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    The Second Treatise

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    Chapter 2
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    Ye who the third Heaven move, intent of thought,
    Hear reasoning that is within my heart,
    Thoughts that to none but you I can impart:
    Heaven, that is moved by you, my life has brought
    To where it stands, therefore I pray you heed
    What I shall say about the life I lead.

    To you I tell the heart's new cares: always
    The sad Soul weeps within it, and there hears
    Voice of a Spirit that condemns her tears,
    A Spirit that descends in your star's rays.
    Thought that once fed the grieving heart was sweet,
    Thought that oft fled up to your Father's feet.

    There it beheld a Lady glorified,
    Of whom so sweetly it discoursed to me
    That the Soul said, "With her I long to be!"
    Now One appears that drives the thought aside,
    And masters me with so effectual might
    That my heart quivers to the outward sight.

    This on a Lady fixes my regard
    And says, "Who seeks where his salvation lies
    Must gaze intently in this Lady's eyes,
    Nor dread the sighs of anguish!" O, ill-starred!
    Such opposite now breaks the humble dream
    Of the crowned angel in the glory beam.

    Still, therefore, the Soul weeps, "The tender stir,"
    It says, "of thought that once consoled me flies!"
    That troubled one asks, "When into thine eyes
    Looked she? Why doubted they my words of her?"
    I said, "Her eyes bear death to such as I:
    Yet, vainly warned, I gaze on her and die.

    "Thou art not dead, but in a vain dismay,
    Dear Soul of ours so lost in thy distress,"
    Whispers a spirit voice of tenderness.
    "This Lady's beauty darkens all your day,
    Vile fear possesses you; see, she is lowly
    Pitiful, courteous, though so wise and holy.

    "Think thou to call her Mistress evermore:
    Save thou delude thyself, then shall there shine
    High miracles before thee, so divine
    That thou shalt say, O Love, when I adore,
    True Lord, behold the handmaid of the Lord,
    Be it unto me according to thy Word!"

    My song, I do believe there will be few
    Who toil to understand thy reasoning;
    But if thou pass, perchance, to those who bring
    No skill to give thee the attention due,
    Then pray I, dear last-born, let them rejoice
    To find at least a music in my voice.


    Since I, the servant, with preliminary discourse in the preceding
    Treatise, have with all due care prepared my bread, the time now
    summons, and requires my ship to leave the port: wherefore, having
    trimmed the mizen-mast of reason to the wind of my desire, I enter the
    ocean with the hope of an easy voyage, and a healthful happy haven to
    be reached at the end of my supper. But in order that my food may be
    more profitable, before the first dish comes on the table I wish to
    show how it ought to be eaten. I say then, as is narrated in the first
    chapter, that this exposition must be Literal and Allegorical; and to
    make this explicit one should know that it is possible to understand a
    book in four different ways, and that it ought to be explained chiefly
    in this manner.

    The one is termed Literal, and this is that which does not extend
    beyond the text itself, such as is the fit narration of that thing
    whereof you are discoursing, an appropriate example of which is the
    third Song, which discourses of Nobility.

    Another is termed Allegorical, and it is that which is concealed under
    the veil of fables, and is a Truth concealed under a beautiful
    Untruth; as when Ovid says that Orpheus with his lute made the wild
    beasts tame, and made the trees and the stones to follow him, which
    signifies that the wise man with the instrument of his voice makes
    cruel hearts gentle and humble, and makes those follow his will who
    have not the living force of knowledge and of art; who, having not the
    reasoning life of any knowledge whatever, are as the stones. And in
    order that this hidden thing should be discovered by the wise, it will
    be demonstrated in the last Treatise. Verily the theologians take this
    meaning otherwise than do the poets: but, because my intention here is
    to follow the way of the poets, I shall take the Allegorical sense
    according as it is used by the poets.

    The third sense is termed Moral; and this is that which the readers
    ought intently to search for in books, for their own advantage and for
    that of their descendants; as one can espy in the Gospel, when Christ
    ascended the Mount for the Transfiguration, that, of the twelve
    Apostles, He took with Him only three. From which one can understand
    in the Moral sense that in the most secret things we ought to have but
    little company.

    The fourth sense is termed Mystical, that is, above sense,
    supernatural; and this it is, when spiritually one expounds a writing
    which even in the Literal sense by the things signified bears express
    reference to the Divine things of Eternal Glory; as one can see in
    that Song of the Prophet which says that by the exodus of the people
    of Israel from Egypt Judæa is made holy and free. That this happens to
    be true according to the letter is evident. Not less true is that
    which it means spiritually, that in the Soul's liberation from Sin (or
    in the exodus of the Soul from Sin) it is made holy and free in its

    But in demonstrating these, the Literal must always go first, as that
    in whose sense the others are included, and without which it would be
    impossible and irrational to understand the others. Especially is it
    impossible in the Allegorical, because, in each thing which has a
    within and a without, it is impossible to come to the within if you do
    not first come to the without. Wherefore, since in books the Literal
    meaning is always external, it is impossible to reach the others,
    especially the Allegorical, without first coming to the Literal.
    Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural and
    artificial, it is impossible to proceed to the form without having
    first laid down the matter upon which the form should be. Thus, it is
    impossible for the form of the gold to come, if the matter, that is,
    its subject, is not first laid down and prepared; or for the form of
    the ark to come, if the material, that is, the wood, be not first laid
    down and prepared. Therefore, since the Literal meaning is always the
    subject and the matter of the others, especially of the Allegorical,
    it is impossible to come first to the meaning of the others before
    coming to it. Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural
    and artificial, it is impossible to proceed unless the foundation be
    first laid, as in the house, so also in the mind. Therefore, since
    demonstration must be the building up of Knowledge, and Literal
    demonstration must be the foundation of the other methods of
    interpreting, especially of the Allegorical, it is impossible to come
    first to the others before coming to that. Again, if it were possible
    that it could be so ordered, it would be irrational, that is, out of
    order; and, therefore, one would proceed with, much fatigue and with
    much error. Hence, as the Philosopher says in the first book of the
    Physics, Nature desires that we proceed in due order in our search for
    knowledge, that is, by proceeding from that which we know well to that
    which we know not so well; so I say that Nature desires it, inasmuch
    as this way to knowledge is innate in us; and therefore, if the other
    meanings, apart from the Literal, are less understood--which they are,
    as evidently appears--it would be irrational to demonstrate them if
    the Literal had not first been demonstrated.

    I, then, for these reasons will discourse in due order of each Song,
    firstly upon its Literal meaning, and after that I will discourse of
    its Allegory, that is, the hidden Truth, and sometimes I will touch
    incidentally on the other meanings as may be convenient to place and


    Beginning, then, I say that the star of Venus had twice revolved in
    that circle which causes the evening and the morning to appear,
    according to the two varying seasons, since the death of that blessed
    Beatrice, who lives in Heaven with the Angels, and on Earth with my
    soul; when that gentle Lady, of whom I made mention at the end of the
    "Vita Nuova," first appeared before my eyes, accompanied by Love, and
    assumed a position in my mind. And, as has been stated by me in the
    little book referred to, more because of her gentle goodness than from
    choice of mine, it befell that I consented to be her servant. For she
    appeared impassioned with such sorrow for my sad widowed life that the
    spirits of my eyes became especially friendly to her; and, so
    disposed, they then depicted her to be such that my good-will was
    content to espouse itself to that image. But because Love is not born
    suddenly, nor grows great nor comes to perfection in haste, but
    desires time and food for thought, especially there where there are
    antagonistic thoughts which impede it, there must needs be, before
    this new Love could be perfect, a great battle between the thought of
    its food and of that which was antagonistic to it, which still held
    the fortress of my mind for that glorious Beatrice. For the one was
    succoured on one side continually by the ever-present vision, and the
    other on the opposite side by the memory of the past. And the help of
    the ever-present sight increased each day, which memory could not do,
    in opposing that which to a certain degree prevented me from turning
    the face towards the past. Wherefore it seemed to me so wonderful, and
    also so hard to endure, that I could not support it, and with a loud
    cry (to excuse myself from the struggle, in which it seemed to me that
    I had failed in courage) I lifted up my voice towards that part whence
    came the victory of the new thought, which was full of virtuous power,
    even the power of celestial virtue; and I began to say: "You! who the
    third Heaven move, intent of thought." For the intelligent
    understanding of which Song, one must first know its divisions well,
    so that it will then be easy to perceive its meaning.

