Chapter 18: Jupiter — Lovers of Justice
Cacciaguida was happy because he knew that Dante would eventually write The Divine Comedy.
Dante was silent for a while as he thought about the exile awaited him.
Beatrice said to Dante, “Think about other things than the bad things. Think about Paradise, where I dwell with God, Who is able to lift the weight of every insult and every bad thing.”
Dante turned and faced Beatrice. Her eyes were beautiful, and they were filled with love. They were filled with more love than can be experienced on Earth — that amount of love is reserved for Paradise. For Dante to be able to experience so much love on Earth, he would need divine help.
But as he looked at the love in Beatrice’s eyes, he knew that he longed for nothing except to continue looking into her eyes, through which God’s joy was shining.
With a dazzling smile, Beatrice said, “Turn around and listen to Cacciaguida. Paradise can be found in his eyes, too.”
Faces and eyes reveal the deepest wishes of a person, and Dante saw that Cacciaguida wished to speak to him.
Cacciaguida said, “Mars is the fifth Sphere. Think of the Spheres as resembling a tree. This tree would get nourishment from the crown, not the roots, because the crown of the tree would be the place where God dwells: the Mystic Empyrean. This tree would always bear fruit in every season, and it would never lose its leaves.
“Here on Mars dwell souls who were so famous on Earth that they would inspire every poet to write better.
“Look up. Look at the horizontal arms of the Cross. I will name some souls, and you will see them flash across the arms as quickly as lightning flashes through a cloud. The naming and the flashing-by will occur simultaneously.”
As Cacciaguida pronounced each name, Dante saw a light flashing across the arms of the Cross. In all, Cacciaguida pronounced the names of eight holy warriors.
Joshua flashed across the arms of the Cross. Moses never made it to the Holy Land. Joshua was the successor of Moses, and he was the conqueror of the Holy Land. Joshua conquered Jericho, and he allowed Rahab, the whore of Jericho, and her children to remain alive. Joshua conquered Canaan.
Judas Maccabaeus flashed across the arms of the Cross. Judas Maccabaeus, a Jewish general, fought the Syrians in the 2nd century B.C.E. because King Antiochus of Syria was persecuting the Jews. He restored and purified the temple at Jerusalem, but later the Syrians defeated and killed him. When Dante saw this light flash by, he thought of a child’s top that spun and was powered by its own joy.
Charlemagne flashed across the arms of the Cross. Charlemagne was the restorer of the Western Roman Empire. He was the Holy Roman Emperor.
Roland flashed across the arms of the Cross. Roland, Charlemagne’s nephew, fought the Saracens, aka Muslims, in Spain. Roland was famous for his ivory horn and the sound it made. He was Charlemagne’s paladin.
William of Orange flashed across the arms of the Cross. William of Orange fought the Saracens in southern France, and he was the living ideal of the Christian knight. William of Orange was the hero of the Old French epic titled the Aliscans.
Renouard flashed across the arms of the Cross. Renouard was a huge Saracen who converted to Christianity and fought on the side of William of Orange; in addition, he was William’s brother-in-law. William found him working as a slave in a royal kitchen and freed him. In late life, they lived as monks in the same monastery.
Duke Godfrey flashed across the arms of the Cross. Duke Godfrey was the leader of the First Crusade. He fought the Saracens in the Holy Land, and he became the first Christian King of Jerusalem. He died in 1100 C.E.
Robert Guiscard flashed across the arms of the Cross. The 11th-century Robert Guiscard fought the Saracens in Sicily and in southern Italy, and he founded the Norman dynasty there. He died in 1085 C.E.
Having recited the names of the holy warriors, Cacciaguida rejoined the other souls who made up the Cross, and he sang.
Dante turned to Beatrice to find out what he should do next, and he saw that she had grown brighter and more beautiful. A human being can do good deeds and take joy in doing good deeds and can realize that he or she has grown more virtuous by doing good deeds. Much like that, seeing that Beatrice had grown brighter, he realized that he was in a Sphere that was further away from Earth and was making a bigger orbit around Earth than Mars had done.
He also noticed that the color in Beatrice’s face had changed like a blush leaving the face of a lady. Before, it had been reddish with the glow of Mars and now it was white with the glow of Jupiter, which was named after the Roman god who was the king of gods and of men.
Beatrice thought, The virtue that is associated with Jupiter is justice, and the souls found here are the souls of the just.
The souls of the just were lights who moved and formed visible speech. Just like birds rise from the edge of water as if they are celebrating an abundance of food, the souls flew together, sometimes in a group and sometimes in a line.
These souls formed letters: First a D, and then an I, and then an L. They sang while forming a letter, but having formed the letter, they stopped singing and allowed Dante enough time to see and remember the letter, and then the souls sang and formed another letter.
Dante thought, Please, Muses, help me to remember the letters so that I can show them later to other people.
He remembered. The souls spelled out this message: DILIGITE IUSTITIAM QUI IUDICATIS TERRAM.
Dante thought, Translated from the Latin, the message means “LOVE JUSTICE, YOU WHO RULE THE EARTH.” This is the beginning of the first chapter of the book titled “Wisdom of Solomon”: “Love justice, you who rule the Earth: think of the Lord with a good heart, and in the simplicity of your heart seek him.”
The souls had formed in the shape of the final M. The letter was gold, and Jupiter in the background was silver. More souls joined the M, and they sang.
Dante thought that they sang about Ultimate Good — perhaps. He was not able to understand some things in Paradise.
When a fire is stirred, sparks rise up. At one time, people thought — incorrectly — that they could foretell the future by examining these sparks.
The souls — it seemed that there were more than a thousand of them — rose to various heights and formed a new shape: that of an Eagle.
Beatrice thought, The Eagle is a symbol of Empire, and it is a symbol of justice. Roman law is to be greatly respected.
Guiding the souls was God, Who also guides birds as they build their nests. God is the Creator, and God needs no one to guide His hand, but He is able to guide others.
Dante the Poet thought, Justice can be found on Earth, and many souls who had the quality of being just while on Earth are present here. Our idea of Justice comes from Paradise, and we can see Justice more clearly when our eyes are not blinded by greed for money.
God’s wrath is rightfully directed against those who try to turn a temple into a marketplace for buying and for selling. The walls of a temple are built with miracles and martyrs, not with greed for money.
May just souls in Paradise pray for those who are misled on Earth by people who provide bad examples although they should provide good examples.
At one time, warriors fought wars with swords. Now, bad Popes fight wars by excommunicating people and denying them what God the Father would deny to no one. For example, Pope Gregory VIII, who died in 1085 C.E., excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV twice. A later pope, Pope John XXII, wrote excommunications simply so he could make money by canceling the excommunications.
Excommunication can be used ethically, but to use it for political and monetary purposes is to misuse it.
Popes who use excommunications unethically should remember that Peter and Paul are still alive in Paradise after having died to save the Church.
Popes who use excommunications unethically say, “My heart is set on John the Baptist, who lived alone in the wilderness and who died after Salome danced for Herod and then asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. I know nothing of Peter the Fisherman or of Paul.”
Yes, the heart of these popes is set on John the Baptist. This sounds good at first, but it is actually bad. The image of John the Baptist is stamped on the gold coins of Florence.
Popes who use excommunications unethically are more concerned with collecting gold coins than with doing the will of God. Popes who use excommunications unethically know a lot more about John the Baptist — or rather, John the Baptist’s image on gold coins — than they do about Saint Peter or Saint Paul.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce
This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:
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