Meditations on the Divine Comedy: Index NOPQR


MedLI:3 Natural Love is free of error. Rational love may err.

MedLV:2 Natural causes are inoperative beyond the Gate of Purgatory, and Divine causes alone cause phenomena there.

MedLIX:1 Statius explains the origin of the individual, unified, soul. It is God who breathes the rational spirit into the human brain, delighting in it as a work of nature. The embryo shares life with the vegetable kingdom, and added to that feelings and sensations with the animal kingdom.

MedLXI:3 The beauty of nature signifies the Earthly Paradise.

MedLXII:1 The wood before the Earthly Paradise invokes the innocence of nature, the uplifting dawn beauty of resurrection and regeneration.

MedLXXV:2 Divine providence structures and controls the creation in its nature and its continuing welfare. This is achieved through the angelic intellects present in the planetary spheres. Since God and they are perfect then the results must be regular and not chaotic, art and not disorder. Dante expresses his belief in the completeness of this created Nature.

MedLXXX:1 Nature reflects the varying state of the spheres, and therefore a variety of qualities in transient things. Nature operates like an artist, the execution always more or less imperfect, unlike that divine creation of Adam and Christ where it was perfect.

MedLXXXIX:2 Natural law includes the effects of gravity.


MedVII:2 Virgil gives a description of Fortune which involves the first hints of Dante’s neo-Platonic view of a hierarchical universe, with Divine power emanating from the Godhead and penetrating downwards to all parts of Creation. His thinking stemmed from reading Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, and other works. This hierarchy is symbolically reversed in Hell in the descent to Satan, while the re-ascent to the Godhead is imitated in the Mount of Purgatory. This concept of circles or spheres, contracting to, or expanding from, a point is a major feature of Dante’s and the Medieval imagination.

MedXLII:1 The spirits in ante-Purgatory gaze upwards to the eternal spheres as the source of hope, light, love and help.

MedXLV:1 Dante’s neo-platonic thinking, taken from Boethius, Albertus Magnus and other sources, is revealed. God is nearest to his first creations, the starry spheres, and not limited in Space. The spirits will issue purified ‘to the starry spheres’.

MedXLVIII:1 Virgil recalls Dante to the eternal splendours of the circling Heavens.

MedLIII:1 Virgil again points Dante towards the eternal spheres.

MedLXVIII:1 Paradiso begins with a Neoplatonic statement: God is the prime mover, whose light permeates the universe to varying degrees. Dante has been in the highest Heaven nearest to God, who is the object of the intellect’s longing.

MedLXVIII:3 Beatrice explains the order and structure of the Universe centred on God in the timeless, motionless Empyrean. From there, Light and love flows down through the Primum Mobile the ninth and fastest moving of the spheres, through the Stellar Heavens to the seven planetary spheres, and eventually to Earth. The power emanating from the source is mediated by an Angelic presence wedded to each sphere that determines its virtues and motion.

MedLXIX:3 Beatrice explains and reinforces the concept of the flow of divine power downwards through the spheres, creating various forms and essences differing in quality not just quantity, mediated by the Cherubim and Angelic presences. The spheres ‘receive from above, and work downwards.’ The comparison is made with the human body empowered by its soul, and this is a key concept, ‘what is above that is below’. The human order of the individual mirrors the Divine order.

MedLXX:2 Piccarda confirms that the Moon is the slowest sphere in Paradise, being nearest Earth and furthest from the Empyrean. The heavens whirl faster as we ascend, while the Empyrean itself is paradoxically both the still circumference and the centre.

MedLXXV:2 Divine providence structures and controls the creation in its nature and its continuing welfare. This is achieved through the angelic intellects present in the planetary spheres. Since God and they are perfect then the results must be regular and not chaotic, art and not disorder. Dante expresses his belief in the completeness of this created Nature.

MedLXXX:1 Aquinas gives another emphasis of the Neo-Platonic hierarchy, Love and Light flowing down through the nine emanations, the moving spheres and their angelic presences, to stamp the wax and create transient things, varying in their qualities.

MedLXXXV:1 The universe is compared to a tree, with God as the crown of the tree, and each sphere below a layer of the canopy.

MedXCIV:2 Dante and Beatrice reach the Primum Mobile, the moving sphere from which all the other lower spheres derive their motion. Time begins there. It has its place, its where within the Divine Mind. Love and Light clasp it, Love moves it, and it disperses Divine Power downwards through the spheres.

MedXCV:1 Beatrice’s reconciliation of the heavenly spheres with the angelic orders, a spiritual equivalence. The Universe hangs from the central point of the Primum Mobile. God is both centre and circumference.

MedXCVII:1 The ranks of the blessed are arranged hierarchically, following the structure of Dante’s universe.


MedLXX:2 A major aspect of Dante’s thought process is his desire for order, shared with his Age and with the Renaissance that followed. His love of courtesy is one example of it. More important is his desire for a single authority in each of the Empire, and Church, with separated domains, temporal and spiritual respectively. His Neoplatonic leanings indicate this love of order, and so does the whole structure of the Commedia with its numeric patterns, formal echoes and meticulous construction. God is the source for him of ultimate order.

MedLXXV:2 Divine providence structures and controls the creation in its nature and its continuing welfare. This is achieved through the angelic intellects present in the planetary spheres. Since God and they are perfect then the results must be regular and not chaotic, art and not disorder. Dante expresses his belief in the completeness of this created Nature. Order would be best achieved in society by exploiting each man’s individual talents.

MedLXXVII:1 Dante stresses order, and reconciliation, in the sphere of the Sun, that of practical wisdom. He uses the clock, and the ‘dance’ of the months, as metaphors of order.

MedXCVIOrder and substance were created instantaneously in the form of the Angelic presences.

Original Sin

MedLXVIII:2 Adam lost the special gifts which were granted to humanity in the Earthly Paradise through his primal sin.

MedLXXIV:1 Adam condemned the race to exile as a result of his original sin in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His sin was an abuse of free will since he failed to restrain his will appropriately.

MedXCIII:2 The original sin lay in disobedience. Aquinas interpreted it as pride in desiring spiritual good beyond what was owed.

Papacy, The Church, Religion

MedI:2 The failings of the current papacy under Boniface at the time of the vision in 1300 are evident to Dante.

MedVI:1 He envisages a purified Papacy, freed from secular political involvement, with jurisdiction over spiritual affairs. Similarly he envisages a central political authority, the Empire, modeled on Imperial Rome, and uninvolved in Papal and spiritual matters.

MedVII:1 Dante singles out the Popes and Cardinals consumed by avarice. The papacy has denied the way of poverty and humility, and embraced the culture of ‘getting and spending’.

MedXIV:2 The Old Man of Crete represents the degeneracy of Empire and Papacy.

MedXV:1 An ironic reference to the corrupt Pope Boniface.

MedXIX:1 The simonists are an opportunity for Dante to expose Papal corruption and its erroneous role as a temporal power, severing its links with Rome.

MedXXVII:1 MedXXVII:2. Dante attacks Boniface and the corrupt Papacy via the story of Guido da Montefeltro, and the nonsense of prior absolution. The danger of the confusion of spiritual and temporal powers, and the contrasting approach of the radical Franciscans is hinted at.

MedXXXIV:1 Judas Iscariot, the arch-traitor, who gave up Christ to his enemies, is tormented eternally by Satan.

MedXL:3 Dante condemns the clergy for having usurped secular power, which should belong to the Emperor.

MedXLIII:2 The adamantine threshold of the gate of Purgatory signifies the rock of the Church.

MedL:1 Marco Lombardo condemns the corrupt Papacy, that has confused the temporal and spiritual spheres.

MedLIV:2 Dante uses Hugh Capet’s speech to condemn the French interference with and corruption of the Papacy, complicity in the death of Pope Boniface, and the attack on the Order of the Templars.

MedLXI:3 At the summit of the Mount, radical moral innocence is recovered, and the institutions of earth are superseded by Divine Philosophy. Empire and Church are therefore symbolically superseded by the freed, innocent spirit, with control over itself, and directed towards the good.

MedLXIII:1 The Divine Pageant represents the Church in glory.

MedLXIV:1 The Chariot of the Church is attended by symbols of Christianity, is drawn by Christ, and contains Beatrice who is Divine Philosophy. The Church is the Bride of Christ.

MedLXVI:1 Dante sees the relationship between Church and Empire and their history revealed in the symbolism of the Mystic Tree of Empire and the Chariot of the Church. The Church in its proper spiritual sphere enriches the Empire in its temporal sphere.

MedLXVI:2 Dante watches a symbolically enacted history of the Church and Empire. The Church is attacked, corrupted and divided, acquiring temporal power in a fatal confusion of the spiritual and earthly spheres. The vision culminates in the whorish mating of a French pope to the French court, and the transfer of the Papacy from its true home, Rome, to Avignon.

MedLXVII:1 Beatrice prophesies the coming of an Imperial saviour to cleanse the Church and Empire, and restore them to their respective roles. The French connection will be broken, and the Papacy restored to Rome.

MedLXXXIV:1 Dante blames the machinations of Boniface and the corrupt Papacy for his exile from Florence.

MedLXXXV:2 Dante asks God to turn His Mind to the corruption of the Papacy, its selling of indulgences, use of excommunication to wage war, and seduction by gold.

MedLXXXVIII:1 Peter Damian, supported by the spirits, condemns the excess of the contemporary Church, which has abandoned the simplicity and moderation of the early Fathers.

MedLXXXIX:1 Benedict condemns the contemporary laxity of his Order and the state of the Church.

MedXCIV:1 Saint Peter as the head of the Church condemns the corrupt Papacy.


MedI:2 Dante concatenates past and present, so that Virgil becomes contemporaneous. Christianity is the timeless sphere of the spirit where

all souls inhabit the same Moment.

MedII:1 Part of the Triplicity of Time which the ‘copyist’ will capture in the DC.


MedXXXVII:2 The final state which the spirits in Purgatory wait for and desire. The end of purgation.

MedXLV:1 An act of grace, otherwise unachievable by the limited human intellect.

MedLXII:2 The Earthly Paradise was prepared by God as a place of peace.

MedLXXIII:1 Peace was declared by Augustus, as master of the Empire to the remotest ends of Egypt when the gates of the Temple of Janus were closed for the third time in Roman history. Dante takes that as a symbol of the peace he hopes for in Italy and the wider Empire.

Penitence, Repentance, Purgation, Absolution

MedXIV:2 The penitence performed on the Mount of Purgatory absolves the spirits of their sins.

MedXXVII:2 Absolution requires repentance, which in turn takes place after the deed repented of, since a thing cannot be both willed and repented of simultaneously.

MedXXXV:1 Dante declares the task of the Purgatorio, a description of the realm where the human spirit is purged of sin.

MedXXXVII:2 To end life in repentance is to have ended well, according to Virgil, as he speaks to the excommunicated but repentant spirits in Purgatory. It indicates that ultimately the soul will find peace which is the goal of purgation.

MedXXXVII:3 The excommunicated but repentant spirits must spend thirty times their lifetime in Purgatory unless the prayers of the living intercede for them and reduce the duration. God’s love and pardon and ultimate peace are not denied the excommunicated so long as there is repentance.

MedXXXVIII:2 The late-repentant must spend a time equal to their lifetime prior to repentance before they can enter Purgatory proper. Purgation requires effort, willpower, steadfastness. The descent to Hell is easy but Purgatory is an ascent.

MedXXXIX:1 God fills the penitents with desire to see Him. They chant the Miserere, Psalm 51, a psalm of repentance.

MedXXXIX:2 Buonconte calls on the Virgin in dying, and crosses his arms on his chest indicating his repentance.

MedXLIII:1 The Eagle in Dante’s dream is symbolic of regeneration and of Rome and Imperial law, therefore of the purgation of lust from himself and from the world.

MedXLIII:2 The Gate of Purgatory symbolises the stages of Penance.

MedXLIV:2 The burden of purgation is a debt to be paid which though it involves suffering cannot last beyond the Day of Judgement.

MedXLV:1 Justice is tempered by penitence.

MedLIII:2 There is perhaps a hint in the words of Adrian V that the absence of a failing speeds one through the respective terrace of the Mount.

MedLXIV:1 Dante must confess to Beatrice, demonstrate his penitence and receive her forgiveness, before he can enter the Earthly Paradise of innocence regained.

MedLXV:1 Dante undergoes the sacrament with Beatrice as confessor, the three stages of penitence, confession and forgiveness.


MedXXXVI:2 Dante’s reference to his own poem, annotated in the Convivio, indicates that in Purgatory the free will may utilise the intellect via philosophy to achieve knowledge of the Divine. Philosophy mediates between the Divine truth and the material world. It is personified in Lady Philosophy who represents Human Philosophy and is superseded by Beatrice, who is Divine Philosophy, in the Commedia. It enables the intellect to control desire and learn from suffering. Dante came to philosophy after Beatrice’s death, reading Boethius and Cicero, and attending the Franciscan and Dominican schools so that ‘that love drove out and destroyed all other thoughts.’ The ‘Lady’ of Courtly Love was replaced by the inspiring memory of Beatrice, and the love of Lady Philosophy.

MedXXXVII:1 Human Philosphy is inadequate. Though Dante had transcended the ideas of Courtly Love with its sensual, worldly ethos, and gone on to a spiritualised Human Love, linked to the rational mind, and to Lady Philosophy a personification of Human Philosophy, he must now go a stage further and reach Beatrice who is Divine Love and Philosophy, and a pointer towards the source of Divine Love which is a stage for Dante beyond her, where her own presence is no longer actively necessary.

MedXXXVIII:1 A discourse on the unity of the soul, correcting Plato’s error. If the soul were not unified we would not be so focused on a thought as to lose track of time. Purgatorio shows an increasing interest in topics of human reason, as Dante progresses in understanding towards Divine knowledge.

MedXL:2 Human philosophy as evidenced in the Classics is limited. Beatrice represents Divine Philosophy, the authority on matters of religion.

MedXLII:2 Nino de’ Visconti subscribes to the view that female love is fickle, and physical rather than intellectual. This derives from Virgil and others, and shows the limitations of a rigid tradition.

MedLIX:1 Statius explains the origin of the individual, unified, soul. After death it retains intellect, memory and will, and around it a ‘shadow’ or ‘shade’ is manifested that reflects its desires and affections. Dante rejects the Averroist view that the intellect is a temporary offshoot of the universal intellect and returns to it immediately on death, and that the intellect is not located in the physical organs. The intellect as the unified soul is located in the brain, and the unified soul retains intellectual identity after death. The intellect is ‘breathed into’ the brain by God.

MedLXI:2 There are two paths to the good, that of the active and that of the contemplative life, symbolised by Leah and Rachel (or Martha and Mary). Convivio celebrates the supremacy of the contemplative life, but here Dante balances the two. Note that Beatrice, as a symbol of Divine Philosophy, sits with Rachel in Heaven.

MedLXI:3 Virgil’s last speech sends Dante onwards, beyond his own knowledge, into the beatitude of the Earthly Paradise. Earthly philosophy must now be taken up into, and expanded by, Divine Philosophy.