    In order that it may no longer be necessary to preface the
    explanations of the others, I say that the order which will be taken
    in this Treatise I intend to keep through all the others. I say, then,
    that the proposed Song is contained within three principal parts. The
    first is the first verse of that, in which certain Intelligences are
    induced to listen to what I intend to say, or rather by a more usual
    form of speech we should call them Angels, who are in the revolution
    of the Heaven of Venus, as the movers thereof. The second is in the
    lines which follow after the first, in which is made manifest that
    which I felt spiritually amidst various thoughts. The third is in the
    last lines, wherein the man begins to speak to the work itself, as if
    to comfort it, as it were, and all these three parts are in due order
    to be demonstrated, as has been said above.


    That we may more easily perceive the Literal meaning of the first
    division, to which we now attend, it is requisite to know who and what
    are those who are summoned to my audience, and what is that third
    Heaven which I say is moved by them. And firstly I will speak of the
    Heaven; then I will speak of those whom I address And although with
    regard to the truth concerning those things it is possible to know but
    little, yet so much as human reason can discern gives more delight
    than the best known and most certain of the things judged by the
    sense; according to the opinion of the Philosopher in his book on

    I say, then, that concerning the number of the Heavens and their site,
    different opinions are held by many, although the truth at last may be
    found. Aristotle believed, following merely the ancient foolishness of
    the Astrologers, that there might be only eight Heavens, of which the
    last one, and which contained all, might be that where the fixed stars
    are, that is, the eighth sphere, and that beyond it there could be no
    other. Again, he believed that the Heaven of the Sun might be
    immediate with that of the Moon, that is, second to us. And this
    opinion of his, so erroneous, he who wishes can see in the second book
    on Heaven and the World, which is in the second of the Books on
    Natural History. In fact, he excuses himself for this in the twelfth
    book of the Metaphysics, where he clearly proves himself to have
    followed also another opinion where he was obliged to speak of
    Astrology. Ptolemy, then, perceiving that the eighth sphere is moved
    by many movements, seeing its circle to depart from the right circle,
    which turns from East to West, constrained by the principles of
    Philosophy, which of necessity desires a Primum Mobile, a most simple
    one, supposed another Heaven to be outside the Heaven of the fixed
    stars, which might make that revolution from East to West which I say
    is completed in twenty-four hours nearly, that is, in twenty-three
    hours, fourteen parts of the fifteen of another, counting roughly.
    Therefore, according to him, and according to that which is held in
    Astrology and in Philosophy since those movements were seen, there are
    nine moveable Heavens; the site of which is evident and determined,
    according to an Art which is termed Perspective, Arithmetical and
    Geometrical, by which and by other sensible experiences it is visibly
    and reasonably seen, as in the eclipses of the Sun it appears
    sensibly, that the Moon is below the Sun; and as by the testimony of
    Aristotle, who saw with his own eyes, according to what he says in the
    second book on Heaven and the World, the Moon, being new, to enter
    below Mars, on the side not shining, and Mars to remain concealed so
    long that he re-appeared on the other bright side of the Moon, which
    was towards the West.


    And the order of the houses is this, that the first that they
    enumerate is that where the Moon is; the second is that where Mercury
    is; the third is that where Venus is; the fourth is that where the Sun
    is; the fifth is that where Mars is; the sixth is that where Jupiter
    is; the seventh is that where Saturn is; the eighth is that of the
    Stars; the ninth is that which is not visible except by that movement
    which is mentioned above, which they designate the great Crystalline
    sphere, diaphanous, or rather all transparent. Truly, beyond all
    these, the Catholics place the Empyrean Heaven, which is as much as to
    say, the Heaven of Flame, or rather the Luminous Heaven; and they
    assign it to be immoveable, in order to have in itself, according to
    each part, that which its material desires. And this is why that first
    moved--the Primum Mobile--has such extremely rapid motion. For,
    because of the most fervent appetite which each part of it has to be
    united with each part of that most Divine Heaven of Peace, in which it
    revolves with so much desire, its velocity is almost incomprehensible.
    And this quiet and peaceful Heaven is the place of that Supreme Deity
    who from above beholds the whole. This is the place of the blessed
    Spirits, according as Holy Church teaches, which cannot speak falsely;
    and even Aristotle seems to feel this, to him who understands him
    well, in the first book of Heaven and the World. This is the highest
    bound of the World, within which the whole World is included, and
    beyond which there is nothing. And it is in no place, but was formed
    alone in the First Mind, which the Greeks term Protonoe. This is that
    magnificence of which the Psalmist spoke when he sang to God: "Thy
    glory is raised above the Heavens."

    So, then, gathering together this which is discussed, it seems that
    there may be ten Heavens, of which the Heaven of Venus may be the
    third; whereof mention is made in that part which I intend to
    demonstrate. And it is to be known that each Heaven below the
    Crystalline has two firm poles as to itself; and the ninth has them
    firm and fixed, and not mutable in any respect. And each one, the
    ninth even as the others, has a circle, which one may term the equator
    of its own Heaven; which equally, in each part of its revolution, is
    remote from one pole and from the other, as he who rolls an apple or
    any other round thing can sensibly perceive. And this circle has more
    swiftness in its movement than any other part of its Heaven, in each
    Heaven, as he may perceive who considers well. And each part, in
    proportion as it is nearer to it, moves so much the more swiftly; so
    much the slower in proportion as it is more remote and nearer to the
    pole; since its revolution is less, and it must of necessity be in one
    self-same time with the greater. I say again, that in proportion as
    the Heaven is nearer to the equatorial circle, so much the more noble
    is it in comparison to its poles; since it has more motion and more
    actuality and more life and more form and more touch from that which
    is above itself, and consequently has more virtue. Hence the stars in
    the Heaven of the fixed stars are more full of power amongst
    themselves in proportion as they are nearer to that circle.

    And upon the back of this circle in the Heaven of Venus, of which I
    now speak, is a little sphere, which revolves by itself in this
    Heaven, the circle of which Astrologers call Epicycle; and as the
    great sphere revolves about two poles, so does this little sphere: and
    so has this little sphere the equatorial circle; and so much the more
    noble it is in proportion as it is nearer to those: and in the arc, or
    rather back, of this circle is fixed the most brilliant star of Venus.
    And, although it may be said that there are ten Heavens according to
    strict Truth, this number does not comprehend them all: for that of
    which mention is made, the Epicycle, in which the star is fixed, is a
    Heaven by itself, or rather sphere; and it has not one essence with
    that which bears it, although it may be more like to it than to the
    others, and with it is called one Heaven, and they name the one and
    the other from the star. How the other Heavens and the other stars may
    be is not for present discussion; let it suffice that the nature of
    the third Heaven, with which I am at present concerned, has been told,
    and concerning which all that is at present needful has been shown.


    Since it has been shown in the preceding chapter what this third
    Heaven is, and how it is ordered in itself, it remains to show who
    those are who move it. It is then to be known, in the first place,
    that the movers thereof are substances apart from material, that is,
    Intelligences, which the common people term Angels: and of these
    creatures, as of the Heavens, different persons have had different
    ideas, although the truth may be found. There were certain
    Philosophers, of whom Aristotle appears to be one in his Metaphysics,
    although in the first book on Heaven and Earth incidentally he appears
    to think otherwise, who only believed these to be so many as there are
    revolutions in the Heavens, and no more; saying, that the others would
    have been eternally in vain, without operation, which was impossible,
    inasmuch as their being is their operation. There were others, like
    Plato, a most excellent man, who place not only so many Intelligences
    as there are movements in Heaven, but even as there are species of
    things, that is, manners of things; as of one species are all mankind,
    and of another all the gold, and of another all the silver, and so
    with all: and they are of opinion that as the Intelligences of the
    Heavens are generators of those movements each after his kind, so
    these were generators of the other things, each one being a type of
    its species: and Plato calls them _Ideas_, which is as much as to
    say, so many universal forms and natures.

    The Gentiles called them Gods and Goddesses, although they could not
    understand those so philosophically as Plato did; and they adored
    their images, and built large temples to them, as to Juno, whom they
    called the Goddess of Power; as to Vulcan, whom they called the God of
    Fire; as to Pallas, or rather Minerva, whom they called the Goddess of
    Wisdom; and to Ceres, whom they called the Goddess of Corn. Opinions
    such as these the testimony of the Poets makes manifest, for they
    describe to a certain extent the mode of the Gentiles both in their
    sacrifices and in their faith; and it is testified also in many names,
    remains of antiquity, or in names of places and ancient buildings, as
    he who will can easily find. And although these opinions above
    mentioned might be built upon a good foundation by human reason and by
    no slight knowledge, yet the Truth was not seen by them, either from
    defect of reason or from defect of instruction. Yet even by reason it
    was possible to see that very numerous were the creatures above
    mentioned who are not such as men can understand. And the one reason
    is this: no one doubts, neither Philosopher, nor Gentile, nor Jew, nor
    Christian, nor any one of any sect, that they are either the whole or
    the greater part full of all Blessedness, and that those blessed ones
    are in a most perfect state. Therefore, since that which is here Human
    Nature may have not only one Beatitude, but two Beatitudes, as that of
    the Civil Life and that of the Contemplative, it would be irrational
    if we should see these Celestial Beings to have the Beatitude of the
    Active Life, that is, the Civil, in the government of the World, and
    not to have that of the Contemplative, which is the most excellent and
    most Divine.

