by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Politics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Justinian]: "Now you can judge those I condemned above,
and judge how such men have offended, have
become the origin of all your evils.
For some oppose the universal emblem
with yellow lilies; others claim that emblem
for party: it is hard to see who is worse.
Let Ghibellines pursue their undertakings
beneath another sign, for those who sever
this sign and justice are bad followers." (Par. VI, 97-105)
Political glory can hold the seeds of its own destruction. Here, Justinian points out how the dueling factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines came into existence. Perhaps even worse, the Ghibellines tried to claim the Roman empire's "universal emblem [of the Eagle]" as their own, when their interests really ran opposite to those of the Empire's.
[Justinian]: "This little planet is adorned with spirits,
whose acts were righteous, but who acted for
the honor and the fame that they would gain;
and when desires tend toward earthly ends,
then, so deflected, rays of the true love
mount toward the life above with lesser force." (Par. VI, 112-118)
One of the faults of society is that it puts a premium on glory and fame. For those with such petty motivations as glory of fame, the best they can hope for is to end up in the Second heaven of Mercury. They cannot ascend any higher.
He [Charles Martel] added: "Tell me, would a man on earth
be worse if he were not a citizen?"
"Yes," I replied, "and here I need no proof."
"Can there be citizens if men below
are not diverse, with diverse duties? No,
if what your master writes is accurate." (Par. VIII, 115-120)
[Cacciaguida]: "Florence, within her ancient ring of walls –
that ring from which she still draws tierce and nones –
sober and chaste, lived in tranquility.
No necklace and no coronal were there,
and no embroidered gowns; there was no girdle
that caught the eye more than the one who wore it.
No daughter's birth brought fear unto her father,
for age and dowry then did not imbalance –
to this side and to that – the proper measure.
There were no families that bore no children;
and Sardanapalus was still a stranger –
not come as yet to teach in the bedchamber.
Not yet had your Uccellatoio's rise
outdone the rise of Monte Mario,
which, too will be outdone in its decline.
I saw Bellincione Berti girt
with leather and with bone, and saw his wife
come from her mirror with her face unpainted.
I saw dei Nerli and del Vecchio
content to wear their suits of unlined skins,
and saw their wives at spindle and at spool.
O happy wives! Each one was sure of her
own burial place, and none – for France's sake –
as yet was left deserted in her bed. (Par. XV, 97-120)