Here my memory outstrips my skill,
for that cross so flamed forth Christ
that I can find no fit comparison.
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 Spirits.
In the Sphere of the Sun, the Fourth Heaven, Beatrice asks the wise spirits to solve Dante’s doubt about the brightness of the blessed souls after the Resurrection of the Flesh. Solomon answers that they will preserve the light that surrounds them and they won’t be blinded by it.
Around the two circles a third one appears, so bright that it dazzles the Poet. When he tears his eyes away, he realises that he has reached the Fifth Heaven, the Sphere of Mars, lit by a ruddy light. Here, the spirits of those who fought the good fight of Faith are placed in two rays of light. The two rays are perpendicular and form a cross, while the lights running along them look like the more or less luminous stars decking the Milky Way. Dante can’t describe that cross because it is as if Christ were flashing in it. A harmonious song comes from it. Although he cannot understand its full meaning, Dante is enraptured. However, the only words he can hear, “Rise” and “Conquer”, suggest the liturgical value of the song raised by the Fighting Spirits, who glorify Christ’s victory over death and sin. The beauty of the song is inexpressible and Dante, who is in ecstasy, apologizes for being so enamoured of it and neglecting Beatrice’s indescribable lovely eyes. The Poet points out that he hasn’t looked at them since he ascended to the Sphere of Mars and, as they become more beautiful the higher the region, he cannot say if their splendour is superior to that of Heaven itself.
The apse of Sant’Apollinare in Classe features the mosaic of the large jewelled cross depicting Christ’s face. When light shines, it flashes. Dante drew inspiration from it and most certainly followed the suggestions of the transcending beauties of the City’s mosaics while writing his “Paradiso”
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by MRV Costruzioni Edili
For further information on Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe