| Quote #4
[Folco of Marseille to Dante]: Your city, which was planted by that one
Folco accuses the Florentine "Church Fathers" of studying incorrectly. Like the rest of the corrupt Florentine population, they suffer from the sin of pride. They study "only the Decretals" (Church decrees which they themselves created) and ignore the true Scripture from which they can learn, "the Gospel" and Nazareth (Christ himself).
| Quote #5
[St. Thomas to Dante]: "Take what I said with this distinction then;
St. Thomas warns Dante, "Slow your steps…to yes or no when you do not see clearly." This is a warning not to jump to conclusions when one doesn't fully understand a given topic. Since St. Thomas appears in the sphere of the sun, where the wise souls gather, it makes sense that he urges Dante to make sure he can distinguish things properly in his mind before forming an opinion. Otherwise, "he who decides without distinguishing / must be among the most obtuse of men." Uninformed and hasty opinion – to St. Thomas – is the most ignorant of all things.
| Quote #6
[The Eagle]: "He who gleams in the center, my eye's pupil –
Here, the Eagle gives six examples of former sinners who learned to reform and are now in the sixth sphere of Heaven. Appropriately, these six souls form the eye of the Eagle, emphasizing the importance of vision in the act of learning. Their education is emphasized here in the repeated "now he has learned" at the beginning of several lines – a literary technique called an anaphora.
The first soul, king David, in penning the Psalms, used his free will to accept God's inspiration, instead of acting as a passive instrument.
Second, he "who comforted the widow for her son" is the Roman emperor Trajan, who learned humility by delaying his journey to right an injustice done to an old woman. But Trajan's true education came in death; he died a pagan but realized his mistake and, for his faith, was allowed to come back into his body, to die again – this time as a converted Christian.
The third soul, who "delayed his death through truthful penitence," was Hezekiah. He repented for his sinful life when the prophet Isaiah told him he would die; he cried and prayed to God, who mercifully granted him fifteen more years of life.
The fourth ruler is Constantine, "whose good intention," the Donation of Constantine (to Pope Sylvester) "bore evil fruit," because the Church abused that money, becoming greedy. But on seeing himself in Heaven upon death, Constantine has learned that further evils were not his fault. Similarly, "William [II of Hauteville]" was a good king but cannot be blamed for the misrule (of Charles of Anjou) under which his lands now suffer.
Finally, the sixth soul, Ripheus – who died before Christ came – was still put in Heaven thanks to his virtuous deeds so he has learned that nobody should dare presume to know the mind of God.