Divine Comedy: Novel Summary: Paradiso section 9- Paradiso section 13

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Paradiso section 9: Charles Martel prophesies that great ill fortune will befall his family.  A new spirit approaches Dante.  The spirit identifies herself as Cunizza.  Cunizza states that the fame of the spirit next to her will last for five hundred years but she does not identify the nearby spirit.  Cunizza then criticizes the cruelty and mean spiritedness that prevails in her native land, Treviso.  The outspoken Cunizza predicts that her neighbors will soon meet misfortune.  As Cunizza departs, the famous but unnamed spirit steps forward.  The spirit identifies himself as Folco.  Folco reports that although he burned with desires during his lifetime, those memories cause him no pain now.  Folco identifies another nearby spirit as Rahab, the harlot of Jericho.  Despite her sinful life, Rahab earned salvation because she helped Joshua take Jericho.  Folco censures Florence for its corruption but predicts that Rome will soon free itself from the vices that have befallen Florence.
Paradiso section 10: At this point, Dante urges his readers to think about the perfection of the universal plan.  Dante points out the movements of the sun and of the stars that create the seasons on Earth.  If the revolutions of the sun or of the stars strayed off path then everything on Earth would die.  Suddenly, Dante realizes that he and his guide have entered the Sphere of the Sun, a realm filled with intense brightness.  In that moment, Dante's consuming love for God surpasses his love for Beatrice.  Beatrice and Dante find themselves encircled by a crown of dancing, glorious lights that sing a beautiful melody.  A voice calls out from the crown that he will identify the spirits that surround the poet: Albert of Cologne, himself (St. Thomas Aquinas), Gratian, Peter of Lombard, and several others including Isadore of Seville, and Bede.  The twelve figures again begin to dance around Dante and Beatrice in perfect harmony.
Paradiso section 11: Dante opens this Canto by musing on the senseless acts of mortals who pursue wealth and power.  How trivial their pursuits seem in comparison to his journey with Beatrice.  The dancing lights stop circling when St. Thomas addresses Dante.  St. Thomas declares that to ensure the union between the Church and Christ, Providence appointed two pious leaders.  The first leader, St. Francis of Assisi, gave up his wealth to devote himself to poverty.  St. Francis attracted disciples who followed their leader by accepting poverty in their hearts and in their behavior-they walked barefoot and wore ragged clothing.  St. Francis preached Christianity in Egypt and received the stigmata before he died.  The second leader, St. Thomas instructs, was St. Dominic who instructed his followers in humility and service to God. Many of Dominic's followers, however, became greedy and now few people in the Dominican order remain faithful to St. Dominic's guidance.
Paradiso section 12: Still in the Sphere of the Sun, Dante notices a new ring of spirits encircle the first ring.  The two rings sing and move in harmony.  A voice from the second circle tells Dante that he too must extol the virtues of St. Dominic because St. Dominic and St. Francis were appointed by Christ to lead Christians back to God.  The spirit then goes on to detail the life story of St. Dominic.  Dominic was born in Calahorra where his mother had a prophetic dream about his greatness before he was born.  Dominic became a great teacher and traveled great distances to preach his message.  Dominic appealed to papal authority so that he could fight heretics.  The spirit then turns to a discussion of St. Francis.  He laments that factions within the Franciscan order are causing division.  The speaker finally identifies himself as the Franciscan, Bonaventura, then names all twelve spirits in the second circle.
Paradiso section 13: Dante asks his reader to imagine the astronomical delights that surround him.  We are asked to think of the twenty-four brightest stars that we know arranged in a double crown.  The crowns circle in opposite directions as they sing about the glories of God and the dual nature of Christ.  St. Thomas Aquinas reads the question about the wisdom of Solomon lingering in Dante's mind.  Dante believes that both Adam and Christ had perfect wisdom so they should be placed above Solomon.  St. Thomas explains that one cannot compare Adam and Christ to Solomon because they were created directly by God while a minister of God created Solomon.  Solomon's wisdom, therefore, must be compared to the wisdom of other human rulers.  St. Thomas admonishes Dante for coming to an uniformed conclusion and cites incorrect philosophers and sacrilegious teachers as examples people who did not practice sound judgment.

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