MedLXVIII:2 According to Aristotle’s philosophy, God causes the eternal movement of the celestial spheres through the love and longing he inspires in the universe.

MedLXX:1 Beatrice satisfies his questioning using philosophical method. Proof by refutation of alternatives.

MedLXXI:1 Dante follows Aristotle’s theory of the dual will, an absolute will that does not consent to evil coupled with a practical will that chooses the lesser of two evils. The former may remain intent on its goal, while the latter compromises, and that is a failing. See Aristotle’s Ethics III, where the example of Alcmaeon is also mentioned. Inasmuch as the practical will allows violence to succeed, it aids and abets it, and is culpable. The absolute will may continue though to adhere to its ideal, which was the case with Constance, according to Piccarda.

MedLXXIII:1 Dante refers to Aristotelian logic, where the propositions that this is so, and this is not so, cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. Related propositions are termed contradictories e.g. if ‘some swans are not white’ is true, then ‘all swans are white’ is false, since a black swan would be white, and not white, if both statements were true simultaneously.

MedLXXV:2 Dante employs Aristotle’s argument that human society requires varied conditions and qualifications amongst its members. In the Politics he shows that the individual is not self-sufficient but a part of a whole, and a State is a group of citizens providing all the necessary variety for a complete life. Functions and duties are distributed so that the State can be self-sufficient where the individual is not.

MedLXXVII:1 Dante groups together a number of philosophers and theologians who attempted to reconcile or deploy pagan philosophy, predominantly Aristotle, in the service of Christian thought. Interestingly Dante brings Sigier together with Aquineas, in the spirit of reconciliation, and perhaps acknowledging Sigier’s deference to faith above rational dispute and the syllogistic method where there was conflict.

MedLXXX:1 Examples of logical and philosophic issues: limitation in a premise limits the conclusion: the need for a first mover. Aquinas gives examples of philosophers who reasoned falsely (from Aristotle), Parmenides, Melissus, Bryson.

MedLXXXVII:1 Dante refers to the concept of quiddity (the whatness of a thing) as opposed to its name. One can recognise the name without fully understanding the reality.

MedXCI:1 References to Aquinas on substance and quality, Aristotle on the Prime Mover, Aquinas on the existence of God.

MedXCV:1 Reference to Aristotle (Metaphysics xxx) on the Prime Mover, and the unified but dimensionless point from which the Universe hangs.

MedXCVIThe lower creatures and matter are potential, and the material heavens and human beings are a binding together of act and potential. So human intellect can know in actuality things which it did not know, that is knew potentially: and create what it has not created.

Pity, Compassion, Intercession, Mercy

MedI:4 A major dimension of Dante’s response to Hell. Faith, Hope and Pity align with Paradise, Purgatory and Hell.

MedII:1 A keynote of the journey through Hell. Pity not embodied in the structure of the Inferno, but the response of the Individual to it.

MedII:3 Beatrice has compassion on Dante, inspired by the Virgin and Lucia.

MedIV:1 Virgil indicates that Hell creats pity within him. Pity and Mercy are not embodied in the structure of Hell itself, but in the response of Virgil and Dante to it. Divine Justice is implacable and merciless.

MedV:2 The Paolo and Francesca episode allows Dante to show Pity as an appropriate human response to the punishment of a natural human impulse towards Love, but indulged in without the proper constraints of the intellect, and therefore ultimately a misuse of freewill. Dante faints out of pity, revealing the conflict within himself that he requires to resolve and transcend.

MedXIII:1 Dante feels Pity at the prompting of Piero Delle Vigne in the Wood of Suicides.

MedXV:1 His meeting with Brunetto evokes an empathetic response, and a wistful parting. Here is one who should have been a spiritual winner.

MedXVI:1 Further pity for the fate of worthy men who were flawed by sodomy. And a hint perhaps of Dante’s own weaknesses of the flesh.

MedXX:1 Dante shows pity again, and is rebuked by Virgil. Is there a conflict here that Dante wishes to show between the orthodox line and innate Christian compassion, between the law and the individual response?

MedXXVI:1 Dante feels sadness, past and present, at the spectacle of noble spirits like Ulysses and Guido da Montefeltro consumed by flames.

MedXXIX:1 Dante weeps with pity at the sights of the wounded spirits in the ninth chasm of the Eighth Circle. He also pities his own relative Geri de Bello still lost in the desire for his death in a blood feud to be avenged.

MedXXIX:2 Dante again feels pity, at the sicknesses of the tenth chasm.

MedXXXIII:1 Ugolino challenges Dante (and ourselves) not to feel Pity at the torment of the innocent children. Even in this deepest circle of Hell, the Christian response is called for.

MedXXXV:2 On leaving Hell Dante is still stained with the tears of Pity which Virgil cleanses from his face.

MedXL:3 Dante calls on the Emperor Albert to take pity on Italy.

MedXLIII:2 Dante asks pity of the Angel at the Gate of Purgatory, to allow him entrance.

MedXLIV:1 Trajan and the widow, an example of Imperial justice and pity.

MedXLVII:1 Dante is moved to pity at the sight of the envious doing penance, their eyes sealed with wire.

