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Living in a world filled to the brim with hatred, misguided-ness, and racism for each other, mankind continues to struggle in its perpetual long lived and continuing cycle of separation of the masses – Church and State. The journey and characterization of an individual comes to mind…
Life’s Journey has many ways of preparing us for the lessons ahead, as well as behind. Many teachers have come to pass in the quest to have us learn, to contemplate, and comprehend the gift of divine (eclectic divinity). Mankind’s continued reach or search for God can be summed into a simple meaning and way of life. Aspiring to the heavens, for many of us, is not paved by way of tandem formulated religion. Good, a goodness in one’s life, a continuing and unrelenting desire, fortified, and defiance of evil on Earth, in life, upon another living soul could in all probability, bring us to the threshold of Eden. Sects, denominations of all said religions teach us with Psalm, Sura, Tanakh, Acts (The Bible, Qur’an, and Torah), and Hail Mary’s and such for repentance (Penance)…while pointing us in the direction of doing, being, and living – Good!
Most all men (and women) dream. Some experience nightmares while others interpret the sleep delivered messages and images as visions. Dante Alighieri was briefly mentioned in “All Hallows Night”(9.25.96). His dream was an adventure as much as it was an awakening dream. Easter Sunday April 10, 1300, Dante was thirty-five years of age when he began the telling of his journey through the Gates of Hell and Purgatory on Thursday night, April 7, 1300. He awoke in the “Forest of Worldliness” (or Sin). Sinful habits impeded his ability to remember how he got there.
He saw Satan, the lord of Hell, is represented as the counterpart of the Trinity, with heads of three colors – yellow, black, and red. The colors signified impotence, ignorance, and hate. They also corresponded to the divine power of wisdom and love. Beelzebub’s three pairs of wings sent forth blasts, which froze Cocytus (the river of Hades).
Lucifer held in his three mouths, Judas Iscariot – Jesus’ betrayer, Marcus Junious Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, (Publius Servilous Casca Longinus was not mentioned) – traitors to and assassins of Caesar and Rome were being chewed for their sins at the very center of hell.
Mahumet the shade (the fate of dwelling in shadow after death), originally a Christian and the deliberate cause of separations of the world’s two monolitheistic faiths, mentioned in prophesy the malicious pleasure of Fra Dolcino -the leader of a heretical sect, was forced to surrender. He was besieged in 1306.
Dante encountered a relative during his trek through hell. Geri Del Bello suffered a horribly violent death.
His death was not avenged. He was killed by the Sacchetti family and was avenged in 1310 by the Alighieri during a feud that continued into 1342. Upon Alighieri’s reproach and an attempt to reach out; make contact; talk to; reprimand – scold; lay blame; rapture in a blood relative embrace, the relative did turn his back to the living soul – and walked away…cursing the family.
Satan, Dis, or Pluto, was the ancient God of the underworld. He fell from Heaven into the Southern Hemisphere. Purgatory is located in the Southern Ocean. Mordred was the bastard son of Arthur. Caina, named after Cain who killed his brother Abel, like the many who are punished for the treacherous sins – all murderers were recorded in more than three divisions of the ninth circle of Dante’s cantos.’ A Heretic is described as he/she who is against neighbors, violent against a neighbor, and fellow men (and women) are to, for eternity, suffer the punishment of being submerged in “Hot Blood.”
“Someone Descends Who Will Open The City For Us!” These are the words that are displayed over top of the gates of hell. This entry in Dante’s repertoire portrayed the “sins of malice.” Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro). Virgil was considered a herald of Christianity for his Eclogue 4 verses concerning the birth of a boy, which were read as a prophecy of Jesus’ nativity. Virgil was a classical Roman poet; best known for three major works-the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the Aeneid-although several minor poems are also attributed to him. Virgil came to be regarded as one of Rome’s greatest poets. Virgil and Dante encounter the sign upon their descent into hell…lower hell.
