Monday, December 24, 2007

Purgatorio 31-33: Masque and Mystery

As we find ourselves in the dark wood of the final cantos of Purgatorio, several have related the triumphal procession, the sacred army, the griffin and the dumbshow of canto 32 to masques and mystery plays.

In an email, Mussy offers the thought that these forms of "entertainment" are
important for a study of Dante because embedded in this masque are many of the ideas Dante has been working toward not to be dismissed as silly childlike entertainment to convey surface churchy notions, though in a way it does that too. He counted on the masque form as a familiar experience of his time I believe.
We should pause to consider why, upon the culmination of the long journey ending in the Earthly Paradise and the "unmediated" vision of the face of Beatrice, Dante chooses to present these final cantos in a mode reminiscent of animal fable and other popular forms.

Mussy also offers this citation:

miracle play or mystery play,form of medieval drama that came from dramatization of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It developed from the 10th to the 16th cent., reaching its height in the 15th cent. The simple lyric character of the early texts, as shown in the Quem Quœritis, was enlarged by the addition of dialogue and dramatic action. Eventually the performance was moved to the churchyard and the marketplace. Rendered in Latin, the play was preceded by a prologue or by a herald who gave a synopsis and was closed by a herald's salute. When a papal edict in 1210 forbade the clergy to act on a public stage, supervision and control of presenting the plays passed into the hands of the town guilds, and various changes ensued. The vernacular language replaced Latin, and scenes were inserted that were not from the Bible. The acting became more dramatic as characterization and detail became more important. Based on the Scriptures from the creation to the Second Coming and on the lives of the saints, the plays were arranged into cycles and were given on church festival days, particularly the feast of Corpus Christi, lasting from sunrise to sunset. Each guild was responsible for the production of a different episode. With simple costumes and props, guild members, who were paid actors, performed on stages equipped with wheels (see pageant); each scene was given at one public square and drawn on to its next performance at another, while a different stage succeeded it. Named after the towns in which they were performed, the principal English cycles are the York Plays (1430–40), the longest, containing 48 plays; the Towneley or Wakefield Plays (c.1450, in Yorkshire); the Coventry Plays (1468); and the Chester Plays (1475–1500). The Passion play is the chief modern example of the miracle play. The French mystère distinguished those plays containing biblical stories from those about the lives of the saints. The auto, the medieval religious drama in Spain, was acted concurrently with the secular drama throughout the Golden Age and into the 18th cent. Calderón was the greatest composer of the auto sacramental, which dealt with the mystery of the Mass in allegory. In Italy the laudi were basically choral in form and so distinguished from the later sacre rappresentazioni, which became lavish artistic productions comparable to the French mystère.

See K. Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church (2 vol., 1933); and anthologies ed. by A. W. Pollard (8th ed. 1927) and V. F. Hopper and G. B. Lahey (1962).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Purgatorio 29-31

John D. Sinclair notes an underlying relation within Purgatorio 29 - 31:
The twenty-ninth canto is occupied with revelation; . . . it is all public and impersonal. The next two cantos are the most intimately personal in the Divine Comedy. The pageant . . . is as if forgotten during the interview between Beatrice and Dante. Yet the thirtieth and thirty-first cantos are not only relevant but essential to the matter of the twenty-ninth. Revelation is not revelation unless it reveals a man to himself . . ..

One might quibble with some of Sinclair's terms, but his general point seems worth bearing in mind: the divine pageant, Scripture, enters the sacred wood, bringing light, seeming to reenact, in its Veni, sponsa de Libano and Benedictus qui venit, three moments of Biblical history: the prophetic promises of the Old Testament, the entrance of Christ in Jerusalem, and the Second Coming. For men who read the Word in the dark wood of the world, these are separate moments turning around the central fact of the junction of man and God, the marriage of Heaven and Earth. But from the perspective Beatrice brings sub specie aeternitate -- a point that underlies Augustine's confession of time, of history, and of Scripture -- these three epochs of human history, past, present and future -- are one indivisible moment.

For Dante the individual, Beatrice played a role not unlike that of Christ: she appears to him in the flesh, igniting an ardent love and devotion; she dies - the central fact that Dante misread, mistaking her change of form for the termination of her being; she returns, shows him his error, and the roots of his error in his soul, and in that recognition he begins his journey across Lethe to see the face of Beatrice, in whose eyes can be seen the reflected image of the Gryphon.

How far have we come from the union of Ouranos and Gaia in Hesiod's Theogony?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some online resources for the Spring♠

Not an exhaustive list, but some links to some of the readings we are considering for the Spring. Not all of these are worthwhile translations.

Ethics: Philosophers, Poets, Prophets


Epicurus -

Marcus Aurelius


Diogenes of Sinope

Thucydides, The Melian Dialogue

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics – wikipedia

Nicomachean Ethics – text 350 BC

Plato -

Plutarch - Lives of the Greeks and Romans – Dryden translation

Horace - Select Satires

Juvenal -Satires 1, 2, 3 ; Satire 3 Bilingual


A♦t the beginning of Purg. 29, Matilda sang the psalm
Beati quorum tecta sunt peccata!
Blessed are those whose sins are covered.

Purg. 30-31 are clearly cantos of repentence, which in Italian is pentimento.

Readers of Lillian Hellman know that pentimento acquired another meaning, much later on:

pen·ti·men·to Listen to the pronunciation of pentimento
Inflected Form(s):
plural pen·ti·men·ti Listen to the pronunciation of pentimenti \-(ˌ)tē\
Italian, literally, repentance, correction, from pentire to repent, from Latin paenitēre — more at penitent
: a reappearance in a painting of a design which has been painted over

More at the Britannica: pentimento

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Was Shakespeare a Catholic?

At least one Roman Catholic scholar thinks so:

The Rev. David Beauregard, a Roman Catholic priest who teaches Shakespeare at the seminary of St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay, argues in his new book, "Catholic Theology in Shakespeare's Plays" (University of Delaware Press), that Shakespeare was Catholic.

Among the evidence:

He'll remind you that in "Hamlet," the ghost of Hamlet's murdered father tells his son that he is in purgatory, a Catholic concept.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Purg. 30: The admiral

"Dante, perché Virgilio se ne vada,
non pianger anco, non piangere ancora;
ché pianger ti conven per altra spada".

