commune.

CANTO XVII. Dante questions Cacciaguida as to his fortunes.--
Cacciaguida replies, foretelling the exile of Dante, and the
renown of his Poem.

As he who still makes fathers chary toward their sons[1] came to
Clymene, to ascertain concerning that which he had heard against
himself; such was I, and such was I perceived to be both by
Beatrice, and by the holy lamp which first for my sake had
changed its station. Whereon my Lady said to me, "Send forth
the flame of thy desire so that it may issue sealed well by the
internal stamp; not in order that our knowledge may increase
through thy speech, but that thou accustom thyself to tell thy
thirst, so that one may give thee drink."

[1] Phaethon, son of Clymene by Apollo, having been told that
Apollo was not his father, went to his mother to ascertain the

"O dear plant of me, who so upliftest thyself that, even as
earthly minds see that two obtuse angles are not contained in a
triangle, so thou, gazing upon the point to which all times are
present, seest contingent things, ere in themselves they are;
while I was conjoined with Virgil up over the
mountain which cures the souls, and while descending in the world
of the dead, grave words were said to me of my future life;
although I feel myself truly four-square against the blows of
chance. Wherefore my wish would be content by hearing what sort
of fortune is drawing near me; for arrow foreseen comes more
slack." Thus said I unto that same light which before had spoken
to me, and as Beatrice willed was my wish confessed.

Not with ambiguous terms in which the foolish folk erst were
entangled,[1] ere yet the Lamb of God which taketh away sins had
been slain, but with clear words and with distinct speech that
paternal love, hid and apparent by his own proper smile, made
answer: "Contingency, which extends not outside the volume of
your matter, is all depicted in the eternal aspect. Therefrom,
however, it takes not necessity, more than from the eye in which
it is mirrored does a ship which descends with the downward
current. Thence, even as sweet harmony comes to the ear from an
organ, comes to my sight the time that is preparing for thee. As
Hippolytus departed from Athens, by reason of his pitiless and
perfidious stepmother, so out from Florence thou must needs
depart. This is willed, this is already sought for, and soon it
shall be brought to pass, by him I who designs it there where
every day Christ is bought and sold. The blame will follow the
injured party, in outcry, as it is wont; but the vengeance will
be testimony to the truth which dispenses it. Thou shalt leave
everything beloved most dearly; and this is the arrow which the
bow of exile first shoots. Thou shalt prove how the bread of
others savors of salt, and how the descending and the mounting of
another's stairs is a hard path. And that which will heaviest
weigh upon thy shoulders will be the evil and foolish company[2]
with which into this valley thou shalt fall; which all
ungrateful, all senseless, and impious will turn against thee;
but short while after, it, not thou, shall have the forehead red
therefor. Of its bestiality, its own procedure will give the
proof; so that it will be seemly for thee to have made thyself a
party by thyself.

[1] Not with riddles such as the oracles gave out before they
fell silent at the coming of Christ.

[2] Boniface VIII.

[3] The other Florentine exiles of the party of the Whites.

"Thy first refuge and first inn shall be the courtesy of the
great Lombard,[1] who upon the ladder bears the holy bird, who
will turn such benign regard on thee that, in doing and in
asking, between you two, that will be first, which between others
is the slowest. With him shalt thou see one,[2] who was so
impressed, at his birth, by this strong star, that his deeds will
be notable. Not yet are the people aware of him, because of his
young age; for only nine years have these wheels revolved around
him. But ere the Gascon cheat the lofty Henry[3] some sparkles of
his virtue shall appear, in caring not for silver nor for toils.
His magnificences shall hereafter be so known, that his enemies
shall not be able to keep their tongues mute about them. Await
thou for him, and for his benefits; by him shall many people be
transformed, rich and mendicant changing condition. And thou
shalt bear hence written of him in thy mind, but thou shalt not
tell it;" and he said things incredible to those who shall be
present. Then he added, "Son, these are the glosses on what was
said to thee; behold the ambushes which are bidden behind few
revolutions. Yet would I not that thou bate thy neighbors,
because thy life hath a future far beyond the punishment of their

[[1] Bartolommeo della Scala, lord of Verona, whose armorial
bearings were the imperial eagle upon a ladder (scala).

[2] Can Grande della Scala, the youngest brother of Bartolommeo,
and finally his successor as lord of Verona.

[3] Before Pope Clement V., under whom the Papal seat was
established at Avignon, shall deceive the Emperor, Henry VIL, by
professions of support, while secretly promoting opposition to
his expedition to Italy in 1310.

When by its silence that holy soul showed it had finished
putting the woof into that web which I had given it warped, I
began, as he who, in doubt, longs for counsel from a person who
sees, and uprightly wills, and loves: "I see well, my Father,
how the time spurs on toward me to give me such a blow as is
heaviest to him who most deserts himself; wherefore it is good
that I arm me with foresight, so that if the place most dear be
taken from me, I should not lose the others by my songs. Down
through the world of endless bitterness, and over the mountain
from whose fair summit the eyes of my Lady have lifted me, and
afterward through the heavens from light to light, I have learned
that which, if I repeat it, shall be to many a savor keenly sour;
and if I am a timid friend to the truth I fear to lose life among
those who will call this time the olden." The light, in which my
treasure which I had found there was smiling, first became
flashing as a mirror of gold in the sunbeam; then it replied, "A
conscience dark, either with its own or with another's shame,
will indeed feel thy speech as harsh; but nevertheless, all
falsehood laid aside, make thy whole vision manifest, and let the
scratching be even where the itch is; for if at the first taste
thy voice shall be molestful, afterwards, when it shall be
digested, it will leave vital nourishment. This cry of thine
shall do as the wind, which heaviest strikes the loftiest
summits; and that will be no little argument of honor. Therefore
to thee have been shown within these wheels, upon the mountain,
and in the woeful valley, only the souls which are known of fame.
For the mind of him who bears rests not, nor confirms its faith,
through an example which has its root unknown and hidden, nor by
other argument which is not apparent."

CANTO XVIII. The Spirits in the Cross of Mars.--Ascent to the
Heaven of Jupiter.--Words shaped in light upon the planet by the
Spirits.--Denunciation of the avarice of the Popes.

Now was that blessed mirror enjoying alone its own word,[1] and I
was tasting mine, tempering the bitter with the sweet. and that
Lady who to God was leading me said, "Change thy thought; think
that I am near to Him who lifts the burden of every wrong." I
turned me round at the loving sound of my Comfort, and what love
I then saw in the holy eyes, I here leave it; not only because I
distrust my own speech, but because of the memory which cannot
return so far above itself, unless another guide it. Thus much of
that moment can I recount, that, again beholding her, my
affection was free from every other desire.

[1] Its own thoughts in contemplation.

While the eternal pleasure, which was raying directly upon
Beatrice, from her fair face was contenting me with its second
aspect,[1] vanquishing me with the light of a smile, she said to
me, "Turn thee, and listen, for not only in my eyes is Paradise."

[1] Its aspect reflected from the eyes of Beatrice.

As sometimes here one sees the affection in the countenance, if
it be so great that by it the whole soul is occupied, so in the
flaming of the holy effulgence to which I turned me, I recognized
the will in it still to speak somewhat with me. It began, "In
this fifth threshold of the tree, which lives from its top, and
always bears fruit, and never loses leaf, are blessed spirits,
who below, before they came to heaven, were of great renown, so
that every Muse would be rich with them. Therefore gaze upon the
arms of the Cross; he, whom I shall name, will there do that
which within a cloud its own swift fire does." At the naming of
Joshua, even as he did it, I saw a light drawn over the Cross;
nor was the word noted by me before the act. And at the name of
the lofty Maccabeus[1] I saw another move revolving, and gladness
was the whip of the top. Thus for Charlemagne and for Roland my
attentive gaze followed two of them, as the eye follows its
falcon as be flies. Afterward William, and Renouard,[2] and the
duke Godfrey,[3] and Robert Guiscard[4] drew my sight over that
Cross. Then, moving, and mingling among the other lights, the
soul which had spoken with me showed me how great an artist it
was among the singers of heaven.

[1] Judas Maccabeus, who " was renowned to the utmost part of the
earth." See I Maccabees, ii-ix.

[2] Two heroes of romance, paladins of Charlemagne.

[3] Godfrey of Bouillon, the leader of the first crusade.

[4] The founder of the Norman kingdom of Naples.

I turned me round to my right side to see my duty signified in
Beatrice either by speech or by act, and I saw her eyes so clear,
so joyous, that her semblance surpassed her other and her latest
wont. And even as, through feeling more delight in doing good, a
man from day to day becomes aware that his virtue is advancing,
so I became aware that my circling round together with the heaven
had increased its are, seeing that miracle more adorned. And such
as is the change, in brief passage of time, in a pale lady, when
her countenance is unlading the load of bashfulness, such was
there in my eyes, when I had turned, because of the whiteness of
the temperate sixth star which had received, me within itself.[1]
I saw, within that torch of Jove, the sparkling of the love which
was there shape out our speech to my eyes. And as birds, risen
from the river-bank, as if rejoicing together over their food,
make of themselves a troop now round, now of some other shape, so
within the lights[2] holy creatures were singing as they flew,
and made of themselves now D, now I, now L, in their proper
shapes.[3] First, singing, they moved to their melody, then
becoming one of these characters, they stopped a little, and
were silent.

[1] The change is from the red light of Mars to the white light
of Jupiter, a planet called by astrologers the "temperate" star,
as lying between the heat of Mars and the coldness of Saturn.

[2] The sparkles of the love which was there.

[3] The first letters of Diligite, as shortly appears.

O divine Pegasea,[1] who makest the wits of men glorious, and
renderest them long-lived, as they, through thee, the cities and
the kingdoms, illume me with thyself that I may set in relief
their shapes, as I have conceived them I let thy power appear in
these brief verses!

[1] An appellation appropriate to any one of the Muses (whose
fountain Hippocrene sprang at the stamp of Pegasus); here
probably applied to Urania, already once invoked by the poet
(Purgatory, XXIX.).

They showed themselves then in five times seven vowels and
consonants; and I noted the parts as they seemed spoken to me.
Diligite justitiam were first verb and noun of all the picture;
qui judicatis terram[1] were the last. Then in the M of the fifth
word they remained arranged, so that Jove seemed silver patterned
there with gold. And I saw other lights descending where the top
of the M was, and become quiet there, singing, I believe, the
Good which moves them to itself. Then, as on the striking of
burnt logs rise innumerable sparks, wherefrom the foolish are
wont to draw auguries, there seemed to rise again thence more
than a thousand lights, and mount, one much and one little,
according as the Sun which kindles them allotted them; and, each
having become quiet in its place, I saw the head and the neck of
an eagle represented by that patterned fire. He who paints there,
has none who may guide Him, but Himself guides, and by Him is
inspired that virtue which is form for the nests.[2] The rest of
the blessed spirits, which at first seemed content to be
enlilied[3] on the M, with a slight motion followed out the

[1] "Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth."--
Wisdom of Solomon, i. 1.

[2] The words are obscure; they may mean that a virtue, or
instinct, similar to that which teaches the bird to build its
nest, directed the shaping of these letters.

[3] Ingigliare, a word invented by Dante, and used only by him.
The meaning is that these spirits seemed first to form a lily on
the M.

O sweet star, how great gems and how many showed to me that our
justice is the effect of that heaven which thou ingemmest!
Wherefore I pray the Mind, in which thy motion and thy virtue
have their source, that It regard whence issues the smoke which
spoils thy radiance, so that now a second time It may be wroth at
the buying and selling within the temple which was walled with
signs and martyrdoms. O soldiery of the Heaven on which I gaze,
pray ye for those who are on earth all gone astray after the bad
example! Of old it was the wont to make war with swords, but now
it is made by taking, now here now there, the bread which the
piteous Father locks up from none.

But thou that writest only in order to cancel,[1] bethink thee
that Peter and Paul, who died for the vineyard which thou art
laying waste, are still alive. Thou mayest indeed say, "I have my
desire set so on him who willed to live alone, and for a dance
was dragged to martyrdom[2] that I know not the Fisherman nor

[1] The Pope, who writes censures, excommunications, and the
like, only that he may be paid to cancel thorn.

[2] The image of St. John Baptist was on the florin, which was
the chief object of desire of the Pope.

CANTO XIX. The voice of the Eagle.--It speaks of the mysteries of
Divine justice; of the necessity of Faith for salvation; of the
sins of certain kings.

The beautiful image, which in its sweet fruition was making
joyful the interwoven souls, appeared before me with outspread
wings. Each soul appeared a little ruby on which a ray of the sun
glowed so enkindled that it reflected him into My eyes. And that
which it now behoves me to describe, no voice ever reported, nor
ink wrote, nor was it ever conceived by the fancy; for I saw,
and also heard the beak speaking, and uttering with the voice
both I and MY, when in conception it was WE and OUR.[1]

[1] An image of the concordant will of the Just, and of the unity
of Justice under the Empire.

And it began, "Through being just and pious am I here exalted
to that glory which lets not itself be conquered by desire; and
on earth I left my memory such that the evil people there commend
it, but continue not its story." Thus a single heat makes itself
felt from many embers, even as from many loves a single sound
issued from that image. Wherefore I thereon, "O perpetual flowers
of the eternal gladness, which make all your odors seem to me as
only one, deliver me, by your breath, from the great fast which
has held me long in hunger, not finding for it any food on earth.
Well I know that if the Divine Justice makes any realm in heaven
its mirror, yours does not apprehend it through a veil.[1] Ye
know how intently I address myself to listen; ye know what is
that doubt[2] which is so old a fast to me."

[1] Here, if anywhere, the Divine Justice is reflected.

[2] Concerning the Divine justice.

As a falcon which, issuing from his hood, moves his head, and
claps his wings, showing desire, and making himself fine; so I
saw this ensign, which was woven of praise of the Divine Grace,
become, with songs such as he knows who thereabove rejoices. Then
it began, "He who turned the compasses at the verge of the
world, and distributed within it so much occult and manifest,
could not so imprint His Power on all the universe that His Word
should not remain in infinite excess.[1] And this makes certain
that the first proud one, who was the top of every creature,
through not awaiting light, fell immature.[2] And hence it
appears, that every lesser nature is a scant receptacle for that
Good which has no end and measures Itself by Itself. Wherefore
our vision, which needs must be some ray of the Mind with which
all things are full, cannot in its own nature be so potent that
it may not discern its origin to be far beyond that which is
apparent to it.[3] Therefore the sight which your world
receives[4] penetrates into the eternal justice as the eye into
the sea; which, though from the shore it can see the bottom, on
the ocean sees it not, and nevertheless it is there, but the
depth conceals it. There is no light but that which comes from
the serene which is never clouded; nay, there is darkness,
either shadow of the flesh, or its poison.[5] The hiding place is
now open enough to thee, which concealed from thee the living
Justice concerning which thou madest such frequent question;[6]
for thou saidest,--'A man is born on the bank of the Indus, and
no one is there who may speak of Christ, nor who may read, nor
who may write; and all his wishes and acts are good so far as
human reason sees, without sin in life or in speech. He dies
unbaptized, and without faith: where is this Justice which
condemns him? where is his sin if he does not believe?' Now who
art thou, that wouldst sit upon a bench to judge a thousand miles
away with the short vision of a single span? Assuredly, for him
who subtilizes with me,[7] if the Scripture were not above you,
there would be occasion for doubting to a marvel. Oh earthly
animals! oh gross minds![8]

[1] The Word, that is, the thought or wisdom of God, infinitely
exceeds the expression of it in the creation.

[2] Lucifer fell through pride, fancying himself, though a
created being, equal to his Creator. Had he awaited the full
light of Divine grace, he would have recognized his own

[3] Our vision is not powerful enough to reach the source from
which it proceeds.

[4] It is the gift of God.

[5] There is no light but that which proceeds from God, the light
of Revelation. Lacking this, man is in the darkness of ignorance,
which is in the shadow of the flesh, or of sin, which is its

[6] The hiding place is the depth of the Divine decrees, which
man cannot penetrate, but the justice of which in his self-
confidence he undertakes to question.

[7] With me, the symbol of justice.

[8] The Scriptures teach you that "the judgments of God are
unsearchable, and His ways past finding out;" why, foolish, do ye
disregard them?

"The primal Will, which of Itself is good, never is moved from
Itself, which is the Supreme Good. So much is just as is
accordant to It; no created good draws It to itself, but It,
raying forth, is the cause of that good."

As above her nest the stork circles, after she has fed her brood,
and as he who has been fed looks up at her, such became (and I so
raised my brows) the blessed image, which moved its wings urged
by so many counsels. Wheeling it sang, and said, "As are my
notes to thee who understandest them not, so is the eternal
judgment to you mortals."

After those shining flames of the Holy Spirit became quiet, still
in the sign which made the Romans reverend to the world, it began
again, "To this kingdom no one ever ascended, who had not
believed in Christ either before or after he was nailed to the
tree. But behold, many cry Christ, Christ, who, at the Judgment,
shall be far less near to him, than such an one who knew not
Christ; and the Ethiop will condemn such Christians when the two
companies shall be divided, the one forever rich, and the other
poor. What will the Persians be able to say to your kings, when
they shall see that volume open in which are written all their
dispraises?[1] There among the deeds of Albert shall be seen
that which will soon set the pen in motion, by which the kingdom
of Prague shall be made desert.[2] There shall be seen the woe
which he who shall die by the blow of a wild boar is bringing
upon the Seine by falsifying the coin.[3] There shall be seen the
pride that quickens thirst, which makes the Scot and the
Englishman mad, so that neither can keep within his
own bounds.[4] The luxury shall be seen, and the effeminate
living of him of Spain, and of him of Bohemia, who never knew
valor, nor wished it.[5] The goodness of the Cripple of Jerusalem
shall be seen marked with a I, while an M shall mark the
contrary.[6] The avarice and the cowardice shall be seen of
him[7] who guards the island of the fire, where Anchises ended
his long life; and, to give to understand how little worth he is,
the writing for him shall be in contracted letters which shall
note much in small space. And to every one shall be apparent the
foul deeds of his uncle and of his brother[8] who have dishonored
so famous a nation and two crowns. And he of Portugal,[9] and he
of Norway[10] shall be known there; and he of Rascia,[11] who, to
his harm, has seen the coin of Venice. O happy Hungary, if she
allow herself no longer to be maltreated! and happy Navarre, if
she would arm herself with the mountains which bind her
round![12] And every one must believe that now, for earnest of
this, Nicosia and Famagosta are lamenting and complaining because
of their beast which departs not from the flank of the

[1] The Persians, who know not Christ, will rebuke the sins of
kings professedly Christians, when the book of life shall be
opened at the last Judgment.

[2] The devastation of Bohemia in 1303, by Albert of Austria (the
"German Albert" of the sixth canto of Purgatory), will soon set
in motion the pen of the recording angel.

[3] After his terrible defeat at Courtray in 1302, Philip the
Fair, to provide himself with means, debased. the coin of the
realm. He died in 1314 from the effects of a fall from his horse,
oven thrown by a wild boar in the forest of Fontainebleau.

[4] The wars of Edward I. and Edward II. with the Scotch under
Wallace and Bruce were carried on with little intermission during
the first twenty years of the fourteenth century.

[5] By "him of Spain," Ferdinand IV. of Castile (1295-1312)
seems to be intended; and by "him of Bohemia," Wenceslaus IV.,
"whom luxury and idleness feed." (Purgatory, Canto VII.).

[6] The virtues of the lame Charles II. of Apulia, titular king
of Jerusalem, shall be marked with one, but his vices with a

[7] Frederick of Aragon, King of Sicily, too worthless to have
his deeds written out in full. Dante's scorn of Frederick was
enhanced by his desertion of the Ghibellines after the death of
Henry VII.

[8] James, King of Majorca and Minorca, and James, King of

[9] Denis, King of Portugal, 1279-1325.

[10] Perhaps Hakon Haleggr (Longlegs), 1299-1319.

[11] Rascia, so called from a Slavonic tribe, which occupied a
region south of the Danube, embracing a part of the modern Servia
and Bosnia. The kingdom was established in 1170. One of its
kings, Stephen Ouros, who died in 1307, imitated the coin of
Venice with a debased coinage.

[12] If she would make the Pyrenees her defence against France,
into the hands of whose kings Navarre fell in 1304.

[13] The lot of these cities in Cyprus, which are now lamenting
under the rule of Henry II. of the Lusignani, a beast who goes
along with the rest, is a pledge in advance of what sort of fate
falls to those who do not defend themselves.

CANTO XX. The Song of the Just.--Princes who have loved
righteousness, in the eye of the Eagle.--Spirits, once Pagans, in
bliss.--Faith and Salvation.--Predestination.

When he who illumines all the world, descends from our hemisphere
so that the day on every side is spent, the heavens which erst by
him alone are enkindled, suddenly become again conspicuous with
many lights, on which one is shining.[1] And this act of the
heavens came to my mind when the ensign of the world and of its
leaders became silent in its blessed beak; because all those
living lights, far more shining, began songs which lapse and fall
from out my memory.

[1] One, that is, the sun, supposed to be the source of the
light of the stars.

O sweet love, that cloakest thee with a smile, how ardent didst
thou appear in those pipes[1] which had the breath alone of holy

[1] That is, in those singers.

After the precious and lucent stones, wherewith I saw the sixth
luminary ingemmed, imposed silence on their angelic bells, I
seemed to hear the murmur of a stream which falls pellucid down
from rock to rock, showing the abundance of its mountain source.
And as the sound takes its form at the cithern's neck, and in
like manner at the vent of the bagpipe the air which enters it,
thus, without pause of waiting, that murmur of the Eagle rose up
through its neck, as if it were hollow. There it became voice,
and thence it issued through its beak in form of words, such as
the heart whereon I wrote them was awaiting.

"The part in me which in mortal eagles sees and endures the sun,"
it began to me, "must now be fixedly looked upon, because of the
fires whereof I make my shape, those wherewith the eye in my head
sparkles are the highest of all their grades. He who shineth in
the middle, as the pupil, was the, singer of the Holy Spirit,
who, bore about the ark from town to town.[1] Now he knows the
merit of his song, so far as it was the effect of his own
counsel,[2] by the recompense which is equal to it. Of the five
which make a circle for the brow, be who is nearest to my beak
consoled the poor widow for her son.[3] Now he knows, by the
experience of this sweet life and of the opposite, how dear it
costs not to follow Christ. And he who follows along the top of
the are in the circumference of which I speak, by true penitence
postponed death.[4] Now he knows that the eternal judgment is not
altered, when worthy prayer there below makes to-morrow's what is
of to-day. The next who follows,[5] under a good intention which
bore bad fruit, by ceding to the Pastor[6] made himself Greek,
together with the laws and me. Now he knows how the ill derived
from his good action is not hurtful to him, although thereby the
world may be destroyed. And he whom thou seest in the down-bent
are was William,[7] whom that land deplores which weeps for
Charles and Frederick living.[8] Now he knows how heaven is
enamoured of a just king, and even by the aspect of his
effulgence makes it seen. Who, down in the erring world, would
believe that Rhipeus the Trojan[9] was the fifth in this circle
of the holy lights? Now he knows much of what the world cannot
see of the divine grace, although his sight cannot discern its

[1] David. See 2 Samuel, vi.

[2] So far as it proceeded from his own free will, open to the
inspiration of grace.

[3] Trajan. See Purgatory, Canto X.

[4] King Hezekiah. See 2 Kings, xx.

[5] The Emperor Constantine.

[6] By his so-called "Donation," Constantine was believed to
have ceded Rome to the Pope, and by transferring the seat of
empire to Constantinople, he made the laws and the eagle Greek.

[7] William H., son of Robert Guiscard, King of Sicily and
Apulia, called "the Good."

[8] Charles H. of Apulia, and Frederick of Aragon, King of

[9]--Rhipeus,iustissimus unus
  Qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi.--Aeneid, ii,

"Rhipeus, the one justest man, and heedfullest of right among the

Like as a little lark that in the air expatiates first singing,
and then is silent, content with the last sweetness which
satisfies her, such seemed to me the image of the imprint of the
Eternal Plea, sure, according to whose desire everything becomes
that which it is.[1] And though I was there, in respect to my
doubt,[2] like glass to the color which cloaks it; it[3] endured
not to await the time in silence, but with the force of its own
weight urged from my mouth, "What things are these?" whereat I
saw great festival of sparkling. Thereupon, with its eye more
enkindled, the blessed ensign answered me , in order not to keep
me in wondering suspense: "I see that thou believest these
things because I say them, but thou seest not how; so that,
although believed in, they are hidden. Thou dost as one who fully
apprehends a thing by name, but cannot see its quiddity unless
another explain it. Regnum coelorum[4] suffers violence from
fervent love, and from a living hope which vanquishes the divine
will; not in such wise as man overcomes man, but vanquishes it,
because it wills to be vanquished, and, vanquished, vanquishes
with its own benignity. The first life of the eyebrow and the
fifth make thee marvel, because thou seest the region of the
Angels painted with them. From their bodies they did not issue
Gentiles, as thou believest, but Christians, in firm faith, one
in the Feet that were to suffer, one in the Feet that had
suffered.[5] For the one from Hell, where there is never return
to righteous will, came back to his bones; and that was the
reward of living hope; of living hope, which put its power in
prayers made to God to raise him up, so that it might be possible
his will should be moved.[6] The glorious soul, whereof I speak,
returning to the flesh, in which it remained short while,
believed in Him who was able to aid it; and in believing was
kindled to such fire of true love, that at the second death it
was worthy to come to this sport. The other, through grace which
distils from a fount so deep that creature never pushed the eye
far as its primal wave, there below set all his love on
righteousness; wherefore from grace to grace God opened his eye
to our future redemption, so that he believed in it, and
thenceforth endured no more the stench of paganism,
and reproved therefor the perverse folk. More than a thousand
years before baptizing,[7] those three ladies whom thou sawest at
the right wheel[8] were to him for baptism. O predestination,
how remote is thy root from the sight of those who see not the
entire First Cause! And ye, mortals, keep yourselves restrained
in judging; for we who see God know not yet all the elect. And
unto us such want is sweet, for our good is perfected in this
good, that what God wills we also will."

[1] So, seemed the image (that is, the eagle), satiated with its
bliss, whether in the speech or the silence imposed upon it by
the Eternal Pleasure, in accordance with which all things fulfil
their ends.

[2] How Trajan and Rhipeus could be in Paradise, since none but
those who had believed in Christ were there.

[3] My doubt.

[4] The kingdom of Heaven."--Matthew, xi. 12.

[5] Rhipeus died before the coming of Christ; Trajan after.

[6] According to the legend, St. Gregory the Great prayed that
Trajan, because of his great worth, might be restored to life
long enough for his will to return to righteousness, and for him
to profess his faith in Christ.

[7] Before the divine institution of the rite of baptism his
faith, hope, and charity served him in lieu thereof.

[8] Of the Chariot of the Church. See Purgatory, Canto XXIX.

Thus, to make my short sight clear, sweet medicine was given to
me by that divine image. And as a good lutanist makes the
vibration of the string accompany a good singer, whereby the song
acquires more pleasantness, so it comes back to my mind that,
while it spake, I saw the two blessed lights moving their
flamelets to the words, just as the winking of the eyes concords.

CANTO XXI. Ascent to the Heaven of Saturn.--Spirits of those who
had given themselves to devout contemplation.--The Golden
Stairway.--St. Peter Damian.--Predestination.--The luxury of
modern Prelates.

Now were my eyes fixed again upon the countenance of my Lady, and
my mind with them, and from every other intent it was withdrawn;
and she was not smiling, but, "If I should smile," she began to
me, "thou wouldst become such as Semele was when she became
ashes; for my beauty, which along the stairs of the eternal
palace is kindled the more, as thou hast seen, the higher it
ascends, is so resplendent that, if it were not tempered, at its
effulgence thy mortal power would be as a bough shattered by
thunder. We are lifted to the seventh splendor which beneath the
breast of the burning Lion now radiates downward mingled with his
strength.[1] Fix thy mind behind thine eyes, and make of them
mirrors for the shape which in this mirror shall be apparent to

[1] The seventh splendor is Saturn, which was in the sign of the
Lion, whence its rays fell to earth, mingled with the strong
influences of the sign.

He who should know what was the pasture of my sight in her
blessed aspect, when I transferred me to another care, would
recognize, by counterposing one side with the other, how pleasing
it was to me to obey my celestial escort.

Within the crystal which, circling round the world, bears the
name of its shining leader, under whom all wickedness lay
dead,[1] I saw, of the color of gold through which a sunbeam is
shining,[2] a stairway rising up so high that my eye followed it
not. I saw, moreover, so many splendors descending, along the
steps, that I thought every light which appears in heaven was
there diffused.

[1] Saturn, in the golden age.

[2] As in a painted window.

And as, according to their natural custom, the rooks, at the
beginning of the day, move about together, in order to warm their
cold feathers; then some go away without return, others wheel
round to whence they had set forth, and others, circling, make a
stay; such fashion it seemed to me was here in that sparkling
which came together, so soon as it struck on a certain step; and
that which stopped nearest to us became so bright that I said in
my thought, "I clearly see the love which thou signifiest to me.
But she, from whom I await the how and the when of speech and of
silence, stays still; wherefore I, contrary to desire, do well
that I ask not." Whereupon she, who saw my silence, in the sight
of Him who sees everything, said to me, "Let loose thy warm

And I began, "My own merit makes me not worthy of thy answer; but
for her sake who concedes to me the asking, O blessed life, that
keepest thyself hidden within thine own joy, make known to me the
cause which has placed thee so near me; and tell why in this
wheel the sweet symphony of Paradise is silent, which below
through the others so devoutly sounds." "Thou hast thy hearing
mortal, as thy sight," it replied to me; "therefore no song is
here for the same reason that Beatrice has no smile. Down along
the steps of the holy stairway I have thus far descended, only to
give thee glad welcome with my speech and with the light that
mantles me; nor has more love made me to be more ready, for as
much and more love is burning here above, even as the flaming
manifests to thee; but the high charity, which makes us ready
servants to the counsel that governs the world, allots here,[1]
even as thou observest." "I see well," said I, "O sacred lamp,
how the free will of love suffices in this Court for following
the eternal Providence. But this is what seems to me hard to
discern, why thou alone wert predestined to this office among thy
consorts." I had not come to the last word before the light made
a centre of its middle, whirling like a swift milestone. Then the
love that was within it answered, "A divine light strikes upon
me, penetrating through this wherein I embosom me: the virtue of
which, conjoined with my vision, lifts me above myself so far
that I see the Supreme Essence from which it emanates. Thence
comes the joy wherewith I flame, because to my vision, in
proportion as it is clear, I match the clearness of my flame. But
that soul in Heaven which is most enlightened,[2] that Seraph who
has his eye most fixed on God, could not satisfy thy demand;
because that which thou askest lies so deep within the abyss of
the eternal statute, that from every created sight it is cut off.
And when thou retumest to the mortal world, carry this back, so
that it may no more presume to move its feet toward such a goal.
The mind which shines here, on earth is smoky; wherefore consider
how there below it can do that which it cannot do though Heaven
assume it."

[1] Assigns its part to each spirit.

[2] With the Divine light.

So did its words prescribe to me, that I left the question, and
drew me back to ask it humbly who it was. "Between the two
shores of Italy, and not very distant from thy native land, rise
rocks so lofty that the thunders sound far lower down,
and they make a height which is called Catria, beneath which a
hermitage is consecrated which is wont to be devoted to worship
only."[1] Thus it began again to me with its third speech, and
then, continuing, it said, "Here in the service of God I became
so steadfast, that, with food of olive juice alone, lightly I
used to pass the heats and frosts, content in contemplative
thoughts. That cloister was wont to render in abundance to these
heavens; and now it is become so empty as needs must soon be
revealed. In that place I was Peter Damian,[2] and Peter a sinner
had I been in the house of Our Lady on the Adriatic shore.[3]
Little of mortal life was remaining for me, when I was sought for
and dragged to that hat[4] which ever is passed down from bad to
worse. Cephas[5] came, and the great vessel of the Holy
Spirit[6] came, lean and barefoot, taking the food of whatsoever
inn. Now the modern pastors require one to hold them up on this
side and that, and one to lead them, so heavy are they, and one
to support them behind. They cover their palfreys with their
mantles, so that two beasts go under one skin. O Patience, that
endurest so much!" At this voice I saw more flamelets from step
to step descending and revolving, and each revolution made them
more beautiful. Round about this one they came, and stopped, and
uttered a cry of such deep sound that here could be none like it,
nor did I understand it, the thunder so overcame me.

[1] Catria is a high offshoot to the east from the chain of the
Apennines, between Urbino and Gubbio. Far up on its side lies the
monastery of Santa Croce di Fouts Avellana, belonging to the
order of the Camaldulensians.

[2] A famous doctor of the Church in the eleventh century. He
was for many years abbot of the Monastery of Fonte Avellana.

[3] These last words are obscure, and have given occasion to much
discussion, after which they remain no clearer than before. The
house of Our Lady on the Adriatic shore is supposed to be the
monastery of Santa Maria in Porto, near Ravenna.

[4] He was made cardinal in 1058, and died in 1072.

[5] St. Peter. See John, i. 42.

[6] St. Paul. "He is a chosen vessel unto me."--Acts, ix. 15.

CANTO XXII. Beatrice reassures Dante.--St. Benedict appears.--He
tells of the founding of his Order, and of the falling away of
its brethren. Beatrice and Dante ascend to the Starry Heaven.--
The constellation of the Twins.--Sight of the Earth.

Oppressed with amazement, I turned me to my Guide, like a little
child who runs back always thither where he most confides. And
she, like a mother who quickly succors her pale and breathless
son with her voice, which is wont to reassure him, said to me, 11
Knowest thou not, that thou art in Heaven? and knowest thou not
that Heaven is all holy, and whatever is done here comes from
good zeal? How the song would have transformed thee, and I by
smiling, thou canst now conceive, since the cry has moved thee so
much; in which, if thou hadst understood its prayers, already
would be known to thee the vengeance which thou shalt see before
thou diest. The sword of here on high cuts not in haste, nor
slow, save to the seeming of him who, desiring, or fearing,
awaits it. But turn thee round now toward the others, for many
illustrious spirits thou shalt see, if, as I say, thou dost lead
back thy look."

As it pleased her I directed my eyes, and saw a hundred little
spheres, which together were becoming more beautiful with mutual
rays. I was standing as one who within himself represses the
point of his desire, and attempts not to ask, he so fears the
too-much. And the largest and the most luculent of those pearls
came forward to make of its own accord my wish content. Then
within it I heard, "If thou couldst see, as I do, the charity
which burns among us, thy thoughts would be expressed. But that
thou through waiting mayst not delay thy high end, I will make
answer to thee, even to the thought concerning which thou art so

"That mountain[1] on whose slope Cassino is, was of old
frequented on its summit by the deluded and illdisposed people,
and I am be who first carried up thither the name of Him
who brought to earth the truth which so high exalts us: and such
grace shone upon me that I drew away the surrounding villages
from the impious worship which seduced the world. These other
fires were all contemplative men, kindled by that heat which
brings to birth holy flowers and fruits. Here is Macarius,[2]
here is Romuald,[3] here are my brothers, who within the
cloisters fixed their feet, and held a steadfast heart." And I to
him, "The affection which thou displayest in speaking with me,
and the good semblance which I see and note in all your ardors,
have so expanded my confidence as the sun does the rose, when she
becomes open so much as she has power to be. Therefore I pray
thee, and do thou, father, assure me if I have power to receive
so much grace, that I may see thee with uncovered shape." Whereon
he, "Brother, thy high desire shall be fulfilled in the last
sphere, where are fulfilled all others and my own. There perfect,
mature, and whole is every desire; in that alone is every part
there where it always was: for it is not in space, and hath not
poles; and our stairway reaches up to it, wherefore thus from thy
sight it conceals itself. Far up as there the patriarch Jacob saw
it stretch its topmost part when it appeared to him so laden with
Angels. But now no one lifts his feet from earth to ascend it;
and my Rule is remaining as waste of paper. The walls, which used
to be an abbey, have become caves; and the cowls are sacks full
of bad meal. But heavy usury is not gathered in so greatly
against the pleasure of God, as that fruit which makes the heart
of monks so foolish. For whatsoever the Church guards is all for
the folk that ask it in God's name, not for one's kindred, or for
another more vile. The flesh of mortals is so soft that a good
beginning suffices not below from the springing of the oak to the
forming of the acorn. Peter began without gold and without
silver, and I with prayers and with fasting, and Francis in
humility his convent; and if thou lookest at the source of each,
and then lookest again whither it has run, thou wilt see dark
made of the white. Truly, Jordan turned back, and the sea fleeing
when God willed, were more marvellous to behold than succor

[1] Monte Cassino, in the Kingdom of Naples, on which a temple of
Apollo had stood, was chosen by St. Benedict (480-543) as his
abode, and became the site of the most famous monastery of his

[2] The Egyptian anchorite of the fourth century.

[3] The founder of the order of Camaldoli; he died in 1027.

[4] Were God now to interpose to correct the evils of the
Church, the marvel would be less than that of the miracles of
old, and therefore his interposition may be hoped for.

Thus he said to me, and then drew back to his company, and the
company closed up; then like a whirlwind all gathered itself

The sweet Lady urged me behind them, with only a sign, up over
that stairway; so did her virtue overcome my nature. But never
here below, where one mounts and descends naturally, was there
motion so rapid that it could be compared unto my wing. So may I
return, Reader, to that devout triumph, for the sake of which I
often bewail my sins and beat my breast, thou hadst not so
quickly drawn out and put thy finger in the fire as I saw the
sign which follows the Bull,[1] and was within it.

[1] The sign of the Gemini, or Twins, in the Heaven of the Fixed

O glorious stars, O light impregnate with great virtue, from
which I acknowledge all my genius, whatever it may be; with you
was born and with you was hiding himself he who is father of
every mortal life, when I first felt the Tuscan air;[1] and then,
when the grace was bestowed on me of entrance within the lofty
wheel which turns you, your region was allotted to me. To you my
soul now devoutly sighs to acquire virtue for the difficult pass
which draws her to itself.

[1] At the time of Dante's birth the sun was in the sign of the

"Thou art so near the ultimate salvation," began Beatrice, "that
thou oughtest to have thine eyes clear and sharp. And
therefore ere thou further enterest it, look back downward, and
see how great a world I have already set beneath thy feet, in
order that thy heart, so far as it is able, may present itself
joyous to the triumphant crowd which comes glad through this
round aether." With my sight I returned through each and all the
seven spheres, and saw this globe such that I smiled at its mean
semblance; and that counsel I approve as best which holds it of
least account; and he who thinks of other things may be called
truly worthy. I saw the daughter of Latona enkindled without that
shadow which had been the cause why I once believed her rare and
dense. The aspect of thy son, Hyperion, here I endured, and I saw
how Maia and Dione[1] move around and near him. Then appeared to
me the temperateness of Jove, between his father and his son,[2]
and then was clear to me the variation which they make in their
places. And all the seven were displayed to me,[[how great they
are and how swift they are, and how they are in distant houses.
While I was revolving with the eternal Twins, the little
threshing-floor[3] which makes us so fierce all appeared to me,
from its hills to its harbors.

[1] The mothers of Venus and Mercury, by whose names these
planets are designated.

[2] Saturn and Mars.

[3] The inhabited earth.

Then I turned back my eyes to the beautiful eyes.

CANTO XXIII. The Triumph of Christ.

As the bird, among the beloved leaves, reposing on the nest of
her sweet brood through the night which hides things from us,
who, in order to see their longed-for looks and to find the food
wherewith she may feed them, in which heavy toils are pleasing to
her, anticipates the time upon the open twig, and with ardent
affection awaits the sun, fixedly looking till the dawn may
break; thus my Lady was standing erect and attentive, turned
toward the region beneath which the sun shows least haste;[1] so
that I, seeing her rapt and eager, became such as he who in
desire should wish for something, and in hope is satisfied. But
short while was there between one and the other WHEN: that of my
awaiting, I mean, and of my seeing the heavens become brighter
and brighter. And Beatrice said, "Behold the hosts of the triumph
of Christ, and all the fruit harvested by the revolution of these
spheres."[2] It seemed to me her face was all aflame, and her
eyes were so full of joy that I must needs pass it over without

[1] The meridian.

[2] By the beneficent influences of the planets.

As in the clear skies at the full moon Trivia[1] smiles among
the eternal nymphs who paint the heaven through all its depths, I
saw, above myriads of lights, a Sun that was enkindling each and
all of them, as ours kindles the supernal shows;[2] and through
its living light the lucent Substance[3] shone so bright upon my
face that I sustained it not.

[1] An appellation of Diana, and hence of the moon.

[2] According to the belief, referred to at the opening of the
twentieth Canto, that the sun was the source of the light of the

[3] Christ in his glorified body.

O Beatrice, sweet guide and dear!

She said to me, "That which overcomes thee is a power from
which naught defends itself. Here is the Wisdom and the Power
that opened the roads between heaven and earth, for which there
had already been such long desire."

As fire from a cloud unlocks itself by dilating, so that it is
not contained therein, and against its own nature falls down to
earth, so my mind, becoming greater amid those feasts, issued
from itself; and what it became cannot remember.