    But since that which has the Beatitude of the Civil government cannot
    have the other, because their intellect is one and perpetual, there
    must be others beyond this ministry, who live only in contemplation.
    And because this latter life is more Divine--and in proportion as the
    thing is more Divine so much the more is it in the image of God--it is
    evident that this life is more beloved of God: and if it be more
    beloved, so much the more vast has its Beatitude been; and if it has
    been more vast, so much the more vivifying power has He given to it
    rather than to the other; therefore one concludes that there may De a
    much larger number of those creatures than the effects tend to show.
    And this is not opposed to that which Aristotle seems to state in the
    tenth book of the Ethics, that to the separate substances the
    Contemplative Life must be requisite; as also the Active Life must be
    imperative to them. Nevertheless, in the contemplation of certain
    truths the revolution of the Heaven follows, which is the government
    of the World; which is, as it were, a Civil government ordained and
    comprehended in the contemplation of the movers, that is, the ruling
    Intelligences. The other reason is, that no effect is greater than the
    cause, because the cause cannot give that which it has not; wherefore,
    since the Divine Intellect is the cause of all, especially of the
    Human Intellect, it follows that the Human Intellect does not dominate
    the Divine, but is dominated by it in proportion to the superior power
    of the Divine. Hence, if we, by the reason above stated, and by many
    others, understand God to have been able to create Spiritual Creatures
    almost innumerable, it is quite evident that He has made them in this
    great number. Many other reasons it were possible to see: but let
    these suffice for the present. Nor let any one marvel if these and
    other reasons which we could adduce concerning this are not fully
    demonstrated; since likewise we ought to wonder at their excellence,
    which overpowers the eyes of the Human Mind, as the Philosopher says
    in the second book of the Metaphysics, and he affirms their existence.
    Though we have not any perception of them from which our knowledge can
    begin, yet some light from their most vivacious essence shines upon
    our intellect, inasmuch as we perceive the above-mentioned reasons and
    many others, even as he who has the eyes closed affirms the air to be
    luminous, because of some little brightness or ray of light which
    passes through the pupils; as it is with the bat, for not otherwise
    are the eyes of the intellect closed, so long as the soul is bound and
    prisoned by the organs of our body.


    It has been said that, through defective instruction, the ancients saw
    not the Truth concerning the Spiritual Creatures, although the people
    of Israel were in part instructed by their Prophets, through whom by
    many modes of speech and in many ways God had spoken to them, as the
    Apostle says. But we are therein instructed by Him who came from God,
    by Him who made them, by Him who preserves them, that is, by the
    Emperor of the Universe, who is Christ the Son of the Supreme God, and
    the Son of the Virgin Mary, a woman truly, and the daughter of Joseph
    and Anna--very Man, who was slain by us in order that He might bring
    us Life; who was the Light which enlightens us in the Darkness, even
    as John the Evangelist says; and He told us the Truth of those things
    which we could not have known without Him, nor seen truly. The first
    thing and the first secret which He showed us was one of the
    before-mentioned Beings or creatures. This was that one, His great
    Legate, the Angel Gabriel, who came to Mary, a young damsel of
    thirteen years, on the part of the Heavenly Saviour. This our Saviour,
    with His own mouth, said, that the Father could give Him many Legions
    of Angels. This He denied not, when it was said to Him that the Father
    had commanded His Angels that they should minister unto Him and should
    serve Him. Wherefore, it is evident to us that these creatures are in
    a very great number; since His Spouse and Secretary, Holy Church, of
    whom Solomon says: "Who is this that cometh forth from the Desert,
    full of those things which give delight, leaning upon her friend?"
    says, believes, and preaches these most noble creatures to be almost
    innumerable; and She divides them into three Hierarchies, that is to
    say, three holy, or rather Divine, Principalities: and each Hierarchy
    has three orders, so that nine orders of spiritual creatures the
    Church holds and affirms.

    The first is that of the Angels, the second of the Archangels, the
    third of the Thrones; and these three orders make the first
    Hierarchy--not first as to nobility, nor as to creation, for the
    others are more noble, and all were created together, but first in
    degree, according to our perception of their exaltation.

    Then there are the Dominations; after them the Virtues; then the
    Principalities; and these make the second Hierarchy.

    Above these are the Powers and the Cherubim, and above all are the
    Seraphim; and these make the third Hierarchy.

    And the most potent reason for their contemplation is the number in
    which the Hierarchies are, and that in which the orders are. For,
    since the Divine Majesty is in Three Persons, which have one
    substance, it is possible to contemplate them triply. For it is
    possible to contemplate the Supreme Power of the Father, which the
    first Hierarchy gazes upon, namely, that which is first by nobility,
    and which we enumerate last. And it is possible to contemplate the
    Supreme Wisdom of the Son; and upon this the second Hierarchy gazes.
    And it is possible to contemplate the Supreme and most fervent Charity
    of the Holy Spirit; and upon this the third Hierarchy gazes, which,
    being nearest to us, gives of the gifts which it receives.

    And, since it is possible to regard each person in the Divine Trinity
    triply, so in each Hierarchy there are three orders which contemplate
    diversely. It is possible to consider the Father having regard to none
    but Him; and this is the contemplation of the Seraphim, who see more
    of the First Cause than any other Angelic Nature. It is possible to
    consider the Father according as He has relation to the Son, that is,
    how He is apart from Him, and how united with Him; and this is the
    contemplation of the Cherubim. It is possible again to consider the
    Father according as from Him proceeds the Holy Spirit, and how it is
    apart from Him and how united with Him; and this is the contemplation
    of the Powers.

    And in like way it is possible to contemplate the Son and the Holy

    Wherefore, there must be nine orders of contemplative Spirits to gaze
    into the Light, which alone beholds itself completely. And this is not
    the place to be silent so much as one word. I say, that of all these
    orders some were lost as soon as they were created, perhaps in number
    of the tenth part, to restore which Human Nature was created. The
    numbers, the orders, the Hierarchies, declare the glory of the movable
    Heavens, which are nine; and the tenth announces this Unity and
    stability of God. And therefore the Psalmist says: "The Heavens
    declare the glory of God, and the Firmament showeth His handiwork."
    Wherefore it is reasonable to believe that the movers of the Heaven of
    the Moon are of the order of the Angels, and those of Mercury may be
    the Archangels, and those of Venus may be the Thrones, in whom the
    Love of the Holy Spirit being innate, they do their work conformably
    to it, which means that the revolution of that Heaven is full of Love.
    The form of the said Heaven takes from this a virtue by whose glow
    souls here below are kindled to love according to their disposition.

    And because the ancients perceived that Heaven to be here below the
    cause of Love, they said that Love was the son of Venus, as Virgil
    testifies in the first book of the Æneid, where Venus says to Love:
    "Oh! son, my virtue, son of the great Father, who takest no heed of
    the darts of Typhoeus." And Ovid so testifies in the fifth book of
    his Metamorphoses, when he says that Venus said to Love: "Son, my
    arms, my power." And there are Thrones which are ordered to the
    government of this Heaven in number not great, concerning which the
    Philosophers and the Astrologers have thought differently, according
    as they held different opinions concerning its revolutions. But all
    may be agreed, as many are, in this, as to how many movements it
    makes. Of this, as abbreviated in the book of the Aggregation of the
    Stars, you may find in the better demonstration of the Astrologers
    that there are three: one, according as the star moves towards its
    Epicycle; the other, according as the Epicycle moves with its whole
    Heaven equally with that of the Sun; the third, according as the whole
    of that Heaven moves, following the movement of the starry sphere from
    West to East in one hundred years one degree. So that to these Three
    Movements there are Three Movers. Again, if the whole of this Heaven
    moves and turns with the Epicycle from East to West once in each
    natural day, that movement, whether it be caused by some Intelligence
    or whether it be through the rapid movement of the Primum Mobile, God
    knows, for to me it seems presumptuous to judge. These Movers produce,
    caring for that alone, the revolution proper to that sphere which each
    one moves. The most noble form of the Heaven, which has in itself the
    principle of this passive Nature, revolves, touched by the Moving
    Power, which cares for this; and I say touched, not by a bodily touch,
    but by a Power which directs itself to that operation. And these
    Movers are those to whom I begin to speak and to whom I put my


