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by Dante Alighieri

Paradiso Theme of Time

According to Dante, time is a bad thing for mortals. Paradiso claims that since God created the universe and time itself, and nothing can be more perfect than what He creates, then the passing of time can only bring corruption.

Man cannot hope to maintain the perfection of what God created at the beginning of time. This is why Dante sees ancient Florence as morally superior to his contemporary Florence. In Dante's vision of Heaven, there is no time. Heaven, like God, is immortal.

Questions About Time

  1. In a Christian context, when did time begin? Why is Heaven eternal?
  2. What does God's "Subsisto" have to do with His concept of time? How does the created universe reflect this concept?
  3. Why does man become corrupt as time continues?
  4. How does Beatrice's ability to travel from one Heaven to another in the span of a moment give an illusion of the timelessness of Paradise?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

As argued in Paradiso XXIX, the universe reflects God's existence, as captured in his "Subsisto," because the heavenly bodies – like God – are eternal.

Despite Beatrice's argument in Paradiso XXIX, the universe fails to reflect God's eternal existence because one of His creations – man – is mortal.

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