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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

"Those men to whom my name was known, called me
Folco [of Marseille]; and even as this sphere receives
my imprint, so was I impressed with its;
for even Belus' daughter, wronging both
Sychaeus and Creusa, did not burn
more than I did, as long as I was young;
nor did the Rhodopean woman whom
Demophoön deceived, nor did Alcides
when he enclosed Iole in his heart.
Yet one does not repent here; here one smiles –
not for the fault, which we do not recall,
but for the Power that fashioned and foresaw." (Par. IX, 94-105)

As an inhabitant of Venus, Folco's weakness (the reason why he is not higher up in Heaven) is that he was too passionate a lover in his mortal days. Since Venus is the Roman goddess of love, it is appropriate that Folco is placed here after death. The Classical figures he lists, like Dido ("Belus' daughter"), Phyllis ("the Rhodopean woman whom Demophoön deceived"), and Hercules ("Alcides") were unfaithful or otherwise faulty lovers. That Folco considers his own acts of love worse than those of these figures suggests how corrupt he was and, by contrast, emphasizes the greatness of God's mercy, which has allowed him to repent and end up in Heaven.

Quote #8

[St. Thomas]: "The Providence that rules the world with wisdom
so fathomless that creatures' intellects
are vanquished and can never probe its depth,
so that the Bride of Him who, with loud cries,
had wed her with His blessed blood, might meet
her Love with more fidelity and more
assurance in herself, on her behalf
commanded that there be two princes, one
on this side, one on that side, as her guides.
One prince was all seraphic in his ardor;
the other, for his wisdom, had possessed
the splendor of cherubic light on earth." (Par. XI, 28-39)

This complicated passage essentially says that God's Providence, or particular love, gave the Church, "the Bride of Him," the gift of the "two princes," Saint Francis and Saint Dominic. The "blessed blood" and the referring to the saints as "princes" implies not only that the marriage is a royal one (between Christ and the Church), but that the two saints are the offspring of this noble marriage. Seen in this light, it is appropriate that the "princes" are described as angels, the first of God's children – one is "seraphic" and the other "cherubic." Their mission, of course, is to spread the holy love first expressed in the marriage.

Quote #9

[St. Thomas on St. Francis]: "for even as a youth, he ran to war
against his father, on behalf of her –
the lady unto whom, just as to death,
none willingly unlocks the door; before
his spiritual court et coram patre,
he wed her; day by day he loved her more.
She was bereft of her first husband; scorned,
obscure, for some eleven hundred years,
until that sun came, she had had no suitor.
Nor did it help her when men heard that he
who made earth tremble found her unafraid –
serene, with Amyclas – when he addressed her;
nor did her constancy and courage help
when she, even when Mary stayed below,
suffered with Christ upon the cross. But so
that I not tell my tale too darkly, you
may now take Francis and take Poverty
to be the lovers meant in my recounting.
Their harmony and their glad looks, their love
and wonder and their gentle contemplation,
served others as a source of holy thoughts; (Par. XI, 58-78)

The Franciscans' famous asceticism is captured in a clever metaphor, where St. Francis is described as lover of Lady Poverty. As readers, we are meant to admire St. Francis' generosity in loving someone to whom "none willingly unlocks the door" and who has been "scorned" by others. However, Dante spins Poverty in a positive light by showing her "constancy" to her first husband, Christ, when on the cross, even Mary abandoned him. The fact that Francis loves Poverty more than his own father shows his devotion to his God.

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