Dante’s favorite hero of antiquity and the symbol or free will was Cato. Cato – Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis commonly known as Cato the Younger (Cato Minor) to distinguish him from his great-grandfather (Cato the Elder), was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy. He was also a famous orator. He is remembered for his legendary stubbornness and tenacity (especially in his lengthy conflict with Gaius Julius Caesar), as well as his immunity to bribes, his moral integrity, and his famous distaste for the ubiquitous corruption of the period. His merits earned him the post of “Guardian of Purgatory.” His suicide was due to non-submission to Caesar, a Christian sin but not a pagan one. His devotion to freedom will save his soul on judgment day. Cato prepares Dante and his friend and guide, Virgil for their descent into hell. Cato directed Virgil to gird Dante with a Reed (Humility) and to wash his face, so that he can be properly presented before the Guardians of the Ledges of Purgatory.
Ulysses (Odysseus) was the only one to sail the sea from whence the reed was plucked. The waters surrounded the tiny island that grew the reed. On the island existed the first minister of paradise. Ulysses is the Latinized version of Odysseus. Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer’s Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle. King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (matis, or “cunning intelligence”). He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous Trojan horse trick. Cato plucked the reed for Dante from the base of the island, in its place; it was suddenly reborn in the place from which it was torn.
Humility cannot be defeated – the more it is crushed the more it grows.
How can we as a people learn from this information? Does good win over evil? Remember, a heretic is to be against ones neighbors – fellow men (and women) – violent – punishable (according to scripture and the Inferno) by the soul being submerged in hot blood…forever. Prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice represent the morning star – Venus. It was seen in the New Sky – previously seen only by Adam and Eve.
Hastening towards the mountain of Purgatory, Dante, Virgil, and Cato witness a boat at the border of hell. It contained souls to be saved. One of them is a musician named Casella. He is an old friend of Dante – a personal friend in their former lives on Earth. Virgil tells Dante it will be easier to ascend the mountain to heaven as their climb progresses. The burden of inclination to sin becomes lighter. At the foot or the mountain, yet unable to ascend are persons who died in the state of excommunication from the church, according to the ecclesiastical penalty. The delayed souls must wait for a period of thirty times as long as they have lived in excommunication.
An explanation of the nature of prayer, as explained to Dante, “The nature of prayer does not deflect the divine will. The full explanation can come only from Christian Revelation.” Sardello, a man from Mantua, apprises Alighieri of a sad comparison with the hatred and division that afflict present cities. Does this behavioral belief and mindset not sound familiar? Self-gain at the expense of another won’t gain you any brownie points at the Sunday morning meeting, nor will it help you to get into heaven. Cynistic actions bestowed upon another, assures your eternal punishment. Should one believe in God? No matter the separate religious faiths – one is no better than the other.
During the trek, the travelers come across a peaceful valley. In the valley dwelled monarchs, i.e., statesmen, politicians and politicos, kings and queens, presidents, governors, mayors, and all sorts of controlling rulerships. The have neglected the spiritual side of life. The rulers, in the fraternal amity (friendship; peaceful harmony; mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord), make a striking contrast with their former selves – as many among the current generation of rulers – must delay their desired Purgatorial discipline. The purgatorial process leads essentially to natural rather than supernatural perfection.
“We reap what we sow!” Theological virtue is represented by faith, hope, and love (three stars). Because the “Valley of Monarchs” lies outside of Purgatory, it is not immune to evil. Albeit, it is guarded by angels, who drive off evil serpents that approach – only when the four stars that represent prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude are above (and practiced), that souls can ascend. It is seen as the Purgatorial process leading essentially to natural rather than supernatural perfection – the sacrament of Penance.
The first three vices are due to love of a bad object, the fourth to insufficient love, and the last three to disproportionate love. The seven capital sins are removed one by one as each soul moves through the seven corresponding ledges on the mountain of purgatory. Pride, envy, anger, sloth (recitation – habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness), avarice (extreme greed for riches; insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth), prodigality (wasteful extravagance in spending; lavish abundance), gluttony, and lust are among the evils of sin – as practiced on a daily and continued exercise by mankind, yes? Dante’s awakening dream revealed all this as he improved during the journey’s traverse.
