by Dante Alighieri
Inferno Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
The time was the beginning of the morning;
the sun was rising now in fellowship
with the same stars that had escorted it
when Divine Love first moved those things of beauty;
so that the hour and the gentle season
gave me good cause for hopefulness on seeing
that beast before me with his speckled skin; (Inf. I, 37-43)
Appropriately, Dante’s description of the coming dawn coincides with his reference to Creation. The "Divine Love" alludes to God’s supreme tenderness and devotion in fashioning all the creatures of the earth. And the "things of beauty" refer to the celestial bodies – the sun and stars – that bring light to the universe. With the Genesis comes the dawn of mankind. To further illustrate the birth metaphor, Dante begins his story in the "gentle season," the springtime. Of course, with the sunlight, crafted from God’s all-encompassing love, Dante feels a resurgence of hope, even before the fearsome maw of the lion.
[Virgil quoting Beatrice]: "‘For I am Beatrice who send you on;
I come from where I most long to return;
Love prompted me, that Love which makes me speak." (Inf. II, 70-72)
Here, love is like an actual person – given the privilege of capitalized letters and occupying the space of an agent which can urge Beatrice to act in certain ways. This reinforces the concept of love as a moving force, introduced with the concept of God creating the entire universe out of the sheer force of love.
THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE SUFFERING CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST.
JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER;
MY MAKER WAS DIVINE AUTHORITY,
THE HIGHEST WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE.
These words – their aspect was obscure – I read
inscribed above a gateway… (Inf. III, 1-11)
Although it seems counterintuitive, Hell is created out of "the primal love" (or, in other words, God). That a place of such suffering, a realm which urges all souls to "abandon every hope" upon entering, can have a function that stems from love seems absurd. Indeed, Dante’s depiction of the sinners often challenges this assumption. He does not easily accept that an all-loving God would create such excruciating punishments for his favored children.