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by Dante Alighieri

Paradiso Education Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.

Quote #1

O you who are within your little bark,
eager to listen, following behind
my ship that, singing, crosses to deep seas,
turn back to see your shores again: do not
attempt to sail the seas I sail: you may,
by losing sight of me, be left astray.
The waves I take were never sailed before;
Minerva breathless, Apollo pilots me,
and the nine Muses show to me the Bears.
You other few who turned our minds in time
unto the bread of angels, which provides
men here with life – but hungering for more –
you may indeed commit your vessel to
the deep salt-sea, keeping your course within
my wake, ahead of where waves smooth again. (Par. II, 1-15)

This is Dante acting as the all-knowing teacher. As the captain who has steered his ship safely so far, he warns all his students not to follow him any further unless they are completely confident in their faith and reading comprehension. Otherwise, they will either crash and burn or get lost. The elect – "you other few who turned our minds in time / unto the bread of angels" – are the only ones worthy of following Dante into this cantica, which features a lot of difficult theological arguments.

Quote #2

[Beatrice]: "If in the fire of love I seem to flame
beyond the measure visible on earth,
so that I overcome your vision's force,
you need not wonder; I am so because
of my perfected vision – as I grasp
the good so I approach the good in act." (Par. V, 1-6)

Beatrice shows us the root of a good education: "perfected vision." Education, she seems to argue, is a process of learning to modify one's perspective until it is perfectly aligned with God's. Only then can one "grasp the good so [one] approach[es] the good in act."

Quote #3

[Beatrice to Dante]: "Open your mind to what I shall disclose,
and hold it fast within you; he who hears,
but does not hold what he has heard, learns nothing." (Par. V, 40-42)

Beatrice emphasizes the importance of listening and remembering in the process of learning.

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