Quasi ammiraglio che in poppa e in prora
viene a veder la gente che ministra
per li altri legni, e a ben far l'incora;

in su la sponda del carro sinistra,
quando mi volsi al suon del nome mio,
che di necessità qui si registra,

in su la sponda del carro sinistra,
quando mi volsi al suon del nome mio,
che di necessità qui si registra,

vidi la donna che pria m'appario
velata sotto l'angelica festa,
drizzar li occhi ver' me di qua dal rio.

Quasi ammiraglio… Singleton finds strain in the simile – the oddness of likening a beloved woman, not seen since her death ten years earlier, to a busy, officious admiral pacing the deck of his ship.

"Dante, though Virgil's leaving you, do not
yet weep, do not weep yet; you'll need your tears
for what another sword must yet inflict."

Just like an admiral who goes to stern
and prow to see the officers who guide
the other ships, encouraging their tasks; 60

so, on the left side of the chariot
(I'd turned around when I had heard my name-
which, of necessity, I transcribe here),

I saw the lady who had first appeared
to me beneath the veils of the angelic
flowers look at me across the stream.

The moment Beatrice finally speaks to Dante would, in another sort of poem, be a rich, romantic, dreamlike moment -- but not here. Likening Beatrice to an admiral derails romance, and summons up an entirely different order -- a mariner, a leader, charged with responsibility for untold numbers of men and ships -- the fleet entrusted to his care.

What does this striking simile do in this context, and why might it, once one gets past the oddly jarring daring of the analogy, be appropriate and necessary at this moment of the Purgatorio?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More on the Hollander Paradiso

A recent New York Times review of the Hollander version of the Paradiso can be found here. A snippet:

From that time on my power of sight exceeded
that of speech, which fails at such a vision,
as memory fails at such abundance.
Just as the dreamer, after he awakens,
still stirred by feelings that the dream evoked,
cannot bring the rest of it to mind,
such am I, my vision almost faded from my mind,
while in my heart there still endures
the sweetness that was born of it.
Thus the sun unseals an imprint in the snow.
Thus the Sibyl’s oracles, on weightless leaves,
lifted by the wind, were swept away.

Here, remarkably, Dante offers three similes in a row: he can express the inexpressible only by descending repeatedly into the physical world — the world where dreamers awaken, where snow melts in sunlight, where the Sibyl’s prophecies are scattered by wind.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Purg. 30:1-12 Constellation

Quando il settentrïon del primo cielo,
che né occaso mai seppe né orto
né d'altra nebbia che di colpa velo,

e che faceva lì ciascuno accorto
di suo dover, come 'l più basso face
qual temon gira per venire a porto,

fermo s'affisse: la gente verace,
venuta prima tra 'l grifone ed esso,
al carro volse sé come a sua pace;

e un di loro, quasi da ciel messo,
'Veni, sponsa, de Libano' cantando
gridò tre volte, e tutti li altri appresso.

Dante begins with the settentrïon - the Little Dipper of the Northern sky, in which is found the North Star. For a relatively contemporary account of the heavens by a medieval astronomer, have a look at the Sphere of Sacrobosco:

It is to be noted that the pole which always is visible to us is called "septentrional," "arctic," or "boreal." "Septentrional" is from septentrio, that is, from Ursa Minor, which is derived from septem and trion, meaning "ox," because the seven stars in Ursa move slowly, since they are near the pole. Or those seven stars are called septentriones as if septem teriones, because they tread the parts about the pole.

The seven stars of the little dipper were also associated with the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas who guarded the golden apples of Hera on a paradisal island at the western edge of the world. The apples were said to have been given to Hera as a wedding present by Gaia when the goddess accepted Zeus's hand in marriage.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Canto 29: Augustine on Language and Time

Augustine, Confessions -

But how is that future diminished or consumed, which as yet is not? or how that past increased, which is now no longer, save that in the mind which enacteth this, there be three things done? For it expects, it considers, it remembers; that so that which it expecteth, through that which it considereth, passeth into that which it remembereth. Who therefore denieth, that things to come are not as yet? and yet, there is in the mind an expectation of things to come. And who denies past things to be now no longer? and yet is there still in the mind a memory of things past. And who denieth the present time hath no space, because it passeth away in a moment? and yet our consideration continueth, through which that which shall be present proceedeth to become absent. It is not then future time, that is long, for as yet it is not: but a long future, is "a long expectation of the future," nor is it time past, which now is not, that is long; but a long past, is "a long memory of the past."

I am about to repeat a Psalm that I know. Before I begin, my expectation is extended over the whole; but when I have begun, how much soever of it I shall separate off into the past, is extended along my memory; thus the life of this action of mine is divided between my memory as to what I have repeated, and expectation as to what I am about to repeat; but "consideration" is present with me, that through it what was future, may be conveyed over, so as to become past. Which the more it is done again and again, so much the more the expectation being shortened, is the memory enlarged: till the whole expectation be at length exhausted, when that whole action being ended, shall have passed into memory. And this which takes place in the whole Psalm, the same takes place in each several portion of it, and each several syllable; the same holds in that longer action, whereof this Psalm may be part; the same holds in the whole life of man, whereof all the actions of man are parts; the same holds through the whole age of the sons of men, whereof all the lives of men are parts.


sed quomodo minuitur aut consumitur futurum, quod nondum est, aut quomodo crescit praeteritum, quod iam non est, nisi quia in animo qui illud agit tria sunt? nam et expectat et attendit et meminit, ut id quod expectat per id quod attendit transeat in id quod meminerit. quis igitur negat futura nondum esse? sed tamen iam est in animo expectatio futurorum. et quis negat praeterita iam non esse? sed tamen adhuc est in animo memoria praeteritorum. et quis negat praesens tempus carere spatio, quia in puncto praeterit? sed tamen perdurat attentio, per quam pergat abesse quod aderit. non igitur longum tempus futurum, quod non est, sed longum futurum longa expectatio futuri est, neque longum praeteritum tempus, quod non est, sed longum praeteritum longa memoria praeteriti est.