MedXLVIII:1 Guido del Duca invokes Dante’s compassion.

MedLXIII:1 Indicated by the colour red, and normally leading the three theological virtues.

MedLXIV:1 Beatrice pities Dante’s state of mind, and the Angels show compassion for the shame she invokes in him for his past life.

MedLXXIV:1 God as an act of love mercy and justice sent Christ, his Word, his messenger, to Earth, taking on human nature with the divine nature, since only by Himself incurring punishment through the Crucifixion could reparation be made for original sin, that reparation being beyond Man’s power alone.


MedI:4 Dante links to the poetry of the past, by taking Virgil as his spirit-guide. He proclaims himself thereby an heir to the Classical poets. Two poets can undertake the journey that one alone cannot. The Tradition is alive in him. Virgil is his author and his master, a fountain of poetic art.

MedIV:3 Dante meets the great Classical poets in Limbo and is accepted into their circle. He is next in chronological line after Lucan in terms of those mentioned by name, no other poet is worthy of mention in the intervening 1200 or so years.

MedXXVIII:1 Bertrand de Born, one of the greatest of the troubadour


MedXL:3 Dante is inspired by Sordello’s famous Provençal lament for Blacatz to a prolonged invective against the current state of Italy.

MedXLV:2 A reference to the order of poets in Italy. Guido Cavalcanti superseded Guido Guinicelli, and Dante both of them.

MedLVI:2 Dante listens to Virgil and Statius conversing about poetry.

MedLVIII:1 Forese points out Bonagiunta of Lucca, one of the poets whose style was superseded by the dolci stil nuovo, the new sweet style.

MedLVIII:2 The heart of the dolce stil nuovo, created by Guido Cavalcanti and Dante, developing the work of Guido Guinicell, was that Love itself dictated to the poets and inspired their words, rather than mere literary desire or ambition.

MedLX:1 Dante effectively traces the poetic past from Giraut de Borneil and Arnaut Daniel, the Troubadors, through Fra Guittone and the Sicilian School, to Guido Guinicelli and the philosophic poetry that led to the dolce stil nuovo. These are the schools of (ultimately erroneous) love poetry, transcended by Dante’s own spiritual poetry of Divine Love. Despite the praise given to minor talents the truth will out, Dante asserts, and the greater poets in the tradition will be acclaimed.

MedLXIII:1 Dante invokes the Muses, patronesses of poetry and literature, and Urania mother of Linus the poet in particular. He has previously invoked them in Inferno II, Inferno XXXII, and Purgatorio I, where he invoked in particular Calliope, mother of Orpheus the poet, who in Ovid’s Metamorphoses sings the story of Persephone and Dis.

MedLXV:2 The power of those who have ‘grown pale in the shadow of Parnassus’, the Muse’s mountain, i.e. the poets, is insufficient to describe Beatrice’s beauty.

MedLXVIII:1 Dante invokes Apollo, symbolically equated to Christ, and God of poetry. The reason that there are so few great poets is in Dante’s eyes due to a failure of will. It is significant that the Paradiso ends with the energising of Dante’s will (to write the Commedia).

MedLXXV:1 Charles Martel refers to Dante’s opening line of the first canzone of the Convivio: ‘Voi che intendendo il terzo ciel movete: You who by understanding move the third circle’

MedLXXXV:2 Dante calls on the Muse for poetic inspiration, who glorifies the intellect, cities and countries and gives them enduring life.


MedIII:1 God’s Power with Love and Wisdom shaped the Gates of Hell and Hell itself.


MedXXXVII:3 The prayers, for them, of the living can reduce the time that the spirits spend in Purgatory.

MedXL:2 Virgil explains that prayer was ineffective in the Pagan world. But that Christian prayer, showing Love of the departed, can discharge the debt of sin, and speed purgation.

MedXLIV:1 Pope Gregory’s intercession by prayer on behalf of Trajan so that he might have time for repentance.

MedXLV:1 The Proud spirits pray that the living be protected from sin though they themselves are beyond it. Dante suggests that prayer for them to speed their progress is the proper reciprocation.

MedXLVII:2 The power of prayer to intercede on behalf of Sapia.

MedL:1 Marco Lombardo asks Dante to pray for him when Dante ascends.

MedLVII:2 The prayers of Forese Donati’s wife Nella have speeded his passage through Purgatory.

MedLXXXI:2 Dante prays to God on entering the sphere of Mars.

MedLXXXVII:1 Prayer does not alter God’s intent but fulfils it, since God wishes to be swayed by prayer, and responds with grace and kindness.

MedC:1 Bernard’s prayer to the Virgin is on Dante’s behalf, and therefore a loving act. The prayer touches on the incarnation and redemption, the hope of salvation, the end of Dante’s mission, the grace he needs to achieve it and be true to it, the sympathy of the blessed, and Bernard’s own praise and devotion.


MedII:1 Part of the Triplicity of Time which the ‘copyist’ will capture in the DC.


MedI:1 The lion as a symbol of the Pride which is one of Dante’s failings and which will be referenced later.

MedII:1 Dante’s innate sense of poetic and political pride, contrasted with his spiritual humility as Christian and lover.

