Divine Comedy - Paradise

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She smiled somewhat, and then she said, "If the opinion of mortals errs where the key of sense unlocks not, surely the shafts of wonder ought not now to pierce thee, since thou seest that the reason following the senses has short wings. But tell me what thou thyself thinkest of it." And I, "That which here above appears to us diverse, I believe is caused by rare and dense bodies." And she, "Surely enough thou shalt see that thy belief is submerged in error, if then listenest well to the argument that I shall make against it. The eighth sphere[1] displays to you many lights, which may be noted of different aspects in quality and quantity. If rare and dense effected all this,[2] one single virtue, more or less or equally distributed, would be in all. Different virtues must needs be fruits of formal principles;[3] and by thy reckoning, these, all but one, would be destroyed. Further, if rarity were the cause of that darkness of which you ask, either this planet would be thus deficient of its matter through and through, or else as a body distributes the fat and the loan, so this would interchange the leaves in its volume. If the first were the case, it would be manifest in the eclipses of the sun, by the shining through of the light, as when it is poured out upon any other rare body. This is not so; therefore we must look at the other, and if it happen that I quash this other, thy opinion will be falsified. If it be that this rare passes not through,[4] there needs must be a limit, beyond which its contrary allows it not to pass further; and thence the ray from another body is poured back, just as color returns through a glass which hides lead behind itself. Now thou wilt say that the ray shows itself dimmer there than in the other parts, by being there reflected from further back. From this objection experiment, which is wont to be the fountain to the streams of your arts, may deliver thee, if ever thou try it. Thou shalt take three mirrors, and set two of them at an equal distance from thee, and let the other, further removed, meet thine eyes between the first two. Turning toward them, cause a light to be placed behind thy back, which may illumine the three mirrors, and return to thee thrown back front all. Although the more distant image reach thee not so great in quantity, thou wilt then see how it cannot but be of equal brightness.

[1] The heaven of the fixed stars.

[2] If all this difference were caused merely by difference in rarity and density.

[3] The stars exert various influences; hence their differences, from which the variety of their influence proceeds, must be caused by different formal principles or intrinsic causes.

[4] Extends not through the whole substance of the moon.

"Now, as beneath the blows of the warm rays that which lies under the snow remains bare both of the former color[1] and the cold, thee, thus remaining in thy intellect, will I inform with light so living that it shall tremble in its aspect to thee.[2]

[1] The color of the snow.

[2[My argument has removed the error which covered thy mind, and nov I will tell thee the true cause of the variety in the surface of the moon.

"Within the heaven of the divine peace revolves a body, in whose virtue lies the being of all that it contains.[1] The following heaven[2] which has so many sights, distributes that being through divers essences[3] from it distinct, and by it contained. The other spheres, by various differences, dispose the distinctions which they have within themselves unto their ends and their seeds.[4] These organs of the world thus proceed, as thou now seest, from grade to grade; for they receivefrom above, and operate below. Observe me well, how I advance through this place to the truth which thou desirest, so that hereafter thou mayest know to keep the ford alone. The motion and the virtue of the holy spheres must needs be inspired by blessed motors, as the work of the hammer by the smith. And the heaven, which so many lights make beautiful, takes its image from the deep Mind which revolves it, and makes thereof a seal. And as the soul within your dust is diffused through different members, and conformed to divers potencies, so the Intelligence[5] displays its own goodness multiplied through the stars, itself circling upon its own unity. Divers virtue makes divers alloy with the precious body that it quickens, in which, even as life in you, it is bound. Because of the glad nature whence, it flows, the virtue mingled through the body shines,[6] as gladness through the living pupil. From this,[7] comes whatso seems different between light and light, not from dense and rare; this is the formal principle which produces, conformed unto its goodness, the dark and the bright."

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