Paradiso Canto XXVIII

Paradiso 28

And, when she paused in her speech,
as boiling iron shoots out sparks
so did these circles sparkle,

vv. 88-90

Dante gazes upon the Primum Mobile. A point of light, impossibly fine and bright, sits at its center, surrounded by nine concentric, halolike rings. These, Beatrice explains, are the nine choirs of angels, with the innermost ring representing the highest rank (the seraphim). Dante is confused: Shouldn’t the outermost and largest circle be the highest ranking? In the celestial heavens, which Dante has only recently left behind, the outermost orbits are “more divine” than the inner ones. Beatrice offers to “untie” the “knot” of Dante’s perplexity. In the physical universe, she concedes, greatness is associated with physical extent, so bigger often means better. Here, however, the ranks of angels are ordered in the opposite way. Those closest to God (the center point) are those who “know” God the most intensely and therefore show the greatest love for Him. Satisfied—indeed, elated—with this answer, Dante looks back at the rings and sees how numerous they are. The individual angels, which appear as “glints” and “sparks,” “outnumbered far / progressive doubling of the chessboard squares.” Beatrice proceeds to name the ranks of angels in descending order: seraphim, cherubim, and thrones in the first and innermost triad, followed by dominations, virtues, and powers. In the third and outermost grouping are the principalities, archangels, and a ninth rank known simply as the angels. In between, Beatrice elaborates on the significance of the different choirs: all ranks of angels “have their delight / according to how deep their sight goes down / into the truth that calms all intellect.” In other words, seeing God more clearly is a prerequisite to loving Him more deeply and thus enjoying His presence more fully.

Riassunto in inglese tratto da

Canto adopted by Giuseppe Ranieri e Sparagi Iria

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