by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Justinian]: "But part of our delight is measuring
rewards against our merit, and we see
that our rewards are neither less nor more.
Thus does the Living Justice make so sweet
the sentiments in us, that we are free
of any turning toward iniquity." (Par. VI, 119-123)
Man's place in the universe is determined according to his "merit" or moral worth. Thus, we can understand the Christian cosmic order as one based on karma. In Heaven, the souls are "placed" in the various stars according to the degree of their blessedness; the less blessed one is, the lower down he is in the universe. But everyone in Heaven "delight[s]" in his or her rank, even if it is relatively low because God rewards just as much as one desires. Simply by being in heaven, souls have shown that their desire is in alignment with God's, so what they desire is equivalent to what they deserve. Thus, everyone is happy.
[Beatrice to Dante]: "You say: 'I see that water, see that fire
and air and earth and all that they compose
come to corruption, and endure so briefly;
and yet these, too, were things created; if
what has been said above is true, then these
things never should be subject to corruption.'
Brother, the angels and the pure country
where you are now – these may be said to be
created, as they are, in all their being;
whereas the elements that you have mentioned,
as well as those things that are made from them,
receive their form from a created power.
The matter they contain had been created,
just as within the stars that wheel about them,
the power to give form had been created.
The rays and motion of the holy lights
draw forth the soul of every animal
and plant from matter able to take form;
but your life is breathed forth immediately
by the Chief Good, who so enamors it
of His own Self that it desires Him always. (Par. VII, 124-144)
If the universe runs on desire for God, there must be a way to distinguish between sentient beings' desire (like humans and animals) and other non-sentient elements' "desire," such as the "water…and fire and air and earth" that Dante mentions. The difference, Beatrice claims, is the creator. Sentient beings like angels and humans and animals were made directly by God, while everything else sprang from a "created power." Later we learn that these "powers" are the nine angelic intelligences. These inanimate objects also "move" in their desire for God but, unlike man, they do not have free will.
[Charles Martel]: "Engendered natures would forever take
the path of those who had engendered them,
did not Divine provision intervene." (Par. VIII, 133-135)
In explaining why good fathers do not always have good sons, Charles Martel cites Providence or "Divine provision," which is a type of love. Providence, then, explains and justifies the seeming anomalies in the universe as God's will.