dicturus sum canticum quod novi. antequam incipiam, in totum expectatio mea tenditur, cum autem coepero, quantum ex illa in praeteritum decerpsero, tenditur et memoria mea, atque distenditur vita huius actionis meae in memoriam propter quod dixi et in expectationem propter quod dicturus sum. praesens tamen adest attentio mea, per quam traicitur quod erat futurum ut fiat praeteritum. quod quanto magis agitur et agitur, tanto breviata expectatione prolongatur memoria, donec tota expectatio consumatur, cum tota illa actio finita transierit in memoriam. et quod in toto cantico, hoc in singulis particulis eius fit atque in singulis syllabis eius, hoc in actione longiore, cuius forte particula est illud canticum, hoc in tota vita hominis, cuius partes sunt omnes actiones hominis, hoc in toto saeculo filiorum hominum, cuius partes sunt omnes vitae hominum.
As early as the third millennium B.C., Mesopotamian scribes began to catalogue the clay tablets in their collections. For ease of reference, they appended content descriptions to the edges of tablets, and they adopted systematic shelving for quick identification of related texts. The greatest and most famous of the ancient collections, the Library of Alexandria, had, in its ambitions and its methods, a good deal in common with Google’s book projects. It was founded around 300 B.C. by Ptolemy I, who had inherited Alexandria, a brand-new city, from Alexander the Great. A historian with a taste for poetry, Ptolemy decided to amass a comprehensive collection of Greek works. Like Google, the library developed an efficient procedure for capturing and reproducing texts. When ships docked in Alexandria, any scrolls found on them were confiscated and taken to the library. The staff made copies for the owners and stored the originals in heaps, until they could be catalogued. At the collection’s height, it contained more than half a million scrolls, a welter of information that forced librarians to develop new organizational methods. For the first time, works were shelved alphabetically. -- Anthony Grafton, "Future Reading," New Yorker.

In a separate piece entitled Adventures in Wonderland, Grafton also points to some notable online resources for readers, including Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lash upon Dawkins

For possible future reference, here's a link to a theologian's review of an atheistic scientist's book about God.

The scientist is Richard Dawkins, the book is The God Delusion, and the reviewer is Nicholas Lash.

The possible relevance has to do with the history of the relation of science and religion, since it's come up a few times in our discussions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Terrestrial Paradise

Some images of the Terrestrial Paradise by Flaxman, Blake, Dore and Botticelli are here.

Some commentary is here.

All comes from the University of Texas at Austin's visually impressive site about the Commedia.

Canto 30: The last of Virgil

Alone he wandered, lost Eurydice
Lamenting, and the gifts of Dis ungiven.
Scorned by which tribute the Ciconian dames,
Amid their awful Bacchanalian rites
And midnight revellings, tore him limb from limb,
And strewed his fragments over the wide fields.
Then too, even then, what time the Hebrus stream,
Oeagrian Hebrus, down mid-current rolled,
Rent from the marble neck, his drifting head,
The death-chilled tongue found yet a voice to cry
'Eurydice! ah! poor Eurydice!'
With parting breath he called her, and the banks
From the broad stream caught up 'Eurydice!'"

Virgil, Georgics IV

These are the last words of Orpheus. His story is told within another story involving how Aristaeus learned a method of causing the spontaneous generation of bees.


"Seek not to know," the ghost replied with tears,
"The sorrows of thy sons in future years.
This youth (the blissful vision of a day)
Shall just be shown on earth, and snatch'd away.
The gods too high had rais'd the Roman state,
Were but their gifts as permanent as great.
What groans of men shall fill the Martian field!
How fierce a blaze his flaming pile shall yield!
What fun'ral pomp shall floating Tiber see,
When, rising from his bed, he views the sad solemnity!
No youth shall equal hopes of glory give,
No youth afford so great a cause to grieve;
The Trojan honor, and the Roman boast,
Admir'd when living, and ador'd when lost!
Mirror of ancient faith in early youth!
Undaunted worth, inviolable truth!
No foe, unpunish'd, in the fighting field
Shall dare thee, foot to foot, with sword and shield;
Much less in arms oppose thy matchless force,
When thy sharp spurs shall urge thy foaming horse.
Ah! couldst thou break thro' fate's severe decree,
A new Marcellus shall arise in thee!
Full canisters of fragrant lilies bring,
Mix'd with the purple roses of the spring;
Let me with fun'ral flow'rs his body strow;
This gift which parents to their children owe,
This unavailing gift, at least, I may bestow!"

Aeneid, VI.867-86

The last spoken words of Book VI, the descent of Aeneas into the underworld. The speaker is his father, Anchises, foretelling the future of Rome to his son, its founder.

Canto 29: Advent of Pageant

Detail from the Arch of Titus showing his triumph after the Sack of Jerusalem in 78.

The Order of the Triumphal Progression

  1. The Senate, headed by the magistrates without their lictors.
  2. Trumpeters
  3. Carts with the spoils of war to demonstrate the concrete benefits of the victory
  4. White bulls for sacrifice
  5. The arms and insignia of the leaders of the conquered enemy
  6. The enemy leaders themselves, with their relatives and other captives
  7. The lictors of the imperator, their fasces wreathed with laurel
  8. The imperator himself, in a chariot drawn by two (later four) horses
  9. The adult sons and officers of the imperator
  10. The army without weapons or armour (since the procession would take them inside the pomerium), but clad to togas and wearing a wreath. During the later periods, only a selected company of soldiers would follow the commander in the triumph.

The imperator himself is painted red and wears a corona triumphalis, a tunica palmata and a toga picta. He is accompanied in the chariot by a slave holding a golden wreath above his head. The slave also constantly reminds the commander of his mortality by whispering into his ear. The exact words are not known for certainty, but the suggestions include "Respica te, hominem te memento" ("Look behind you, you are only a man") and "Memento mori" ("Remember (that you are) mortal").