MedIV:2 Dante, with some false modesty apparent, is accepted into the ranks of the great poets. He is aware already of his own worth and ability. Justified Pride struggles with necessary humility.

MedVI:1 Highlighted by Ciacco as a root of the political evils in Florence.

MedVII:1 The Archangel Michael is referred to, and his fight against Satan who fell through the sin of Pride.

MedVIII:2 After the arrogant Filippo Argenti, we find the Fallen Angels, followers of Satan who fell for the sin of Pride.

MedIX:1 Medusa signifies obduracy a facet of pride that stifles conscience and delays repentance.

MedX:1 Farinata, as an example of traditional Florentine aristocratic pride.

His sin was that of the intellect, free-thinking Epicureanism, leading to the denial of the immortality of the soul.

MedXIV:1 Capaneus as an example of pride, and ‘violence’ against God.

MedXVI:2 Florentine pride and excess is condemned. The new men and the sudden wealth have brought it about.

MedXXV:1 Vanni Fucci, the Pistoian, surpasses even Farinata and Capaneus in pride and arrogance. Pride is not punished in one specific place in the Inferno, but, as Lucifer’s great sin, is visible throughout.

MedXXXI:1 The Giants, and Ephialtes in particular, represent pride, having attacked the heavens.

MedXXXVIII:1 Dante begins to display his learning in Purgatory. While he appears to learn, there are also traces of that intellectual pride which he must transcend in order to progress.

MedXXXIX:1 Virgil tells Dante to avoid the crowd, in a proud statement, which makes Dante ashamed. Christian humility clearly does not imply swaying with the currents of the populace. The tension between pride and humility is interesting in Dante, as the innately proud man bows to his Master, to Beatrice, and to God.

MedXL:3 The proud, self-absorbed Sordello becomes a temporary guide.

MedXLIV:2 The sin of Pride, a perverted love or desire, like envy and anger, directed against others, is purged on the first terrace of the Mount of Purgatory. Pride is a weakness of Dante himself. The proud are burdened with stones, and the cornice is carved with examples of Humility.

MedXLV:2 Dante attacks the sin of artistic pride, and highlights the transience of fame, while ensuring his own position in the order of poets!

MedXLVI:1 The pavement shows many examples of pride alternating between sacred and classical sources.

MedLI:3 A sin arising from a wrong objective of rational Love. Related to Envy and Anger. An error in relationship in the presence of others, it is divisive of community. It wishes the reduction of others.

MedLIX:2 As Dante’s major failing of pride links Purgatory’s first terrace to the Inferno, so his purging of his major failing of Lust links the last terrace to Beatrice and Paradiso.

MedLXVIII:1 A flash of pride in his own poetic abilities escapes the net, even in Paradise!! It is quickly followed by a humble corrective statement.

MedLXXX:1 Aquinas warns against intellectual pride and false reasoning.

MedLXXXII:2 Dante’s great-grandfather Alighiero is in Purgatory on the first terrace of Pride, clearly a family trait!

MedLXXXIII:1 In talking of the Florentine families, pride is stressed. The Uberti including Farinata, and the Adimari who included Filippo Argenti, both of whom we met in the Inferno, displaying proud traits. Cacciaguida was also born under Leo the sign of pride.

MedXCVI Satan fell through pride. The other angels remained humble.

Prophecy, Prediction

MedI:3 Virgil prophesies the coming of a Greyhound (possibly Can Grande della Scala) who will banish Avarice from the world. This is the first of a number of expressions of Dante’s desire and hope for a saviour of Italy.

MedIV:2 Dante uses prophecy in both a vague sense, for example the prophecy of an unspecified future saviour of Italy, and a specific sense in pretending to ‘predict’ real events after April 1300 that he already has knowledge of.

MedVI:1 Ciacco’s prophecy highlights the political divisions in Florence, between Blacks and Whites, broadly the parties of Papacy and Empire, and points to Dante’s own exile.

MedX:1 Farinata predicts Dante’s imminent exile in 1302, finalised in 1304.

MedX:2 Dante’s slip of the tongue ‘predicts’ Guido Cavalcanti’s imminent death in August 1300.

MedX:3 Farinata explains the nature of the prophetic abilities of the souls in Hell, they can see distant events but not current ones. Their ability will cease when earthly time ceases at the Last Judgment, and futurity is no more.

MedXV:1 Brunetto prophesies the Florentines’ enmity towards Dante.

MedXIX:1 Pope Nicholas III anticipates the arrival of Boniface (1303) and Clement (1314) in Hell.

MedXXIV:1 Vanni Fucci prophesies the defeat of the Whites outside Pistoia in 1306.

MedXXVI:1 Dante, as narrator, prophesies the future punishment of Florence for its sinfulness, and links himself indirectly to Elijah and Elisha, true Biblical prophets, thus further authenticating his journey.

MedXXVIII:1 Mahomet and Pier della Medecina make minor prophecies.

MedXXXII:1 Camicion anticipates the arrival of Carlino in the Ninth Circle.

MedXXXVII:3 How orthodox and acceptable was Dante’s use of prophecy in the Commedia, even though it is often merely a literary device? Prophecy along with astrology was certainly condemned by the Early Church.

