by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Theme of Art and Culture
The act of creation in Paradiso is seen as a work of art. Artistic pieces—like the Cross, Eagle, Rose, music of the spheres, and the universe itself—are meticulously crafted and ordered, each piece rife with meaning. God, according to Dante, is the ultimate artist, and can create beings almost as perfect and eternal as Himself.
Any other act of creation (like those of the created powers—the Angelic Intelligences) pales in comparison. All art in Paradiso celebrates the Christian God. The most frequently recurring image is that of multiple individual souls singing in unison to form a single song full of rich harmonies.
Questions About Art and Culture
- How can God be seen as an artist? What are God's creations? How are they superior to the crafts of his "created powers"?
- What characteristics do the various works of art in Paradiso have in common? Consider the Cross, the Eagle, the Celestial Rose, and the songs sung by the souls works of art.
- How do the hymns sung by the souls and the images the souls make out of their bodies show their unity in their love for God while simultaneously allowing each soul to maintain his individual identity?
- How does Dante reference both the Classical and Christian traditions when writing his poem? Pay particular attention to his epic similes.
Chew on This
For the souls in Paradise, art – especially visual images and music – represent a way of expressing their individual identities while still maintaining their unified love for God.
Art in Paradiso carries much the same function as it does in Purgatorio – to teach Christian lessons, but in Heaven art also serves to celebrate God.