by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[King Solomon]: …"As long as the festivity
of Paradise shall be, so long shall our
love radiate around us such a garment.
Its brightness takes its measure from our ardor,
our ardor from our vision, which is measured
by what grace each receives beyond his merit.
When, glorified and sanctified, the flesh
is once again our dress, our persons shall,
in being all complete, please all the more;
therefore, whatever light gratuitous
the Highest Good gives us will be enhanced –
the light that will allow us to see Him;
that light will cause our vision to increase,
the ardor vision kindles to increase,
the brightness born of ardor to increase." (Par. XIV, 37-51)
God's love, which had been an abstract concept before, is given a physical manifestation here. Divine love is the light of the souls and God, in his infinite love, makes them shine brighter than their earthly deeds merit. This extra light is explained by God's "grace," his unmerited love. When, at the Judgment Day, the blessed once again regain their physical bodies in addition to their shining souls, another act of grace, their unmerited bodies plus the grace of their "gratuitous" (or undeserved) light will make them shine even bright, thus increasing God's love for them and their love for Him.
[Cacciaguida to Dante]: …"The man who gave your family
its name, who for a century and more
has circled the first ledge of Purgatory,
was son to me and was your great-grandfather;
it is indeed appropriate for you
to shorten his long toil with your good works." (Par. XV, 91-96)
Even though Cacciaguida inhabits Mars (named for the Roman god of war) and is a warrior, specifically a crusader, he reminds Dante that he should love his ancestors and should express that familial love through prayer. Remember from Purgatorio that prayer helps shorten the penitents' waiting time in ante-Purgatory. Love is depicted here as not just an abstract virtue, but as one with a practical effect.
[Dante to St. John]: And I: "By philosophic arguments
and by authority whose source is here,
that love must be imprinted in me; for
the good, once it is understood as such,
enkindles love; and in accord with more
goodness comes greater love. And thus the mind
of anyone who can discern the truth
on which this proof is founded must be moved
to love, more than it loves all else, that Essence
which is preeminent (since any good
that lies outside of It is nothing but
a ray reflected from Its radiance).
My mind discerns this truth, made plain by him
who demonstrates to me that the first love
of the eternal beings is their Maker." (Par. XXVI, 25-39)
St. John argues that any rational human being will recognize that God loves him because man recognizes that God made him a good creature. "Good," in Dante's eyes, "enkindles love" and the better one is, the more God loves him. Thus, love is seen as an exponentially growing substance, founded on the simple tenet that man can be good.