by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Education Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
"You are so near the final blessedness,"
so Beatrice began, "that you have need
of vision clear and keen; and thus, before
you enter farther, do look downward, see
what I have set beneath your feet already:
much of the world is there. If you see that,
your heart may then present itself with all
the joy it can to the triumphant throng
that comes in gladness through this ether's rounds."
My eyes returned through all the seven spheres
and saw this globe in such a way that I
smiled at its scrawny image: I approve
that judgment as the best, which holds this earth
to be the least; and he whose thoughts are set
elsewhere, can truly be called virtuous.
The little threshing floor
that so incites our savagery was all –
from hills to river mouths – revealed to me
while I wheeled with eternal Gemini. (Par. XXII, 124-153)
Again, the importance of perspective to a good education is highlighted. Because he is about to enter a high threshold in Heaven, Dante is directed to look down and see Earth for its true significance. The difference between Dante and the earthbound reader is apparent. Dante's perspective is in a higher position (literally and figuratively) because he is located in the heavens and can see Earth for how unimportant it is, how small. Only when he sees how truly tiny Earth is in comparison to God's cosmos is Dante ready to move on.
[St. Peter]: …"That Grace which – lovingly –
directs your mind, until this point has taught
you how to find the seemly words, for thought,
so that I do approve what you brought forth;" (Par. XXIV, 118-121)
St. Peter shows Dante that part of being truly learned is learning to speak well, to "find … seemly words." For our poet, of course, this is not a problem.
And just as a sharp light will startle us
from sleep because of the spirit of eyesight
races to meet the brightness that proceeds
from layer to layer in the eye, and he
who wakens is confused by what he sees,
awaking suddenly, and knows no thing
until his judgment helps him; even so
did Beatrice dispel, with her eyes' rays,
which shone more than a thousand miles, the chaff
from my eyes: I saw better than I had
before: (Par. XXVI, 70-80)
This passage shows that vision is not the only element that helps one learn. When Dante's sight is suddenly restored to him after temporary blindness during his examination on charity, his vision alone does not orient him. Instead, Dante claims that one "knows no thing / until his judgment helps him." Indeed, this brings Dante's lesson from canto XIII back into play. There, St. Thomas taught Dante not to judge too quickly. Here, he combines that lesson with all of Beatrice's lessons on true vision.