| Quote #4
[St. Thomas]: "My words did not prevent your seeing clearly
Here St. Thomas recounts the story of King Solomon, who had a dream in which God appeared and offered to answer any question he wanted. Wisely, Solomon asked "for wisdom that would serve his royal task," which was how to distinguish between right and wrong – instead of worldly things like long life, wealth, or his enemies' heads. Here in the heaven of the sun (renowned for its wisdom), St. Thomas substitutes these worldly things for intellectual conundrums famous in medieval times. Dante and we (as readers) both learn to see Solomon's faith in asking for "kingly prudence" rather than for unhelpful scraps of information. It is implied that Solomon trusts God knows these things as well, but asks only for practical wisdom.
| Quote #5
Then – and he was a joy to hear and see –
As shown here, the blessed souls naturally speak on a level the human mind cannot comprehend. In his excitement, Cacciaguida unintentionally does this just this. Dante compares his speech to a target "beyond the mark [where] a mortal mind can reach," as if human comprehension were an arrow shot from a faulty bow that can only reach so far. Anything beyond the reach of the arrow must be believed on pure faith or, in this case, until Cacciaguida's "bow of burning sympathy / [is] slack enough to let his speech descend / to meet the limit of our intellect."
| Quote #6
[The Eagle]: "Thus it is clear that every lesser nature
The Eagle makes it clear to Dante that God only makes some things "manifest to man" and that man's "ray of…Intelligence" cannot always see things clearly. His metaphor, comparing man's intelligence to a ray of light and all the knowledge of the universe as a "sea" reminds readers of Dante's image of the "mighty sea of being" which is life. Man's "sight [only] reaches the sea floor" "near shore" and cannot see any deeper.