Often the exact order of triumphal progression was augmented by the triumphator by adding exotic animals, musicians and slaves carrying pictures of conquered cities and signs with names of conquered peoples.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Translation as Alteration

Shaw points us to another excellent piece from the New Yorker, in which James Wood reviews Robert Alter's new translation of the Psalms. A snippet:
Alter’s translation is especially helpful in these cases, because he is determined to remind his readers that they are reading ancient texts with hybrid origins, not Christian prayers with dedicated destinations. The Psalms (like the Book of Job) were relentlessly Christianized by the King James translators. Nefesh, meaning “life breath” and, by extension, “life,” was translated by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate as anima and then as “soul” in the K.J.V., even though, as Alter points out, soul “strongly suggests a body-soul split—with implications of an afterlife—that is alien to the Hebrew Bible and to Psalms in particular.” The ancient Hebrew word for the shadowy underworld where the dead go, Sheol, was Christianized as “Hell,” even though there is no such concept in the Hebrew Bible. Alter prefers the words “victory” and “rescue” as translations of yeshu‘ah, and eschews the Christian version, which is the heavily loaded “salvation.” And so on. Stripping his English of these artificial cleansers, Alter takes us back to the essence of the meaning.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Canto 28: King of the Hill

With Canto 28, Dante is no longer being guided by Virgil; he's at liberty to explore the foresta at the top of the mountain. After the blasted landscapes of the preceding cantos, the canto opens upon a fragrant, cool, varicolored scene:
Vago già di cercar dentro e dintorno
la divina foresta spessa e viva,
ch'a li occhi temperava il novo giorno, 3

sanza più aspettar, lasciai la riva,
prendendo la campagna lento lento
su per lo suol che d'ogne parte auliva. 6

Un'aura dolce, sanza mutamento
avere in sé, mi feria per la fronte
non di più colpo che soave vento; 9

per cui le fronde, tremolando, pronte
tutte quante piegavano a la parte
u' la prim'ombra gitta il santo monte; 12

non però dal loro esser dritto sparte
tanto, che li augelletti per le cime
lasciasser d'operare ogne lor arte; 15

ma con piena letizia l'ore prime,
cantando, ricevieno intra le foglie,
che tenevan bordone a le sue rime, 18

tal qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie
per la pineta in su 'l lito di Chiassi,
quand'Ëolo scilocco fuor discioglie.

Now keen to search within, to search around
that forest-dense, alive with green, divine-
which tempered the new day before my eyes, 3

without delay, I left behind the rise
and took the plain, advancing slowly, slowly
across the ground where every part was fragrant. 6

A gentle breeze, which did not seem to vary
within itself, was striking at my brow
but with no greater force than a kind wind's, 9

a wind that made the trembling boughs-they all
bent eagerly-incline in the direction
of morning shadows from the holy mountain; 12

but they were not deflected with such force
as to disturb the little birds upon
the branches in the practice of their arts; 15

for to the leaves, with song, birds welcomed those
first hours of the morning joyously,
and leaves supplied the burden to their rhymes- 18

just like the wind that sounds from branch to branch
along the shore of Classe, through the pines
when Aeolus has set Sirocco loose.

Both Italian and English from Opere.

As we arrive here, this third part of Purgatorio, it's probably a good idea to get some sense of orientation. What do we make of this place, and of how it's described, even before we learn more from its human(?) inhabitant? What do we understand to be the status of the pilgrim at this point? Having just completed his purgation, what seems to be the focus of this next step on his journey?

A little further on, allusions to several classical myths -- Aeolus; Dis and Proserpina; Venus, Cupid and Adonis; Hero and Leander -- along with Xerxes. What role in the seeming harmony of this moment does the introduction of these stories appear to play?

And of course, what can we say of Matilda and her interaction with Dante and the other poets? Does Dante's first question to her seem odd?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Town vs. Gown: Classical (?) Christian Education in Idaho

The college handbook forbids students to embrace or promote “doctrinal errors” from the 4th through the 21st centuries, “such as Arianism, Socinianism, Pelagianism, Skepticism, Feminism.
Thanks to Shaw for pointing us to a fascinating story from the 9.30.07 New York Times about a private Idaho college that aims to incorporate classical learning into a curriculum that, the founder says, aspires to a "medieval" protestantism.

This reference, from deep in the story, might be worth looking at in light of Dante's project to situate classical and biblical traditions in and through his own work:
In the early 20th century, a Dutch theologian named Cornelius Van Til introduced a kind of theology called presuppositionalism. He argued that no assumptions are neutral and that the human mind can comprehend reality only if proceeding from the truth of biblical revelation. In other words, it is impossible for Christians to reason with non-Christians. presuppositionalism is a strangely postmodern theory that denies the possibility of objectivity — though it does not deny the existence of truth, which belongs to Christians alone.
At one point the college's founder, Doug Wilson, says:
“There are circumstances in which I’d be in favor of execution for adultery. . . . I’m not proposing legislation. We’re saying, Let’s set up the Christian worldview, and our descendants 500 years from now can work out the knotty problems.”
How prevalent might be Christians who'd agree to this matching their notion of "the Christian worldview?" Or, in the noble tradition of "What would Jesus do? (WWJD)" we can ask WWDS: "What would Dante say?"

Speaking of Dante's three dreams

As we look at the three dreams of the pilgrim (cantos 9, 19, 27), we might want to consider if, and how, they address the status of the pilgrim soul -- e.g., how might Dante have viewed Pelagianism, a heresy we glanced at when we were reading Augustine last year?

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius. It is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism).

Monday, September 24, 2007

A song of Bernart de Ventadorn

Click to hear a song of Bernart's:

When I see the lark beat his wings

for joy against the sun's ray,

until he forgets to fly and plummets down,

for the sheer delight which goes to his heart,

alas, great envy comes to me

of those whom I see filled with happiness,

and I marvel that my heart

does not instantly melt from desire.

continue here

Dante's Third Dream

"If anyone should want to know my name,
I am called Leah. And I spend all my time
weaving garlands of flowers with my fair hands,
to please me when I stand before my mirror;
my sister Rachel sits all the day long
before her own and never moves away.
She loves to contemplate her lovely eyes;
I love to use my hands to adorn myself:
her joy is in reflection, mine in act."
(Purgatorio xxvii, 101-08, [Musa trans.])

The third prophetic dream of the Purgatorio offers Dante the pilgrim a vision of Leah and Rachel, coming in the pre-dawn at the moment Venus (here called Citerea, recalling the birth of Aphrodite) appears.

