Well Done, Ivanka

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Dante’s Purgatory: Canto 23 Retelling — Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Forese Donati)

Chapter 23: Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Forese Donati) (Purgatory)

Dante looked up at the tree, trying to see from where the voice was coming.

Virgil called to him, “Dante, we need to make better use of our time. Let’s go.”

Dante quickly turned and followed Virgil and Statius and listened — with profit — to their conversation. Suddenly, the three poets heard chanting: “You shall open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall show Your praise.”

Dante asked Virgil, “What am I hearing?”

Virgil replied, “Most likely, the voices are coming from saved souls who are purging their sin and therefore paying off their debt to God.”

A group of souls, now silent, came up behind them. These penitents had been gluttons. While alive, they should have used their mouths to praise God instead of eating and drinking too much. Like monks, they now sometimes sang and sometimes were silent. The souls noticed Dante’s shadow, looked at him doubtfully, and then — their eyes still on the prize — walked past him and the other two poets.

These saved souls were emaciated. Their eyes were sunken and surrounded by dark shadows. Their bones could be seen clearly.

Dante thought, These souls remind me of Erysichthon, who cut down trees that were sacred to the goddess Ceres. He himself cut down a tree that was hung with wreaths: one wreath for each prayer that Ceres had granted. By cutting down the sacred tree, he killed a dryad nymph: the deity of the tree. In revenge, the nymph cursed him. Ceres heard the curse and punished Erysichthon by making him endlessly hungry. The more he ate, the hungrier he became. He sold all of his possessions to buy food to consume. He even sold his own daughter for money to buy food and eventually cannibalized his own flesh.

These souls also remind me of Miriam. During the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Miriam, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, was so hungry that she cooked and ate her own baby boy. She acted like a bird of prey cannibalizing its own young.

Dante the Poet remembered, The eye sockets of the penitents were clearly visible. Anyone looking at the penitents’ faces would have clearly seen the letters O and M and O in their faces: The two O’s are the eye sockets, and the M is the middle of the face (eyebrows and nose). The word ‘omo’ — or ‘homo’ — is Latin for man, and believers say that when God made Humankind, He put his mark on each human being.

Who would think — without knowing the nature of souls and how Purgatory works — that these souls who smell the fruit of the tree and who smell the stream of water that falls on the tree could be so emaciated?

Suddenly, one of the shades turned toward Dante and said, “This is a blessing that I have received from God!”

Dante recognized this soul from his voice; the soul was so emaciated that Dante could not recognize him from his face and body. This soul was his friend Forese Donati.

Dante thought, We used to write comic insult poems about each other and send them to each other. I criticized Forese for his gluttony and his huge belly. He wrote that I was once so afraid that I filled my pants with a substance that polite people don’t mention except when talking to their physician.

Forese said to him, “Ignore the way I look: the sickly skin and shriveled flesh. Tell me about yourself and the two souls with you. Who are they? Please tell me your story!”

Dante replied, “When you died, I wept. And now I feel like weeping again seeing you as emaciated as you are. What has stripped the flesh from your body? Don’t ask me to speak. I am in shock at how you look, and I cannot talk well in such a state.”

Forese replied, “The tree with its fruit and with a stream falling onto it makes me lean. God has given the tree that power. All of us here fill our mouths with words to repent our sin of gluttony rather than fill our mouths with food and drink to make our bellies bigger. The tree makes us hungry and emaciated, and each time we go around this ledge our hunger and emaciation are increased. People may call this pain, but it is also solace. On the cross, Christ called out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Christ did not want to be on the cross, but He did what had to be done to redeem Humankind. He was eager to help Humankind. We are eager to do what has to be done to purge our sin of gluttony.”

Dante said, “Forese, you died not even five years ago. You repented late in life, so how were you able to climb so high up this mountain so quickly? I thought that I would see you in Prepurgatory with the late repentant.”

Forese said, “I had a good wife who has been a good widow. Nella cried for me, and she has prayed for me. Only because of her prayers, which come from a virtuous person, have I been able to climb so high and so quickly up this mountain. Because of her, I have been able to skip the other ledges.

