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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.

Quote #1

[Beatrice]: "All things, among themselves,
possess an order; and this order is
the form that makes the universe like God.
Here do the higher beings see the imprint
of the Eternal Worth, which is the end
to which the pattern I have mentioned tends.
Within that order, every nature has
its bent, according to a different station,
nearer or less to its origin.
Therefore, these natures move to different ports
across the mighty sea of being,
each given the impulse that will bear it on." (Par. I, 103-114)

Everything and everyone in the universe has its place relative to God. The reason that the "universe [is] like God" is because everything in it moves in its desire for God. Those who love correctly move nearer God while those whose love is faulty end up farther away. The ending metaphor which compares the universe to a "mighty sea of being" and everything within the universe landing at "different ports" recalls the ship imagery which has pervaded the entire Divine Comedy. It suggests that Dante sees life as a journey, with man as a ship crossing the "sea of being." Since everything is, to some extent, a child of God, all things experience this sort of seafaring journey that is existence.

Quote #2

[Beatrice]: "If violence means that the one who suffers
has not abetted force in any way,
then there is no excuse these souls can claim:
for will, if it resists, is never spent,
but acts as nature acts when fire ascends,
though force – a thousand times – tries to compel.
So that, when will has yielded much or little,
it has abetted force – as these souls did:
they could have fled back to their holy shelter.
Had their will been as whole as that which held
Lawrence fast to the grate and that which made
of Mucius one who judged his own hand, then
once freed, they would have willed to find the faith
from which they had dragged; but it is all
too seldom that a will is so intact." (Par. IV, 73-87)

One of the rules of human life is that men can exercise free will. When the wills of men clash against each other, man has a responsibility to resist violence. If somebody goes along with force out of fear, he sins. This is one of the rules that distinguishes righteous souls from sinning ones.

Quote #3

[Beatrice]: "As for the matter of the vow – discussed
above – it may be such that if one shifts
to other matters, one commits no sin.
But let none shift the burden on his shoulder
through his own judgment, without waiting for
the turning of the white and yellow keys;
and let him see that any change is senseless,
unless the thing one sets aside can be
contained in one's new weight, as four in six.
Thus, when the matter of a vow has so
much weight and worth that it tips every scale,
no other weight can serve as substitute.
Let mortals never take a vow in jest;
be faithful and yet circumspect; (Par. V, 52-65)

Another rule of Christianity is that once one has made a vow, one cannot change the content of that vow without the Church's permission ("the turning of the white and yellow keys"). These "keys" are the keys of the guardian angel of Purgatory (who got them from St. Peter), which either let people into Heaven or locks them out. The only other way to change one's promise is to replace the conditions with something equally or more important.

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