The Divine Comedy: Week 40, Love and Light

Let's retrace our steps across these thirty-nine posts. We've journeyed down through hell in the Inferno, to the frozen center of the earth. From there, we climbed up back to the surface and then upward through the terraces of Mount Purgatory.

And now, here at the start of the Paradiso, we will begin to rise above the earth and through the heavens.

I say heavens plural as, like hell and purgatory, Dante will rise with Beatrice through heavenly levels, the the heavenly "spheres," each sphere/heaven associated with a planetary body. The "map" of Paradise is basically a reflection of Ptolemaic cosmology. The spheres/heavens:
1st: Moon
2nd: Mercury
3rd: Venus
4th the Sun
5th Mars
6th: Jupiter
7th: Saturn
8th: the Fixed Stars
9th: Primum Mobile
Above/beyond the Primum Mobile, the final physical heaven which is the abode of the angels, is the the Empyrean, the abode of God.

Paradise, we'll come to find, is all about light. The glory of God shines down from the Empyrean and is refracted through the nine heavenly spheres, filling them with light. And as the Pilgrim rises up through each heaven, the souls he encounters will appear as flashing, glowing, dancing, multi-colored lights. It's all a huge light show.

And as we'll also come to find, one of the beautiful ideas in the Divine Comedy is how the heavens move because of the love of God. Dante's is an enchanted, magical, supernatural cosmology. Instead of the laws of gravity and planetary motion, love moves the planets and the stars.

In the Divine Comedy, paradise is all about love and light.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply