| Quote #1
Just as, returning through transparent, clean
This is Dante's first encounter with blessed souls and they are so faint in appearance that he can only make out "the mirrored image of [their] faces." He is fooled into thinking they are "merely mirrorings" and turns around with the expectation of seeing more solid and vibrant forms. In doing so Dante makes a mistake. This is a reference to the story of Narcissus found in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Narcissus was a beautiful youth who, upon looking into a fountain, saw himself reflected and fell in love with himself. Dante makes the opposite mistake, failing to recognize the souls as themselves . The comparison of their light to "a pearl…displayed on a white forehead" is a comment on their beauty, since noblewomen would often wear pearls against their foreheads to show off their pale complexions.
| Quote #2
Just as the sun, when heat has worn away
This is the first inkling we get of the cause of the souls' radiant clothing. Justinian's brilliance results from his "excess gladness." This gives us a clue – confirmed later – that the souls' love for God makes them shine. Ironically, this soul's light, which would only make his face more visible to those with perfect sight blinds Dante and "conceal[s]" Justinian from him, so much so that Dante cannot identify him.
| Quote #3
And I saw many lights, alive, most bright;
In the Fourth Heaven of the sun, the blessed souls form a "crown" around Dante and Beatrice, perhaps in homage to Beatrice as the avatar of Divine Wisdom. Interestingly, the most fitting comparison Dante can find for the sun's souls' beauty is to the moon, "Latona's daughter." This is the first, but will not be the last, time the souls use their beauty to form shapes fitting to their particular star.