Divine Comedy, Paradise

Author: Dante Alighieri

Canto X.

Ascent to the Sun.—Spirits of the wise, and the learned in theology.—St. Thomas Aquinas.—He names to Dante those who surround him.

Looking upon His Son with the Love which the one and the other eternally breathe forth, the Primal and Ineffable Power made everything which revolves through the mind or through space with such order that he who contemplates it cannot be without taste of
Him.[1] Lift then thy sight, Reader, with me to the lofty wheels,
straight to that region where the one motion strikes on the other;[2] and there begin to gaze with delight on the art of that
Master who within Himself so loves it that His eye never departs from it. See how from that point the oblique circle which bears the planets[3] branches off, to satisfy the world which calls on them;[4] and if their road had not been bent, much virtue in the heavens would be in vain, and well-nigh every potency dead here below.[5] And if from the straight line its departure had been more or less distant, much of the order of the world, both below and above, would be defective. Now do thou remain, Reader, upon thy bench,[6] following in thought that which is fore. tasted, if thou wouldst be glad far sooner than weary. I have set before thee; henceforth feed thee by thyself, for that theme whereof I
have been made scribe wrests all my care unto itself.

[1] All things, as well the spiritual and invisible objects of the intelligence as the corporal and visible objects of sense,
were made by God the Father, operating through the Son, with the love of the Holy Spirit, and made in such order that he who contemplates the creation beholds the partial image of the

[2] At the equinox, the season of Dante’s journey, the sun in
Aries is at the intersection of the ecliptic and the equator of the celestial sphere, and his apparent motion in his annual revolution cuts the apparent diurnal motion of the fixed stars,
which is performed in circles parallel to the equator.

[3] The ecliptic.

[4] Which invokes their influence.

[5] Because on the obliquity of their path depends the variety of their influence.

[6] As a scholar.

The greatest minister of nature, which imprints the world with the power of the heavens, and with its light measures the time for us, in conjunction with that region called to mind above, was circling through the spirals in which from day to day he earlier presents himself.[1] And I was with him; but of the ascent I was not aware, otherwise than as a man is aware, before his first thought, of its coming. Beatrice is she who thus conducts from good to better so swiftly that her act extends not through time.

[1] In that spiral course in which, according to the Ptolemaic system, the sun passes from the equator to the tropic of Cancer,
rising earlier every day.

How lucent of itself must that have been which, within the sun where I entered, was appareiit not by color but by light! Though
I should call on genius, art, and use, I could not tell it so that it could ever be imagined; but it may be believed, and sight of it longed for. And if our fancies are low for such loftiness,
it is no marvel, for beyond the sun was never eye could go.
Such[1] was here the fourth family of the High Father, who always satisfies it, showing how He breathes forth, and how He begets.[2] And Beatrice began, "Thank, thank thou the Sun of the Angels, who to this visible one has raised thee by His grace." Heart of mortal was never so disposed to devotion, and so ready, with its own entire pleasure, to give itself to God, as I
became at those words; and all my love was so set on Him that
Beatrice was eclipsed in oblivion. It displeased her not; but she so smiled thereat that the splendor of her smiling eyes divided upon many things my singly intent mind.

[1] So lucent, brighter than the sun.

[2] Showing himself in the Holy Spirit and in the Son.

I saw many living and surpassing effulgences make a centre of us, and make a crown of themselves, more sweet in voice than shining in aspect. Thus girt we sometimes see the daughter of
Latona, when the air is pregnant so that it holds the thread which makes the girdle.[1] In the court of Heaven, wherefrom I
return, are found many jewels so precious and beautiful that they cannot be brought from the kingdom, and of these was the song of those lights. Who wings not himself so that he may fly up thither, let him await the tidings thence from the dumb.

[1] When the air is so full of vapor that it forms a halo.

After those burning suns, thus singing, had circled three times round about us, like stars near fixed poles, they seemed to me as ladies not loosed from a dance, but who stop silent, listening till they have caught the new notes. And within one I heard begin, "Since the ray of grace, whereby true love is kindled, and which thereafter grows multiplied in loving, so shines on thee that it conducts thee upward by that stair upon which, without reascending, no one descends, he who should deny to thee the wine of his flask for thy thirst, would not be more at liberty than water which descends not to the sea.[1] Thou wishest to know with what plants this garland is enflowered, which, round about her,
gazes with delight upon the, beautiful Lady who strengthens thee for heaven. I was of the lambs of the holy flock[2] which Dominic leads along the way where one fattens well if he stray not.[3]
This one who is nearest to me on the right was my brother and master; and he was Albert of Cologne,[4] and I Thomas of Aquino.
If thus of all the rest thou wishest to be informed, come,
following my speech, with thy sight circling around upon the blessed chaplet. That next flaming issues from the smile of
Gratian, who so assisted one court and the other that it pleases in Paradise.[5] The next, who at his side adorns our choir, was that Peter who, like the poor woman, offered his treasure to Holy
Church.[6] The fifth light, which is most beautiful among us,[7]
breathes from such love, that all the world there below is greedy to know tidings of it.[8] Within it is the lofty mind, wherein wisdom so profound was put, that, if the truth is true, to see so much no second has arisen.[9] At his side thou seest the light of that candle, which, below in the flesh, saw most inwardly the angelic nature, and its ministry.[10] In the next little light smiles that advocate of the Christian times, with whose discourse
Augustine provided himself.[11] Now if thou leadest the eye of the mind, following my praises, from light to light, thou remainest already thirsting for the eighth. Therewithin, through seeing every good, the holy soul rejoices which makes the deceit of the world manifest to whoso hears him well.[12] The body whence it was hunted out lies below in Cieldauro,[13] and from martyrdom and from exile it came unto this peace. Beyond thou seest flaming the burning breath of Isidore, of Bede, and of
Richard who in contemplation was more than man.[14] The one from whom thy look returns to me is the light of a spirit to whom in grave thoughts death seemed to come slow. It is the eternal light of Sigier,[15] who reading in the Street of Straw syllogized truths which were hated."

[1] He would be restrained against his nature, as water prevented from flowing down to the sea.

[2] Of the Order of St. Dominic.

[3] Where one acquires spiritual good, if he be not distracted by the allurement of worldly things.

[4] The learned Doctor, Albertus Magnus.

[5] Gratian was an Italian Benedictine monk, who lived in the 12th century, and compiled the famous work known as the Decretum Gratiani, composed of texts of Scripture,
of the Canons of the Church, of Decretals of the Popes,
and of extracts from the Fathers, designed to show the agreement of the civil and ecclesiastical law,—a work pleasing in Paradise because promoting concord between the two authorities.

[6] Peter Lombard, a theologian of the 12th century,
known as Magister Sententiarum, from his compilation of extracts relating to the doctrines of the Church, under the title of Sententiarum Libri IV. In the proem to his work he says that he desired, "like the poor widow, to cast something from his penury into the treasury of the Lord."

[7] Solomon.

[8] It was matter of debate whether Solomon was among the blessed or the damned.

[9] "Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee,
neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."—1 Kings,
iii. 12.

[10] Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of St. Paul
(Acts, xvii. 34), to whom was falsely ascribed a book of great repute, written in the fourth century, " On the
Celestial Hierarchy."

[11] Paulus Orosius, who wrote his History against the
Pagans, at the request of St. Augustine, to defend
Christianity from the charge brought against it by the
Gentiles of being the source of the calamities which had befallen the Roman world. His work might be regarded as a supplement to St. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei.

[12] Boethins, statesman and philosopher. whose work,
De Consolatione Philosophiae, was one of the books held in highest esteem by Dante.

[13] Boethius, who was put to death in Pavia, in 524, was buried in the church of S. Pietro in Ciel d’ Oro—St. Peter’s of the
Golden Ceiling.

[14] Isidore, bishop of Seville, died 636; the Venerable Bede,
died 735; Richard, prior of the Monastery of St. Victor, at
Paris, a mystic of the 12th century; all eminent theologians.

[15] Sigier of Brabant, who lectured, applying logic to questions in theology, at Paris, in the 13th century, in the Rue du

Then, as a horologe which calls us at the hour when the
Bride of God[1] rises to sing matins to her Bridegroom that he may love her, in which the one part draws and urges the other, sounding ting! ting! with such sweet note that the well-disposed spirit swells with love, so saw
I the glorious wheel move, and render voice to voice in concord and in sweetness which cannot be known save there where joy becomes eternal.

[1] The Church.


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Chicago: Dante Alighieri, "Canto X.," Divine Comedy, Paradise, ed. Firth, John B. and trans. Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908 in Divine Comedy, Paradise (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1892), Original Sources, accessed October 4, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8TUBTF791U5V3A.

MLA: Alighieri, Dante. "Canto X." Divine Comedy, Paradise, edited by Firth, John B., and translated by Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908, in Divine Comedy, Paradise, Vol. 3, Boston, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1892, Original Sources. 4 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8TUBTF791U5V3A.

Harvard: Alighieri, D, 'Canto X.' in Divine Comedy, Paradise, ed. and trans. . cited in 1892, Divine Comedy, Paradise, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston. Original Sources, retrieved 4 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8TUBTF791U5V3A.