MedXLII:4 Conrad Malaspina prophesies Dante’s being hosted by the Malaspini in Valdimagra in 1306.

MedXLIII:1 The dream of the eagle is tentatively (‘almost’) prophetic of the purging of Dante’s lust and the regenertation of the world through Roman law and justice.

MedXLV:2 The illuminator Gubbio prophesies Dante’s need to beg for hospitality in exile.

MedXLVIII:1 Guido del Duca prophesies Fulcieri da Calboli’s ravages of the Florentine Whites in 1303.

MedL:1 Dante’s assertion of free will despite divine stellar influence follows the teachings of the Church against prophecy using astrology.

MedLII:2 Gherardo, Abbot of San Zeno, prophesies the shameful behaviour, in that post, of Guiseppe della Scala.

MedLIV:1 Dante again expresses (a disillusioned?) hope for a saviour of Italy who will banish Avarice. Perhaps here associated with the Emperor Henry VII and his failed attempt to win Italy (elected 1308, died1313).

MedLIV:2 Hugh Capet’s prophecies concerning his own Capetian line of rulers: the Flemish revenge at Courtrai in 1302 for the treachery of Philip IV: Charles de Valois’s entry into Florence in 1301: Charles the Lame’s ‘sale’ of his daugher in 1305: Philip IV’s attack on the Papal wealth through engineering the death of Boniface in 1303, and his subsequent attack on the Order of the Templars coveting their wealth from 1307.

MedLV:1 MedLVI:1 Virgil was treated as a prophet in the Middle Ages, the fourth Eclogue being treated as presaging the Incarnation.

MedLVII:2 Forese Donati prophesies an imminent decree against the immodesty of the Florentine women.

MedLVIII:2 Bonagiunta prophesies, in contrast, Dante’s meeting with the virtuous Gentucca of Lucca, who will give him patronage in 1314-1316.

MedLVIII:2 Forese prophesies the death of Corso Donati, his brother in 1308.

MedLXVII:1 Beatrice prophesies the coming of an Imperial saviour. This echoes Virgil’s prophecy in Inferno I, and anticipates that of Saint Peter in Paradiso.

MedLXVIII:1 Dante invokes Apollo, significantly the god of prophecy.

MedLXXVI:1 Cunizza da Romano prophesies Folco’s fame and a number of incidents related to Can Grande and his territories near Verona.

MedLXXIX:1 Bonaventura relates the prophetic dreams associated with the birth of Saint Dominic. Dante endorses Joachim of Flora’s prophetic spirit.

MedLXXXII:1 Cacciaguida implicitly prophesies Dante’s return to Heaven after death.

MedLXXXIV:1 Cacciaguida prophesies Dante’s exile, the patronage of the della Scala’s, the virtues of Can Grande, and Clement’s betrayal of Henry of Luxembourg, Henry VII. He also prophesies Dante’s future fame.

MedLXXXIX:1 Beatrice vaguely prophesies retribution on the corrupt Papacy in Dante’s lifetime.


MedLXXVII:1 The cardinal virtue of practical wisdom. Dante treats it as indicating also order and reconciliation, and sees it embodied in the work of great theologians who reconciled philosophy and theology, and in the founders of monastic orders.


MedIII:2 Dante fits the punishment to the crime in the Commedia, crime being punished eternally in Hell, and expiated in Purgatory. This can create a strange effect to modern eyes. He is oriented towards imaginative parallels rather than a strict grading of degrees of torment and pain relative to the crimes. His grading is intellectual, based on the concepts of free will and the distinctions between incontinence, violence and fraud.

MedIV:1 The emphasis is often on physical torment, but those in Limbo seem to suffer mental torment worse than many lower down by having to live in desire without hope.

MedXXXVII:1 The insubstantial bodies of the spirits though casting no shadow are capable of undergoing punishment and suffering.

MedLV:2 Divine Justice creates the desire for punishment in Purgatory, where previously there was desire for sin, until the soul is purged, and the will then feels free to progress and is empowered to do so.

MedLIX:1 Statius explains the origin of the individual, unified, soul. After death it retains intellect, memory and will, and around it a ‘shadow’ or ‘shade’ is manifested that reflects its desires and affections. It can therefore feel and suffer, and undergo punishment and purgation.

MedLXXIV:1 God as an act of love mercy and justice sent Christ, his Word, his messenger, to Earth, taking on human nature with the divine nature, since only by Himself incurring punishment through the Crucifixion could reparation be made for original sin, that reparation being beyond Man’s power alone.

Recognition, Remembrance, Prayer for the Dead

MedVI:1 Ciacco is the first of the spirits Dante meets who asks to be recalled to others in the world above. The spirits will request remembrance, and intercession through prayer, for the transmission of messages, and for news etc.

MedXIII:1 Piero Delle Vigne asks for the memory of him to be renewed.

MedXXVII:1 Guido da Montefeltro is one of many spirits who ask about the state of their homeland. Here it is the Romagna.

MedXXVIII:1 Pier della Medecina and Mosca ask to be remembered. Bertrand de Born expects Dante to carry news of him to the world above.