The motif of the wives of Jacob had long been a key figure of medieval interpreters of the Bible. Here is some background on four of them (Philo, Origen, Augustine, and Gregory). The comments of Augustine are seen as most relevant for Dante. As the author succinctly puts it,
the Leah/Rachel pair offers an image for the active and contemplative lives in which they are successive and necessary stages, the second of which is the superior, more beloved, and more divine.
Mussy has suggested we consider all three dreams of the Purgatorio together. It might well reward "contemplation" to do so. For ease of reference:
  • Canto 9: First Dream, of the eagle that caught up the sleeper, like Ganymede, nearly to perish in the sphere of fire (between earth and the moon). Set in Valley of the Princes; Lucy carries sleeping pilgrim to entrance to Purgatory proper.
  • Canto 19: Second dream - the "femmina balba" turns into the seductive siren who claims to lead all mariners astray. Set between 4th and 5th terrace (Sloth and Avarice).
  • Canto 27: Third dream -- Rachel and Leah. Set on steps after the wall of fire, before entrance to Garden of Eden.
There are linguistic echoes as well as some intriguing differences among not only the content of the dreams, but also in the relation of the poet to his dream. How does Virgil's role change?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Are the Humanities becoming unaffordable?

Rivisiting the Canon Wars, from the NYT:

Our nation, like most nations of the world, is devaluing the humanities vis-à-vis science and technology, so constant vigilance is required lest these disciplines be cut.” Louis Menand, a Harvard English professor and New Yorker staff writer who serves on Harvard’s curriculum reform committee, concurs: “The big question for humanists is, How do we explain why what we do is important for people who aren’t humanists? That’s been tough, really tough.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dartmouth Dante: The Commentaries

The Dartmouth Dante Project is one of the oldest online sites devoted to things Dantesque. Jutta recently pointed us to a vast resource now on the site: a means of searching a huge aggregate of commentaries on the Comedia.

The site has two remarkable elements:

1. You search commentators going back to Jacopo Alighieri - one of Dante's sons, which was published in 1322, a year after the poet's death - and forward to Robert and Jean Hollander, the final part of whose huge edition of the poem has just been published (and reviewed here). So if you're interested in, say, the use of the term corpo fittizio in Purgatorio 26 (you'll recall the shades on the terrace of Lust are struck by the physicality of Dante's shadow - the fact that his body is not fittizio) you enter those words, allow the search to default to "any," and get back the relevant text:

Questa fu la cagion che diede inizio
loro a parlar di me; e cominciarsi
a dir: “Colui non par corpo fittizio”

along with precise places in 17 commentaries where this term is noted and explicated.

2. The commentaries appear without translation; many of them are either in Italian or Latin. Also, there is no way to obtain the entire text of any one commentary - i.e., if you wanted to read through Jacopo's complete "key" to his father's Inferno, that's not readily available. It's unclear why, but probably has something to do with intellectual property rights and academic anality.

One ought not leave a discussion of the commentaries without noting that Dante from early on was prone to offer commentary on his own poems. So, for example, from the Convivio we have his discussion of allegory and his explications of several of his canzoni. In his Letter to Can Grande we have the poet, as noted earlier, laying out his view of theological allegory and fourfold interpretation. And even Vita Nuova, with its alternation of lyric and narrative elements, to some extent offers the poet's narrative as gloss upon his poems, and vice versa.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A review of the Hollander Dante

. . . the emotional world of the Purgatorio is one that we understand. The souls in Purgatory are sorry for their sins, and they are in pain—they have to walk through flames and the like—but they are also happy, because they are on their way to Heaven and their companions are coming with them. The emotion, basically, is Christian fellowship, or, to put it in secular terms, a cross between love and wisdom. Such mellow climes of feeling were not Dante’s home territory—he was more interested in the agony and the ecstasy—but he makes them present to us, and moving.
From The New Yorker of 9.03.07

Cloud Nine

A new translation of the Paradiso.

by Joan Acocella

Monday, September 10, 2007

Purgatorio 26: Guido Guinizelli

Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore

come l'ausello in selva a la verdura;

né fe' amor anti che gentil core,

né gentil core anti ch'amor, natura:

ch'adesso con' fu 'l sole',

sì tosto lo splendore fu lucente,

né fu davanti 'l sole;

e prende amore in gentilezza loco

così propiamente

-come calore in clarità di foco.

Foco d'amore in gentil cor s'aprende
come vertute in petra prezïosa:
che de la stella valor no i discende
anti che 'l sol la faccia gentil cosa;
poi che n'ha tratto fòre
per sua forza lo sol ciò che li è vile,
stella li dà valore:
così lo cor, ch'è fatto da natura
asletto, pur, gentile
donna, a guisa di stella, lo 'nnamora.

Love returns always to a noble heart,
Like a bird to the green in the forest.
Nature did not make love before the noble heart,
Nor the noble heart before love.
As soon as the sun appeared,
Brightness shone forth,
But it did not exist before the sun.
And love takes its place in true nobility
As rightly
As heat in the brightness of fire.

Love's fire catches in the noble heart,
Like the power of a precious stone
Whose potency does not descend from the star
Until the sun makes it a noble object:
After the sun has drawn out
Everything base with its own force,
The star confers power on it.
In such a way, lady,
Like the star, transforms the heart
Chosen by Nature and made pure and noble.

Purgatorio 26: Arnaut Daniel

I see scarlet, green, blue, white, yellow
gardens, bushes, plains, hills and valleys;
and the birds' voices sound and echo
with sweet chords, morning and evening:
this puts in my heart that I colour my song
with a flower such that its fruit will be love
and joy the seed and the scent a shield against sadness.

Thinking, Love's fire takes me
and sweet, deep desire;
and it's tasty, the pain that I feel
and the more it burns me the more pleasant the flame is,
since Love asks his subjects to be so:
true, earnest, faithful and prone to pleading
since in its court pride harms, and flattery's prized.

But I'm not changed by place or by time,
advice, chance (good nor ill);
and if I lie to you by purpose,
may she never look upon me, the fair one
that I hold in my heart while sleeping and waking,
since I don't want at all (my affairs being pretended)
to be, without her, where most flared Alexander.

Many times my merriment is boring,
without her, and of her I will at least
tell now the fourth or fifth part
since to no other side I turn my heart,
since of nothing else I have longing or wish
since she's the greatest of all my pleasures
and I see her in my heart, even if I'm in Flandres or in Puglia.

I crave to be but her cook
so as to get such an income
that'd make me live well for more than twenty years,
so much she keeps my heart merry and happy:
I'm such a fool! what am I looking for?
since I don't want, there where riches are,
to behold what Tigris and Meander enclose.

