Paradiso Canto V

Paradiso 5

so I saw more than a thousand splendors
drawing toward us, and from each was heard:
‘Oh, here is one who will increase our loves!’

vv. 103-105

The sanctity of vows, and the seriousness with which they are to be made or changed.—Ascent to the Heaven of Mercury.—The shade of Justinian.

Beatrice now restates Dante’s question about broken vows. “You wish to know if, when a vow falls short, / some other service might be rendered up / to keep that soul secure from legal charge.” She comes to the answer in a roundabout way. Free will, she first explains, is God’s greatest gift to humankind, which makes vows—as sacrifices of one’s own will—especially precious to God. To offer up one’s will with a vow and then break it is to “steal” from God something that has already been given. Christians should therefore not make vows lightly. Her speech concluded, Beatrice and Dante “[run] on swiftly to the second realm,” traveling almost instantly from the moon to Mercury. Here, as on the moon, numerous souls rush forth to greet Dante and answer his questions. One “holy soul” breaks from the crowd to address Dante and remarks on the rare privilege of visiting Heaven before one’s own death. Dante asks who this “honoured soul” might be, but the important answer is not given until Canto 6.

Riassunto in inglese tratto da

Canto adopted by Dr. Gianni Bendandi

View Dante’s itinerary on the map

Available Resources

Reading of the Canto