Paradiso Canto II

Paradiso 2

turned to me, as full of joy as she was fair,
to say: ‘Direct your grateful mind to God,
who has conjoined us with the nearest star.’

vv. 28-30

Proem. – Ascent to the Moon. – The cause of Spots on the Moon. – Influence of the Heavens.

Dante warns his readers of the challenging territory that lies ahead. They will be “wonder-struck,” he says, by the sights and sounds he is about to relate. Rising through the heavens as swiftly as an arrow, he and Beatrice arrive at the moon, which Dante imagines as a “cloud … shining and solid, dense and burnished clean.” Enveloped in this cloud, Dante asks Beatrice why the moon appears to have dark spots when viewed from Earth. He has heard various explanations, some of them based on folklore and others on (medieval) astronomy. One explanation attributes the spots to variations in the density of the matter that makes up the moon: where the moon matter is “rarer” (i.e., less dense), the dark spots appear. This, says Beatrice, is inaccurate. If the moon varied in density throughout, she explains, the sun would shine through the less dense regions during an eclipse. Or, if only a portion of the moon varied in density, the dense portion would reflect the sunlight back uniformly, just as mirrors at various distances reflect a flame with equal clarity. Instead, Beatrice describes the uneven appearance of the moon as a reflection of the variety with which God has endowed the physical universe.

Riassunto in inglese tratto da

Canto adopted by di Valmorra F. & c.

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