"Open thine eyes and look at what I am; thou hast seen things
such that thou art become able to sustain my smile." I was as one
who awakes from a forgotten dream and endeavors in vain to bring
it back again to memory, when I heard this invitation, worthy of
such gratitude that it is never effaced from the book which
records the past. If now all those tongues which Polyhymnia and
her sisters made most fat with their sweetest milk should sound
to aid me, one would not come to a thousandth of the truth in
singing the holy smile and how it made the holy face resplendent.
And thus in depicting Paradise the consecrated poem needs must
make a leap, even as one who finds his way cut off. But whoso
should consider the ponderous theme and the mortal shoulder which
therewith is laden would not blame it if under this it tremble.
It is no coasting voyage for a little barque, this which the
intrepid prow goes cleaving, nor for a pilot who would spare

"Why doth my face so enamour thee that thou turnest not to the
fair garden which beneath the rays of Christ is blossoming? Here
is the rose,[1] in which the Divine Word became flesh: here are
the lilies[2] by whose odor the good way was taken." Thus
Beatrice, and I, who to her counsel was wholly prompt, again
betook me unto the battle of the feeble brows.

[1] The Virgin.

[2] The Apostles and Saints. The image is derived from St. Paul
(2 Corinthians, ii. 14): "Now thanks be unto God, which always
causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour
of his knowledge by us in every place." In the Vulgate the words
are, "odorem notitiae suae manifestat per nos."

As my eyes, covered with a shadow, have ere now seen a meadow of
flowers in a sunbeam which streamed bright through a rifted
cloud, so saw I many throngs of splendors flashed-upon from
above with burning rays, without seeing the source of the gleams.
O benignant Power which so dost impress them, upwards didst thou
exalt thyself to bestow space there for my eyes, which were

[1] The eyes of Dante, powerless to endure the sight of the
glorified body of Christ, when that is withdrawn on high, are
able to look upon those whom the light of Christ illumines.

The name of the fair flower which I ever invoke both morning and
evening, wholly constrained my mind to gaze upon the greater
fire.[1] And when the form and the glory of the living star,
which up. there surpasses as here below it surpassed, were
depicted in both my eyes, through the mid heavens a torch, formed
in a circle in fashion of a crown, descended, and engirt it, and
revolved around it. Whatever melody sounds sweetest here below,
and to itself most draws the soul, would seem a cloud which, rent
apart, thunders, compared with the sound of that lyre wherewith
was crowned the beauteous sapphire by which the brightest Heaven
is ensapphired. "I am angelic Love, and I circle round the lofty
joy which breathes from the bosom which was the hostelry of our
desire; and I shall circle, Lady of Heaven, while thou shalt
follow thy Son and make the supreme sphere more divine because
thou enterest it." Thus the circling melody sealed itself up, and
all the other lights made resound the name of Mary.

[1] The Virgin,--Rosa mistica,--the brightest of all the host
that remained.

The royal mantle[1] of all the volumes[2] of the world, which is
most fervid and most quickened in the breath of God and in His
ways, had its inner shore so distant above us that sight of it,
there where I was, did not yet appear to me. Therefore my eyes
had not the power to follow the incoronate flame, which mounted
upward following her own seed. And as a little child which, when
it has taken the milk, stretches its arms toward its mother,
through the spirit that flames up outwardly, each of these white
splendors stretched upward with its summit, so that the deep
aflection which they had for Mary was manifest to me. Then they
remained there in ray sight, singing "Regina coeli " so sweetly
that never has the delight departed from me. Oh how great is the
plenty that is heaped up in those most rich chests which were
good laborers in sowing here below! Here they live and enjoy the
treasure that was acquired while weeping in the exile of Babylon,
where the gold was left aside.[3] Here triumphs, under the high
Son of God and of Mary, in his victory, both with the ancient and
with the new council, he who holds the keys of such glory.[4]

[l] The Primum Mobile, the ninth Heaven, which revolves around
all the others.

[2] The revolving spheres.

[3] Despising the treasures of the world, in the Babylonish exile
of this life, they laid up for themselves treasures in Heaven.

[4] St. Peter.

CANTO XXIV. St. Peter examines Dante concerning Faith, and
approves his answer.

"O company elect to the great supper of the blessed Lamb, who
feeds you so that your desire is always full, since by grace of
God this man foretastes of that which falls from your table,
before death prescribes the time for him, give heed to his
immense longing, and bedew him a little; ye drink ever of the
fount whence comes that which he ponders." Thus Beatrice; and
those glad souls made themselves spheres upon fixed poles,
flaming brightly in manner of comets. And as wheels within the
fittings of clocks revolve, so that to him who gives heed the
first seems quiet, and the last to fly, so these carols,[1]
differently dancing, swift and slow, enabled me to estimate their

[1] A carol was a dance with song; here used for the souls who
composed the carols, the difference in whose speed gave to Dante
the gauge of their respective blessedness.

From that which I noted of greatest beauty, I saw issue a fire so
happy that it left there none of greater brightness; and three
times it revolved round Beatrice with a song so divine that my
fancy repeats it not to me; therefore the pen makes a leap, and I
write it not, for our imagination, much more our speech, is of
too vivid color[1] for such folds. "O holy sister mine, who so
devoutly prayest to us, by thy ardent affection thou unbindest me
from that beautiful sphere:" after it had stopped, the blessed
fire directed to my Lady its breath, which spoke thus as I have
said. And she, "O light eternal of the great man to whom our
Lord left the keys, which he bore below, of this marvellous joy,
test this man on points light and grave, as pleases thee,
concerning the Faith, through which thou didst walk upon the sea.
If he loves rightly, and hopes rightly, and believes, it is
hidden not from thee, for thou hast thy sight there where
everything--@is seen depicted. But since this realm has made
citizens by the true faith, it is well that to glorify it speech
of it should fall to him."[2]

[1] The figure is a little obscure; pieghe, "folds," is a
rhyme-word; the meaning seems to be that as folds cannot be
painted properly with bright hues, so our imagination and our
speech are not delicate enough for conceiving and depicting such
exquisite delights.

[2] The meaning seems to be,--Thou knowest that he has true
faith, but because by its means one becomes a citizen of this
realm, it is well that he should celebrate it.

Even as, until the master propounds the question, the bachelor
speaks not, and arms himself in order to adduce the proof, not to
decide it, so, while she was speaking, I was arming me with every
reason, in order to be ready for such a questioner, and for such
a profession.

"Say thou, good Christian, declare thyself; Faith,--what is it?"
Whereon I raised my brow to that light whence this was breathed
out. Then I turned to Beatrice, and she made prompt signals to me
that I should pour the water forth from my internal fount. "May
the Grace," began I, "which grants to me that I confess myself to
the high captain, cause my conceptions to be expressed."[1] And I
went on, "As the veracious pen, Father, of thy dear brother (who
with thee set Rome on the good track) wrote of it, Faith is the
substance of things hoped for, and evidence of things not
seen:[2] and this appears to me its essence." Then I heard,
"Rightly dost thou think, if thou understandest well why he
placed it among the substances, and then among the evidences."
And I thereon: "The deep things which grant unto me here the
sight of themselves, are so hidden to eyes below that
there their existence is in belief alone, upon which the
high hope is founded, and therefore it takes the
designation of substance; and from this belief we needs
must syllogize, without having other sight, wherefore it
receives the designation of evidence."[3] Then I heard, "If
whatever is acquired below for doctrine, were so
understood, the wit of sophist would have no place
there." Thus was breathed forth from that enkindled love;
then it added, "Very well have the alloy and the weight of
this coin been now run through, but tell me if thou hast it
in thy purse?" And I, "Yes, I have it so shining and so
round that in its stamp nothing is uncertain to me." Then
issued from the deep light which was shining there, "This
precious jewel, whereon every virtue is founded, whence came it
to thee?" And I, "The abundant rain of the Heavenly Spirit, which
is diffused over the Old and over the New parchments, is a
syllogism[4] which has proved it to me so acutely that in
comparison with it every demonstration seems to me obtuse." I
heard then, "The Old and the New proposition[5] which are so
conclusive to thee,--why dost thou hold them for divine speech?"
And I, "The proofs which disclose the truth to me are the
works[6] that followed, for which nature never heated iron, nor
beat anvil." It was replied to me, "Say, what assures thee that
these works were? The very thing itself which requires to be
proved, naught else, affirms it to thee." "If the world were
converted to Christianity," said I, "without miracles, this alone
is such that the others are not the hundredth part; for thou
didst enter poor and fasting into the field to sow the good
plant, which once was a vine and now has become a thornbush."

[1] May it enable me to express clearly my conceptions.

[2] Hebrews, xi, 1.

[3] The argument is as follows: The things of the spiritual world
having no visible existence upon earth, the hope of blessedness
rests only on belief unsupported by material proof; this belief
is Faith, and since on it alone are the high hopes founded, it is
properly called their substance, that is, their essential
quality. And since all our reasoning concerning spiritual things
must be drawn not from visible things, but from the convictions
of Faith, our faith is also properly called evidence.

[4] The evidence afforded by the Old and the New Testament that
they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, makes their teachings in
regard to matters of faith conclusive.

[5] The two premises of the syllogism.

[6] The miracles.

This ended, the high holy Court resounded through the spheres a
"We praise God," in the melody which thereabove is sung.

And that Baron who thus from branch to branch, examining, had now
drawn me on, so that to the last leaves we were approaching,
began again: "The Grace that dallies with thy mind has opened thy
mouth up to this point as it should be opened, so that I approve
that which has issued forth, but now there is need to express
what thou believest, and wbence it has been offered to thy
belief." "O holy father, spirit who seest that which thou so
believedst that thou, toward the sepulchre, didst outdo younger
feet,"[1] began I, "thou wishest that I should declare here the
form of my ready belief, and also thou inquirest the cause of it.
And I answer: I believe in one God, sole and eternal, who,
unmoved, moves all the Heavens with love and with desire; and for
such belief have I not only proofs physical and metaphysical, but
that truth also gives it to me which hence rains down through
Moses, through Prophets, and through Psalms, through the Gospel,
and through you who wrote after the fiery Spirit made you holy.
And I believe in three Eternal Persons, and these I believe one
essence, so one and so threefold that it will admit to be
conjoined with ARE and IS. Of the profound divine condition on
which I touch, the evangelic doctrine ofttimes sets the seal upon
my mind. This is the beginning; this is the spark which
afterwards dilates to vivid flame, and like a star in heaven
scintillates within me."

[1] "The other disciple did outrun Peter," but Peter first "went
into the sepulchre." See John, xx. 4-6.

Even as a lord who hears what pleases him, thereon, rejoicing in
the news, embraces his servant, soon as he is silent, thus,
blessing me as he sang, the apostolic light, at whose command I
had spoken, thrice encircled me when I was silent; so had I
pleased him in my speech.

CANTO XXV. St. James examines Dante concerning Hope.--St. John
appears,with a brightness so dazzling as to deprive Dante, for
the time, of sight.

If it ever happen that the sacred poem to which both heaven and
earth have set their hand, so that it has made me lean for many
years, sbould overcome the cruelty which bars me out of the fair
sheep-fold, where a lamb I slept, an enemy to the wolves that
give it war, then with other voice, with other fleece, Poet will
I return, and on the font of my baptism will I take the crown;
because there I entered into the faith which makes the souls
known to God, and afterward. Peter, for its sake, thus encircled
my brow.

Then a light moved toward us from that sphere whence the
first-fruit which Christ left of His vicars had issued. And my
Lady, full of gladness, said to me, "Look, look! behold the Baron
for whose sake Galicia is visited there below."[1]

[1] It was believed that St. James, the brother of St. John, was
buried at Compostella, in the Spanish province of Galicia. His
shrine was one of the chief objects of pilgrimage during the
Middle Ages.

Even as when the dove alights near his companion, and one,
turning and cooing, displays its affection to the other, so by
the one great Prince glorious I saw the other greeted, praising
the food which feasts them thereabove. But after their
gratulation was completed, silent coram me,[1] each stopped, so
ignited that it overcame my sight. Smiling, then Beatrice said,
"Illustrious life, by whom the largess of our basilica has been
written,[2] do thou make Hope resound upon this height; thou
knowest that thou dost represent it as many times as Jesus to the
three displayed most brightness."[3] "Lift up thy head and make
thyself assured; for that which comes up here from the mortal
world needs must be ripened in our rays." This comfort from the
second fire came to me; whereon I lifted up my eyes unto the
mountains which bent them down before with too great weight.

[1] "Before me." Here, as sometimes elsewhere, it is not evident
why Dante uses Latin words.

[2] The reference is to the Epistle of James, which Dante,
falling into a common error, attributes to St. James the Greater.
The special words be had in mind may have been: " God, that
giveth to all men liberally," i. 5; and " Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father
of lights," i. 17. By "basilica" is meant the court or church of

[3] Peter, James, and John, were chosen by their Master to be
present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and to witness
his Transfiguration. Peter personifying Faith, John personifying
Love, it was natural to take James as the personification of

"Since, through grace, our Emperor wills that thou, before thy
death, come face to face with his Counts in the most secret hall,
so that, having seen the truth of this Court, thou mayest
therewith confirm in thyself and others the Hope which there
below rightly enamours, say what it is, and how thy mind is
flowering with it, and say whence it came to thee;" thus further
did the second light proceed. And that compassionate one, who
guided the feathers of my wings to such high flight, thus in the
reply anticipated me.[1] "The Church militant has not any son
with more hope, as is written in the Sun which irradiates all our
band; therefore it is conceded to him, that from Egypt be should
come to Jerusalem to see, ere the warfare be at end for him. The
other two points which are asked not for sake of knowing, but
that he may report how greatly this virtue is pleasing to thee,
to him I leave, for they will not be difficult to him, nor of
vainglory, and let him answer to this, and may the grace of God
accord this to him."

[1] Beatrice answers the question to which the reply, had it been
left to Dante, might seem to involve self-praise.

