Purgatorio Canto XXXIII

Purgatorio 33

From those most holy waters
I came away remade, as are new plants
renewed with new-sprung leaves,
pure and prepared to rise up to the stars.

vv. 142-145

The Earthly Paradise. – Prophecy of Beatrice concerning one who shall restore the Empire. – Her discourse with Dante. – The river Eunoe. – Dante drinks of it, and is fit to ascend to Heaven.

In the Earthly Paradise, after witnessing the disappearance of the chariot of the Church, the four cardinal virtues and the three theological ones start singing Psalm LXXIX: «Deus, venerunt gentes». Beatrice responds by saying what Jesus told his disciples when he announced his death and resurrection:  «Modicum, et non videbitis me…». Then she invites Dante to walk by her side so that he can hear her better. She knows the Poet’s intellect is still clouded; however, she wants him to remember at least a vision of what she’s about to reveal. The chariot is the corrupt Church and it is as if it didn’t exist. However, soon God will soundly punish the culprit. The eagle (the emperor), which left its feathers in the chariot, will not be forever without an heir for she can foresee in the constellations a figure called the “Five Hundred and Ten and Five” (DVX stands for DUX and it indicates emperor Henry the VII), who will come to slay both the whore (the corrupted Roman Curia) and her giant companion (the French court). Dante notices her words are mysterious and hard to decipher at this point. The reason, Beatrice reveals, is that man cannot understand God. It is noon when the seven virtues stop at the edge of the forest shadow, before the spring of the two Earthly Paradise rivers: the Lethe – where the Poet has already been immersed to forget the evil of the past, and the Eunoè. Beatrice commands Matilda to invite Dante and Statius to drink the water of the latter to restore the memory of the good deeds. The purification of the Poet is now complete: he is pure and ready to climb up into the stars.

Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

The starry sky in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (Oratory of Saint Lawrence) is a wonderful representation of the starry heaven of the Divine Comedy, the place the Poet and the reader can aspire to once they are pure and willing to go up. Looking at this starry sky above us, one cannot help thinking of Kant’s words – “the starry sky above me and the moral law within me”. Staring at these stars something strange happens. Some sort of optical illusion makes them seem not only concentric, but also whirling from the very centre, thus anticipating the arms of a Galaxy – which is amazing for the 5th century.

Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna

mosaico cielo stellato di Galla Placidia

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