“Both God and I love Nella, and she stands out in contrast with other women who lack her virtue. In Sardinia are wild women who go about with bare breasts. These wild women have more virtue than the women who are my Nella’s neighbors in Florence. Those ‘ladies’ of Florence go about with too-low necklines. Muslims dress much more modestly by their own choice. Trouble is coming to Florence, and if the ‘ladies’ of Florence knew the trouble that awaits them, they would scream. They will experience much trouble before the infants they now are holding grow up and grow beards.

“But now, Dante, tell me your story. I and my fellow penitents are looking at your shadow and are wondering how a living man has come to climb this mountain.”

Dante replied, “When you think about some of the times we spent together in the Land of the Living, you must cringe from some of the sins we committed. Because of my sins, my guide came to me to be my leader a few days ago. We journeyed through the Inferno, and then my guide led me up this mountain. He will be my guide until I meet Beatrice, whom you knew, and then Beatrice will take over as my guide.

“The other soul with me is that soul for whom the mountain trembled recently, showing that he is ready to enter Paradise.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce

This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:

https://www.amazon.com/Dantes-Divine-Comedy-Retelling-Prose-ebook/dp/B00923K8N0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dantes-divine-comedy-david-bruce/1113574173

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/238180

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dante-s-divine-comedy-a-retelling-in-prose

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dantes-divine-comedy-retelling/id566977960?mt=11

Check out the rest of

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/

Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/about-the-blogger/

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smoothie2003

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Journalism Roll of Honor: The News Organizations President Trump Hates

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Source: Michael Calderone: Trump White House Bars News Organizations From Press Briefing (Huffington Post)

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RECOMMENDED READING:

Michael Calderone: Trump White House Bars News Organizations From Press Briefing (Huffington Post)

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” said New York Times editor Dean Baquet.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-bars-news-organizations_us_58b08a76e4b0a8a9b78213ae?

Marc Dion: I’m an Enemy of the People (Creators Syndicate)

Most recently, the president of our great nation has decided that me, and people like me, are enemies of the people. I’ve never been called that before, but I’ve read enough history to know that “enemies of the people’ is what it says on the exit sign for the concentration camp, the re-education camp, the killing fields and the interrogation room.

https://www.creators.com/read/marc-dion/02/17/im-an-enemy-of-the-people

Froma Harrop: Trump Has Media Crying … All the Way to the Bank (Creators Syndicate)

Donald Trump’s tweet about the media’s being “the enemy of the American people” was a classic distraction — in this case, from questions swirling around his team’s troubling ties with our Russian adversaries. While the FBI, CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee investigate, a few thoughts on how news sources under Trumpian attack should respond.

https://www.creators.com/read/froma-harrop/02/17/trump-has-media-crying-all-the-way-to-the-bank

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Dante’s Purgatory: Canto 22 Retelling — Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Statius)

Chapter 22: Sixth Ledge — Gluttony (Statius) (Purgatory)

Dante and Virgil and Statius had passed the angel, who had removed another P from the foreheads of Dante and Statius, and the three poets had begun climbing to the next ledge. The angel had said, “Blessed are they who thirst after righteousness,” leaving out the words “hunger and.”

Dante, now feeling lighter than he had at any time since he had started climbing up the mountain, easily followed Virgil and Statius.

Virgil said, “Love always kindles love, if the first love is virtuous and is clearly seen. You showed much love to me when you tried to kneel and embrace my knees, as was the custom of our times. Now let me tell you that when Juvenal, who lived at the same time as you, first entered Limbo, he told me of the great love you bore me. Since then, I have felt for you as much love as it is possible to feel for a person I had never seen. Our journey will now seem much shorter because we can enjoy each other’s company.

“But please tell me, if you will, how can it be that you were greedy? You have acquired much good sense, as can be seen from the diligence with which you educated yourself to write poetry.”

Statius smiled briefly, and then he said, “Your words show that you must really love me. Appearances can be misleading. Because you found me on this ledge and because all the sinners whom you have seen so far have apparently been guilty of greed, you assume that my sin was greed. Actually, I was far from greedy — too far! My sin, which I have been purging for thousands of months, was the opposite of greed: prodigality. Instead of valuing money too much, I valued the things that money can buy too much, and I spent all I had, and more.

