Page images

her in the shape of a swan, this sign of the seasons, and January be no longer a the zodiac is called the nest of Leda. winter, but a spring month." Dante now mounts up from the Heaven Sir John Herschel, Treatise on Asof the fixed stars to the Primum Mobile, tronomy, Ch. XIII., says: “The Julian or Crystalline Heaven.

rule made every fourth year, without 103. Dante's desire to know in what exception, a bissextile. This is, in fact, part of this heaven he was.

an over-correction ; it supposes

the 109. All the other heavens have their length of the tropical year to be 3654 d., Regents or Intelligences. See Canto which is too great, and thereby induces 11. Note 131. But the Primum Mobile an error of 7 days in 900 years, as will has the Divine Mind alone.

easily appear on trial. Accordingly, 113. By that precinct Dante means so early as the year 1414, it began to the Empyrean, which embraces the Pri- be perceived that the equinoxes were mum Mobile, as that does all the other gradually creeping away from the 21st heavens below it.

of March and September, where they 117. The half of ten is five, and the ought to have always fallen had the Gifth is two. The product of these, Julian year been exact, and happening when multiplied together, is ten. (as it appeared) too early.

The ne127. Wordsworth, Intimations of Im. cessity of a fresh and effectual reform mortality:

in the calendar was from that time "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting :

continually urged, and at length adThe Soul that rises with us, our liie's Star,

mitted. The change (which took place Hath had elsewhere its setting,

under the Popedom of Gregory XIII.) And cometh from afar:

consisted in the omission of ten nominal Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness,

days after the 4th of October, 1582, (so But trailing clouds of glory, do we come

that the next day was called the 15th From God, who is our home:

and not the 5th), and the promulgation Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

of the rule already explained for future Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy,

regulation.” But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, It will appear from the verse of He sees it in his joy ;

Dante, that this error and its conseThe Youth, who daily farther from the east Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,

quences had been noticed a century And by the vision splendid

earlier than the year mentioned by Is on his way attended ;

Herschel. Dante speaks ironically; Al length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of com.non day."

naming a very long period, and mean

ing a very short one. 137. Aurora, daughter of Hyperion, 145. Dante here refers either to the or the Sun. Purg. 11. 7:

reforms he expected from the Emperor

Henry VII., or to those he as confi. “ So that the white and the termilion cheeks

dently looked for from Can Grande Or beautiful Aurora, where I was, By too great age were changing into della Scala, the Veltro, or greyhound, orange.

of Inf. I. 101, who was to slay the

she-wolf, and make her “perish in her 140. Or, perhaps, to steer, and

pain," and whom he so warmly eulo“ Over the high seas to keep

gizes in Canto XVII. of the Paradiso. The barque of Peter to its proper bearings." Alas for the vanity of human wishes!

Patient Italy has waited more than 143. This neglected centesimal was five centuries for the fulfilment of this the omission of some inconsiderable prophecy, but at length she has touched fraction or centesimal part, in the com- ihe bones of her prophet, and “is re. putation of the year according to the vived and stands upon her feet.” Julian calendar, which was corrected in the Gregorian, some two centuries and a half alter Dante's death. By this

CANTO XXVIII. error, in a long lapse of time, the 1. The Primum Mobile, or Crystal. months would cease to correspond to line Ileaven, continued.

3. Milton, Par. Lost, IV. 505 : ing the reverse of the relative more

ment, from the same source of propul. " Thus these two, sion, of the heavens themselves around Imparadised in one another's arms, The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill

the earth as their centre. But the in or bliss on bliss."

fallible Beatrice assures him that this

difference arises, in fact, from the same 14. That Crystalline Heaven, which Dante calls a volume, or scroll, as in which in the celestial spheres is greater

cause, proximity to the Divine presence, Canto XXIII, 112 :

the farther they are from the centre, but " The regal mantle of the volumes all."

in the circles of angels, on the contrary,

it is greater the nearer they are to it." 16. The light of God, represented as 60. Because the subject has not been a single point, to indicate its unity and investigated and discussed. indivisibility.