As a disciple who follows his teacher, prompt and willing, in
that wherein he is expert, so that his worth may be disclosed:
said I, "is a sure expectation of future glory, which
divine grace produces, and preceding merit.[1] From many stars
this light comes to me, but be instilled it first into my heart
who was the supreme singer[2] of the supreme Leader. Sperent in
te,[3] 'who know thy name,' he says in his Theody,[4] and who
knows it not, if he has my faith? Thou afterwards didst instil it
into me with his instillation in thy Epistle, so that I am full,
and upon others shower down again your rain."

[1] These words are taken directly from Peter Lombard (Liber
Sententiarum, iii. 26). Love is the merit which precedes Hope.

[2] David.

[3] "They will hope in thee." See Psalm ix. 10.

[4] Divine song.

While I was speaking, within the living bosom of that burning a
flash was trembling, sudden and intense, in the manner of
lightning. Then it breathed, "The love wherewith I still glow
toward the virtue which followed me far as the palm, and to the
issue of the field, wills that breathe anew to thee, that thou
delight in it; and it is my pleasure, that thou tell that which
Hope promises to thee." And I, "The new and the old Scriptures
set up the sign, and it points this out to me. Of the souls whom
God hath made his friends, Isaiah says that each shall be clothed
in his own land with a double garment,[1] and his own land is
sweet life. And thy brother, far more explicitly, there where he
treats of the white robes, makes manifest to us this

[1] "Therefore in their land they shall possess the double"
--(Isaiah, 1xi. 7); the double vesture of the glorified natural
body and of the spiritual body.

[2] Revelation, vii.

And first, close on the end of these words, "Sperent in te" was
heard from above us, to which all the carols made answer. Then
among them a light became so bright that, if the Crab had one
such crystal, winter would have a month of one sole day.[1] And
as a glad maiden rises and goes and enters in the dance, only to
do honor to the new bride, and not for any fault,[2] so saw I the
brightened splendor come to the two who were turning in a wheel,
such as was befitting to their ardent love. It set itself there
into the song and into the measure, and my Lady kept her gaze
upon them, even as a bride, silent and motionless. "This is he
who lay upon the breast of our Pelican,[3] and from upon the
cross this one was chosen to the great office."[4] Thus my Lady,
nor yet moved she her look from its fixed attention after than
before these words of hers. As is he who gazes and endeavors to
see the sun eclipsed a little, who through seeing becomes
sightless, so did I become in respect to that last fire, till it
was said, "Why dost thou dazzle thyself in order to see a thing
which has no place here?[5] On earth my body is earth; and it
will be there with the others until our number corresponds with
the eternal purpose.[6] With their two garments in the blessed
cloister are those two lights alone which ascended:[7] and this
thou shalt carry back unto your world."

[1] If Cancer, which rises at sunset in early winter, had a star
as bright as this, the night would be light as day.

[2] Not for vanity, or love of, display.

[3] A common type of Christ during the Middle Ages, because of
the popular belief that the pelican killed its brood, and then
revived them with its blood.

[4] "Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!"--John,
xix. 27.

[5] Dante seeks to see whether St. John is present in body as
well as soul; his curiosity having its source in the words of the
Gospel: "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I
come, what is that to thee? . . . Then went this saying abroad
among the brethren, that that disciple should not die."--John,
xxi. 22, 23.

[6] Till the predestined number of the elect is complete.

[7] Jesus and Mary, who had been seen to ascend. See Canto

At this word the flaming gyre became quiet, together with the
sweet mingling that was made of the sound of the trinal breath,
even as, at ceasing of fatigue or danger, the oars, erst driven
through the water, all stop at the sound of a whistle.
Ah! how greatly was I disturbed in mind, when I turned to see
Beatrice, at not being able to see her, although I was near her,
and in the happy world.

CANTO XXVI. St. John examines Dante concerning Love.--Dante's
sight restored.--Adam appears, and answers questions put to him
by Dante.

While I was apprehensive because of my quenched sight, a breath
which made me attentive issued from the effulgent flame that
quenched it, saying, "While thou art regaining the sense of
sight which thou hast consumed on me, it is well that thou make
up for it by discourse. Begin then, and tell whereto thy soul is
aimed, and make thy reckoning that sight is in thee bewildered
and not dead; because the Lady who conducts thee through this
divine region has in her look the virtue which the band of
Ananias had."[1] I said, "According to her pleasure, or soon or
late, let the cure come to the eyes which were gates when she
entered with the fire wherewith I ever burn! The Good which makes
this court content is Alpha and Omega of whatsoever writing Love
reads to me, either low or loud." That same voice which had taken
from me fear of the sudden dazzling, laid on me the charge to
further, and said, "Surely with a finer sieve it behoves thee to
it behoves thee to tell who directed thy bow to such a target."
And I,
"By philosophic arguments and by authority that hence descends,
such love
must needs be impressed on me; for the good, so far as it is
good, in
proportion as it is understood, kindles love; and so much the
greater as the more of goodness it includes within itself.
Therefore, to the Essence (wherein is such supremacy that every
good which is found outside of It is naught else than a beam of
Its own radiance), more than to any other, the mind of every one
who discerns the truth on which this argument is founded must
needs be moved in love.[2] Such truth to my intelligence he makes
plain, who demonstrates to me the first love of all the
sempiternal substances.[3] The voice of the true Author makes it
plain who, speaking of Himself, says to Moses, 'I will make thee
see all goodness.'[4] Thou, too, makest it plain to me, beginning
the lofty proclamation which there below, above all other trump,
declares the secret of this place on high."[5] And I heard, "By
human understanding, and by authorities concordant with it, thy
sovran love looks unto God; but say, further, if thou feelest
other cords draw thee towards Him, so that thou mayest declare
with how many teeth this love bites thee."

[1] Acts ix.

[2] The argument is,--Whatever is good kindles love for itself;
the greater the good the greater the love; God is the supreme
good and therefore the chief object of love.

[3] It is doubtful to whom Dante here refers. The first love of
immortal creatures is for their own First Cause.

[4] "I will make all my goodness pass before thee."--Exodus,
xxxiii, 19.

[5] "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,
and God in him."--1 John, iv. 16.

The holy intention of the Eagle of Christ was not latent to me;
rather I perceived whither he wished to lead my profession;
therefore, I
began again: "All those bitings which can make the heart turn to
God have
been concurrent unto my charity;[1] for the existence of the
world, and
my own existence, the death that He endured that I may live, and
which all the faithful hope even as I do, together with the
living knowledge, have drawn me from the sea of perverted love,
and have
set me on the shore of the right. The leaves, wherewith all the
garden of
the Eternal Gardener is enleaved, I love in proportion as good is
unto them from Him."

[1] Have concurred to inspire me with love of God.

Soon as I was silent a most sweet song resounded through the
heavens, and my Lady said with the rest, "Holy, Holy, Holy."

And as at a keen light sleep is broken by the spirit of sight,
which runs to the splendor that goes from coat to coat,[1] and he
awakes shrinks from what he sees, so confused is his sudden
until his judgment comes to his aid; thus Beatrice chased away
every mote
from my eyes with the radiance of her own, which were resplendent
than a thousand miles; so that I then saw better than before;
and, as it were amazed, I asked about a fourth light which I saw
with us. And my Lady, "Within those rays the first soul which
the First Power ever created gazes with joy upon its creator."

[1] The spirit of the sight runs to meet the light which flashes
through the successive coats of the eye.

As the bough that bends its top at passing of the wind, and then
lifts itself by its own virtue which raises it, so did I, in
amazement, the while she was speaking; and then a desire to
speak, wherewith I was burning, gave me again assurance, and I
began, "O Apple, that alone wast produced mature, O ancient
Father, to whom every bride is daughter and daughter-in-law,
devoutly as I can, I supplicate thee that thou speak to me; thou
seest my wish, and in order to hear thee quickly, I do not tell

Sometimes an animal, which is covered up, so stirs, that his
desire must needs become apparent through the corresponding
movement which that which wraps him makes; and in like manner the
first soul made evident to me, through its covering, how gladly
it came to do me pleasure. Then it breathed, "Without its being
uttered to me by thee, I better discern thy wish, than thou
whatever thing is most certain to thee; because I see it in the
truthful mirror which makes of Itself a likeness of other tbings,
while nothing makes for It a likeness of Itself.[1] Thou wouldst
hear how long it is since God placed me in the lofty garden where
this Lady disposed thee for so long a stairway; and how long it
was a delight to my eyes; and the proper cause of the great
wrath; and the idiom which I used and which I made. Now, my son,
the tasting of the tree was not by itself the cause of so long an
exile, but only the overpassing of the bound. There whence thy
Lady moved Virgil, I longed for this assembly during four
thousand three hundred and two revolutions of the sun; and while
I was on earth I saw him return to all the lights of his path
nine hundred and thirty times. The tongue which I spoke was all
extinct long before the people of Nimrod attempted their
unaccomplishable work; for never was any product of the
reason (because of human liking, which alters, following the
heavens) durable for ever.[2] A natural action it is for man to
speak; but, thus or thus, nature then leaves for you to do
according as it pleases you. Before I descended to the infernal
anguish, the Supreme Good, whence comes the gladness that swathes
me, was on earth called I; EL it was called afterwards;[3] and
that must needs be,[4] for the custom of mortals is as a leaf on
a branch, which goes away and another comes. On the mountain
which rises highest from the wave I was, with pure life and
sinful, from the first hour to that which, when the sun changes
quadrant, follows the sixth hour."[5]

[1] All things are seen in God as if reflected in a mirror; but
nothing can reflect an image of God. "In the eternal Idea, as in
a glass, the works of God are more perfectly seen than in
themselves. . . . But it is impossible for a thing created to
represent that which is increated."--John Norton, The Orthodox
Evangelist, 1554, p. 332.

[2] Speech, a product of human reason, changes according to the
pleasure of main, which alters from time to time under the
influence of the heavens.

[3] God was known in the primitive language by the sacred and
mystical symbol I or J, the Hebrew letter Jod; afterwards by the
term El: the first answering to Jehovah, the second to Elohim.

[4] Such change in the name was inevitable, because of the
changing customs of thought and speech.

[5] Adam's stay in the Earthly Paradise on the summit of the
mount of Purgatory was thus a little more than six hours; the sun
changes quadrant with every six hours.

CANTO XXVII. Denunciation by St. Peter of his degenerate
successors.--Dante gazes upon the Earth.--Ascent of Beatrice and
Dante to the Crystalline Heaven.--Its nature.--Beatrice rebukes
the covetousness of mortals.

"To the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit be glory," all
Paradise began, so that the sweet song was inebriating me. That
which I was seeing seemed to me a smile of the Universe; for
my inebriation was entering through the hearing and through the
sight. O joy! O ineffable gladness! O life entire of love and of
peace! O riches secure, without longing![1]

[1] Which leave nothing for desire.

Before my eyes the four torches were standing enkindled, and that
had come first began to make itself more vivid, and in its
semblance be
came such as Jove would become, if be and Mars were birds, and
interchange feathers.[1] The Providence which here apportions
turn and
office, had imposed silence on the blessed choir on every
side, when I heard, "If I change color, marvel not; for, while I
thou shalt see all these change color. He who on earth usurps my
my place, my place, which is vacant in the presence of the Son of
has made of my burial-place a sewer of blood and of stench,
wherewith the
Perverse One who fell from here above, below there is placated."

[1] The pure white light becoming red.

With that color which, by reason of the opposite sun, paints the
cloud at evening and at morning, I then saw the whole Heaven
overspread. And like a modest lady who abides sure of herself,
and at the fault of another, in bearing of it only, becomes
timid, even thus did Beatrice change countenance; and such
eclipse I believe there was in heaven when the Supreme Power

Then his words proceeded, in a voice so transmuted from itself
that his countenance was not more changed; "The Bride of Christ
was not nurtured on my blood, on that of Linus and of Cletus, to
be employed for acquist of gold; but for acquist of this glad
life Sixtus and Pius and Calixtus and Urban[1] shed their blood
after much weeping. It was not our intention that part of the
Christian people should sit on the right hand of our successors,
and part on the other; nor that the keys which were conceded to
me should become a sign upon a banner which should fight against
those who are baptized;[2] nor that I should be a figure on a
seal to venal and mendacious privileges, whereat I often redden
and flash. In garb of shepherd, rapacious wolves are seen from
here-above over all the pastures: O defence of God, why dost thou
yet lie
still! To drink our blood Cahorsines and Gascons are making
ready:[3] O
good beginning, to what vile end behoves it that thou fall! But
the high
Providence which with Scipio defended for Rome the glory of the
will succor speedily, as I conceive. And thou, son, who because
of thy
mortal weight wilt again return below, open thy mouth, and
conceal not
that which I conceal not."

[1] Early Popes martyred for the faith.

[2] A reference to the war which Boniface VIII. waged against the
Colonnesi. See Inferno, Canto XXVII.

[3] John XXII., who came to the Papacy in 1316, was a native of
Cahors; his immediate predecessor, Clement V., 1305-1314, was a
Gascon. The passage is one of those which shows that this portion
of the poem was in hand during the last years of Dante's life.

[4] In midwinter, when the sun is in Capricorn.

Even as our air snows down flakes of frozen vapors, when the horn
of the Goat of heaven touches the sun,[1] so, upward, I saw the
aether become adorned, and flaked with the triumphant vapors[2]
that had made sojourn there with us. My sight was following their
semblances, and followed, till the intermediate space by its
pre. vented it from passing further onward. Whereon my Lady, who
saw me
disengaged from upward heeding, said to me, "Cast down thy sight,
look how thou hast revolved."

[1] The spirits.

