“Canto 27: Gemini — Heaven’s Wrath at the Sinful Church; The Primum Mobile”
- What happens after Adam has answered Dante’s questions?
Dante’s exam took place in the eighth sphere — the sphere of the fixed stars. Previously he had visited the seven spheres of the planets (including the Sun, which Dante called a planet).
In the Ptolemaic universe, the fixed stars move as a group. They do not move in relation to each other. In contrast, the planets such as the Moon are not fixed. They move around in the night sky.
After Adam has answered Dante’s questions, song again is heard:
“Glory be to the Father, to the Son,
And Holy Ghost!” all Paradise began,
So that the melody inebriate made me.”
Dante then says something interesting that Joseph Gallagher believes is “a compact definition of Heaven” (186):
“O joy! O gladness inexpressible!
O perfect life of love and peacefulness!
O riches without hankering secure!”
- How does Saint Peter criticize his successors?
Red is the color of anger, while white is the color of holiness, and Saint Paul turns from white to red as he criticizes the bad Popes who have succeeded him.
Saint Peter especially criticized Pope Boniface VIII:
“He who usurps upon the earth my place,
My place, my place, which vacant has become
Before the presence of the Son of God,
Has of my cemetery made a sewer
Of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One,
Who fell from here, below there is appeased!”
Saint Peter’s criticisms of Pope Boniface VIII are harsh:
- Although Boniface VIII is the Pope, Christ regards the papacy as being vacant because of Boniface VIII’s corruption.
- Boniface VIII has turned the papacy “into a sewer” (Musa 27.25).
Saint Peter also points out two things:
- Saint Peter and his good successors did not covet gold.
- Saint Peter and his good successors did not engage in hurtful politics.
Saint Peter does, however, say that reform is coming.
- What is the ninth sphere?
All the saints leave, rising upward, and Dante looks down toward the Earth. What he sees is not impressive; he calls the Earth “this puny threshing-ground of ours” (Musa 27.85).
The next sphere that Dante will visit is the ninth. This sphere is the Primum Mobile, or the Prime Mover. We can regard it as the created universe’s outermost sphere.
Aristotle spoke about the Prime Mover. It is that which gives motion to the other spheres. He also called it the Unmoved Mover — the first uncaused cause.
What is beyond the ninth sphere is not located in space or time.
- How does Beatrice criticize greed?
We see lots of criticism in this canto.
Saint Peter criticizes bad Popes — bad shepherds of the sheep.
Beatrice criticizes bad people — greedy sheep:
“O Greed, so quick to plunge the human race
into your depths that no man has the strength
to keep his head above your raging waters!
The blossom of man’s will is always good,
but then the drenchings of incessant rain
turn sound plums into weak and rotten ones.
Only in little children can we find
true innocence and faith, and both are gone
before their cheeks show the first signs of hair.”
Why do the sheep go astray? Because they lack good shepherds. Beatrice says,
“My words should not surprise you when you think
there is no one on earth to govern you
and so the human family goes astray.”
People on Earth need good rulers.
This should not surprise us.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
DANTE PDFs and LINKs
PARADISE: CANTO 26 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 27 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 28 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 29 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 30 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 31 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 32 RETELLING
PARADISE: CANTO 33 RETELLING
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