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Divine Comedy, Dante > Paradiso 33! The Final Vision

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Reynolds/Sayers:

St Bernard addresses to the Virgin a prayer for intercession for Dante that grace may be granted him to behold God. Conveying her acceptance of the prayer, the Virgin turns her eyes above and Dante, doing likewise, is enabled to penetrate with his vision to the True Light of which all other is the radiance or reflection. Therein he beholds the unity of all creation and all time, the Three Persons (manifested as three spheres), and, finally, Christ, one with the eternal being of Godhead. Here his powers of representation failed him and all that remains is the remembrance of his will and love wholly surrendered to the love of God.

The Prayer to the Virgin: In his prayer to the Virgin, St Bernard implores her to intercede for Dante that he may attain, now, to the vision of God and that, in his life henceforth, he may, under her protection, persevere in truth and righteousness, his affections and human impulses guarded from unworthiness. The prayer is also a hymn of praise to the Virgin. St Bernard, in life the most ardent worshipper in the Virgin-cult, now extols her as excelling all creatures, angelic or human, in lowliness, goodness, and vision. On earth, the historical and universal God-bearer, the vessel of Divine Grace, now, in Heaven, she is the one mediator to whom man must turn in prayer. In the story, the Virgin, from the very beginning, is the gentle Lady who is so moved to pity on Dante’s account that for her sake “high doom is cancelled” (Inf. ii. 94–6). She it is who summons Lucy to her side, exhorting her: “Thy faithful votary needs thee, and I commend him to thy care”; and Lucy, in her turn, appeals to Beatrice, who swiftly seeks the aid of Virgil, who, alone, at this stage, can speak to, and be heard by, Dante. Now the story has come full circle. Grace, in its various manifestations, has brought Dante from the depths of Hell up to this height. As St Bernard prays for the Virgin’s supreme intercession. all the saints, and Beatrice among them, fold their hands in the vast fellowship of prayer — prayer for one man’s need.

The Vision of God: The final vision, the crown and climax of the whole work, consists of two revelations. First, Dante perceives in the Divine Light the form, or exemplar, of all creation. All things that exist in themselves (“substance”), all aspects or properties of being (“accident”), all mutual relations (“mode”) are seen bound together in one single concept. The Universe is in God. Next, having glimpsed the whole of creation, Dante beholds the Creator. He sees three circles, of three colours, yet of one dimension. One seems to be reflected from the other, and the third, like flame, proceeds equally from both (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Then, as he gazes, the reflected circle shows within itself the human form, coloured with the circle’s own hue. As Dante strives to comprehend how human nature is united with the Word, a ray of divine light so floods his mind that his desire is at rest. At this point the vision ceases, and the story ends with the poet’s will and desire moving in perfect co-ordination with the love of God.


message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Sidebar: "...Gianfranco Ravasi, a Dante enthusiast who believes that Darwin's theory of evolution is compatible with the church's teachings on creation."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/...

Specifically about Cardinal Ravasi:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/featu...


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments http://www.lockportstreetgallery.com/...

Dali_Paradiso_33

Salvador Dali: Paradiso Canto 33. “St. Bernard’s Prayer to the Virgin.”


message 4: by Lily (last edited Mar 13, 2013 02:39PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments http://www.worldofdante.org/media/ima...

Flaxman_Paradise_Canto_33.115_Three_Circles

John Flaxman: Paradiso Canto XXXIII.115. “Three Circles of Light Appear to Dante” 1793. Engraving.

I find my reaction caught between Flaxman's perhaps exhaustion of imagination towards his subject, the geometric "perfection" of the circle to illustrate that which cannot be illustrated, and a bit of laughter of joy at light (at the end of the tunnel!).


message 5: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Lily wrote: "http://www.lockportstreetgallery.com/...



Salvador Dali: Paradiso Canto 33. “St. Bernard’s Prayer to the Virgin.”"


I like this.


message 6: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Lily wrote: "http://www.worldofdante.org/media/ima...



John Flaxman: Paradiso Canto XXXIII.115. “Three Circles of Light Appear to Dante” 1793. Engraving.

I find my reaction caug..."


I'm thinking of what he could have done had color printing been invented. Even here he's far ahead of his times.


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Visit link to see thumbnail:

http://www.ivodavidfineart.com/Divine...

Ivo David: Paradiso Canto XXXIII.1-29. "Empireo." 1977.


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments For Paradiso Canto XXXIII images from the Bodleian Library 14th century manuscript try these:


http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwms...

Paradiso_Canto_33_Virgin_enthroned_in_mandorla

Paradiso Canto XXXIII. “Dante and St. Bernard Kneel before the Virgin Enthroned in a Mandorla, Holding a Golden Palm, and Surrounded by Angels.”


http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwms...

Paradiso_Canto_33_StBernard_and_Trinity

Paradiso Canto XXXIII. “St. Bernard Presents the Kneeling Dante to the Three-Faced Trinity within Concentric, Radiating Bands; Angels and Stars.”

(Did this one inspire Flaxman?)


http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwms...