Since the hour when I had first looked, I saw that I had moved
through the whole are which the first climate makes from its
middle to its end;[1] so that I saw beyond Cadiz the mad track of
Ulysses, and near on this side the shore[2] on which Europa
became a sweet burden. And more of the site of this little
threshing-floor would have been discovered to me, but the sun was
proceeding beneath my feet, a sign and more removed.[3]

[1] From Dante's first look downward from the Heavens, at the end
of Canto XXII, to the present moment, he had moved over the arc
which the first climate describes from its middle to its end. The
old geographers divided the earth into seven zones, called
climates, by circles parallel to the equator. The first climate
extended twenty degrees to the north of the equator. The sign of
the Gemini, in which Dante was revolving in the Heaven of the
Fixed Stars, is in the zone of the Heavens corresponding to the
first climate. As each climate extended on the habitable
hemisphere for one hundred and eighty degrees, the arc from its
middle to its end would be of ninety degrees, comprised between
Jerusalem and Cadiz, and the time required for passing through it
would be six hours, one fourth of the diurnal revolution of the

[2] The shore of Phoenicia, whence Europa was carried off by

[3] The Sun in Aries was separated by Taurus from Gemini; hence
not all of the hemisphere of the earth seen from Gemini was
illuminated by the sun, which was some three hours in advance.

My enamoured mind, that ever dallies with my Lady, was more than
ever burning to bring back my eyes to her. And if nature has made
bait in human flesh, or art in its paintings, to catch the eyes
in order to possess the mind, all united would seem naught
compared to the divine pleasure which shone upon me when I turned
me to her smiling face. And the virtue with which the look
indulged me, tore me from the fair nest of Leda,[1] and impelled
me to the swiftest heaven.[2]

[1] From Gemini, the constellation of Castor and Pollux, the twin
sons of Leda.

[2] The Primum Mobile, or Crystalline Heaven.

Its parts, most living and lofty, are so uniform that I cannot
tell which of them Beatrice chose for a place for me. But she,
who saw my desire, began, smiling so glad that God seemed to
rejoice in her countenance, "The nature of the world[1] which
quiets the centre, and moves all the rest around it, begins here
as from its, starting-point. And this heaven has no other Where
than the Divine Mind, in which the love that revolves it is
kindled, and the virtue which it rains down. Light and love
enclose it with one circle, even as this does the others, and of
cincture He who girds it is the sole Intelligence.[2] The motion
of this
heaven is not marked out by another, but the others are measured
this, even as ten by a half and by a fifth.[3] And how time can
hold its roots in such a flower-pot, and in the others its
leaves, may now be manifest to thee.

[1] The world of the revolving Heavens.

[2] The Angelic Intelligences move the lower Heavens, but of the
Empyrean God himself is the immediate governor.

[3] The reversal of magnitudes makes this image obscure. The
motion of the Crystalline Heaven, the swiftest of all, determines
the slower motions of the Heavens below it, and divides them; as
five and two divide ten. The fixed unit of time is the day which
is established by the revolution of the Primum Mobile.

"O covetousness,[1] which whelms mortals beneath thee, so that no
one has power to withdraw his eyes from out thy waves! Well.
blossoms the will in men, but the continual rain converts the
true plums
into wildings. Faith and innocence are found only in children;
then both
fly away ere yet the cheeks are covered. One, so long as he
fasts, who afterward, when his tongue is loosed, devours whatever
under whatever moon; and one, while stammering, loves his mother
listens to her, who, when speech is perfect, desires then to see
buried. So the skin of the fair daughter of him who brings
morning and
leaves evening, white in its first aspect, becomes black.[2] Do
thou, in
order that thou make not marvel, reflect that on earth there is
no one
who governs; wherefore the human family is gone astray. But ere
be all un-wintered by that hundredth part which is down there
neglected,[3] these supernal circles shall so roar that the storm
is so long awaited shall turn the sterns round to where the prows
are, so
that the fleet shall run straight, and true fruit shall come
after the flower."

[1] The connection of the ideas presented in what precedes with
this denunciation of covetousness, or selfishness, is not at
first apparent. But the transition is not unnatural, from the
consideration of the Heaven which pours down Divine influence, to
the thought of the engrossment of men in the pursuit of their
selfish and transitory ends, in which they are blinded to
heavenly and eternal good.

[2] Both the order of the words and the meaning of this sentence
axe obscure.

[3] Before January falls in spring, owing to the lack of
correctness in the calendar, by which the year is lengthened by
about a day in each century. It is as if the poet said,--Before
a thousand years shall pass; meaning,--Within short while.

CANTO XXVIII. The Heavenly Hierarchy.

After she who imparadises my mind had disclosed the truth counter
to the present life of wretched mortals, as he, who is lighted by
a candle from behind, sees its flame in a mirror before he has it
in sight or in thought, and turns round to see if the glass tell
him the truth, and sees that it accords with it as the note with
its measure;[1] I thus my memory recollects that I did, looking
into the beautiful eyes, wherewith Love made the cord to ensnare
me.[2] And when I turned, and mine were touched by that which is
apparent in that revolving sphere whenever one gazes fixedly on
its gyration, I saw a Point which was raying out light so keen
that the sight on which it blazes must needs close because of its
intense keenness. And whatso star seems smallest here would seem
a moon if placed beside it, as star with star is placed. Perhaps
as near as a halo seems to girdle the light which paints it, when
the vapor that bears it is most dense, at such distance round the
Point a circle of fire was whirling so swiftly that it would have
surpassed that motion which with most speed girds the world; and
this was by another circumcinct, and that by the third, and the
third then by the fourth, by the fifth the fourth, and then by
the sixth the fifth. Thereon the seventh followed, so spread now
in compass that the messenger of Juno entire[3] would be narrow
to contain it. So the eighth and the ninth; and each was moving
more slowly, according as it was in number more distant from the
first.[4] And that one had the clearest flame from which the Pure
Spark was least distant; I believe because it partakes more of
It. My Lady, who saw me deeply suspense in doubt, said, "On that
Point Heaven and all nature are dependent. Gaze on that circle
which is most conjoined to It, and know that its motion is so
swift because of the burning love whereby it is spurred." And I
to her, "If the world were set in the order which I see in those
wheels, that which is propounded to me would have satisfied me;
but in the world of sense the revolutions may be seen so much the
more divine as they are more remote from the centre.[5] Wherefore
if my desire is to have end in this marvellous and angelic
temple, which has for confine only love and light, I need yet to
hear why the example and the exemplar go not in one fashion,
because I by myself contemplate this in vain." "If thy fingers
are insufficient for such a knot, it is no wonder, so hard has it
become through not being tried." Thus my Lady; then she said,
"Take that which I shall tell thee, if thou wouldest be
satisfied, and make subtle thy wit about it. The corporeal
circles[6] are wide and narrow according to the more or less of
virtue which is spread through all their parts. Greater goodness
must make greater welfare; the greater body, if it has its parts
equally complete, contains greater welfare. Hence this one,[7]
which sweeps along with itself all the rest of the universe,
corresponds to the circle[8] which loves most, and knows most.
Therefore, if thou compassest thy measure round the virtue, not
round the seeming of the substances which appear circular to
thee, thou wilt see in each heaven a marvellous agreement with
its Intelligence, of greater to more and of smaller to less."[9]

[1] As the note of the song with the measure of the verse.

[2] The eyes of Beatrice reflected, as a mirror, the light which
shone from God.

[3] The full circle of Iris, or the rainbow.

[4] These circles of fire are the nine orders of Angels.

[5] The planetary spheres partake more of the divine nature, and
move more swiftly, in proportion to their distance from the
earth, their centre.

[6] The planetary spheres.

[7] The ninth sphere.

[8] Of the angelic hierarchy.

[9] The greater heaven corresponds to the angelic circle of the
Intelligences which love God most and know most of Him; the
smaller to that of those which love and know least.

As the hemisphere of the air remains splendid and serene when
Boreas blows from that cheek wherewith he is mildest,[1] whereby
the mist which first troubled it is cleared and dissolved, so
that the heaven smiles to us with the beauties of all its flock,
so I became after my Lady had provided me with her clear answer,
and, like a star in heaven, the truth was seen.

[1] When Boreas blows the north wind more from the west than from
the east.

And after her words had stopped, not otherwise does molten iron
throw out sparks than the circles sparkled. Every scintillation
followed its flame,[1] and they were so many that their number,
was of more thousands than the doubling of the chess. I heard
Hosaimah sung from choir to choir to the fixed Point that holds
them, and will forever hold them, at the Ubi[2] in which they
have ever been. And she, who saw the dubious thoughts within my
mind, said, "The first circles have shown to thee the Seraphim
and the Cherubim. Thus swiftly they follow their own bonds,[3] in
order to liken themselves to the Point so far as they can, and
they can so far as they are exalted to see. Those other loves,
which go round about them, are called Thrones of the divine
aspect, because they terminated the first triad.[4] And thou
shouldst know that all have delight in proportion as their vision
penetrates into the True in which every understanding is at rest.
Hence may be seen how beatitude is founded on the act which sees,
not on that which loves, which follows after. And merit, which
grace and good will bring forth, is the measure of this seeing;
thus is the progress from grade to grade.

[1] The innumerable sparks each moved in accord with the gyration
of its flaming circle. The doubling of the chess alludes to the
story that the inventor of the game asked, as his reward from the
King of Persia, a grain of wheat for the first square of the
board, two for the second, and so on to the last or sixty-fourth
square. The number reached by this process of duplication extends
to twenty figures.

[2] The WHERE, the appointed place.

[3] The course of their respective circles to which they are

[4] "Throni elevantur ad hoc quod Deum familiariter in seipsis
recipiant."--Summa Theol., I, cviii. 6.

"The next triad that thus buds in this sempiternal spring which
the nightly Aries despoils not,[1] perpetually sing their spring
song of Hosannah with three melodies, which sound in the three
orders of joy wherewith it is threefold. In this hierarchy are
the three Divinities, first Dominations, and then the Virtues;
the third order is of Powers. Then, in the two penultimate
dances, the Principalities and Archangels circle; the last is
wholly of Angelic sports. These orders are all upward gazing, and
downward prevail, so that toward God they all are drawn, and they
all draw. And Dionysius[2] with such great desire set himself to
contemplate these orders, that he named and divided them, as I.
But Gregory[3] afterward separated from him; wherefore, so soon
as he opened his eyes in this Heaven, he smiled at himself. And
if a mortal proffered on earth so much of secret truth, I would
not have thee wonder, for he who saw it hereabove[4] disclosed it
to him, with much else of the truth of these circles."

[1] At the autumnal equinox, the time of frosts, Aries is the
sign in which the night rises.

[2] The Areopagite. See Canto X.

[3] The Pope, St. Gregory, who differs slightly from Dionysius in
his arrangement of the Heavenly host.

[4] St. Paul, supposed to have communicated to his disciple the
knowledge which he gained when caught up to Heaven. See 2 Cor.,
xii. 2.

CANTO XXIX. Discourse of Beatrice concerning the creation and
nature of the Angels.--She reproves the presumption and
foolishness of preachers.

When both the children of Latona, covered by the Ram and by the
Scales, together make a zone of the horizon,[1] as long as from
the moment the zenith holds them in balance, till one and the
other, changing their hemisphere, are unbalanced from that
girdle, soloing, with her countenance painted with a smile, was
Beatrice silent, looking fixedly upon the Point which had
overcome me. Then she began: "I speak, and I ask not what thou
wishest to hear, for I have seen it where every WHERE and every
WHEN are centred. Not for the gain of good unto Himself, which
cannot be, but that His splendor might, in resplendence, say,
Subsisto; in His own eternity, outside of time, outside of every
other limit, as pleased Him, the Eternal Love disclosed Himself
in new loves. Nor before, as if inert, did He lie; for the going
forth of God upon these waters had proceeded neither before nor
after.[2] Form and matter, conjoined and simple, came forth to
existence which had no defect, as three arrows from a
three-stringed bow; and as in glass, in amber, or in crystal a
ray shines so that there is no interval between its coining and
its complete existence, so the triform effect[3] rayed forth from
its Lord into its. existence all at once, without discrimination
of beginning. Order was concreate, and established for the
substances, and those were top of the world in which pure act was
produced.[4] Pure potency held the lowest part;[5] in the middle
such a bond unites potency with act, that it is never unbound.[6]
Jerome has written to you of the Angels, created a long tract of
centuries before the rest of the world was made. But this
truth[7] is written on many pages by the writers of the that Holy
Spirit: and thou wilt thyself discover it, if thou watchest well
for it; and even the reason sees it somewhat, for it would not
admit that the motors could be so long without their
perfection.[8] Now thou knowest where and when these loves were
elected, and how; so that three flames of thy desire are already

[1] When at the spring equinox, the sun being in the sign of
Aries or the Ram, and the moon in that of Libra or the Scales,
opposite to each other on the horizon, the one just rising and
the other setting, they seem as if held for a moment in a balance
which hangs from the zenith.

[2] In eternity there is no before or after; time had no
existence till the creation, and has relevancy only to created

[3] Pure form, pure matter, and form conjoined with matter.

[4] The substances created purely active, to exercise action upon
others, were the angels.

[5] The substances purely passive, capable potentially only of
submitting to the action of others, are the material things
without intelligence.

[6] The substances in which potency and act are united are the
creatures endowed with bodies and souls.

[7] The truth here set forth (contrary to Jerome's assertion),
the creation of the Angels was contemporaneous with that of the
creation of the rest of the Universe of which they were the

[8] Without scope for their action as movers of the spheres.

One would not reach to twenty, in counting, so quickly as a part
of the Angels disturbed the subject of your elements.[1] The rest
remained and began this art which thou beboldest, with such great
delight that they never cease from circling. The origin of the
fall was the accursed pride of him whom thou hast seen opprest by
all the weights of the world. Those whom thou seest here were
modest in grateful recognition of the goodness which had made
them ready for intelligence so great; wherefore their vision was
exalted with illuminant grace and with their merit, so that they
have full and steadfast will. And I wish that thou doubt not, but
be certain, that to receive grace is meritorious in proportion as
the affection is open to it.

[1] The earth.