Humankind, be forewarned…”checks” and “goads” will appear. Checks are warnings about the vice punished; the goads are examples of the opposing virtue(s). Should all not take heed and practice humility…every living day? I believe we should and could. I would love to see this lived, adopted, nourished, believed, and practiced by people on a daily basis in my lifetime. What a wondrous thing to see – would you not agree? Think I’m wishing for too much? Would a prayer of two help? I wonder.
In Purgatory and elsewhere, artists should not feel a prideful sense of triumph. The same applies to military glory. “Violence begets violence!” “Blessings on the poor in spirit!”
One form of divinitive punishment, witnessed by the three travelers, is how the proud are brought to the low in contrast with the humble. The trekkers meet souls whose eyelids are stitched shut. Removing their perception of the beautiful and good things that are had once begrudged to others. Why this type of hatred and evil is allowed in our society (“the haves and the have-nots”) is tolerated and upheld within our society is beyond my comprehension – it makes no sense to me. Does this practice enlighten or benefit you or someone you know? What does this practice mean to you? Do you think the practitioners of this way of life will take notice of the warnings of penitence and punishment? I wonder of such dreams. They acclaim the virtue of generosity – one of the penitents, indicating to Dante during a conversation, that he too, after his death, will have to undergo this punishment. He states, “But only slightly compared with what he will have to suffer below!” Other vices chime in with warnings to pass on against the vice of envy.
The first of the three travelers heard a condemnation being spoken. It condemns humankind for fixing its attention on the things incompatible with partnership. The partnerships with material goods are diminished but spiritual goods are multiplied.
Wrathful souls singing harmoniously in praise of God condemn the degeneracy of the present world. The intrinsic degradation of life on Earth is blamed on the evils or the times. “The pervasion of Earthly rule caused by the church’s usurpation or temporal authority in addition to the spiritual that it rightfully exercises,” says Virgil to Dante and Marco Lombardo, one of several Purgatorians who was met along the way.
Both the Creator and his creatures, are moved by love as outlined by the scheme of Purgatory,” says Virgil. He went on to say how sin arises when human reason distorts or misuses love. “We cannot sin when we love what is inherently good.” When love takes the distorted form of rejoicing in our neighbor’s ills (“The Point of The Shaft” – 4.12.11), the results are pride, envy, and anger.
Love is the motive power of acts both good and evil. How many of us are aware of this act? Were you… are you and yours in such a state or awareness? How about our so-called elected officials?
Is it love that motivates haters of progress – to constantly and continually attack our sitting President of these United States? Is it because he doesn’t look like them, think like them, or behave like them? Penitents who have been afflicted with those vices in Purgatory are lying face down, forced to confront their over-attachment to the Earth-bound senses representing the excessive indulgence in sensory pleasure. Earthly honors are no longer payable to individuals in the afterlife. Many evils perpetrated by this royal house are denounced as stated in the cantos of Purgatory – a sudden and violent tremor, as that of an Earthquake, and from the mountain raises a loud cry in praise of God. Good Friday – the anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ. Does it remind you of anything? What did the heavens do during this dreadful and hateful occurrence?
The Roman poet, Statius, states that he and we owe our freedom from avarice, and indeed our very salvation to the prophesized birth of a wondrous child. Compared to a man who walks in darkness, carrying a lantern that lights the way for those who follow but not for himself – from the tree comes a voice citing examples of abstinence. “From within another tree resembling the first one, a growth from the fatal tree in Eden.” Voices proclaim warnings against gluttony, cites Bonaquin Da Lucca, an old school poet superseded by Dante, whom they also met along the way. “The process of human embryology and God’s inbreathing of the soul into the developing human being at death, this soul survives and renews its capacity for sense experience by protecting from itself and immaterial body.”
Another group of Purgatorians, met on the journey, were former sodomites. They cried out warning examples of lust. These sufferers remain within the flames of hell. No longer in need of direction, Dante has reascended to the state of human perfection represented by Eden. Purified, he has attained the condition of perfect freedom – no longer in need of direction from without – no longer subject to institutions, he is crowned, made his own king and bishop. Are we of humankind, capable of deciding for ourselves, to govern ourselves without the intervention or control by and of other humankind, but with the power of God? I wonder. Will we now become able to think, speak, and act on our own volition – at the behest of no other humankind?