    According to that which is said above in the third chapter of this
    treatise, in order to understand well the first part of the Song I
    comment on, it is requisite to discourse of those Heavens, and of
    their Movers; and in the three preceding chapters this has been
    discussed. I say, then, to those whom I proved to be Movers of the
    Heaven of Venus: "Ye who, with thought intent" (_i.e._, with the
    intellect alone, as is said above), "the third Heaven move, Hear
    reasoning that is within my heart;" and I do not say "Hear" because
    they hear any sound, for they have no sense of hearing; but I say
    "Hear," meaning with that hearing which they have, which is of the
    understanding through the intellect. I say, "Hear reasoning that is
    within my heart," within me, which as yet has not appeared externally.
    It is to be known that throughout this Song, according to the one
    sense (the Literal), and the other sense (the Allegorical), the Heart
    is concerned with the secret within, and not any other special part of
    the soul or body. When I have called them to hear that which I wish to
    say, I assign two reasons why I ought fitly to speak to them. One is
    the novelty of my condition, which, from not having been experienced
    by other men, would not be so understood by them as by those who
    superintend such effects in their operation. And this reason I touch
    upon when I say: "To you alone its new thoughts I impart." The other
    reason is: when a man receives a benefit or injury, he ought first to
    relate it to him who bestows or inflicts it, if he can, rather than to
    others; in order that, if it be a benefit, he who receives it may show
    himself grateful towards the benefactor, and, if it be an injury, let
    him lead the doer thereof to gentle mercy with sweet words. And this
    reason I touch upon when I say: "Heaven, that is moved by you, my life
    has brought To where it stands;" that is to say, your operation,
    namely, your revolution, is that which has drawn me into the present
    condition; therefore I conclude and say that my speech ought to be to
    them, such as is said; and I say here: "Therefore to you 'tis need
    That I should speak about the life I lead." And after these reasons
    assigned, I beseech them to listen when I speak.

    But, because in each manner of speech the speaker especially ought to
    look to persuasion, that is, to the pleasing of the audience, as that
    which is the beginning of all other persuasions, as do the
    Rhetoricians, and the most powerful persuasion to render the audience
    attentive is to promise to say new and wonderful things, I add to the
    prayer made for attention, this persuasion, or embellishment,
    announcing to them my intention to speak of new things, that is, the
    division which is in my mind; and great things, namely, the power of
    their star; and I say this in those last words of this first part:

    To you I'll tell the heart's new cares: always
    The sad Soul weeps within it, and there hears
    Voice of a Spirit that condemns her tears,
    A Spirit that descends through your star's rays.

    And to the full understanding of these words, I say that this Spirit
    is no other than a frequent thought how to commend and beautify this
    new Lady. And this Soul is no other than another thought, accompanied
    with acquiescence, which, repudiating that Spirit, commends and
    beautifies the memory of that glorious Beatrice. But, again, because
    the last sentiment of the mind, acquiescence, is held by that thought
    which memory assisted, I call it the Soul, and the other the Spirit;
    as we are accustomed to call the City those who hold it, and not those
    who fight it, although the one and the other may be citizens. I say
    also, that this Spirit comes on the rays of the star, because one
    desires to know that the rays of each Heaven are the way by which
    their virtue descends into things here below. And since the rays are
    no other than a light which comes from the source of Light through the
    air even to the thing illuminated, and the light has no source except
    the star, because the other Heaven is transparent, I say not that this
    Spirit, this thought, comes from their Heaven entirely, but from their
    star. And their star, through the nobility of its Movers, is of such
    virtue that in our souls, and in other things, it has very great
    power, notwithstanding that it is so far from us, about one hundred
    and sixty-seven times farther than it is to the centre of the Earth,
    which is three thousand two hundred and fifty miles. And this is the
    Literal exposition of the first part of the Song.


    What I have said shows clearly enough the Literal meaning of the first
    part. In the second, there is to be understood how it makes manifest
    what I experienced from the struggle within me; and this part has two
    divisions. In the first place it describes the quality of these
    oppositions, according as their cause was within me. Then I narrate
    what the one and the other voice of opposition said; and upon that
    firstly which described what was being lost, in the passage which is
    the second of that part and the third of the Song. In evidence, then,
    of the meaning of the first division, it is to be known that things
    must be named by that part of their form which is the noblest and
    best, as Man by Reason, and not by Sense, nor by aught else which is
    less noble; therefore, when one speaks of the living man, one should
    understand the man using Reason, which is his especial Life, and is
    the action of his noblest part. And, therefore, whoso departs from
    Reason and uses only the Senses is not a living man, but a living
    beast, as says that most excellent Boethius, "Let the Ass live."

    Rightly I speak, because thought is the right act of reason, wherefore
    the beasts who have it not do not think; and I speak not only of the
    lesser beasts, but of those who have a human appearance with the
    spirit of a sheep or of some other abominable beast. I say then:
    "Thought that once fed my grieving heart"--thought, that is, of the
    inner life--"was sweet" (sweet, insomuch as it is persuasive, that is,
    pleasing, or beautiful, gentle, delightful); this thought often sped
    away to the feet of the Father of those Spirits to whom I speak, that
    is, God; that is to say, that I in thought contemplated the realm of
    the Blessed. "Thought that once fled up to the Father's feet." And I
    name the final cause immediately, because I ascended there above in
    thought when I say, "There I beheld a Lady glorified," to let you
    understand that I was certain, and am certain by its gracious
    revelation, that she was in Heaven; wherefore I, thinking many times
    how this was possible for me, went thither, rapt, as it were. Then
    subsequently I speak of the effect of this thought, in order to let
    you understand its sweetness, which was such that it made me desirous
    of Death, that I also might go where she was gone. And of this I speak
    there: "Of whom so sweetly it discoursed to me That the Soul said,
    'With her would I might be!'" And this is the root of one of the
    struggles which was in me. And it is to be known that here one terms
    Thought, and not Soul, that which ascended to see that Blessed Spirit,
    because it was an especial thought sent on that mission; the Soul is
    understood, as is stated in the preceding chapter, as thought in
    general, with acquiescence.

    Then, when I say, "Now One appears that drives the thought aside," I
    touch the root of the other struggle, saying how that previous thought
    was wont to be the life of me, even as another appears, which makes
    that one cease to be. I say, "drives the thought aside," in order to
    show that one to be antagonistic, for naturally the opposing one
    drives aside the other, and that which is driven appears to yield
    through want of power. And I say that this thought, which newly
    appears, is powerful in taking hold of me and in subduing my Soul,
    saying that it "masters me with such effectual might" that the heart,
    that is, my inner life, trembles so much that my countenance shows it
    in some new appearance.

    Subsequently I show the power of this new thought by its effect,
    saying that it makes me "fix my regard" on a Lady, and speaks to me
    words of allurement, that is to say, it reasons before the eyes of my
    intelligent affection, in order the better to induce me, promising me
    that the sight of her eyes is its salvation. And in order to make this
    credible to the Soul experienced in love, it says that it is for no
    one to gaze into the eyes of this woman who fears the anguish of
    laboured sighs. And it is a beautiful mode of rhetoric when externally
    it appears that you disembellish a thing, and yet really embellish it
    within. This new thought of love could not induce my mind to consent,
    except by discoursing of the virtue of the eyes of this fair Lady so


    Now that it is shown how and whereof Love is born, and the antagonist
    that fought with me, I must proceed to open the meaning of that part
    in which different thoughts contend within me. I say that, firstly,
    one must speak on the part of the Soul, that is, of the former
    thought, and then of the other; for this reason, that always that
    which the speaker intends most especially to say he ought to reserve
    in the background, because that which is said finally, remains most in
    the mind of the hearer. Therefore, since I mean to speak further, and
    to discourse of that which performs the work of those to whom I speak,
    rather than of that which undoes this work, it was reasonable first to
    mention and to discourse of the condition of the part which was
    undone, and then of that which was generated by the other.

    But here arises a doubt, which is not to be passed over without
    explanation. It would be possible for any one to say: Since Love is
    the effect of these Intelligences, to whom I speak, and that of the
    first Love might be the same as that of the new Love, why should their
    virtue destroy the one, and produce the other? since it ought to
    preserve the first, for the reason that each cause loves its effect,
    and ought to protect what it loves. To this question one can easily
    reply, that the effect of those Spirits, as has been said, is Love:
    and since they could not save it except in those who are subject to
    their revolution, they transfer it from that part which is beyond
    their power to that which is within reach, from the soul departed out
    of this life, into that which is yet living; as human nature transfers
    in the human form its preservation of the father to the son, because
    it cannot in this father preserve perpetually its effect: I say effect
    in as far as soul and body are united, and not effect in as far as
    that soul, which is divided from the body, lasts for ever, in a nature
    more than human. And thus is the question solved.