“Extremes are evil. I should have learned from Aristotle’s mean between extremes earlier in my life. Keeping in mind Aristotle’s Golden Mean, we can understand that both extremes (too much and too little) are sins. When it comes to handling money, it is wrong to save every penny you make and never spend money on necessities, and it is wrong to spend every penny you make and every penny you can borrow on things that you don’t need. I was guilty of overspending.

“I learned to repent my sin from some lines that you, Virgil, wrote: “Accursed love for gold / To what extremes will you drive us?” You wrote about greed, but because I had studied Aristotle’s Golden Mean, I began to think about the opposite extreme, and so I realized that I had sinned, and I repented. If not for your lines, I would be in the Inferno. Instead, I repented that sin, and all of my other sins.

“In the Inferno, the avaricious and the prodigal are in the same place, but they are in conflict, slamming huge boulders against each other. Here in Purgatory we have cooperation rather than conflict, as the avaricious and the prodigal work together to purge their sins. But here in Purgatory, as in the Inferno, sinners who engaged in opposites can be found together.

“On Judgment Day, many will rise not knowing that prodigality is a vice, and not having repented that sin.

“I repented that sin, and I became a Christian, and so I have spent 500 years on this ledge among the greedy purging my sin of prodigality.”

Virgil said to Statius, “When you wrote the Thebaid, you gave no indication that you were a Christian. If it is true that you were not a Christian then, what caused you to become a Christian later?”

Statius replied, “Again, it was some verses that you had written that directed me to Christianity. First, you influenced me to become a poet and then you, although you were not a Christian, influenced me to become a Christian. You were like a traveler who holds a lantern behind him. The light does not help the traveler to see, but it does help the people behind him to see.

“Virgil, you wrote, ‘A new age is dawning, / Justice is returning, and the first age of Humankind, / And a new child comes from Heaven.’

“Christianity had arisen in the Roman Empire, and I listened to Christians, and what they said matched what you had prophesized. When the Roman Emperor Domitian persecuted the Christians, I wept as they suffered. During my lifetime, I helped the Christians. I also learned that theirs was the true faith. Before I had written the seventh book of the Thebaid, I had been baptized. But out of fear of the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian, I kept my Christianity secret. For many years, I pretended to be a pagan, and because of my lack of zeal I spent 400 years running with the slothful on the fourth ledge.

“Now, Virgil, please tell me, where is Terence, the Roman comic playwright?

“Where is Plautus, the Roman comic playwright?

“Where is Caecilius, the Roman comic playwright?

“Where is Varius, the Roman writer of tragedies and epics?

“All of these poets died before Jesus Christ appeared on earth. Are they in the Inferno? If so, in which circle are they?”

Virgil replied, “All of them, along with Persius, the Roman satirist, are with me, and with the Greek epic poet Homer, whom the Muses blessed more than any other poet, in Limbo, the first circle of the Inferno. We often talk about Parnassus, the mountain of the nine Muses. Also with us are the Greek tragedian Euripides, the Greek tragic poet Antiphon, the Greek lyric poet Simonides, and the Greek tragic poet Agathon.

“Also in Limbo are many people whom you wrote about: Antigone and Ismene, who are the daughters of Oedipus and Jocasta; Argia, the wife of Polynices; Hypsipyle, who conducted Kings such as Adrastus to a fountain when they needed water; and King Lycomedes’ daughter Deidamia, one of the young women among whom Achilles was hidden after his mother, Thetis, disguised him as a young woman.”

They had reached the ledge. They were silent as they stood on the ledge. The time was between 10 and 11 a.m., and Virgil said, “Let’s walk toward the right.”

Statius agreed, and they started walking. Dante listened closely as Virgil and Statius talked about poetry.

Soon, they came a tree that had fruit with a pleasant odor. The tree resembled an upside-side fir tree. Its branches grew wider toward the top, preventing any souls from climbing the tree. A stream of water also fell onto the tree.

Virgil and Statius drew closer to the tree, and a voice shouted, “You cannot eat this fruit, and you cannot drink this water.”

Then the voice coming from the tree shouted examples of temperance, the virtue that is opposed to gluttony:

“Mary was worried because the wine ran out at the wedding feast in Cana. Mary did not care about the wine for the alcohol’s sake, but she did care about the marriage being celebrated properly. She persuaded her son, Jesus, to perform his first miracle, turning water into wine.

“The ancient Roman women did not feel the need to drink wine; instead, they drank water.

“Because Daniel would not eat the food of King Nebuchadnezzar or drink the drink of the King, he was given prophetic powers.

“In Humankind’s earliest history, acorns served well as food and water served well as drink.

“John the Baptist lived in the desert, where he ate locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist prophesized the coming of the Messiah.”

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce

This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:

https://www.amazon.com/Dantes-Divine-Comedy-Retelling-Prose-ebook/dp/B00923K8N0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dantes-divine-comedy-david-bruce/1113574173

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/238180

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dante-s-divine-comedy-a-retelling-in-prose

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dantes-divine-comedy-retelling/id566977960?mt=11

Check out the rest of

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/

Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/about-the-blogger/

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smoothie2003

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Dante’s Purgatory: Canto 21 Retelling — Fifth Ledge — Avarice and Wastefulness

Chapter 21: Fifth Ledge — Avarice and Wastefulness (Purgatory)

Dante kept walking as he continued to wonder about the shaking of the mountain. He thirsted for the answers to his questions just as the woman of Samaria thirsted for the water of everlasting life that Jesus offered to her and to all. Dante also thought about the saved souls purging their sin on this ledge, and he grieved.

Suddenly a figure appeared just like the newly risen Christ had appeared to two apostles on the road to Emmaus. The figure appeared from behind Dante and Virgil as they carefully maneuvered through the saved souls who were lying on the ledge.

Dante and Virgil were not aware of the figure until he spoke to them: “May God give you peace, brothers.”

Virgil greeted the figure and said, “I have appropriately been banished to Limbo by God, and I trust that God will appropriately lead you to Paradise.”

The figure said, “I am surprised. If you two souls are appropriately banned from Paradise by God, how can it be that you are climbing this mountain?”

Dante thought, We are on the shadowy side of the mountain. I am not casting a shadow, and so this figure does not know that I am still alive.

Virgil said to the figure, “Look at the forehead of this man beside me. You will see the remaining Ps that the angel carved on his forehead. This man, who still lives, will eventually make his way to Paradise. But because he still lives and the Fates are still spinning his thread of life and the Fate named Athropos has not yet cut the thread, he cannot climb the mountain as we can. His eyes do not see as the eyes of souls do. Because he needed a guide, I was brought up from the Inferno to guide him, and I will do my duty and guide him as far as I can with the knowledge that I have.

“But can you tell me please why the mountain shook just now and why all the souls shouted, ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo,’ as if with one voice?”

These were exactly the questions that Dante wanted to have answered, and he listened eagerly to the reply of the figure, who said, “This mountain is not subject to the natural laws that move the rest of this world. What causes earthquakes there does not cause earthquakes here. Heaven itself causes what happened here. In Purgatory Proper are no dew, no rain, no frost, no snow, no clouds, no lightning, no rainbows. An earthquake caused by natural laws can occur in Prepurgatory, but never in Purgatory Proper.

“Here in Purgatory Proper, the mountain shakes when a soul feels itself to have become purified. The mountain shakes with joy when a soul is purified enough to ascend to the top of the mountain and then to Paradise. And that is when all the saved souls shout with joy, ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ or ‘Glory to God in the highest.’ The saved souls are not envious.

“The saved soul determines when its sins are purged and the saved soul is ready to climb to the top of the mountain. The saved soul is trustworthy. When it is not sufficiently purged of a particular sin, it desires to stay on the appropriate ledge and purge the sin. When that sin is sufficiently purged, it moves to a higher level. Not all souls need to spend time on each ledge. Some souls can skip a ledge and move to a higher ledge. It all depends on the kind of life that that soul lived while in a living body. When all sins are sufficiently purged, the soul moves to the top of the mountain and then to Paradise.