64. The nine heavens are here called 32. Iris, or the rainbow.

corporal circles, as we call the stars the 34. These nine circles of fire are heavenly bodies. Latimer says: A corthe nine Orders of Angels in the three poral heaven,

where the stars Celestial Hierarchies. Dante, Convito, are." II. 16, says that the Holy Church di 70. The Primum Mobile, in which vides the Angels into “three Hier- Dante and Beatrice now are. archies, that is to say, three holy or 77. The nearer God the circle is, so divine Principalities ; and each Hier- much greater virtue it possesses. llence archy has three Orders; so that the the outermost of the heavens, revolving Church believes and affirms nine Or- round the earth, corresponds to the inders of spiritual beings. The first is nermost of the Orders of Angels revolv. that of the Angels ; the second, that ing round God, and is controlled by it as of the Archangels; the third, that of its Regent or Intelligence. To make this the Thrones. And these three Orders more intelligible I will repeat here the form the first Hierarchy; not first in three Triads of Angels, and the heavens reference to rank nor creation (for the of which they are severally the intelli. others are more noble, and all were gences, as already given in Canto II. created together), but first in reference Note 131. to our ascent to their height. Then follow the Dominions ; next the Vir The Seraphim, Primum Mobile. tues; then the Principalities; and these The Cherubim, The Fixed Stars. form the second Hierarchy. Above The Thrones, Saturn. these are the Powers, and the Cherubim, and above all are the Seraphim ; The Dominions, Jupiter. and these form the third Ilierarchy.” The Virtues,

Mars. It will be observed that this arrange The Powers, The Sun. ment of the several Orders does not agree with that followed in the poem. The Principalities, Venus.

55. Barlow, Study of the Div. Com., The Archangels, Mercury. p. 533, remarks: “Within a circle of The Angels, The Moon. ineffable joy, circumscribed only by light and love, a point of intense bright So. neid, XII. 365, Davidson's Tr. : ness so dazzled the eyes of Dante that “ As when the blast of Thracian Boreas he could not sustain the sight of it. roars on the Ægean Sea, and to the shore Around this vivid centre, from which pursues the waves, wherever the winds the heavens and all nature depend, exert their incumbent force, the clouds nine concentric circles of the Celestial ny through the air.” Hierarchy revolved with a velocity in Each of the four winds blow three dif. versely proportioned to their distance ferent blasts; either directly in front, or from it, the nearer circles moving more from the right cheek, or the left. Ac. rapidly, the remoter ones less. The cording to Roccaccio, the north-east wind port

, at first is surprised at this, it be.'in Italy is milder than the north-west.

90. Dante uses this comparison before, knowledge; hence it is interpreted fleni. Canto I. 60:

tudo scientiæ; which Dionysius (Cap. VII. “But I beheld it sparkle round about

Cæl. Hier., a princ.) explains in four Like iron that comes molten from the fire." ways: first, as perfect vision of God;

secondly, full reception of divine light; 93. The inventor of the game of chess thirdly, that in God himself they contembrought it to a Persian king, who was so plate the beauty of the order of things delighted with it, that he offered him in emanating from God; fourthly, that, return whatever reward he might ask. being themselves full of this kind of know. The inventor said he wished only a grain ledge, they copiously pour it out upon uf wheat, doubled as many times as there others.” were squares on the chess-board; that is, 100. The love of God, which holds one grain for the first square, two for the them fast to this central point as with a second, four for the third, and so on to band. Job xxxviii. 31: “Canst thou bind sixty-four. This the king readily granted; the sweet influences of Fleiades, or loose but when the amount was reckoned up, the bands of Orion?” he had not wheat enough in his whole 104. Canto IX. 61: kingdom to pay it. 95. Their appointed place or where

"Above us there are mirrors, Thrones you call

them, about.

From which shines out on us God Judicant." 99. Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus of the Schools, treats the subject Of the Thrones, Thomas Aquinas, of Angels at great length in the ñrst Sin. Theol., CVIII. 5, says: “ The volume of his Summa Theologica, from Order of Thrones excels the inferior Qurst. L. to Lxiv., and from Quæst

