Study Guide

Dante Alighieri Quotes

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So gentle and so honest appearsMy lady when she greets othersThat every tongue, trembling, becomes mute,And eyes dare not look at her.


He fell so far there were no other meansto lead him to salvation, except this:to let him see the people who were lost.For this I visited the gateway ofthe dead; to him who guided him abovemy prayers were offered even as I wept.The deep design of God would have been brokenif Lethe had been crossed and he had drunksuch waters but had not discharged the debtof penitence that's paid when tears are shed.

Beatrice on Dante, Purgatorio, Canto XXX

The greatest gift the magnanimityof God, as He created, gave, the giftmost suited to His goodness, gift that Hemost prizes, was the freedom of the will;those beings that have intellect—all theseand none but these—received and do receivethis gift: thus you may draw, as consequence,the high worth of a vow, when what is pledgedwith your consent encounters God's consent;for when a pact is drawn between a manand God, then through free will, a man gives upwhat I have called his treasure, his free will.

Beatrice to Dante, Paradiso, Canto V

All of my thoughts can only speak of Love,greatly endowed with such varietythat one compels me all his might to see,madly another does his valor prove,another makes me hope as well as grieve, and still another brings but tears to me:on begging but for pity they agree,such are the fears that in my heart still live.Thus, with no subject wherefrom to commence,I wish to speak, and know not what to say, in such a lovely labyrinth am I!And if for peaceful living now I sigh,invoke I must my only foe today—my Lady Mercy in my sole defense.

Dante, La Vita Nuova

Since Love has parted company with me—to no delightof mine, as never had I known such bliss,but only for the facthe pitied so my heart he could not bear its crying any more—I, out of love, will now my song beginabout the sinthat inly dwells, and loudly welcomes backthe vilest thing on earth— the one whose name is worthor charm, a thing so fair it makes the soul,in which he reigns, most worthyof both a throne and an imperial cloak;it is the faultless sign that tells and points the way to virtue's home.If I defend it just as well as Iconceived of it within,Love, I am sure, will pardon me again.

Poem written by Dante in exile

These three passages are three translations of the same section of Canto V, in which Francesca describes her initial sin with Paolo. Their differences show how difficult the task of perfectly capturing Dante's verses in English can be:Looking from the book each to the other's eyes,And then the color in our faces drained.But one particular moment alone it wasDefeated us: the longed-for smile, it said,Was kissed by that most noble lover: at this,This one, who now will never leave my side,Kissed my mouth, trembling. A Galeotto, that book!And so was he who wrote it; that day we readNo further." All the while the one shade spoke,The other at her side was weeping; my pityOverwhelmed me and I felt myself go slack:

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