    But since the immortality of the Soul is here touched upon, I will
    make a digression upon that; because to discourse of that will make a
    fit conclusion to the mention I have made of that living and blessed
    Beatrice, of whom I do not intend to speak further in this book.

    For proposition I say that, amongst all the bestialities, that is the
    most foolish, the most vile, and most damnable which believes no other
    life to be after this life; wherefore, if we turn over all books,
    whether of philosophers or of the other wise writers, all agree in
    this, that in us there is some everlasting principle. And this
    especially Aristotle seems to desire in that book on the Soul; this
    especially each stoic seems to desire; this Tullius seems to desire,
    especially in that book on Old Age. This each of the Poets who have
    spoken according to the faith of the Gentiles seems to desire; this
    the law seems to desire, among Jews, Saracens, and Tartars, and all
    other people who live according to some civil law. And if all these
    could be deceived, there would result an impossibility which even to
    describe would be horrible. Each man is certain that human nature is
    the most perfect of all natures here below. This no one denies: and
    Aristotle affirms it when he says, in the twelfth book On Animals,
    that man is the most perfect of all the animals. Therefore, since many
    who live are entirely mortal, as are the brute animals, and all may
    be, whilst they live, without that hope of the other life; if our hope
    should be in vain, our want would be greater than that of any other
    animal. There have been many who have given this life for that: and
    thus it would follow that the most perfect animal, man, would be the
    most imperfect, which is impossible; and that that part, namely,
    reason, which is his chief perfection, would be in him the cause of
    the chief defect: which seems strange to say of the whole. And again
    it would follow that Nature, in contradiction to herself, could have
    put this hope in the human mind; since it is said that many have
    hastened to death of the body that they might live in the other life;
    and this also is impossible. Again, we have continual experience of
    our immortality in the divination of our dreams, which could not be if
    there were no immortal part in us, since immortal must be the
    revelation. This part may be either corporeal or incorporeal if one
    think well and closely. I say corporeal or incorporeal, because of the
    different opinions which I find concerning this. That which is moved,
    or rather informed, by an immediate informer, ought to have proportion
    to the informer; and between the mortal and the immortal there is no
    proportion. Again, we are assured of it by the most truthful doctrine
    of Christ, which is the Way, the Truth, and the Light: the Way,
    because by it without impediment we go to the happiness of that
    immortality; the Truth, because it endures no error; the Light,
    because it enlightens us in the darkness of worldly ignorance. This
    doctrine, I say, which above all other reasons makes us certain of it;
    for it has been given to us by Him who sees and measures our
    immortality, which we cannot perfectly see whilst our immortal is
    mingled with the mortal. But we see it by faith perfectly; and by
    reason we see it with the cloud of obscurity which grows from the
    mixture of the mortal with the immortal. This ought to be the most
    powerful argument that both are in us: and I thus believe, thus
    affirm; and I am equally certain, after this life, to pass to that
    other and better life--there where that glorious Lady lives, with whom
    my soul was enamoured when it was struggling, as will be set forth in
    the next chapter.


    Returning to the proposition, I say that in that verse which begins "A
    foe so strong I find him that he destroys," I intend to make manifest
    that which was discoursing in my Soul, the ancient thought against the
    new; and first briefly I show the cause of its lamentation, when I
    say: "This opposite now breaks the humble dream Of the crowned angel
    in the glory-beam." This one is that especial thought of which it is
    said above that it was wont to be the life of the sorrowing heart.
    Then when I say, "Still, therefore, my Soul weeps," it is evident that
    my Soul is still on its side, and speaks with sadness; and I say that
    it speaks words of lamentation, as if it might wonder at the sudden
    transformation, saying: "'The tender star,' It says, 'that once was my
    consoler, flies.'" It can well say consoler, for in the great loss
    which I sustained in the death of Beatrice this thought, which
    ascended into Heaven, had given to my Soul much consolation.

    Then afterwards I say, that all my thought, my Soul, of which I say,
    "That troubled one," turns in excuse of itself, and speaks against the
    eyes; and this is made evident there: "That troubled one asked, 'When
    into thine eyes Looked she?'" And I say that she speaks of them and
    against them three things: the first is, she blasphemes the hour when
    this woman saw them. And here you must know, that although many things
    in one hour can come into the eyes, truly that which comes by a
    straight line into the point of the pupil, that truly one sees, and
    that only is sealed in the imaginative part. And this is, because the
    nerve by which the visible spirit runs is directed to that part, and
    thereupon truly one eye cannot look on the eye of another so that it
    is not seen by it; for as that which looks receives the form of the
    pupil by a right line, so by that same line its form passes into that
    eye which gazes. And many times in the direction of that line a shaft
    flies from the bow of Love, with whom each weapon is light. Therefore,
    when I ask, "When first into mine eyes looked she?" it is as much as
    to ask, "When did her eyes and mine look into each other?"

    The second point is in that which reproves their disobedience, when it
    says, "Of her, why doubted they my words?" Then it proceeds to the
    third thing and says that it is not right to reprove them for
    precaution, but for their disobedience; for it says that, sometimes,
    when speaking of this woman, it might be said, "Her eyes bear death to
    such as I," if she could have opened the way of approach. And indeed
    one ought to believe that my Soul knew of its own inclination ready to
    receive the operation of this power, and therefore dreaded it; for the
    act of the agent takes full effect in the patient who has the
    inclination to receive it, as the Philosopher says in the second book
    on the Soul. And, therefore, if wax could have the spirit of fear, it
    would fear most to come into the rays of the Sun, which would not turn
    it into stone, since its disposition is to yield to that strong

    Lastly, the Soul reveals in its speech that their presumption had been
    dangerous when it says, "Yet vainly warned, I gazed on her and die."
    And thus it closes its speech, to which the new thought replies, as
    will be declared in the following chapter.


    The meaning of that part in which the Soul speaks, that is, the old
    thought which is undone, has been shown. Now, in due order, the
    meaning must be shown of the part in which the new antagonistic
    thought speaks; and this part is contained entirely in the verse or
    stanza which begins, "Thou art not dead," which part, in order to
    understand it well, I will divide into two; that in the first part,
    which begins "Thou art not dead," it then says, continuing its last
    words, "It is not true that thou art dead; but the cause wherefore
    thou to thyself seemest to be dead is a deadly dismay into which thou
    art vilely fallen because of this woman who has appeared to thee." And
    here it is to be observed that, as Boethius says in his Consolation,
    each sudden change of things does not happen without some flurry of
    mind. And this is expressed in the reproof of that thought which is
    called "the spirit voice of tenderness," when it gave me to understand
    that my consent was inclining towards it; and thus, one can easily
    comprehend this, and recognize its victory, when it already says,
    "Dear Soul of ours," therein making itself familiar. Then, as is
    stated, it commands where it ought to rebuke that Soul, in order to
    induce it to come to her; and therefore it says to her: "See, she is
    lowly, Pitiful, courteous, though so wise and holy."

    These are two things which are a fit remedy for the fear with which
    the Soul appeared impassioned; for, firmly united, they cause the
    individual to hope well, and especially Pity, which causes all other
    goodness to shine forth by its light. Wherefore Virgil, speaking of
    Æneas, in his greater praise calls him compassionate, pitiful; and
    that is not pity such as the common people understand it, which is to
    lament over the misfortunes of others; nay, this is an especial effect
    which is called Mercy, Pity, Compassion; and it is a passion. But
    compassion is not a passion; rather a noble disposition of mind,
    prepared to receive Love, Mercy, and other charitable passions. Then
    it says: "See also how courteous, though so wise and holy."

    Here it says three things which, according as they can be acquired by
    us, make the person especially pleasing. It says Wise. Now, what is
    more beautiful in a woman than knowledge? It says Courteous. Nothing
    in a woman can be more excellent than courtesy. And neither are the
    wretched common people deceived even in this word, for they believe
    that courtesy is no other than liberality; for liberality is an
    especial, and not a general courtesy. Courtesy is all one with
    honesty, modesty, decency; and because the virtues and good manners
    were the custom in Courts anciently, as now the opposite is the
    custom, this word was taken from the Courts; which word, if it should
    now be taken from the Courts, especially of Italy, would and could
    express no other than baseness. It says Holy. The greatness which is
    here meant is especially well accompanied with the two afore-mentioned
    virtues; because it is that light which reveals the good and the evil
    of the person clearly. And how much knowledge and how much virtuous
    custom does there not seem to be wanting by this light! How much
    madness and how much vice are seen to be by this light! Better would
    it be for the wretched madmen high in station, stupid and vicious, to
    be of low estate, that neither in the world nor after this life they
    should be so infamous. Truly for such Solomon says in Ecclesiastes:
    "There is a sore evil that I have seen under the Sun; namely, riches
    kept for the owners thereof to their hurt."

