Divine Comedy We are gathered together for our last day of close reading of the Divine Comedy with Alfred Geier. We are over twenty-four hours of class. There are fifteen of us now. We moved because of the extreme heat in my office and now embrace the final sprint to Paradise. Or rather, the long climb. And now we are at the end of the Purgatory. (Much as I like Sayer’s Commentary, I think the Sinclair translation is much more accurate.)Purgatory XXXIIIHere at the top of the mountain, we see green as a prominent color. Green has appeared occasionally in the Purgatory. The reed at the start, contra DS, may be a symbol of being born again and new out of the waters of baptism (the River of Forgetfulness?). It is new and alive. In this sense, Bartel points out it represents hope. It is the liturgical color of the “normal” (supernatural!) life in Christ! I am disturbed by the “stamping” of the soul of Dante by Beatrice at 79. How can this be good? Isn’t Dante to see the Good and not Beatrice? And yet, it is obvious, that formless after the river of forgetfulness, he needs some stamping. It is also obvious that he cannot yet see God in an unmitigated manner. Beatrice is the best he can have. She becomes a window to Heaven for him. . . a frame around a thing that enables us to better see the thing itself. She is a good guide in that she shows him the way. She stamps him with the Way and not with some “teaching.” She seems to know when he needs instruction, but it is instruction that allows the journey to continue NOT instruction that ends the journey. In that sense, Beatrice is contrary to the “normal teachers” of our life who try to answer our questions and end our journey. Beatrice is human. This humanity allows Dante to know that she is not the Good. Her “life” shows him Life. She attracts Dante only to pass him to a higher thing. He has forgotten too much. The glory of this earthly Paradise is nothing to Heaven, but it still dazzles him. He cannot just forget his sins, he must remember the good that he has seen. He drinks of both rivers. What does it mean to forget sin? What does it mean to remember good deeds? Dante is going to a land where Good matters. He needs to stop dwelling on sin. He forgets sin as his sin and remembers only forgiveness and the Good in relationship to it. He remembers his good deeds, but not in the sense that they are “his,” but that they are good. He recalls what he knows of the good. At some point, we will no longer need the contrast and all we will have is the good. He ends up with the desire to climb up (not leap as Sayers) to the stars. The line contains pure on one end and stars at the other. Once again the emphasis is on purity, though he is pure not so much his but the stars.
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