21 - Paradise XXIV, XXV, XXVI
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Description
This lecture covers Paradiso 24-26. In the Heaven of the Fixed Stars, Dante is examined on the three theological virtues by the apostles associated with each: St Peter with faith (Paradiso 24), St James with hope (Paradiso 25), and St John with love (Paradiso 26). While mastering these virtues is irrelevant to the elect, it is crucial to the message of reform the pilgrim turned poet will relay on his return home. Dante’s scholastic profession of faith before St Peter (Paradiso 24) is read testament to the complication of faith and reason. The second of the theological virtues is discussed in light of the classical disparagement of hope as a form of self-deception and its redemption by the Biblical tradition through the story of Exodus, the archetype of Dante's journey. The pilgrim's three-part examination continues in Paradiso 26 under the auspices of St John, where love, the greatest of the virtues is distinguished by its elusiveness. The emphasis on love's resistance to formal definition sets the stage for the pilgrim's encounter with Adam, who sheds light on the linguistic consequences of the Fall.
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