    Then subsequently it lays a command on it, that is, on my Soul, that
    it should now call this one its Lady: "Think thou to call her Mistress
    evermore," promising my Soul that it will be quite content with her
    when it shall have clear perception of all her wonderful
    accomplishments; and then this one says: "Save thou delude thyself,
    then shall there shine High miracles before thee;" neither does it
    speak otherwise even to the end of that stanza. And here ends the
    Literal meaning of all that which I say in this Song, speaking to
    these Celestial Intelligences.


    Finally, according to that which the letter of this Commentary said
    above, when I divided the principal parts of this Song, I turn back
    with the face of my discourse to the same Song, and I speak to that.
    And in order that this part may be understood more fully, I say that
    generally in each Song there is what is called a Tornata, because the
    Reciters, who originally were accustomed to compose it, so contrived
    that when the song was sung, with a certain part of the song they
    could return to it. But I have rarely done it with that intention;
    and, in order that others may perceive, this I have seldom placed it
    with the sequence of the Song, so long as it is in the rhythm which is
    necessary to the measure. But I have used it when it was requisite to
    express something independent of the meaning of the Song, and which
    was needful for its embellishment, as it will be possible to perceive
    in this and in the other Songs.

    And, therefore, I say at present, that the goodness and the beauty of
    each discourse are parted and divided; for the goodness is in the
    meaning, and the beauty in the ornament of the words. And the one and
    the other are with delight, although the goodness is especially
    delightful. Wherefore, since the goodness of this Song might be
    difficult to perceive, because of the various persons who are led to
    speak in it, where so many distinctions are required; and the beauty
    would be easy to see, it seemed to me, of the nature of the Song that
    by some men more attention might be paid to the beauty of the words
    than to the goodness of matter. And this is what I say in that part.

    But, because it often happens that to admonish seems presumptuous in
    certain conditions, it is usual for the Rhetorician to speak
    indirectly to others, directing his words, not to him for whom he
    speaks, but towards another. And truly this method is maintained here;
    for to the Song the words go, and to the men the meaning of them. I
    say then: "My Song, I do believe there will be few Who toil to
    understand thy reasoning." And I state the cause, which is double.
    First, because thou speakest with fatigue--with fatigue, I say, for
    the reason which is stated; and then because thou speakest with
    difficulty--with difficulty, I say, as to the novelty of the meaning.
    Now afterwards I admonish it, and say:

    But if thou pass perchance by those who bring
    No skill to give thee the attention due,
    Then pray I, dear last-born, let them rejoice
    At least to find a music in my voice.

    For in this I desire to say no other according to what is said above,
    except "Oh, men, you who cannot see the meaning of this Song, do not
    therefore refuse it; but pay attention to its beauty, which is great,
    both for construction, which belongs to the Grammarians; and for the
    order of the discourse, which belongs to the Rhetoricians; as well as
    for the rhythm of its parts, which belongs to the Musicians." For
    which things he who looks well can see that there may be beauty in it.
    And this is the entire Literal meaning of the first Song which is
    prepared for the first dish in my Banquet.


    Since the Literal meaning has been sufficiently explained, we must now
    proceed to the Allegorical and true exposition. And, therefore,
    beginning again from the first head, I say that when I had lost the
    chief delight of my Soul in former time, I was left so stung with
    sadness that no consolation whatever availed me. Nevertheless, after
    some time, my mind, reasoning with itself to heal itself, took heed,
    since neither my own nor that of another availed to comfort it, to
    turn to the method which a certain disconsolate one had adopted when
    he looked for Consolation. And I set myself to read that book of
    Boethius, not known to many, in which, when a captive exile, he had
    consoled himself. And, again, hearing that Tullius had written another
    book, in which, treating of Friendship, he had spoken words for the
    consolation of Lælius, a most excellent man, on the death of his
    friend Scipio, I set myself to read it. And although at first it was
    difficult to me to enter into their meaning, yet, finally, I entered
    into it so much as the knowledge of grammar that I possessed, together
    with some slight power of intellect, enabled me to do: by which power
    of intellect I formerly beheld many things almost like a person in a
    dream, as may be seen in the Vita Nuova. And as it is wont to be that
    a man goes seeking for silver, and beyond his purpose he finds gold,
    whose hidden cause appears not perhaps without the Divine Will; I, who
    sought to console myself, found not only a remedy for my tears, but
    words of authors and of sciences and of books; reflecting on which I
    judged well that Philosophy, who was the Lady of these authors, of
    these sciences, and of these books, might be a supreme thing. And I
    imagined her in the form of a gentle Lady; and I could imagine her in
    no other attitude than a compassionate one, because if willingly the
    sense of Truth beheld her, hardly could it turn away from her. And
    with this imagination I began to go where she is demonstrated
    truthfully, that is, to the Schools of the Religious, and to the
    disputations of the Philosophers; so that in a short time, perhaps of
    thirty months, I began to feel her sweetness so much that my love for
    her chased away and destroyed all other thought. Wherefore I, feeling
    myself to rise from the thought of the first Love to the virtue of
    this new one, as if wondering at myself, opened my mouth in the speech
    of the proposed Song, showing my condition under the figure of other
    things: for of the Lady with whom I was enamoured, no rhyme of any
    Vernacular was worthy to speak openly, neither were the hearers so
    well prepared that they could have easily understood the words without
    figure: neither would faith have been given by them to the true
    meaning, as to the figurative; since if the truth of the whole was
    believed, that I was inclined to that love, it would not be believed
    of this. I then begin to speak: "Ye who, intent of thought, the third
    Heaven move."

    And because, as has been said, this Lady was the daughter of God, the
    Queen of all, the most noble and most beautiful Philosophy, it remains
    to be seen who these Movers were, and what this third Heaven. And
    firstly of the third Heaven, according to the order which has been
    gone through. And here it is not needful to proceed to division, and
    to explanation of the letter, for, having turned the fictitious speech
    away from that which it utters to that which it means, by the
    exposition just gone through, this meaning is sufficiently made


    In order to see what is meant by the "third Heaven," one has in the
    first place to perceive what I desire to express by this word Heaven
    alone: and then one will see how and why this third Heaven was needful
    to us. I say that by Heaven I mean Science, and by the Heavens "the
    Sciences," from three resemblances which the Heavens have with the
    Sciences, especially by the order and number in which they must
    appear; as will be seen by discussing that word Third. The first
    similitude is the revolution of the one and the other round one fixed
    centre. For each movable Heaven revolves round its centre, which, on
    account of its movement, moves not; and thus each Science moves round
    its subject, which itself moves not; for no Science demonstrates its
    own foundation, but presupposes that. The second similitude is the
    illumination of the one and the other. For each Heaven illuminates
    visible things; and thus each Science illuminates the things
    intelligible. And the third similitude is the inducing of perfection
    in the things so inclined. Of which induction, as to the first
    perfection, that is, of the substantial generation, all the
    philosophers agree that the Heavens are the cause, although they
    attribute this in different ways: some from the Movers, as Plato,
    Avicenna, and Algazel; some from the stars themselves, especially the
    human souls, as Socrates, and also Plato and Dionysius the
    Academician; and some from celestial virtue which is in the natural
    heat of the seed, as Aristotle and the other Peripatetics. Thus the
    Sciences are the cause in us of the induction of the second
    perfection; by the use of which we can speculate concerning the Truth,
    which is our ultimate perfection, as the Philosopher says in the sixth
    book of the Ethics, when he says that Truth is the good of the
    intellect. Because of these and many other resemblances, it is
    possible to call Science, Heaven.

    Now it remains to see why it is called the third Heaven. Here it is
    requisite to reflect somewhat with regard to a comparison which exists
    between the order of the Heavens and that of the Sciences Wherefore,
    as has been previously described, the Seven Heavens next to us are
    those of the Planets; then there are two Heavens above these, the
    Mobile, and one above all, Quiet. To the Seven first correspond the
    Seven Sciences of the _Trivium_ and of the _Quadrivium_,
    namely, Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and
    Astrology. To the eighth Sphere, i.e., to the starry, correspond
    Natural Science, which is termed Physics, and the first Science, which
    is termed Metaphysics. To the ninth Sphere corresponds Moral Science;
    and to the Quiet Heaven corresponds Divine Science, which is
    designated Theology.

