In this lecture, Professor Mazzotta examines Paradise XVIII-XIX and XXI-XXII. In Paradise XVIII, Dante enters the Heaven of Jupiter, where the souls of righteous rulers assume the form of an eagle, the emblem of the Roman Empire. The Eagle's outcry against the wickedness of Christian kings leads Dante to probe the boundaries of divine justice by looking beyond the confines of Christian Europe. By contrasting the political with the moral boundaries that distinguish one culture from another, Dante opens up the Christian economy of redemption to medieval notions of alterity. In Paradise XXI, Dante moves from the exemplars of the active life to the contemplative spirits of the Heaven of Saturn, Peter Damian and St. Benedict. The question of perspective through which the theme of justice was explored resurfaces to distinguish between the visionary claims of the contemplative and mystical traditions. As Dante ascends to the Heaven of the Fixed Stars, catching sight of the earth below (Paradise XXII), his own visionary claims are distinguished by an awareness of his place in history.
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