, cvi. Orders in this, that it has the power to cxiv. He constantly quotes Dionysius, of perceiving immediately in God the sometimes giving his exact words, but reasons of the Divine operations. oftener amplifying and interpreting his Dionysius (Cap. VII. Cæl. Hier.) ex. meaning. In Quæst. cvii. he discusses plains the name of Thrones from their the names of the Angels, and of the resemblance to material chairs, in which Seraphim and Cherubim speaks as fol- four things are to be considered. First, lows:

in reference to position, because chairs “The name of Seraphim is not given are raised above the ground; and thus from love alone, but from excess of love, these Angels, which are called Thrones which the name of heat or burning im- are raised so far that they can perceiv. plies. Hence Dionysius (Cap. VII. Cæl. immediately in God the reasons of things. Thier., a princ.) interprets the name Sera- Secondly, 'in material chairs firmness phim according to the properties of fire, must be considered, because one sits in which is excess of heat. In fire, how- firmly in them; but this is e converso, for ever, we may consider three things. the Angels themselves are made firm by First, a certain motion which is upward, God. Thirdly, because the chair receives and which is continuous; by which is sig- the sitter, and he can be carried in it; and nified, that they are unchangingly moving thus the Angels receive God in themtowards God. Secondly, its active power, selves, and in a certain sense carry him which is heat; . ... and by this is sig- to their inferiors. Fourthly, from their nified the influence of this kind of Angels, shape, because the chair is open on one which they exercise powerfully on those side, to receive the sitter; and thus these beneath them, exciting them to a sublime Angels, by their promptitude, are open fervour, and thoroughly purifying them to receive God and to serve him.” by burning. Thirdly, in fire its bright. 110. Dante, Conito, l. 1, says: ness must be considered; and this signi- “Knowledge is the ultimate perfection fies that such angels have within them- of our soul, in which consists our ultiselves an inextinguishable light, and that mate felicity.” It was one of the great they perfectly illuminate others.

questions of the Schools, whether the “In the same way the name of Cheru- beatitude of the soul consisted in knowbiin given from a certain excess of ing or in loving. Thomas Aquinas main.


tains the former part of this proposition, called The Celestial Hierarchy, which and Duns Scotus the latter.

is the great storehouse of all that relates 113. By the grace of God, and the co to the nature and operations of Angels. operation of the good will of the recipient. Venturi calls him “the false Areo

116. The perpetual spring of Paradise, pagite;” and Dalbæus, De Script. Dion. which knows no falling autumnal leaves, Areop., says that this work was no season in which Aries is a nocturnal known till the sixth century. sign.

The Legenda Aurea confounds St. 122. Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol., Dionysius the Areopagite with St. Denis, I. Quæst

. cvii. 6, says: “And thus Bishop of Paris in the third century, and Dionysius (Cap. VII. Cæl. Hier.), from patron saint of France. It says he was the names of the Orders inferring the called the Areopagite from the quarter properties thereof, placed in the first where he lived ; that he was surnamed Hierarchy those Orders whose names Theosoph, or the Wise in God; that he were given them in reference to God, was converted, not by the preaching of namely, the Seraphim, Cherubim, and St. Paul, but by a miracle the saint

Thrones ; but in the middle Hierarchy he wrought in restoring a blind man to placed those whose names designate a sight; and that “the woman named certain common government or disposi- Damaris," who was converted with him, tion, that is, the Dominions, Virtues, was his wife. It quotes from a letter of and Powers; and in the third Order he his to Polycarp, written from Egypt, placed those whose names designate the where he was with his friend and fellow. execution of the work, namely, the student Apollophanes, and where he wit. Principalities, Angels, and Archangels. nessed the darkening of the sun at the ... But to the rule of government three Crucifixion : “We were both at Heliothings belong, the first of which is the polis, when suddenly we saw the moon distinction of the things to be done, conceal the surface of the sun, though which is the province of the Dominions; this was not the time for an eclipse, and the second is to provide the faculty of this darkness continued for three hours, fulfilling, which belongs to the Virtues; and the light returned at the ninth hour but the third is to arrange in what way and lasted till evening." And finally it the things prescribed, or defined, can be narrates, that when Dionysius was befulfilled, so that some one may execute headed, in Paris, where he had converted them, and this belongs to the Powers. many souls and built many churches, But the execution of the angelic ministry straightway the body arose, and, takconsists in announcing things divine. In ing its head in its arms, led by an angel, the execution, however, of any act, there and surrounded by a celestial light, car. are some who begin the act, and lead the ried it a distance of two miles, from a others, as in singing the precentors, and place called the Mount of Martyrs, to the in battle those who lead and direct the place where it now reposes. rest; and this belongs to the Principali. For an account of the Celestial Ilier. ties. There are others who simply execute, archy, see Canto X. Note 115. and this is the part of the Angels. Others

133. St. Gregory differed from St. hold an intermediate position, which be. Dionysius in the arrangement of the longs to the Archangels."