    And the reason why this is, remains briefly to be seen. I say that the
    Heaven of the Moon is likened unto Grammar because it is possible to
    find a comparison to it. For if you look at the Moon well, two things
    are seen to be proper to it which are not seen in the other stars: the
    one is the shadow which is in it, which is no other than the rarity of
    its body, in which the rays of the Sun can find no end wherefrom to
    strike back again as in the other parts; the other is the variation of
    its brightness, which now shines on one side, and now on the other,
    according as the Sun sees it. And these two properties Grammar has:
    for, because of its infinity, the rays of reason can find no end in it
    in parts, especially of the words; and it shines now on this side, now
    on that, inasmuch as certain words, certain declensions, certain
    constructions, are in use which were not formerly, and many formerly
    were which again will be; as Horace says in the beginning of his book
    on the art of Poetry, when he says: "Many words will spring up again
    which have now fallen out of use."

    And the Heaven of Mercury may be compared to Logic because of two
    properties: that Mercury is the smallest star in Heaven, that the
    amount of its diameter is no more than two hundred and thirty-two
    miles, according as Alfergano puts it, who says that it is one
    twenty-eighth part of the diameter of the Earth, which is six thousand
    five hundred miles; the other property is, that it is more concealed
    by the rays of the Sun than any other star. And these two properties
    are in Logic: for Logic is less in substance than any other Science,
    for it is perfectly compiled and terminated in so much text as is
    found in the old Art and the new; and it is more concealed than any
    other Science, inasmuch as it proceeds with more sophistical and
    probable arguments than any other.

    And the Heaven of Venus may be compared to Rhetoric because of two
    properties: the one is the brightness of its aspect, which is most
    sweet to behold, far more than any other star; the other is its
    appearance, now in the morning, now in the evening. And these two
    properties are in Rhetoric: for Rhetoric is the sweetest of all
    Sciences, since it principally aims at sweetness. It appears in the
    morning, when the Rhetorician speaks before the face of the hearer; it
    appears in the evening, that is, afterwards, when it speaks by Letters
    in distant parts.

    And the Heaven of the Sun may be compared to Arithmetic because of two
    properties: the one is, that with his light all the other stars are
    informed; the other is that the eye cannot gaze at it. And these two
    properties are in Arithmetic, which with its light illuminates all its
    Sciences: for their subjects are all considered under some Number, and
    with Number one always proceeds in the consideration of these; as in
    Natural Science the movable body is the subject, which movable body
    has in itself three reasons of continuity, and this has in itself
    reason of infinite number. And of Natural Science its first and
    chiefest consideration is to consider the principles of natural
    objects, which are three, that is, matter, privation, and form; in
    which this Number is seen, and not only in all together, but again in
    each one, as he who considers subtly may perceive. Wherefore,
    Pythagoras, according to what Aristotle says in the first book of the
    Physics, established as the principles of natural things, the equal
    and the unequal; considering all things to be Number. The other
    property of the Sun is again seen in Number, of which Number is the
    Science of Arithmetic, that the eye of the intellect cannot gaze at
    it. For Number, inasmuch as it is considered in itself, is infinite;
    and this we cannot, understand.

    And the Heaven of Mars may be compared to Music because of two
    properties. One is its most beautiful relative position; for, when
    enumerating the movable Heavens, from which one soever you may begin,
    either from the lowest or from the highest, this Heaven of Mars is the
    fifth; it is the central one of all, that is, of the first, of the
    second, of the third, and of the fourth. The other is, that this Mars
    dries up and burns things, because his heat is like to that of fire;
    and this is why it appears flaming in colour, sometimes more and
    sometimes less, according to the density and rarity of the vapours
    which follow it, which of themselves are often kindled, as is
    determined in the first book on Meteors. And, therefore, Albumassar
    says that the kindling of these vapours signifies the death of Kings
    and the change of Kingdoms; for they are the effects of the dominion
    of Mars. And, therefore, Seneca says that, on the death of Augustus,
    he beheld on high a ball of fire. And in Florence, at the beginning of
    its destruction, there was seen in the air, in the form of a cross, a
    great quantity of these vapours following the planet Mars. And these
    two properties are in Music, which is all relative, as is seen in
    harmonized words and in songs, from which the sweeter harmony results
    in proportion as the relation is more beautiful, which in this Science
    is especially beautiful, because there is in it a special harmony.
    Again, Music attracts to itself human spirits, which are as it were
    chiefly vapours from the heart, so that they almost cease from all
    labour; so is the whole soul when it hears it, and the power of all
    those spirits flies as it were to the spirit of sense, which receives
    the sound.

    And the Heaven of Jupiter can be compared to Geometry because of two
    properties. The one is, that it moves between two Heavens, repugnant
    to its good tempering, namely, that of Mars and that of Saturn. Hence
    Ptolemy says, in the book alluded to, that Jupiter is a star of a
    temperate complexion, midway between the cold of Saturn and the heat
    of Mars. The other is, that amongst all the stars it appears white, as
    if silvered. And these things are in the Science of Geometry. Geometry
    moves between two things antagonistic to it; as between the point and
    the circle, and I term circle freely anything that is round, either a
    body or superfices; for, as Euclid says, the point is the beginning of
    Geometry, and, according to what he says, the circle is the most
    perfect figure in it, which must therefore have reason for its end; so
    that between the point and the circle, as between the beginning and
    the end, Geometry moves. And these two are antagonistic to its
    certainty; for the point by its indivisibility is immeasurable, and
    the circle, on account of its arc, it is impossible to square
    perfectly, and therefore it is impossible to measure precisely. And
    again, Geometry is most white, inasmuch as it is without spot of
    error, and it is most certain in itself, and by its handmaid, called

    And the Heaven of Saturn has two properties because of which it can be
    compared to Astrology. One is the slowness of its movement through the
    twelve signs; for twenty-nine years and more, according to the
    writings of the Astrologers, is the time that it requires in its
    orbit. The other is, that above all the other planets it is highest.
    And these two properties are in Astrology, for in completing its
    circle, as in the acquirement of this Science, the greatest space of
    time is revolved, because its demonstrations are more than any other
    of the aforementioned Sciences, and long experience is requisite to
    those who would acquire good judgment in it. And again, it is the
    highest of all the others, because, as Aristotle says in the
    commencement of his book on the Soul, the Science is high, because of
    its nobility, and because of the nobleness of its subject and its
    certainty. And this Science more than any other of those mentioned
    above is noble and high, for noble and high is its subject, which is
    the movement of the Heavens; and high and noble, because of its
    certainty, which is without any defect, even as that which springs
    from the most perfect and most regular principle. And if any one
    believe that there is defect in it, it is not on the part of the
    Science, but, as Ptolemy says, it is through our negligence, and to
    that it must be imputed.


    After the comparisons which I have made of the seven first Heavens, we
    must now proceed to the others, which are three, as has been often

    I say that the Starry Heaven may be compared to Physics because of
    three properties, and to Metaphysics because of three others. For it
    shows us of itself two visible things, such as the multitude of stars
    and such as the Galaxy, that white circle which the common people call
    the Path of St. James. It shows to us also one of the poles, and keeps
    the other hidden from us. And it shows to us one movement alone from
    East to West; and another, which it makes from West to East, it keeps
    almost, as it were, hidden from us. Therefore, in due order are to be
    seen, first the comparison with the Physical and then that with the

    I say that the Starry Heaven shows us many stars; for, according to
    what the wise men of Egypt have seen, even to the last star which
    appeared to them in the Meridian, they place there twenty-two thousand
    bodies of stars, of which I speak. And in this it has the greatest
    similitude with Physics, if these three numbers, namely, Two, and
    Twenty, and Thousand, are regarded well and subtly. For by the two is
    meant the local movement, which is of necessity from one point to
    another; and by the twenty is signified the movement of the
    alteration, for, since from the ten upwards one advances not except by
    altering this ten with the other nine and with itself; and the most
    beautiful alteration which it receives is its own with itself, and the
    first which it receives is the twenty; reasonably by this number the
    said movement is signified. And by the thousand is signified the
    movement of increase, which in name, that is, this thousand, is the
    greater number, and to increase still more is not possible except by
    multiplying this. And these three movements alone are observed in
    Physics, as it is demonstrated in the fifth chapter of his first book.

    And because of the Milky Way, this Heaven has a great similitude with
    Metaphysics. Wherefore, it is to be known that concerning this Galaxy
    the Philosophers have had different opinions. For the followers of
    Pythagoras said that the Sun at some time or other went astray from
    his path, and, passing through other parts not suitable to his fervent
    heat, he burnt the place through which he passed, and there remained
    that appearance of the conflagration. And I believe that they were
    moved by the fable of Phaeton, which Ovid relates in the beginning of
    the second part of his Metamorphoses. Others said, such as Anaxagoras
    and Democritus, that it was the light of the Sun reflected into that
    part. And these opinions, with demonstrative reasons, they proved over
    and over again. What Aristotle may have said of this is not so easy to
    learn, because his opinion is not found to be the same in one
    translation as in the other; and I believe that it might be due to the
    error of the translators, for in the new one he seems to say that the
    Galaxy is a collection of vapours under the stars of that part which
    always attract them; and this does not seem to be the true reason. In
    the old translation he says that the Galaxy is no other than a
    multitude of fixed stars in that part, so small that we cannot
    distinguish them from here below, but that they cause the whiteness
    which we call the Milky Way. And it may be that the Heaven in that
    part is more dense, and therefore retains and represents that light;
    and this opinion Avicenna and Ptolemy seem to share with Aristotle.
    Therefore, since the Galaxy is an effect of those stars which we
    cannot see, if we understand those things by their effect alone, and
    Metaphysics treats of the first substances, which we cannot similarly
    understand except by their effects, it is evident that the Starry
    Heaven has a great similitude to Metaphysics.