Among the others often I pretend to play,
and the day looks like a spleen,
and it grieves me that God doesn't let me
shorten time at will,
since a long wait make the lover languish:
Moon and Sun, too long you run your course!
It grieves me that your light doesn't dim more often.

Now go, song to the one I belong to,
of which Arnaut cannot show the virtues
since for that he would have display a higher wit.

More Arnaut Daniel here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A summary life of the poet

The "Purgatorio", perhaps the most artistically perfect of the three canticles, owes less to the beauty of the separate episodes. Dante's conception of purgatory as a lofty mountain, rising out of the ocean in the southern hemisphere, and leading up to the Garden of Eden, the necessary preparation for winning back the earthly paradise, and with it all the prerogatives lost by man at the fall of Adam, seems peculiar to him; nor do we find elsewhere the purifying process carried on beneath the sun and stars, with the beauty of transfigured nature only eclipsed by the splendour of the angelic custodians of the seven terraces. The meeting with Beatrice on the banks of Lethe, with Dante's personal confession of an unworthy past, completes the story of the "Vita Nuova" after the bitter experiences and disillusions of a lifetime.

The above is from a brief vita taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the New Advent site. The entire text is riddled with hyperlinks which go to richly hyperlinked articles in turn (like this one on Purgatory). One could easily get lost in this selva oscura for quite some time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Two senses of 'paideia'

This is just a placeholder for a future more-in-depth discussion. The Wikipedia article on Paideia is here - it's brief and not very satisfying, but at least it touches on some of the bases, and offers references to further reading, including Jaeger's three-volume study of the ancients' understanding of education.

A google search on the term also brought up this site, which even at a glance is clearly working within a New Testament tradition, and offers a completely different take on the meaning of paideia.

What jumped out was how this shift from the normative, Greek sense of the term into its New Testament transformation is situated, by the site itself, in the text of Paul:
Thus Paul, in Ephesians, instructs fathers to raise their children in the “paideia of the Lord,” preparing them to be faithful citizens in the kingdom of God and preparing them to engage the enemy with the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.
The difference between the two uses of the word is stark, and radical. For our "big picture" interest in the differences between the Hebraic and the Greco-Roman traditions, it might be seen as an epitome of what we have been finding in our readings.

This brief overview offers a bit more detail on classical paideia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Mostly from the Louvre - near the end, the fountain in the Luxembourg gardens commissioned by Marie de' Medici.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oracles and prophets

The liberties taken with the text of the Bible are astonishing, especially when you consider the integrity of many pagan texts. The texts of Aristophanes or Sappho or even Homer seem to have been considered far more sacred by the Greeks than ‘God’s word’ was by the Judahites and Christians. The difference, of course, is that one is playful art and the other is potent prophecy, and far too important, therefore, not to be interfered with. Only despotism could confer cogency on such a dodgy-looking collection.
From a review in the London Review of Books by James Davidson that delineates the roles of oracles and prophets in the ancient world, with some interesting contrasts between the Hebrew prophets and the "mantises" of the Greeks.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ancient edition of Iliad getting digitized

The oldest known manuscript of the Iliad, the Venetus A, is being digitized. Along with it, the scholia, or commentaries, in the margins will become available:
In this page from the Venetus A, the larger text is the Iliad, and the smaller notes at the top and left are scholia, scholarly commentary recorded by the scribe who composed the manuscript. Photo: Center for Hellenic Studies

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Joseph and Aseneth

Nothing particular to do with Dante, but given our readings in Genesis and the classics, I couldn't resist noting this summary with some passages from the story of Joseph on this lovely blog. The entire story is online, an elaborate soap-ish version of the love between Joseph and Aseneth, a daughter of Pharaoh who is mentioned in Genesis as having become his wife. (Of course we knew already that Thomas Mann was not by any means the first to build intricate narratives out of scant clues in Genesis' scant, but ever-suggestive, details.)

Of special interest, given a certain fascination of your blogger with bee images, was this passage:

13. And bees came up from the cells of the comb, and they were white as snow, and their wings were irridescent -- purple and blue and gold; [11] and they had golden diadems on their heads and sharp-pointed strings. 14. And all the bees flew in circles round Aseneth, from her feet right up to her head; and yet more bees, [12] as big as queens, settled on Aseneth's lips. 15. And the man said to the bees, "Go, please, to your places." 16. And they all left Aseneth and fell to the ground, every one of them, [13] and died. 17. And the man said, "Get up now, and go to your place;" and they got up [14] and went, every one of them, to the court round Aseneth's tower.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dantean Architecture in the Netherlands

Inside the building that tranquillity gives way to a comic-book version of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” with strict divisions between various worlds. Visitors enter via an internal bridge that crosses over an underground atrium. From here, a vast hall conceived on the scale of a piazza leads to a cafeteria overlooking the calm surface of a reflecting pool. On one side of the hall looms the ziggurat form of the museum; on the other, a wall of glass-enclosed offices. Here the spectral glow of the interior of the cast-glass skin evokes the stained-glass windows of a medieval cathedral.

It’s a stunning space whose power lies in the contrast between the various architectural experiences within. Clad in cold gray slate, for instance, the underground atrium is a striking counterpoint to the heavenly glass walls above. Mr. Neutelings and Mr. Riedijk call the atrium their “inferno.” It also evokes a tomb: big, square openings are cut through the atrium’s walls, revealing a series of corridors painted a hellish red. The archives are tucked behind these corridors, where researchers and scholars, you suppose, toil away with the concentration of monks.

Neither fiery nor blissful, the offices are something closer to purgatory. Arranged in neat little rows, they open onto long, narrow corridors that overlook the bustling main hall. The office interiors are more contemplative, the colored cast-glass panels alternating with more conventional strip windows. The colored glass emits a soft glow that is strangely soothing. via the New York Times.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dante vs. Forese: The Tenzone

Jutta has found the complete tenzone of Dante and Forese Donati - a poetic sparring in which each poet uses poetry to take a bite out of the other (see the etymology of sarcasm):

First exchange: Who heard her cough—that poor, ill-fated wife...

Second exchange: Partridges’ breasts and Solomon himself...

Third exchange: O Bicci junior, son of no one knows...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Purgatorio 23: The voice of Forese

I'm unable to find a text of Dante's tenzone with Forese Donati online. Forese, in Canto 23, is made unrecognizeable by famine until he speaks:

Mai non l'avrei riconosciuto al viso;
ma ne la voce sua mi fu palese
cio che l'aspetto in se avea conquiso.