Paradiso_Canto_33_Dante_presents_his_book

Paradiso Canto XXXIII. “Dante Presents His Book to Can Grande (?), Who Is Followed by Courtiers.”

Poor image, but sort of the capstone of the sequence.


message 9: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Looking at the poem as a whole, I wonder if Dante meant it mainly to spark a moral reformation of Italy, particularly in the Church of his time. Denunciation of currupt churchmen occurs throught the entire Comedy, but crescendos strikingly in the later cantos of the Paradiso, before the poem moves on to the final divine vision. That would be the reason why he put so many contemporaneous personalities in the poem, and also why he used the common language instead of Latin.


message 10: by Lily (last edited Mar 14, 2013 07:59AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Roger wrote: "Looking at the poem as a whole, I wonder if Dante meant it mainly to spark a moral reformation of Italy, particularly in the Church of his time. Denunciation of corrupt churchmen occurs throughout t..."

Is posing those questions a bit like asking why Shakespeare wrote his history plays?

Perhaps you are right in your analysis, Roger. I'm too close to something I have found almost impossible to get close to; I'm not objective at all right now, maybe later, with more distance, but I have more of a sense of a record of a very personal journey, more like Montaigne's essays, than the tracts of a man of action. Yet, I quite agree with your sense that Dante probably did have objectives for his epic. (What did he think Virgil had done with The Aeneid? Certainly established Latin versus Greek. But, politically?)


message 11: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Roger wrote: "Looking at the poem as a whole, I wonder if Dante meant it mainly to spark a moral reformation of Italy, particularly in the Church of his time. Denunciation of currupt churchmen occurs throught t..."

Yes, I think he was a pre-Reformation reformer. By placing himself as the central figure in the book, is he saying, "Let it begin with me"?


message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments http://www.worldofdante.org/media/ima...

Yates_Paradiso_Canto_33.94_Argo

Giovanni di Paolo: Paradiso Canto XXXIII.94. “Neptune Startled by the Shadow of the Argo.” c.1450. Manuscript illumination. Yates Thompson 36. British Library.

Paradiso Canto 33.94-105: (view spoiler)


message 13: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (wendelman) | 609 comments Dante gives a coherent and at the same time imposing view of what he perceived as the ultimate truth and real value in life. Heaven and Hell. But this had to serve a very practical purpose. To impress the importance of moral behaviour on the clergy, as well as the laymen administering the cities and courts of Italy. Anarchy and corruption were understood as moral problems, in need of a moral solution.

But what about the dark wood of the first canto? The personal meaning? Were the sins Dante confessed on the Mountain serious enough to warrant this huge undertaking? Was not everything revealed by Vergil and Beatrice already known when he started his trip? And is the same not true for us, what did we learn? Not being an administrator of anything but my own garden, I find that difficult to decide.


message 14: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/pdp...

Nattini_Paradiso_Canto_33

Amos Nattini: Paradiso Canto XXXIII. "Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo figlio, 1923. (First line. In Hollander translation, that becomes “Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son,”)


message 15: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Lily wrote: "http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/pdp...



Amos Nattini: Paradiso Canto XXXIII. "Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo figlio, 1923. (First line. In Hollander translation, that ..."


Dante's final vision is an abstract one of three shining circles, but Nattini gives us a bearded old man in the sky.


message 16: by Lily (last edited Mar 17, 2013 06:29AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Came across this tonight. From an article by Dean Rader, poet, professor, and literary critic for the San Francisco Chronicle naming ten top poets of history, it seemed appropriate to cite for this final thread.


"3. Dante Alighieri. Aside from my top slot, I predict this pick will elicit the most controversy. Dante did not appear on as many lists as I would have predicted, and indeed, he seems to be taught and talked about less and less. Perhaps this is because he’s only well known for one poem (The Divine Comedy). Or maybe it’s because this poem is overly Catholic. Or, it’s possible people are turned off by the intense allegorical nature of the poem. Or, it could even be because the poem is just weird.

"Think about it. Dante makes himself the protagonist in his own epic poem. He descends through Hell with Virgil, participates in every sin along the way, crawls across the frozen belly of the Devil, zips through space to Purgatory where he meets characters from the Bible, then sort of flies through the cosmos before chilling with God and getting reunited with his one true love, Beatrice. It’s a hard poem to paraphrase and even harder to make feel . . .current. But, it’s a phenomenal poem.

"It’s phenomenal in part because of its ambition. It takes on the great questions of life–death, loss, love, revenge, punishment, eternity, justice, and salvation. It’s also one of the most technically complex poems ever written. Structurally, the whole book centers on the number three, which symbolizes the holy trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). The Comedy is divided into three books (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso). Each book is comprised of 33 cantos, but the poem begins with a one-canto introduction, making an even 100 cantos. But, that symmetry gets even more detailed in the verses themselves. The poem takes the form of what Dante called “terza rima,” which is essentially interconnected rhyming tercets. So, terza rima is a series of three-line stanzas in which a chain-like rhyming pattern of aba bcb cdc ded and so on. So, that tripling effect, that trinitarian power gets encoded and re-encoded throughout. For Dante, it was a way to infuse his poem with God’s order, God’s symmetry.

