Paradiso Canto VIII

Paradiso 8

‘The left bank that is moistened by the Rhone
once it mingles waters with the Sorgue
awaited me as sovereign at a time to come,

vv. 58-60

Ascent to the Heaven of Venus.—Spirits of Lovers, Source of the order and the varieties in mortal things.

Dante now imperceptibly rises toward the third heaven, named for the sweet planet Venus. Here he encounters a group of swirling lights, which represent the next gathering of blessed souls. One soul glides forward and asks what Dante wishes to know. “Who are you?” Dante asks, and the soul describes himself as an old friend. He gradually offers Dante enough geographic clues to identify him as Charles Martel (1271–95), a contemporary European prince who briefly ruled as king of Hungary. Grateful to see Charles in Heaven, Dante poses him another question: “How can it be that sweet seed leads to sour?” In other words, how can it be that the children of a wise and just ruler fail to follow in his footsteps? Charles is glad to oblige, drawing on his own unfortunate family history of greed and treacheries. Nature, he says, is guided by divine providence in making people vary in their skills and temperaments, so they can form a society in which different roles must be filled. Human beings, however, do not always cooperate with nature and providence. Instead, they often force one another—or themselves—into roles for which they are ill suited. A man with a warlike nature is made to become a monk or bishop, for example, while “someone who should preach” is made a king.

Riassunto in inglese tratto da

Canto adopted by Lions Club Romagna Padusa Ravenna

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