Questa favilla tutta mi raccese
mia conoscenza a la cangiata labbia,
e ravvisai la faccia di Forese.

I never would have recognized him by
his face; and yet his voice made plain to me
what his appearance had obliterated.

This spark rekindled in me everything
I knew about those altered features; thus,
I realized it was Forese's face.

Hearing something in a voice that causes interest or recognition to occur is a recurring motif in the poem -- the voice, of all elements of identity, remains intact for Dante beyond death.

Their tenzone was a sort of poetic duel of wits and insults. Here are a few "lowlights," as the Princeton Dante has it:

Dante's Tenzone with Forese. Canto 23.115-17

Dante tells Forese Donati that recalling their past life together would weigh heavily on them (23.115-17) because he no doubt regrets the sort of crude, bawdy humor they each expressed so well in a youthful exchange of poems. The tenzone, a literary "dispute" in which the two writers show off by alternately insulting one another, was a popular medieval genre, an early precursor of the verbal dueling heard today in "rap dissing." The combatants usually take a word or an image from the previous poem and use it as a hook upon which to hang a new theme and continue the assault. Thus we find in the six sonnets exchanged between Dante and Forese (3 poems each) the following lowlights:

1a. Dante feels sorry for Forese's coughing wife (perpetually cold in bed): "Her cough, her cold, and all her other fears / are not because she is advanced in years / but only for some lack inside her nest."

1b. The morning after a coughing fit, Forese expects to find pearls and gold coins in a graveyard but instead comes upon an Alighieri--Dante's father?--tied in knots in a graveyard.

2a. Dante picks up on the knot motif to underscore Forese's dissolute ways and subsequent debt: "And mind you, even if you stopped your gluttony / it's now too late to pay back what you owe."

2b. Forese tosses back the poverty theme, countering that "if we're such beggars as you say, / why do you come back right here to beg?"

3a. To which Dante replies by linking Forese's gluttony with criminal behavior: "into your throat so much you have gulped down / you are now forced to steal what is not yours."

3b. Forese finally exploits the fact that Dante's father had financial problems of his own and may have been involved in some shady dealings. He knows Dante is Alighieri's son by the revenge Dante took "against the man who changed his money just the other night."

(Dante's Lyric Poems, trans. Joseph Tusiani [Brooklyn: LEGAS, 1992], 109-15)

Friday, May 18, 2007


Not surprisingly, the story of Erysichthon which Dante mentions in Canto 23.25 involves a tree. The story of Erysichthon's destruction of an oak sacred to Ceres sets up his own destruction by Famine:

...the wretched man snatched the axe from one of them, saying: “Though this be, itself, the goddess, not just what the goddess loves, now its leafy crown will meet the earth.” As he spoke, while he balanced the blade, for the slanting stroke, Ceres’s oak-tree trembled all over and gave a sigh, and at the same time its acorns and its leaves began to whiten, and its long branches grew pale. And, when his impious hand made a gash in the trunk, blood poured out of its damaged bark, like the crimson tide from its severed neck, when the mighty bull falls, in sacrifice, before the altar.

All stood astonished, and one of them tried bravely to prevent the evil, and hinder the barbarous double-edged weapon. But the Thessalian glared at him, saying: “Here’s the prize for your pious thought!” and swinging his blade at the man not the tree, struck his head from his trunk. He was hewing at the oak-tree repeatedly, when the sound of a voice came from inside the oak, chanting these words:

“I am a nymph, most dear to Ceres,
under the surface of this wood,

who prophesy to you, as I die,

that punishment will follow blood:

out of my ruin, the only good.”

But he pursued his course of evil, and at last, weakened by innumerable blows, and dragged down by ropes, the tree fell, its weight cutting a swathe through the wood.’

Ovid describes the hunger of Erysichthon:

The more he puts away inside, the greater his desire. As the ocean receives the rivers of all the earth, and unfilled by the waters, swallows every wandering stream: as the devouring flames never refuse more fuel, burn endless timber, and look for more, the greater the piles they are given, more voracious themselves by being fed, so Erysichthon’s profane lips accept and demand all foods, in the same breath. All nourishment in him is a reason for nourishment, and always by eating he creates an empty void.

Erysichthon's daughter, Mestra, was given the gift of metamorphosis, which enabled her father to sell her over and over. She'd just change shape and return to him. In the end, Erysichthon consumed himself, and Mestra married Autolycus, the grandfather of Odysseus.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Purgatorio 21, 61-66

De la mondizia sol voler fa prova,
che, tutto libero a mutar convento,
l'alma sorprende, e di voler le giova.

Prima vuol ben, ma non lascia il talento
che divina giustizia, contra voglia,
come fu al peccar, pone al tormento.

(substituting a much improved translation by friend and Dantist Peter D'Epiro:)

The will alone is judge of purity,
And, free to change its dwelling when it pleases,
Surprises the soul, encouraging it to will.

Indeed, the will is willing before, but stopped
By the longing that God’s Justice, against the will,
Inclines to torment as much as once to sin.

The English partly mimics the syntax, bursting with paradox, of the original.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Thebaid

It's not easy to find even a synopsis of Statius' Thebaid. The epic, in 12 books (same as the Aeneid), tells the story of the Seven Against Thebes (link will bring up something of a summary). The story has its roots in Aeschylus and Sophocles, but is filled to overflowing with Statius' baroque Latin style.

The main plot of the Thebaid derives from Oedipus' curse on his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, who, after he blinded himself, pushed him aside in order to pursue their own ambitions. The sons initially agreed to share the rule of Thebes by alternating one-year reigns. But Eteocles, the younger, soon broke faith.