Orders, placing the Principalities in the 130. The Athenian convert of St. Paul. second triad, and the Virtues in the Acts xvii. 34: Howbeit, certain men third. clave unto him, ant believed ; among the 138. St. Paul, who, 2 Corinthians which was Dionysius the Areopagite.” xii. 4, "was caught up into paradise, Dante places liim among the theologians and heard unspeakable words, which it in the Heaven of the Sun. See Canto X. is not lawful for a man to utter.” 115:"Near by behold the lustre of that taper, Which in the flesh below looked most within

CANTO XXIX. The angelic nature and its ministry."

1. The Primum Mobile, or Crystalline To Dionysius was attributed a work, Heaven, continued.

[ocr errors]

are ?"

The children of Latona are Apollo and assuming various forms when united Diana, the Sun and Moon.

with mind. “It is called potentiality," 2. When the Sun is in Aries and the comments Buti, “because it can receive Moon in Libra, and when the Sun is many forms; and the forms are called setting and the full Moon rising, so that act, because they change, and act by they are both on the horizon at the same changing matter into various forn.s." time.

35. The union of the soul and body in 3. So long as they remained thus equi. man, who occupies the intermediate poised, as if in the opposite scales of an place between Angels and pure matter. Invisible balance suspended from the 36. This bond, though suspended by zenith.

death, will be resumed agala at the 9. God, whom Dante could not look resurrection, and remain for ever. upon, even as reflected in the eyes of 37. St. Jerome, the greatest of the Beatrice.

Latin Fathers of the, and au. 11. What Dante wishes to know is, thor of the translation of the Scriptures where, when, and how the Angels were known as the Vulgate, was born of created.

wealthy parents in Dalmatia, in 342. 12. Every When and every Where. He studied at Rome under the gram.

14. Dante, Convito, III. 14, defines marian Donatus, and became a lawyer splendour as “reflected light.” Here it in that city. At the age of thirty he means the creation; the reflected light of visited the Holy Land, and, withdraw. Gorl.

ing from the world, became an ancheJob xxxviii. 7: When the morning rite in the desert of Chalcida, on the stars sang together, and all the sons of borders of Arabia. Here he under God shouted for joy.". And again, 35: went the bodily privations and tempta. “Canst thou send lightnings, that they tions, and enjoyed the spiritual triumphs, may go, and say unto thee, Here we of the hermit's life. He was “haunted

by demons, and consoled by voices and 16. Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol., visions from heaven." In one of his 1. Quæst. LXI. 3: * The angelic nature letters, cited by Butler, Lives of the was made before the creation of time, Saints, IX. 362, he writes : “In the and after eternity."

remotest part of a wild and sharp de. 18. In the creation of the Angels. sert, which, being burnt up with the Some editions read nove Amori, the nine heats of the scorching sun, strikes with Loves, or nine choirs of Angels.

horror and terror even the monks that 21. Genesis i. 2: “And the Spirit inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in of God moved upon the face of the the midst of the delights and assemblies waters.

of Rome. I loved solitude, that in the 22. Pure Matter, or the elements; bitterness of my soul I might more pure Form, or the Angels; and the two freely bewail my miseries, and call conjoined, the human race.

upon my Saviour.

My hideous ema. Form, in the language the Schools, ciated limbs were covered with sackand as defined by Thomas Aquinas, is cloth : my skin was parched dry and the principle "by which we first think, black, and my flesh was almost wasted whether it be called intellect, or intel- away. The days I passed in tears and lectual soul.” See Canto IV. Note 54. groans, and when sleep overpowered 23. Genesis i. 31 :

“ And God saw me against my will, I cast my wearied everything that he had made, and, be bones, which hardly hung together, hold, it was very good.”

upon the bare ground, not so properly 33. The Angels. Thomas Aquinas, to give them rest, as to torture myself. sum. Theol., 1. Qusest. L. 2, says : I say nothing of my eating and drink

· Form is act. Therefore whatever is ing; for the monks in that desert, form alone, is pure act.” For his defi- when they are sick, know no other nition of forin, see Note 22.

drink but cold water, and look upon 34. Pure matter, which is passive and it as sensuality ever to eat anything only possesses potentiality, or power of dressed by fire. In this exile and pri.

A A*

« PreviousContinue »