"But, Dante could also get nasty. For example, he put his enemies in Hell, he sent some competing poets to Hell, and he banished corrupt priests to Hell. Also, as he descends further down into the pit of the Inferno, his language becomes more guttural, more vulgar. He rips and tears at the Italian the way the demons shred the souls of those condemned. It’s glorious.

"Anyone who has written an epic since Dante has had to grapple with his legacy. Similarly, no one owns a poetic form the way he owns the tercet. He made the three-line stanza his. It is his brand."

http://blog.sfgate.com/drader/2011/03...

(I think of Wendelman's questions as I post this. It doesn't answer them, but it may address some of them.)


message 17: by Jeremy C. Brown (new)

Jeremy C. Brown | 163 comments Laurele wrote: "Yes, I think he was a pre-Reformation reformer. By placing himself as the central figure in the book, is he saying, "Let it begin with me"?
"


That's my impression :-)


message 18: by Jeremy C. Brown (new)

Jeremy C. Brown | 163 comments Beautifully written ending, but didn't anyone feel a little abruptness? Maybe there's no way around it considering his climax. I mean, how would you possibly have a resolution after such a climax of seeing God? :-)


message 19: by Jeremy C. Brown (new)

Jeremy C. Brown | 163 comments Laurele, is there going to be a thread about the book in general now that it's finished? Or is this the best place to comments on that topic?


message 20: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments Lily wrote: "Perhaps this is because he’s only well known for one poem (The Divine Comedy). Or maybe it’s because this poem is overly Catholic. Or, it’s possible people are turned off by the intense allegorical nature of the poem. Or, it could even be because the poem is just weird.
"


Another major stumbling block is language. Reading Dante in translation is like reading Shakespeare in translation; the reader is literally not reading what the poet wrote. Listening to the Mazzotta lectures I learned how much word play there is in Dante, something completely sacrificed in translation, and often it isn't just play.

An example: in Canto 29, looking at the Italian. The first word in is quando, "when." The last word in line 12 is also quando. Draw a line between them. The line bisects the word in line six: l'emisperio, "hemisphere." Mere accident? It seems unlikely, given the meaning of these lines.

Mazzotta's interpretation is that "Dante is placing us at a cosmic crossroads. He is locating us, he's telling us where we are first of all, but he's also telling us that this universe has a kind of very occult and very secret laws. The poem has these secret laws that regulate it."

I can't defend that, but it's a fascinating proposition. One thing I'm sure of is that there are many many other instances of this kind of thing that we miss in translation.


message 21: by Lily (last edited Mar 18, 2013 09:40AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5057 comments Thomas wrote: "Lily wrote: (from Dean Rader): 'Perhaps this is because he’s only well known for one poem (The Divine Comedy). Or maybe it’s because this poem is overly Catholic. Or, it’s possible people are turned off by the intens...'"

Yes, since I can't read Italian, I can only guess at the accuracy of what you are saying, but everything about the poetry and Dante's use of ideas suggests its veracity.. It is sad, but it is the reality of translation. And one would probably have to have a very literate command of another language to recognize the more subtle of those word and thought games -- so in terms of understanding, one must still suffer along with translations. (Nabokov, and others, describe similar problems with Pushkin. Any of us who have spent much time with the Bible, its translations, and commentaries have encountered such difficulties -- and then words and sentence structures don't necessarily stay static in meaning and implication across time. )

Some of my favorite passages about the subtleties of translation come from Ciardi's notes in the Signet edition. One that I'll try to paraphrase without going to look for my copy was how to translate for the word for a flower like the daisy -- "daisy" would carry overtones of "day's eye" and "sunshine" whereas "marguerite" may suggest "pearl" or lovely woman. He encountered many other difficulties as he translated -- and within the demands of poetry, which by its very nature exploits the language in which it was spawned.

Mazzotta's interpretation is that "Dante is placing us at a cosmic crossroads. He is locating us, he's telling us where we are first of all, but he's also telling us that this universe has a kind of very occult and very secret laws. The poem has these secret laws that regulate it."

While I can respect and wish for the knowledge of Italian that might help penetrate the Dante's "secret laws regulating" his writing, my 21st century training has great difficulty with looking upon the universe as having very occult and secret laws -- even though that may still be true. But to recognize that as possibly a 1300's worldview has been part of what has made the attempt to comprehend Commedia fascinating. It has rather emphasized for me some of the difficulties of moving to a world of presuming the value of observation and measurement and testing and retesting -- of assuming knowing may be possible, or at least that its boundaries can be pushed and then pushed again. Yet, in some ways, within his worldview, Dante does question, does explore, so I get a little queasy with generalizing too much. Or, perhaps I wonder to what extent Dante was on the cusp of the world that was going to emerge.

An astronomy that assumed the light of the stars was reflected from the sun -- I stumbled completely on knowing that without commentary, but suddenly an incomprehensible passage was clear. About what will future generations similarly look back upon us in 700 years?


message 22: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Jeremy wrote: "Laurele, is there going to be a thread about the book in general now that it's finished? Or is this the best place to comments on that topic?"

I think this is the best place, Jeremy.


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