“Purging one’s sins takes time. I have spent 500 years on this ledge, purging my sin of greed. I died in the year 96 C.E., and since this is the year 1300 C.E., I have been purging my sins for 1204 years. Only just now did I feel myself sufficiently purged of sin that I am ready to climb to the top of the mountain. This is why just now you felt the mountain shake and heard souls shout. I hope that soon the other saved souls will be with God in Paradise.”

Dante was happy. His thirst for knowledge had been quenched in a most satisfying way.

Virgil said to the figure, “Now I understand why the mountain shakes and the souls shout. You have broken through a net that bound you. Please tell me who you are, and why you have lain on this ledge for 500 years.”

The figure replied, “I was alive during the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, who, with justice and before he became Emperor, revenged the crucifixion of Christ by destroying Jerusalem and defeating the Jews in 70 C.E.

“I was a pagan, but I became a Christian.

“I was a poet — a title that long endures and is much honored. I was, others say, a major poet of Rome’s Silver Age. I wrote the Thebaid, which told of the Seven Against Thebes. Oedipus ruled Thebes, and after he died, his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, decided to take turns ruling the city. Eteocles would rule for a year, and then Polynices would rule for a year, and so they would alternate as rulers of Thebes. However, after Eteocles’ first year of rule, he was greedy and refused to let Polynices rule for the following year. Polynices raised an army. Thebes had seven gates, and the seven captains in the army raised by Polynices each attacked one of the seven gates. The two brothers fought in single combat, and they killed each other.

“I also started to write the Achilleid, an epic poem about Achilles, the greatest warrior of the Trojan War, but I died before I could complete it.

“My name is Statius, and I am still famous in the Land of the Living.

“I became a poet because of Virgil’s Aeneid, the epic poem that also caused more than 999 other people to become poets. The Aeneid is the mother of my poetry and of much other poetry. I learned how to write poetry from the Aeneid; without that model, my poetry would have been worthless. I wish I had been alive when Virgil was alive. I would willingly spend another year on this ledge if only that would happen.”

Virgil looked at Dante and silently communicated, Don’t tell him who I am.

But Dante had already started smiling, anticipating Statius’ joy when he found out that Virgil was standing before him. He quickly stopped smiling, but too late — Statius had already seen the smile.

Statius looked at Dante and requested, “Please tell me why you were smiling just now. You quickly smiled and quickly stopped smiling.”

Dante was standing between two souls. One soul wanted him to tell what he knew, and the other soul did not want him to tell what he knew.

Dante sighed, and Virgil relented and said to him, “Feel free to tell this soul what he wants to know.”

Dante said to Statius. “I was smiling because my guide who is helping me climb to Paradise is Virgil, the one who taught you how to write poetry that sings the deeds of gods and of men.”

Statius was happy and was kneeling so he could hug Virgil’s knees to show him respect, but Virgil said to him, “Don’t. You are a saved soul, and I am not. You should not show me reverence.”

Statius relented, stood up, and said, “Now you can understand how much I respect you and your poetry.”

Dante thought, Purgatory has surprises, and the surprises are good surprises. Statius said that he would love to meet Virgil, and here Virgil is.

The three poets walked on: Virgil, a pagan who had stayed a pagan; Statius, a pagan who had become a Christian; and Dante, a Christian.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce

This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:

https://www.amazon.com/Dantes-Divine-Comedy-Retelling-Prose-ebook/dp/B00923K8N0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dantes-divine-comedy-david-bruce/1113574173

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/238180

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dante-s-divine-comedy-a-retelling-in-prose

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dantes-divine-comedy-retelling/id566977960?mt=11

Check out the rest of

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/

Check out David Bruce’s PATREON Page

https://www.patreon.com/davidbruce

Download free eBooks, including books for teachers, by David Bruce here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/about-the-blogger/

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smoothie2003

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I am a one-issue voter. I vote for the political party that will uphold the safety net, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, various forms of Welfare, and the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

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Hillary Clinton: “If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the … Congress

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