"Henceforth, if my words have been harvested, thou canst
contemplate sufficiently round about this consistory without
other assistance. But because on earth it is taught in your
schools that the angelic nature is such that it understands, and
remembers, and wills, I will speak further, in order that thou
mayest see the truth pure, which there below is mixed, through
the equivocation in such like teaching. These substances, from
the time that they were glad in the face of God, have not turned
their sight from it, from which nothing is concealed. Therefore
they have not their vision interrupted by a new object, and
therefore do not need because of divided thought to recollect.[1]
So that there below men dream when not asleep, believing and not
believing to speak truth; but in the one is more fault and more
shame.[2] Ye below go not along one path in philosophizing; so
much do the love of appearance[3] and the thought of it transport
you; and yet this is endured hereabove with less indignation than
when the divine Scripture is set aside, or when it is perverted.
Men think not there how much blood it costs to sow it in the
world, and how much he pleases who humbly keeps close to its
side. Every one strives for appearance, and makes his own
inventions, and those are discoursed of by the preachers, and the
Gospel is silent. One says that the moon turned back at the
passion of Christ and interposed herself, so that the light of
the sun reached not down; and others that the light hid itself of
its own accord, so that this eclipse answered for the Spaniards
and for the Indians as well as for the Jews. Florence hath not so
many Lapi and Bindi[4] as there are fables such as these shouted
the year long from the pulpits, on every side; so that the poor
flocks, who have no knowledge, return from the pasture fed with
wind; and not seeing the harm does not excuse them. Christ did
not say to his first company, 'Go, and preach idle stories to
the world,' but he gave to them the true foundation; and that
alone sounded in their cheeks, so that in the battle for kindling
of the faith they made shield and lance of the Gospel. Now men go
forth to preach with jests and with buffooneries, and provided
only there is a good laugh the cowl puffs up, and nothing more is
required. But such a bird is nesting in the tail of the hood,
that if the crowd should see it, they would see the pardon in
which they confide; through which such great folly has grown on
earth, that, without proof of any testimony, men would flock to
every indulgence. On this the pig of St. Antony fattens, and
others also, who are far more pigs, paying with money that has no
stamp of coinage.

[1] The angels, looking always upon God, to whom all things are
present, have no need of memory.

[2] Many of the doctrines of men on earth axe like dreams,
because they have no foundation in truth; and while some honestly
believe in them, there are others, who, though not believing,
still teach these doctrines as truth.

[3] Of making a good show.

[4] Common nicknames in Florence; Lapo is from Jacopo, Bindo from

"But because we have digressed enough, turn back thine eyes now
toward the straight path, so that the way be shortened with the
time. This nature[1] so extends in number, that never was there
speech or mortal concept that could go so far. And if thou
considerest that which is revealed by Daniel thou wilt see that
in his thousands[2] a determinate number is concealed. The primal
light that irradiates it all is received in it by as many modes
as are the splendors with which the light pairs itself.[3]
Wherefore, since the affection follows upon the act[4] that
conceives, in this nature the sweetness of love diversely glows
and warms. Behold now the height and the breadth of the Eternal
Goodness, since it has made for itself so many mirrors on which
it is broken, One in itself remaining as before."

[1] The Angels.

[2] "Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand
times ten thousand stood before him."--Daniel, vii. 10.

[3] No two angels are precisely alike in their vision of God.

[4] Since love follows on knowledge through vision.

CANTO XXX. Ascent to the Empyrean.--The River of Light.--The
celestial Rose.--The seat of Henry VII.--The last words of

The sixth hour is glowing perhaps six thousand miles distant from
us, and this world now inclines its shadow almost to a level bed,
when the mid heaven, deep above us, begins to become such that
some one star loses its show so far as to this depth;[1] and as
the brightest handmaid of the sun comes farther on, so the heaven
is closed from light to light, even to the most beautiful. Not
otherwise the Triumph, that plays forever round the Point which
vanquished me, seeming enclosed by that which it encloses, little
by little to my sight was extinguished;[2] wherefore my seeing
nothing, and my love constrained me to turn with my eyes to
Beatrice. If what has been said of her so far as here were all
included in a single praise, it would be little to furnish out
this turn. The beauty which I saw transcends measure not only by
us, but truly I believe that its Maker alone can enjoy it all.

[1] When it is noon,--the sixth hour,--six thousand miles away
from us to the east, it is about daybreak where we are; the
shadow of the earth lies in the plane of vision, and with the
growing light the stars one after another become invisible at
this depth, that is, to one on earth.

[2] Losing itself in the light which streams from the Divine

By this pass I concede myself vanquished more than ever comic or
tragic poet was overcome by crisis of his theme. For as the sun
does to the sight which trembles most, even so remembrance of the
sweet smile deprives my mind of its very self. From the first day
that I saw her face in this life, even to this look, the
following with my song has not been interrupted for me, but now
needs must my pursuit desist from further following her beauty in
my verse, as at his utmost every artist.

Such, as I leave her to a greater heralding than that of my
trumpet, which is bringing its arduous theme to a close, with act
and voice of a trusty leader she began again. "We have issued
forth from the greatest body[1] to the Heaven[2] which is pure
light: light intellectual full of love, love of true good, full
of joy; joy which transcends every sweetness. Here thou shalt see
one and the other host of Paradise;[3] and the one in those
aspects which thou shalt see at the Last Judgment."

[1] The Primum Mobile, the greatest of the material spheres of
the universe.

[2] The Empyrean.

[3] The spirits of the redeemed who fought against the
temptations of the world, and the good angels who fought against
the rebellious; and here the souls in bliss will be seen in their
bodily shapes.

As a sudden flash which scatters the spirits of the sight so that
it deprives the eye of the action of the strongest objects,[1]
thus a vivid light shone round about me, and left me swathed with
such a veil of its own effulgence that nothing was visible to me.

 1] So that the clearest objects produce no effect upon the eye.

"The Love which quieteth this Heaven always welcomes to itself
with such a salutation, in order to make the candle ready for its
flame." No sooner had these brief words come within me than I
comprehended that I was surmounting above my own power; and I
rekindled me with a new vision, such that no light is so pure
that my eyes had not sustained it. And I saw light in form of a
river, bright with effulgence, between two banks painted with a
marvellous spring. Out of this stream were issuing living sparks,
and on every side were setting themselves in the flowers, like
rubies which gold encompasses. Then, as if inebriated by the
odors, they plunged again into the wonderful flood, and as one
was entering another was issuing forth.

"The high desire which now inflames and urges thee to have
concerning that which thou seest, Pleases me the more the more it
but thou must needs drink of this water before so great a thirst,
in thee
be slaked." Thus the Sun of my eyes said to me; thereon she
added, "The
stream, and the topazes which enter and issue, and the smiling of
herbage, are foreshadowing prefaces of their truth;[1] not that
things are in themselves immature,[2] but there is defect on thy
part who hast not yet vision so lofty."

[1] The stream, the sparks, the flowers are not such in reality
as they seem to be; they are but images foreshadowing the truth.

[2] The things show themselves as they are, but the eyes cannot
yet see them correctly.

There is no babe who so hastily springs with face toward the
milk, if he awake much later than his wont, as I did, to make
better mirrors yet of my eyes, stooping to the wave which flows
in order that one may be bettered in it. And even as the eaves of
my eyelids drank of it, so it seemed to me from its length to
become round. Then as folk who have been under masks, who seem
other than before, if they divest themselves of the semblance not
their own in which they disappeared, thus for me the flowers and
the sparks were changed into greater festival, so that I saw both
the Courts of Heaven manifest.

O splendor of God, by means of which I saw the high triumph of
the true kingdom, give me power to tell how I saw it!

Light is thereabove which makes the Creator visible to that
creature which has its peace only in seeing Him; and it is
extended in a circular figure so far that its circumference would
be too wide a girdle for the sun. Its whole appearance is made of
a ray reflected from the summit of the First Moving Heaven,[1]
which therefrom takes its life and potency. And as a hill mirrors
itself in water at its base, as if to see itself adorned, rich as
it is with verdure and with flowers, so ranged above the light,
round and round about, on more than a thousand seats, I saw
mirrored all who of us have returned on high. And if the lowest
row gather within itself so great a light, how vast is the spread
of this rose in its outermost leaves! My sight lost not itself in
the breadth and in the height, but took in all the quantity and
the quality of that joy. There near and far nor add nor take
away; for where God immediately governs the natural law is of no

[1] The Primum Mobile.

Into the yellow of the sempiternal rose, which spreads wide,
rises in steps, and is redolent with odor of praise unto the Sun
that makes perpetual spring, Beatrice, like one who is silent and
wishes to speak, drew me, and said, "Behold, how vast is the
convent of the white stoles![1] See our city, how wide its
circuit! See our benches so full that few people are now awaited
here. On that great seat, on which thou holdest thine eye because
of the crown which already is set above it, ere thou suppest at
this wedding feast will sit the soul (which below will be
imperial) of the high Henry who, to set Italy straight, will come
ere she is ready.[2] The blind cupidity which bewitches you has
made you like the little child who dies of hunger, and drives
away his nurse. And such a one will then be prefect in the divine
forum that openly or covertly he will not go with him along one
road;[3] but short while thereafter shall he be endured by God in
the holy office; for he shall be thrust down for his deserts,
there where Simon Magus is, and shall make him of Anagna go

[1] "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white
raiment."--Revelation, iii. 5.

[2] Henry VII., Emperor 1308, crowned at Milan 1311, died 1313.

[3] The Pope Clement V. ostensibly supported the Emperor Henry
VII. in his Italian expedition, but secretly manoeuvred against
him. He died in 1314, eight months after the death of Henry.
Beatrice here condemns him to the third bolgia of the eighth
circle of Hell, whither he was to follow Boniface VIII.,--him of
Anagna,--and push him deeper in the hole where the simoniacal
Popes were punished, Cf. Hell, XIX.

CANTO XXXI. The Rose of Paradise.--St. Bernard.--Prayer to
Beatrice.--The glory of the Blessed Virgin.

In form then of a pure white rose the holy host was shown to me,
which, in His own blood, Christ made His bride. But the other,[1]
which, flying, sees and sings the glory of Him who enamours it,
and the goodness which made it so great, like a swarm of bees
which one while are among the flowers and anon return to the
place where their work gets its savor, were descending into the
great flower which is adorned with so many leaves, and thence
rising up again to where their love always abides. Their faces
all were of living flame, and their wings of gold, and the rest
so white that no snow reaches that extreme. When they descended
into the flower, from bench to bench, they imparted somewhat of
the peace and of the ardor which they acquired as they fanned
their sides. Nor did the interposing of such a flying plenitude
between what was above and the flower impede the sight and the
splendor; for the divine light penetrates through the universe,
according as it is worthy, so that naught can be an obstacle to
it. This secure and joyous realm, thronged with aneient and with
modern folk, had all its look and love upon one mark.

[1] The angelic host.

O Trinal Light, which in a single star, scintillating on their
sight, so satisfies them, look down here upon our tempest!

If the Barbarians, coming from a region such that every day it is
covered by Helice,[1] revolving with her son of whom she is fond,
when they beheld Rome and her arduous work, were wonderstruck,
what time Lateran rose above mortal things,[2] I, who to the
divine from the human, to the eternal from the temporal, had
come, and from Florence to a people just and sane, with what
amazement must I have been full! Surely what with it and the joy
I was well pleased not to hear, and to stand mute. And as a
pilgrim who is refreshed in the temple of his vow in looking
round, and hopes now to report how it was, so, journeying through
the living light, I carried my eyes over the ranks, now up, now
down, and now circling about. I saw faces persuasive to love,
beautified by the light of Another and by their own smile, and
actions ornate with every dignity.

[1] The nymph Callisto or Helice bore to Zeus a son, Arcas; she
was metamorphosed by Hera into a bear, and then transferred to
Heaven by Jupiter as the constellation of the Great Bear, while
her son was changed into the constellation of Aretophylax or
Bootes. In the far north these constellations remain always above
the horizon.

[2] When Rome was mistress of the world, and the Lateran the seat
of imperial or papal power.

My look had now comprehended the general form of Paradise as a
whole, and on no part yet my sight was fixed; and I turned me
with re-enkindled wish to ask my Lady about things concerning
which my mind was in suspense. One thing I was meaning, and
another answered me; I was thinking to see Beatrice, and I saw an
old man, robed like the people in glory. His eyes and his cheeks
were overspread with benignant joy, in pious mien such as befits
a tender father. And, "Where is she?" on a sudden said I. Whereon
he, "To terminate thy desire, Beatrice urged me from my place,
and if thou lookest up to the third circle from the highest step,
thou wilt again see her upon the throne which her merits have
allotted to her." Without answering I lifted up my eyes, and saw
her as she made for herself a crown, reflecting from herself the
eternal rays. From that region which thunders highest up no
mortal eye is so far distant, in whatsoever sea it loses itself
the lowest,[1] as there from Beatrice was my sight. But this was
naught to me, for her image did not descend to me blurred by
aught between.

[1] From the highest region of the air to the lowest depth of the

"O Lady, in whom my hope is strong, and who, for my salvation,
didst endure to leave thy footprints in Hell, of all those things
which I have seen, I recognize by thy power and by thy goodness
the grace and the virtue. Thou hast drawn me from servitude to
liberty by all those ways, by all the modes whereby thou hadst
the power to do this. Guard thou in me thine own magnificence so
that my soul, which thou hast made whole, may, pleasing to thee,
be unloosed from the body." Thus I prayed; and she, so distant,
smiled, as it seemed, and looked at me; then turned to the
eternal fountain.

And the holy old man, "In order that thou mayest complete
perfectly," he said, "thy journey, whereto prayer and holy love
sent me, fly with thy eyes through this garden; for seeing it
will prepare thy look to mount further through the divine
radiance. And the Queen of Heaven, for whom I burn wholly with
love, will grant us every grace, because I am her faithful

[1] St. Bernard, to whom, because of his fervent devotion to her,
the Blessed Virgin had deigned to show herself during his life.