    Again, by the pole which we see is signified the things known to our
    senses, concerning which, taking them universally, the Science of
    Physics treats; and by the pole which we do not see is signified the
    things which are without matter, which are not sensible, concerning
    which Metaphysics treats; and therefore the said Heaven has a great
    similitude with the one Science and with the other.

    Again, by the two movements it signifies these two Sciences: for by
    the movement in which every day revolves, and makes a new revolution
    from point to point, it signifies things natural and corruptible which
    daily complete their path, and their material is changed from form to
    form; and of this the Science of Physics treats. And by the almost
    insensible movement which it makes from West to East by one degree in
    a hundred years, it signifies things incorruptible, which received
    from God the beginning of their creation, and will have no end; but of
    these Metaphysics treats. Therefore I say that this movement signifies
    those things, for it began this revolution which will have no end; the
    end of the revolution being to return to one self-same point, to which
    this Heaven will not return by this movement, which has revolved a
    little more than the sixth part from the commencement of the world;
    and we are now in the last age of the world, and verily we wait the
    consummation of the celestial movement. Thus it is evident that the
    Starry Heaven, on account of many properties, may be compared to the
    Science of Physics and Metaphysics.

    The Crystalline Heaven, which, as the Primum Mobile, has been
    previously counted, has a sufficiently evident comparison to Moral
    Philosophy; for Moral Philosophy, according to what Tommaso says upon
    the second book of the Ethics, teaches us method in the other

    For as the Philosopher says in the fifth book of the Ethics, legal
    Justice requires the Sciences to be learnt, and commands, in order
    that they may not be abandoned, that they be learnt and taught: thus,
    the said Heaven rules with its movement the daily revolution of all
    the others; from which revolution every day all those receive and send
    below the virtues of their several parts. For, if the revolution of
    this Heaven could not rule over that, but little of their power would
    descend below, and little of their aspect. Wherefore we hold that, if
    it could be possible for this ninth Heaven not to move, the third part
    of the Heaven would not again be seen in any part from the Earth:
    Saturn would be for fourteen years and a half concealed from any place
    on the Earth, Jupiter would be hidden for six years, and Mars for
    almost a whole year, and the Sun for one hundred and eighty-two days
    and fourteen hours (I say days, meaning so much time as so many days
    measure); and Venus and Mercury, almost like the Sun, would be hidden
    and would reappear, and the Moon for the space of fourteen days and a
    half would be hidden from all people. Verily, here below there would
    be neither generation, nor the life of animals, nor of plants; there
    would be no night, nor day, nor week, nor month, nor year; but the
    whole Universe would be disordered, and the movement of the stars
    would be in vain. Not otherwise, should Moral Philosophy cease to be,
    would the other Sciences be hidden for some time, and there would be
    no generation nor life of happiness, and all books would be in vain,
    and all discoveries of old. Therefore it is sufficiently evident that
    there is a comparison between this Heaven and Moral Philosophy.

    Again, the Empyrean Heaven, because of its Peace, bears a similitude
    to the Divine Science, which is full of all Peace; which endures no
    conflict of opinion or of sophistical arguments, on account of the
    most excellent certainty of its subject, which is God. And of this He
    Himself speaks to His disciples: "My peace I give to you: My peace I
    leave unto you," giving and leaving to them His doctrine, which is
    this Science whereof I speak.

    Solomon says of this Science: "Sixty are the queens, and eighty the
    friendly concubines; and youthful virgins without number; but one is
    my dove and my perfect one." All the Sciences he terms queens, and
    friends, and virgins; and he calls this one dove, because it is
    without blemish of strife; and he calls this one perfect, because it
    causes us to see perfectly the Truth in which our Soul finds Peace.

    And therefore the comparison of the Heavens to the Sciences having
    been thus reasoned out, it is easy to see that by the Third Heaven I
    mean Rhetoric, which has been likened unto the Third Heaven, as
    appears above.


    By the similitudes spoken of it is possible to see who these Movers
    are to whom I speak; what are the Movers of that Heaven; even as
    Boethius and Tullius, who by the sweetness of their speech sent me, as
    has before been stated, to the Love, which is the study of that most
    gentle Lady, Philosophy, by the rays of their star, which is the
    written word of that fair one. Therefore in each Science the written
    word is a star full of light, which that Science reveals And, this
    being made manifest, it is easy to see the true meaning of the first
    verse of the purposed Poem by means of the exposition, Figurative and
    Literal. And by means of this self-same exposition one can
    sufficiently understand the second verse, even to that part where it
    says, This Spirit made me look on a fair Lady: where it should be
    known that this Lady is Philosophy; which truly is a Lady full of
    sweetness, adorned with modesty, wonderful for wisdom, the glory of
    freedom, as in the Third Treatise, where her Nobility will be
    described, it is made manifest. And then where it says: "Who seeks
    where his Salvation lies, Must gaze intently in this Lady's eyes;" the
    eyes of this Lady are her demonstrations, which look straight into the
    eyes of the intellect, enamour the Soul, and set it free from the
    trammels of circumstance. Oh, most sweet and ineffable forms, swift
    stealers of the human mind, which appear in these demonstrations, that
    is, in the eyes of Philosophy, when she discourses to her faithful
    friends! Verily in you is Salvation, whereby he is made blessed who
    looks at you, and is saved from the death of Ignorance and Vice. Where
    it says, "Nor dread the sighs of anguish, joys debarred," the wish is
    to signify, if he fear not the labour of study and the strife of
    conflicting opinions, which flow forth ever multiplying from the
    living Spring in the eyes of this Lady, and then her light still
    continuing, they fall away, almost like little morning clouds before
    the Sun. And now the intellect, become her friend, remains free and
    full of certain Truth, even as the atmosphere is rendered pure and
    bright by the shining of the midday Sun.

    The third passage again is explained by the Literal exposition as far
    as to where it says, "Still therefore the Soul weeps." Here it is
    desirable to attend to a certain moral sense which may be observed in
    these words: that a man ought not for the sake of the greater friend
    to forget the service received from the lesser; but if one must follow
    the one and leave the other, the greater is to be followed, with
    honest lamentation for desertion of the other, whereby he gives
    occasion to the one whom he follows to bestow more love on him. Then
    there where it says, "Of my eyes," has no other meaning except that
    bitter was the hour when the first demonstration of this Lady entered
    into the eyes of my intellect, which was the cause of this most close
    attachment. And there where it says, "My peers," it means the Souls
    set free from miserable and vile pleasures, and from vulgar habits,
    endowed with understanding and memory. And then it says, "Her eyes
    bear death," and then it says, "I gazed on her and die," which appears
    contrary to that which is said above of Salvation by this Lady. And
    therefore it is to be known that one Spirit speaks here on one side
    and the other speaks there on the other; which two dispute
    contrariwise, according to that which is made evident above. Wherefore
    it is no wonder if here the one Spirit says Yes, and there the other
    Spirit says No. Then in the stanza where it says, "A sweet voice of
    tenderness," a thought is meant which was born of my deep
    contemplation; wherefore it is to be known that by Love, in this
    Allegory, is always meant that deep contemplation which is the earnest
    application of the enamoured mind to that object wherewith it is
    enamoured. Then when it says, "There shall shine High miracles before
    thee," it announces that through her the adornments of the miracles
    will be seen; and it speaks truly, that the adornment of the miracles
    is to see the cause of the same, which she demonstrates; as in the
    beginning of the book on Metaphysics the Philosopher seems to feel,
    saying that, through the contemplation of these adornments, men began
    to be enamoured with this Lady. And concerning this word, i.e.,
    miracle, in the following treatise I shall speak more fully. What then
    follows of this Song is sufficiently explained by the other

    And thus at the end of this Second Treatise, I say and affirm that the
    Lady with whom I became enamoured after the first Love was the most
    beautiful and most excellent daughter of the Ruler of the Universe, to
    which daughter Pythagoras gave the name of Philosophy. And here ends
    the Second Treatise, which is brought in for the first dish at my
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