I certainly hope so…for the sake of the masses. As an individual, I surely can…and do!
Dante meets Matilda upon entering the fresh and fragrant Garden of Eden. He has bee purged of sin and the vice of lust. Matilda explains to Dante (she embodies the spirit of the place) that Eden is above and free from Earthly weather and the its two streams are derived directly from God. Lethe makes humans forget their past sins; the other stream, Eundie, makes them remember their good deeds. The river Lethe which from Eden from atop the mountain of Purgatory flows down the center of the Earth to join the four rivers of hell…at the universe farthest removed from God. Dante felt indignation at the sin that deprived humanity of so blissful a state. He sees seven candlesticks streaming colors (the gifts of the spirit); books of the Old Testament; the Gospels; a Griffon – Christ with his two natures, human and divine; three Theological/Evangelical virtues and four cardinal/moral virtues; seven more elders – the remaining New Testament sources (authors of Acts); four authors of other Epistles; and the author of Revelation that contains the North Star. He is left alone before the overwhelming spectacle to accomplish the painful but necessary rites of contrition, confession, and satisfaction – PENANCE.
The comprehension of the world, a vision of Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in one Godhead), and as a final Revelation, a view of the Incarnation is the reward to Dante. Would it not suffice humankind to attain such an adornment?
The paradox to the vision is that God who is one and changeless created and sustained the teeming variety of our world. The pilgrim, in his ultimate goal, is in the direct vision of God. Salvation and damnation depend on the state of the human soul. Hell reflects a theory of human nature, not primarily theological but rather ethical and artistic – a picture of the world we live in.
Theology, Purgatory is the most distinctively Catholic realm, reflecting one fundamental difference in belief between the Catholic and Protestant faiths. Purgatory, which Dante the character, on a mountain in the Southern Ocean – a prerequisite of the Christian faith (for beatitude, although the righteous Jews of the Old Testament period are saved by their implicit faith in Christ – Pagans of Antiquity and or modern times cannot enter Heaven; instead they dwell in Limbo, the uppermost circle of Hell, where their only suffering is to live without hope of redemption. The damned are those who, each in his or her own way, have definitively rebelled against God’s Law and defied or ignored his mercy – be it Pagans, Jews, and Christians – the repented have been forgiven by God and dwell with him in the celestial paradise. So says Dante’s thirty-three cantos of Paradise, the “Divine Comedy,” as cited from Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.
Society brings out the worst in people by assigning roles according to hereditary station that ought to be assigned according to inherent merit.
Dante’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Cacciaguida degli Elisei, an Italian Crusader, was born in Florence, and two documents from 1189 and 1201 mention his existence; all other details of his biography are those from his most famous descendant’s works. Cacciaguida probably died in the Holy Land. Dante meets Cacciaguida in Paradise. He bids Dante to have hopeful courage, to believe in the eventual vindication, and to publish his vision with unmittigated truthfulness – a question by Dante is answered by Solomon: “The complete human being includes body as well as soul, and when the two are ultimately united, the saved will both feel greater joy and be better able to love and serve God. The perfect body will not suffer from limitations it now endures in Earthly life.” His Great-Great-Great Grandfather added the keynote of justice – “The perversion of law and justice in the world, especially by the Papacy, is lamented.” The saved who lived before Christ (Hebrews) from the saved who lived after him (Christians) – two sides of the rose will have equal numbers when the half reserved for the Christian era is finally filed. The Virgin Mother who inscribed her prophecies on the leaves of trees which were then scattered by the wind. The Tree of The Knowledge Of Good and Evil which represents civic obedience and the authenticity of the empire of civil state.
I, like Dante, will take the advice of Cacciaguida by publishing the visions thereof with “Truth and Vindication.” There is a lesson to be learned and shared in Alighieri’s travel through the lower realm of Hades – through the Awakening, Eventful, and Enlightening Dream…
Did we learn it?
Til next time…
write by Stephen