National Epics
By Kate Milner Rabb

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Public Domain Books

The Divine Comedy - The Paradise

The Paradise of Dante consists of nine heavens, each a revolving crystalline sphere, enclosed in another; without them, the boundless Empyrean. The first or innermost heaven, of the Moon, revolved by the angels, is the habitat of wills imperfect through instability. The second, of Mercury, revolved by the Archangels, is the abode of wills imperfect through love of fame. The third, of Venus, revolved by the Principalities, is the abode of wills imperfect through excess of human love. The fourth, of the Sun, revolved by the Powers, is the abode of the great intellectual lights, the doctors of the Church. The fifth heaven, of Mars, revolved by the Virtues, is the abode of the martyrs, warriors, and confessors, and is sacred to the Faith. The sixth, of Jupiter, revolved by the Dominations, is inhabited by just rulers. The seventh, of Saturn, revolved by the Thrones, is inhabited by monks and hermits. The eighth, of the Fixed Stars, revolved by the Cherubim, is inhabited by the apostles and saints. The ninth, or Primum Mobile, revolved by the Seraphim, is the abode of the moral philosophers. These abodes, however, are not real, but representative, to illustrate the differences in glory of the inhabitants of Paradise, for the real seat of each is in the Rose of the Blessed. In the heavens, the saints appear swathed in cocoons of light; in the Rose they are seen in their own forms. They know all because they behold God continually. In the Empyrean is the Rose of the Blessed, whose myriad leaves form the thrones of the spirits, and whose centre of light is the Father himself. Dividing the Rose horizontally, the lower thrones are held by those who died in infancy; among them are varying degrees of glory. Above it, are those who died adults. Supposing a vertical division, the thrones to the left are for those who looked forward to Christ’s coming; those to the right, not yet all occupied, by those who died after Christ’s coming. Along the division lines are the holy women, the Virgin, Eve, Rachel, Beatrice, Sarah, Rebecca, Judith, and Ruth, Saint Anne and Saint Lucia, and the saints, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Adam, Moses, Saint Francis, Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine, Saint Peter, and in the midst, the Everlasting Glory of the Universe, whose light so fills the Rose that “naught can form an obstacle against it.”


Preface  •  The Râmâyana  •  The Story of the Râmâyana  •  Selections From the Râmâyana  •  The Story of the Mahâ-Bhârata  •  Selections From the Mahâ-Bhârata  •  The Iliad  •  The Story of the Iliad  •  Selections From the Iliad  •  The Story of the Odyssey  •  Selections From the Odyssey  •  The Kalevala  •  The Story of the Kalevala  •  Selections From the Kalevala  •  Selection From the Aeneid  •  Beowulf  •  The Story of Beowulf  •  Selection From Beowulf  •  Selections From the Nibelungen Lied  •  The Story of the Song of Roland  •  Selections From the Song of Roland  •  The Story of the Shah-Nameh  •  Selections From the Shah-Nameh  •  The Story of the Poem of the Cid  •  Selections From the Poem of the Cid  •  The Divine Comedy - The Hell  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Hell  •  The Divine Comedy - The Purgatory  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Purgatory  •  The Divine Comedy - The Paradise  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Paradise  •  Selections From the Divine Comedy - Count Ugolino  •  Selection From the Orlando Furioso  •  The Lusiad  •  The Story of the Lusiad  •  Selections From the Lusiad  •  The Jerusalem Delivered  •  The Story of the Jerusalem Delivered  •  Selection From the Jerusalem Delivered  •  The Story of Paradise Lost  •  Selections From Paradise Lost  •  Apostrophe to Light  •  The Story of Paradise Regained  •  Selection From Paradise Regained