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The Divine Comedy, Volume 3, Paradise [Paradiso] by Dante Aligheri

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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

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