as builds from branch to branch
throughout the pine wood at the shore of Classe
when Aeolus unleashes his Sirocco.
The Earthly Paradise. – The Forest. – A Lady gathering flowers on the bank of a little stream. – Discourse with her concerning the nature of the place.
Together with Statius and Virgil – the latter won’t speak from now on, Dante is at the threshold of the Earthly Paradise, heading for the lush green forest that takes up most of the garden of Eden. A gentle breeze blows on the plants bending them westwards, the rustling leaves being the rhythmic undertone of birds singing from the branches – as it happens when the Sirocco blows through the pine forest in Classe. He enters the wood but soon finds his way blocked by a stream of pure and clear water that appears dark in the trees shadow. An extraordinarily beautiful young woman is on the opposite bank, walking along the river while singing and picking flowers.
Dante asks her to move nearer the bank and she does it, as graceful as a dancer. Matilda – her name is only revealed later on in the 33rd Canto, l.119 – claims to be here to answer all of Dante’s questions. He asks her why there is water and wind in the Earthly Paradise since there are no atmospheric changes above Purgatory. Matilda explains that Mount Purgatory was once chosen by God as the abode of man, who lost it upon committing original sin. It was placed at such an altitude as not to be affected by atmospheric disturbances. However, the sky above revolves in a circle and the wind blows through the trees making them rustle and release some seeds into the air. Eventually, the wind scatters them around Earth. As for the stream, it pours from a spring that receives the water directly from God. In the Garden of Eden there are two rivers: Lethe and Eunoe. The former, which the poet encounters in his path, flows with the power of making one forget all his past sins, whereas the latter has the power to restore memories of good deeds.
The Camaldolese abbey hosts the ancient Classense Library. The latter was built in 1515 when, soon after the “French pillage”, the monks moved from the monastery next to the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe to town. The memory of the large and thick pine forest Dante mentions is associated with this place, which was run and taken care of by the friars and which has grown to be an important cultural centre both locally and nationally.
The monastery was built on the site of the former Ospedale Santa Maria della Misericordia, commissioned by Bonifacio Fieschi in 1923.The plaque recalls this famous character too, who was Archbishop of Ravenna from 1275 to 1294 and whom Dante meets in Purgatorio 24, among the gluttonous of the sixth terrace:
I saw for hunger bite the empty air
Ubaldin dalla Pila, and Boniface,
Who with his crook had pastured many people.
The Hospital was close to an ancient Church, S. Bartolomeo in Turricula, which stood near a city tower.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna
Canto adopted by D.ssa Patrizia Ravagli
For further information on Biblioteca Classense