You've followed Dante through the dreaded gates of Hell, to the arduous slopes of Mount Purgatory, and now, finally, to the transcendence of the Heavenly Court.
With Dr. Anthony Esolen, you've travelled into the depths of the Inferno. You've witnessed the terrible hopelessness of Hell and the bitter punishments for sinners there. You've accompanied Dante and Virgil through the mysteries of Mount Purgatory where sinners are purged of all attachment to sin.
Finally, together with blessed Beatrice, enter into the indescribable glory of Heaven.
The Beatific Vision- Dante imagines that Paradise consists of nine celestial spheres which surround the very Throne of God at the center. It is like a blossoming rose, each petal reveals further splendor and glory the nearer we come to the center. Yet, in a way, Dante's journey to God read something like science fiction - after all, he and Beatrice travel through:
- The Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
- The "Fixed Stars" - a region medievals imagined to contain all stars except the Sun
- And finally, through the "Primum Mobile" - the sphere which causes the motion of all other spheres within it because it is moved directly by God
In each astral location, Dante and Beatrice meet the blessed souls who enjoy the bliss of Heaven. Unlike Purgatory and the Inferno which are arranged by different types of sin, Paradise is structured according to virtue. Each sphere is associated with one of the cardinal virtues - prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance - or one of the theological virtues - faith, hope, charity.
Poetry of the Highest Order- Professor Esolen who has served as your guide through both the Inferno and Purgatory will guide you through the profound and elevated poetry of Paradise. An expert who has taught Dante to college students for more than twenty years, Professor Esolen is also the preeminent modern translator of the entire Divine Comedy from the original Italian.
Dante can rightly be called the greatest poet who ever lived because he chose for the subject of his epic poem the greatest subject ever conceived - namely the whole purpose and end of man. Dante's imaginative genius gave us both astonishing human and theological insights and perhaps the most beautiful verse describing Heaven ever written.