As is he who comes perchance from Croatia to see our Veronica,[1]
who is not satisfied by its ancient fame, but says in thought,
while it is shown, "My Lord Jesus Christ, true God, now was your
semblance like to this?" such was I, gazing on the living charity
of him who, in this world, in contemplation, tasted of that

[1] The likeness of the Saviour miraculously impressed upon the
kerchief presented to him by a holy woman, on his way to Calvary,
wherewith to wipe the sweat and dust from his face, and now
religiously preserved at Rome, and shown at St. Peter's, on
certain holydays.

"Son of Grace, this glad existence," began he, "will not be known
to thee holding thine eyes only below here at the bottom, but
look on the circles even to the most remote, until thou seest
upon her seat the Queen to whom this realm is subject and
devoted." I lifted up my eyes; and as at morning the eastern
parts of the horizon surpass that where the sun declines, thus,
as if going with my eyes from valley to mountain, I saw a part on
the extreme verge vanquishing in light all the other front. And
even as there where the pole which Phaeton guided ill is
awaited,[1] the flame is brighter, and on this side and that the
light grows less, so that pacific oriflamme was vivid at the
middle, and on each side in equal measure the flame slackened.
And at that mid part I saw more than a thousand jubilant Angels
with wings outspread, each distinct both in brightness and in
act. I saw there, smiling at their sports and at their songs, a
Beauty[2] which was joy in the eyes of all the other saints. And
if I had such wealth in speech as in imagining, I should. not
dare to attempt the least of its delightfulness. Bernard, when he
saw my eyes fixed and intent upon its warm glow, turned his own
with such affection to it, that he made mine more ardent to gaze

[1] Where the chariot of the sun is about to rise.

[2] The Virgin.

CANTO XXXII. St. Bernard describes the order of the Rose, and
points out many of the Saints.--The children in Paradise.--The
angelic festival.--The patricians of the Court of Heaven.

Fixed in affection upon his Delight, that contemplator freely
assumed the office of a teacher, and began these holy words: "The
wound which Mary closed up and anointed, she who is so beautiful
at her feet is she who opened it and who pierced it. Beneath her,
in the order which the third seats make, sits Rachel with
Beatrice, as thou seest. Sara, Rebecca, Judith, and she[1] who
was great-grandmother of the singer who, through sorrow for his
sin, said Miserere mei,[2] thou mayest see thus from step to step
in gradation downward, as with the name of each I go downward
through the rose from leaf to leaf. And from the seventh row
downwards, even as down to it, Hebrew women follow in succession,
dividing all the tresses of the flower; because these are the
wall by which the sacred stairways are separated according to the
look which faith turned on Christ. On this side, where the flower
is mature with all its leaves, are seated those who believed in
Christ about to come. On the other side, where the semicircles
are broken by empty spaces, are those who turned their faces on
Christ already come.[3] And as on this side the glorious seat of
the Lady of Heaven, and the other seats below it, make so great a
division, thus, opposite, does that of the great John, who, ever
holy, endured the desert and martyrdom, and then Hell for two
years;[4] and beneath him Francis and Benedict and Augustine and
others are allotted thfis to divide, far down as here from circle
to circle. Now behold the high divine foresight; for one and the
other aspect of the faith will fill this garden equally. And know
that downwards from the row which midway cleaves[5] the two
divisions, they are seated for no merit of their own, but for
that of others, under certain conditions; for all these are
spirits absolved ere they had true election. Well canst thou
perceive it by their looks, and also by their childish voices, if
thou lookest well upon them and if thou listenest to them. Now
thou art perplexed, and in perplexity art silent; but I will
loose for thee the strong bond in which thy subtile thoughts
fetter thee.[6] Within the amplitude of this realm a casual point
can have no place,[7] any more than sadness, or thirst, or
hunger; for whatever thou seest is established by eternal law, so
that here the ring answers exactly to the finger. And therefore
this folk,[8] hastened to true life, is not sine causa more and
less excellent here among itself. The King through whom this
realm reposes in such great love and in such great delight that
no will is venturesome for more, creating all the minds in His
own glad aspect, diversely endows with grace according to His own
pleasure; and here let the fact suffice.[9] And this is expressly
and clearly noted for you in the Holy Scripture in those twins
who, while within their mother, had their anger roused.[10]
Therefore, according to the color of the hair of such grace,[11]
it behoves the highest light befittingly to crown them. Without,
then, merit from their modes of Efe, they are placed in different
grades, differing only in their primary keenness of vision.[12]
Thus in the fresh centuries the faith of parents alone sufficed,
together with innocence, to secure salvation. After the first
ages were, complete, it was needful for males with their innocent
plumage to acquire virtue through circumcision. But after the
time of grace had come, without perfect baptism in Christ, such
minocence was kept there below.

[1] Ruth.

[2] "Have mercy upon me."--Psalm li. 1.

[3] The circle of the Rose is divided in two equal parts. In the
one half, the saints of the Old Dispensation, who believed in
Christ about to come, are seated. The benches of this half are
full. In the other half, the benches of which are not yet quite
full, sit the redeemed of the New Dispensation who have believed
on Christ already come. On one side the line of division between
the semicircles is made by the Hebrew women from the Virgin Mary
downwards; on the opposite side the line is made by St. John
Baptist and other saints who had rendered special service to
Christ and his Church. The lower tiers of seats all round are
occupied by children elect to bliss.

[4] The two years from the death of John to the death of Christ
and his descent to Hell, to draw from the limbus patrum the souls
predestined to salvation.

[5] Horizontally.

[6] The perplexity was, How can there be difference of merit in
the innocent, assigning them to different seats in Paradise?

[7] No least thing can here be matter of chance.

[8] This childish folk.

[9] Without attempt to account for it, to seek the wherefore of
the will of God.

[10] Jacob and Esau. See Genesis, xxv. 22.

[11] The crown of light and the station in Paradise axe allotted
according to the diversity in the endowment of grace, which is
like the diversity in the color of the hair of men.

[12] In capacity to see God.

"Look now upon the face which most resembles Christ, for only its
brightness can prepare thee to see Christ."

I saw raining upon her such great joy borne in the holy minds
created to fly across through that height, that whatsoever I had
seen before had not rapt me with such great admiration, nor shown
to me such likeness to God. And that love which had first
descended there, in front of her spread wide his wings, singing
"Ave, Maria, gratia plena." The blessed Court responded to the
divine song from all parts, so that every countenance became
thereby serener.

"O holy Father, who for me submittest to be below here, leaving
the sweet place in which thou sittest through eternal allotment,
who is that Angel who with such jubilee looks into the eyes of
our Queen, so enamoured that he seems of fire?" Thus I again
had recourse to the teaching of him who was made beautiful by
Mary, as the morning star by the sun. And he to me, "Confidence
and grace as much as there can be in Angel and in soul, axe all
in him, and so we would have it be, for he it is who bore the
palm down to Mary, when the Son of God willed to load Himself
with our burden.

"But come now with thine eyes, as I shall go on speaking, and
note the great patricians of this most just and pious empire.
Those two who sit there above, most happy through being nearest
to the Empress, are, as it were, the two roots of this rose. He
who on the left is close to her is the Father through whose rash
taste the human race tastes so much bitterness. On the right thou
seest that ancient Father of Holy Church, to whom Christ
entrusted the keys of this lovely flower. And he who saw before
his death all the heavy times of the beautiful bride, who was won
with the lance and with the nails, sits at his side; and
alongside the other rests that leader, under whom the ingrate,
fickle and stubborn people lived on manna. Opposite Peter thou
seest Anna sitting, so content to gaze upon her daughter, that
she moves not her eyes while singing Hosannah; and opposite the
eldest father of a family sits Lucia, who moved thy Lady, when
thou didst bend thy brow to rush downward.

"But because the time flies which holds thee slumbering,[1] here
will we make a stop, like a good tailor who makes the gown
according as he has cloth, and we will direct our eyes to the
First Love, so that, looking towards Him, thou mayst penetrate so
far as is possible through His effulgence. Truly, lest perchance,
moving thy wings, thou go backward, believing to advance, it is
needful that grace be obtained by prayer; grace from her who has
the power to aid thee; and do thou follow me with thy affection
so that thy heart depart not from my speech."

[1] This is the single passage in which Dante implies that his
vision is of the nature of a dream.

And he began this holy supplication.

CANTO XXXIII. Prayer to the Virgin.--The Beatific Vision.--The
Ultimate Salvation.

"Virgin Mother, daughter of thine own Son, humble and exalted
more than any creature, fixed term of the eternal counsel, thou
art she who didst so ennoble human nature that its own Maker
disdained not to become His own making. Within thy womb was
rekindled the Love through whose warmth this flower has thus
blossomed in the eternal peace. Here thou art to us the noonday
torch of charity, and below, among mortals, thou art the living
fount of hope. Lady, thou art so great, and so availest, that
whoso wishes grace, and has not recourse to thee, wishes his
desire to fly without wings. Thy benignity not only succors him
who asks, but oftentimes freely foreruns the asking. In thee
mercy, in thee pity, in thee magnificence, in thee whatever of
goodness is in any creature, are united. Now doth this man, who,
from the lowest abyss of the universe, far even as here, has seen
one by one the lives of spirits, supplicate thee, through grace,
for virtue such that he may be able with his eyes to uplift
himself higher toward the Ultimate Salvation. And I, who never
for my own vision burned more than I do for his, proffer to thee
all my prayers, and pray that they be not scant, that with thy
prayers thou wouldest dissipate for him every cloud of his
mortality, so that the Supreme Pleasure may be displayed to him.
Further I pray thee, Queen, who canst whatso thou wilt, that,
after so great a vision, thou wouldest preserve his affections
sound. May thy guardianship vanquish human impulses. Behold
Beatrice with all the Blessed for my prayers clasp their hands to

[1] In the Second Nun's Tale Chaucer has rendered, with great
beauty, the larger part of this prayer.

The eyes beloved and revered by God, fixed on the speaker, showed
to us how pleasing unto her are devout prayers. Then to the
Eternal Light were they directed, on which it is not to be
believed that eye so clear is turned by any creature.

And I, who to the end of all desires was approaching, even as I
ought, ended within myself the ardor of my longing.[1] Bernard
was beckoning to me, and was smiling, that I should look upward;
but I was already, of my own accord, such as he wished; for my
sight, becoming pure, was entering more and more through the
radiance of the lofty Light which of itself is true.

[1] The ardor of longing ceased, as was natural, in the
consummation and enjoyment of desire.

Thenceforward my vision was greater than our speech, which yields
to such a sight, and the memory yields to such excess.[1]

[1] Vague words! but ah, how hard to frame
  In matter-moulded forms of speech,
  Or ev'n for intellect to reach
  Thro' memory that which I became."
   --In Memoriam, XCV.

As is he who dreaming sees, and after the dream the passion
remains imprinted, and the rest returns not to the mind, such am
I; for my vision almost wholly fails, while the sweetness that
was born of it yet distils within my heart. Thus the snow is by
the sun unsealed; thus on the wind, in the light leaves, was lost
the saying of the Sibyl.

O Supreme Light, that so high upliftest Thyself from mortal
conceptions, re-lend a little to my mind of what Thou didst
appear, and make my tongue so powerful that it may be able to
leave one single spark of Thy glory for the future people; for,
by returning somewhat to my memory and by sounding a little in
these verses, more of Thy victory shall be conceived.

I think that by the keenness of the living ray which I endured, I
should have been bewildered if my eyes had been averted from it.
And it comes to my mind that for this reason I was the more hardy
to sustain so much, that I joined my look unto the Infinite

O abundant Grace, whereby I presumed to fix my eyes through the
Eternal Light so far that there I consumed my sight!

In its depth I saw that whatsoever is dispersed through the
universe is there included, bound with love in one volume;
substance and accidents and their modes, fused together, as it
were, in such wise, that that of which I speak is one simple
Light. The universal form of this knot[1] I believe that I saw,
because in saying this I feel that I more at large rejoice. One
instant only is greater oblivion for me than five and twenty
centuries to the emprise which made Neptune wonder at the shadow
of Argo.[2]

[1] This union of substance and accident and their modes; the
unity of creation in the Creator.

[2] The mysteries of God vanish in an instant from memory, but
the larger joy felt in recording them is proof that they were

Thus my mind, wholly rapt, was gazing fixed, motionless, and
intent, and ever with gazing grew enkindled. In that Light one
becomes such that it is impossible he should ever consent to turn
himself from it for other sight; because the Good which is the
object of the will is all collected in it, and outside of it that
is defective which is perfect there.

Now will my speech be shorter, even in respect to that which I
remember, than an infant's who still bathes his tongue at the
breast. Not because more than one simple semblance was in the
Living Light wherein I was gazing, which is always such as it was
before; but through my sight, which was growing strong in me as I
looked, one sole appearance, as I myself changed, was altering
itself to me.

Within the profound and clear subsistence of the lofty Light
appeared to me three circles of three colors and of one
dimension; and one appeared reflected by the other, as Iris by
Iris,[1] and the third appeared fire which from the one and from
the other is equally breathed forth.

[1] As one arch of the rainbow by the other.

O how short is the telling, and how feeble toward my conception!
and this toward what I saw is such that it suffices not to call
it little.

O Light Eternal, that sole dwellest in Thyself, sole
understandest Thyself, and, by Thyself understood and
understanding, lovest and smilest on Thyself! That circle,
which, thus conceived, appeared in Thee as a reflected light,
being somewhile regarded by my eyes, seemed to me depicted within
itself, of its own very color, by our effigy, wherefore my sight
was wholly set upon it. As is the geometer who wholly applies
himself to measure the circle, and finds not by thinking that
principle of which he is in need, such was I at that new sight. I
wished to see how the image accorded with the circle, and how it
has its place therein; but my own wings were not for this, had it
not been that my mind was smitten by a flash in which its wish

To my high fantasy here power failed; but now my desire and my
will, like a wheel which evenly is moved, the Lovee was turning
which moves the Sun and the other stars.

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