MedXXXI:1 Virgil reminds Antaeus that Dante can renew his memory on earth.

MedXXXII:2 Dante offers Bocca and Ugolino recognition above. Bocca refuses in his hostility, but his identity is betrayed. Ugolino accepts in order to complain of injustice.

MedXXXVII:3 The spirit of Manfred seeks recognition, and intercession by his daughter Costanza’s prayers.

MedXXXIX:1 The crowd of penitent spirits seek recognition, and for news of them to be carried to the other side.

MedXLII:2 Nino de’ Visconti asks to be remembered to his daughter Giovanna so that her prayers might intercede for him. His wife Beatrice has forgotten him.

MedXLVII:2 Sapia wishes to be remembered among the Sienese.

MedLIII:2 Pope Adrian V wishes to be remembered to his niece Alagia.

MedLVII:2 Dante recognises his friend Forese Donati, by his voice alone.

MedLVIII:2 Bonagiunta recognises Dante as the author of the first canzone of the Vita Nuova, and a proponent of the dolce stil nuovo.

MedLXIV:1 Dante recognises Beatrice, in an emotionally profound moment of revelation, as she appeared at the time when he last saw her (see the Vita Nuova).

MedLXX:2 Dante recognises Piccarda ultimately, she being transformed to greater beauty by her blessedness.


MedI:2 The revelatory rather than mystical nature of the Divine Comedy. Dante’s task is to show reality, rather than invent. The Divine Comedy is a commentary on the Truth rather than an experiment in thinking. It is poetically but not intellectually creative. Its creativity is structural, an unfolding, a gothic cathedral, ornamented, solidified.

MedLXIV:1 Beatrice appears in a moment of revelation. Her advent is symbolised by the presence of Saint John the Divine in the procession of the Divine Pageant. There is an echo, since Dante has mentioned Ceres and Persephone, of the great Eleusinian ritual of the Mysteries, where the eternal resurrection of the earth was revealed to the initiate through symbolic representations of things seen, things heard and things done. Dante regains his transformed Beatrice, as Demeter-Ceres regained Persephone-Proserpine.

MedLXVI:1 The purified Dante is ready to understand revelations concerning Church and Empire.

Rome, The Romans, The Empire

MedI:3 As the model for Empire ruled by law, controlling the temporal world but without sway over the spiritual.

MedII:1 One of the three cities, Florence, Rome, and the City of God reflecting the personal, political, and spiritual life of Dante.

MedIV:2 Dante cites examples from the Roman and Christian past to set himself also in the line of Aeneas and Paul and assert continuity.

MedIV:3 He sees the Roman (and Trojan) heros and heroines in Limbo.

Again asserting the importance of Rome and the Imperial Past. Roman history is the result of Divine providence. The events of that history are evidence of God’s intervention in human destiny as the events of the Old Testament are. The Roman Empire, ruling the known world, creates the conditions for the Advent and Crucifixion of Christ, an event in history divinely ordained to make atonement, and redeem the human race.

MedXIV:2 Rome is the natural heir of Crete and Troy (via Teucer and Aeneas) but now represents the degeneracy of Empire and Papacy. (The Old Man of Crete)

MedXV:1 Dante has revived the spirit of the ancient Roman seed of Florence in his support for a reformed Empire in the Roman style.

MedXIX:1 Dante’s theme again of a desired temporal Empire and spiritual Papacy, reviving ancient Rome’s virtue and the Early Roman Church of Saint Peter. Virgil is pleased by the diatribe against the Papacy.

MedXXXI:1 Scipio cited as a champion of Rome when under attack, in his defeat of Hannibal and Carthage at Zama. Hercules is indirectly celebrated as a saviour of Evander and protector of the site of ancient Rome, Dante deriving this view of Hercules from Virgil’s Aeneid Book VIII (108 et al). This explains the use of Geryon, Cacus and Antaeus as figures in the Inferno.

MedXL:3 Dante regards Rome as ‘widowed’ from the Empire, due to the neglect of the Hapsburg Emperor Albert.

MedXLIII:1 The Eagle in Dante’s dream is symbolic of regeneration and of Rome and Imperial law.

MedXLIII:2 The Gate of Purgatory opens to the treasury of the spirit, as the gate Metellus clung to guarded the Roman treasury.

MedXLIV:1 Dante constantly emphasises the divinely ordered nature of Roman history as the matrix of Christianity.

MedLXIV:1 The quotation of Virgil’s passage regarding Ascanius links Roman and Christian history, and the advent of Christ and the Imperial succession, both historically necessary and inevitable in his view.

MedLXVI:2 Dante watches a symbolically enacted history of the Church and Empire. The Church is attacked, corrupted and divided, acquiring temporal power in a fatal confusion of the spiritual and earthly spheres. The vision culminates in the whorish mating of a French pope to the French court, and the transfer of the Papacy from its true home, Rome, to Avignon.

MedLXXXII:1 The references to Aeneas and Anchises tie in the Trojan and Roman history to Christian history, and Dante’s role to that of Aeneas.

MedXCVIII:1 The ancient barbarians amazed by seeing Rome’s palaces.