Polynices went to Argos to ask help from its kings, Adrastus I and Amphiaraus. The latter had the celebrated and unusual dual gifts of prophecy and kingliness. On his way back from Argos, Polynices encountered his frail father on the road. The son sought his father's blessing, but received his curse:
This curse I leave you as my last bequest: Never to win by arms your native land, nor return to Argos, but by a kinman's hand to die and slay.
A minor aside: In this scene (from Oedipus at Colonus) with Polynices, Oedipus resembles the way the seer Teiresias had seemed to the pre-blind Oedipus. In Oedipus the King, there is much made of the difference between the kind of prophetic instinct, if that is the word, of the blind Teiresias and the rationative intelligence of Oedipus:
"Come, tell me, where have you proved yourself a seer? Why, when the Sphinx was here, did you say nothing to free the people? Yet the riddle, at least, was not for the first comer to read: there was need of a seer's help, and you were discovered not to have this art, either from birds, or known from some god. But rather I, Oedipus the ignorant, stopped her, having attained the answer through my wit alone, untaught by birds." (Oedipus the King.)

"How terrible it is to have wisdom when it does not benefit those who have it" - Teiresias. (Oedipus the King)
The story of the Seven against Thebes is the endgame of the duel of knowledge and power, fate and freedom, begun with the prophecy given to Laius and Jocasta, the parents of Oedipus. There is no exit, no glimmer of a way out.

Eteocles and Polynices slay one another at Thebes

Of all the poets who could have been cast in the role of "resurrected Christian convert," no one would seem a less promising candidate than Statius. It is a measure of the assurance of Dante as the poet of the era of promise beyond the classical world that he springs (literally) this surprise on Dante the Pilgrim, on Virgil, and on us in Canto 21.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Preposterous Trope

Dante conveys the speed of his ascent to the first sphere (Moon) (Paradiso 2) by saying it took no longer than it takes an arrow "to strike, fly, and leave the bow" (2.23-6). The reverse chronological order of these actions is an example of hysteron proteron, from the Greek for "later / first."

Cantos 21 and 22 of Purgatorio put Hysteron Proteron in play in various ways. It could be seen as the structuring principle of these cantos. Here's more about the trope:
The "classic" example is from Virgil's Aeneid, where the poet says, "Moriamur, et in media arma ruamus," or "Let us die, and rush into the midst of the fray (2.353)." Shakespeare is a master in the use of hysteron proteron. "Th' Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,/ With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder (Antony & Cleopatra 3.10.1-2)." In both instances the verbs are "out of order." You don't die before you go into the fight. You don't "fly" before turning the rudder. But the more vivid or prominent verbs are "die" and "fly."

A biblical example of this is in the highly-charged scene at the Last Supper when Jesus takes the bread and says to his disciples, "Take, eat; this is my body." In fact, the more "normal" way of saying it would be "This is my body. Take it and eat it." Hysteron proteron is a device that allows great immediacy of an important concept.
Another take on it:
Hysteron Proteron is the rhetorical equivalent of the theological truth taught by Jesus that the last shall be first and the first, last. In rhetoric it is a (literally impossible) situation where the idea suggested by the first word (usually a verb) must happen temporally after (hysteron means "latter") the idea suggested by the second word (proteron means "former" or "first"). Thus, the latter word will become the former word.

It is the "cart before the horse," which the Greeks call "Histeron proteron" and we call "Preposterous." Preposterous? Ah, it began to make sense. The word preposterous is made up of two Latin words, where the "posterus" (the "latter," equivalent to hysteron) is made "pre" (the "former," equivalent to proteron).

A contemporary blog about Purgatory

In Rome, there is a church called the Church of the Suffering Souls (address: Parrocchia Sacro Cuore in Prati-Lungotevere Prati 12-Roma, which is a short distance from the Vatican). In this church there is a small museum called the Holy Souls Museum with relics, prayer books, clothing and table tops that were touched and scorched by the holy souls that were allowed to leave Purgatory and return to their family or fellow religious and beg them for Masses and prayers.

From a blog maintained by a Catholic apostolate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ecce Statius

Canto 21, 7-14:

And behold -- even as Luke records for us
that Christ, new risen from his burial cave,
appeared to two along his way -- a shade

appeared, and he advanced behind our backs
while we were careful not to trample on
the outstretched crowd. We did not notice him

until he had addressed us with: "God give
you, o my brothers, peace!"

Many have puzzled over the way in which Statius sort of appears before he appears, and how it's not unlike what's happening in a passage from the last book of Luke that Dante refers to:

On the Road to Emmaus

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

19"What things?" he asked.

"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ[b] have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

The Vulgate version:
# et ecce duo ex illis ibant ipsa die in castellum quod erat in spatio stadiorum sexaginta ab Hierusalem nomine Emmaus
# et ipsi loquebantur ad invicem de his omnibus quae acciderant
# et factum est dum fabularentur et secum quaererent et ipse Iesus adpropinquans ibat cum illis
# oculi autem illorum tenebantur ne eum agnoscerent
# et ait ad illos qui sunt hii sermones quos confertis ad invicem ambulantes et estis tristes
# et respondens unus cui nomen Cleopas dixit ei tu solus peregrinus es in Hierusalem et non cognovisti quae facta sunt in illa his diebus
# quibus ille dixit quae et dixerunt de Iesu Nazareno qui fuit vir propheta potens in opere et sermone coram Deo et omni populo
# et quomodo eum tradiderunt summi sacerdotum et principes nostri in damnationem mortis et crucifixerunt eum
# nos autem sperabamus quia ipse esset redempturus Israhel et nunc super haec omnia tertia dies hodie quod haec facta sunt
# sed et mulieres quaedam ex nostris terruerunt nos quae ante lucem fuerunt ad monumentum
# et non invento corpore eius venerunt dicentes se etiam visionem angelorum vidisse qui dicunt eum vivere
# et abierunt quidam ex nostris ad monumentum et ita invenerunt sicut mulieres dixerunt ipsum vero non viderunt
# et ipse dixit ad eos o stulti et tardi corde ad credendum in omnibus quae locuti sunt prophetae
# nonne haec oportuit pati Christum et ita intrare in gloriam suam
# et incipiens a Mose et omnibus prophetis interpretabatur illis in omnibus scripturis quae de ipso erant
# et adpropinquaverunt castello quo ibant et ipse se finxit longius ire
# et coegerunt illum dicentes mane nobiscum quoniam advesperascit et inclinata est iam dies et intravit cum illis
# et factum est dum recumberet cum illis accepit panem et benedixit ac fregit et porrigebat illis
# et aperti sunt oculi eorum et cognoverunt eum et ipse evanuit ex oculis eorum
# et dixerunt ad invicem nonne cor nostrum ardens erat in nobis dum loqueretur in via et aperiret nobis scripturas