Reading the Paradiso for the third, and now the fourth time, has been a fully different experience from the first journey through the spheres up to the Empyrean. The narrative seems even less structured than in the other two books, which is partly suggested by the idea that all the souls are living in the Empyrean, but things are reflected into nine spheres to accommodate the nature of the Pilgrim’s intellect and capability for comprehension. But what stands out after the reading of the first 8 spheres, is how deep and rich the Sun and the Fixed Stars are on theology, and in a blend with philosophy. They are also the two biggest spheres in the book, with 4,5 Cantos for the Sun, and 5 full Cantos (mid 22 to mid 27) for the Fixed Stars. Continue reading “The Sun, and the Fixed Stars”
The threefold examination of the Pilgrim at the boundary between the material Cosmos and the eternal mind of the Divine is in many ways making a crucial argument about which insights are needed – to open up this Divine Realm within yourself. The key is to expand on the ideas of Faith, Hope and Love in your mind and heart – as a process of “finding” this Realm.
Crucial elements are first, that Faith is “the substance of those hoped-for things, and argument for things we have not seen.” Meaning things like the Good, the Heavens, the Divine – which by definition would be beyond our comprehension, and thus only reachable by a conviction or belief.
Continue reading “The Examination of Virtues for the Pilgrim”
In chapter 5 of St. Bonaventura’s “The Soul’s Journey into God”, the author presents the idea of Pure Being as the Absolute First, and as a necessity from the following reasoning:
“5. Behold, then, if you can, purest being itself and you will realize that it cannot be thought of as received from another. From this, it must necessarily be thought of as absolutely first since it cannot come from nothing or from something.”
This also makes the Divine as Pure Being into “the First and the Last”, the Alpha & Omega, and the Eternal, which is the nature of Dante’s Empyrean in the Highest Sphere of Paradiso. It also connects to Exodus and the story of Moses receiving the Tetragrammaton as the Name of the Divine in 3:14, in one aspect meaning Existence or Being in the fullest sense.
Continue reading “The Divine as Being, and Union”
In the second circle of the Sun in Dante’s Paradiso, the main voice is the Light of St. Bonaventure (c.1217-1274) – a professor at the University of Paris, and a leader of the Franciscan Order.
In Bonaventure’s main work “The Soul’s Journey into God” we can see several aspects which Dante is using in the Paradiso, f.ex. a description of the final moments of the ascent:
“For no one is in any way disposed for divine contemplation that leads to mystical ecstasy, [..] such desires are enkindled in us in two ways: by an outcry of prayer [..] and by the flash of insight by which the mind turns most directly and intently towards the rays of Light.”
Continue reading “St. Bonaventura – The Seraphic Doctor”
In his “On Trinity and Creation”, Richard of St. Victor (c.1100-1173) writes about the nature of the mystic ascent towards the Divine, which shows us some of the inspiration and background for Dante’s Paradiso:
“You see our starting point, our destination, and the steps of our ascent: by means of hope and love [we ascend] from Faith toward Divine Knowledge, and through Divine Knowledge [we ascend] toward Eternal Life.”
Continue reading “Richard of St. Victor”
Here are the 12 people that Dante puts in the inner circle of the Sun, the 4th Sphere:
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Albertus Magnus, Aquinas’ Teacher. (1193/1206 – 1208)
Graziano (c.1075/80 – 1146/47)
Peter Lombard (c.1100 – 1160)
Solomon (c.970BC – 931BC)
Dionysius the Areopagite (c.60/c.500)
Boethius (475/77 – 524/6) Continue reading “The Inner Circle of the Sun”
Great conversation on the art of reading Dante Aloud (in Italian): Continue reading “How to Read Dante Aloud”
From the Sphere of the Sun – and how Love and Wisdom are expressions of the highest Angelical Beings, and also expressed through the Franciscan and Dominican Orders of Dante’s time in the 13 hundreds.
Continue reading “Cherubim and Seraphim, how Love and Wisdom shape the World”
Excellent conversation about Paradiso Canto 1, by Patrick Boyde (University of Cambridge) and John Bruce-Jones (StantonMarris).
Among the many highlights is the idea of the Hermeneutic Circle regarding reading Dante; that one needs to understand the overall picture to understand the elements, but one needs to understand the elements in order to understand the overall picture. Which is what we have sometimes referred to here as the metaphor of “mosaic” in understanding Dante; gradually one learns the smaller pieces and cantos, and then gradually an overall image and world emerges out of the whole Poem. Continue reading “How Love moves things to Rest”
How the final moment of the Divine Comedy, is also the Birth of the Poem!
Continue reading “The Birth of the Divine Comedy”