Literary Notes - The Divine Comedy

Page numbers correspond to the Barnes & Noble Classics Series version. Direct quotes are in quotations, while paraphrases are not.


“Whoe’er betrays forever is consumed” (Inferno, Canto XI, 66). This is a warning to those who would betray the divine order, and by extension, the natural order of man and the universe. To betray God is to betray the Self, and so, such an act spells certain doom for the actor.

“When thou shalt be before the radiance sweet of her whose beauteous eyes all things behold, from her thou’lt know the journey of thy life” (Inferno, Canto XI, 130-132). This can be interpreted as not only the beauty of the Christian heaven, but also of the more abstract Absolute.

“Haste. . . mars the dignity of every act” (Purgatorio, Canto III, 10-11).

“Because thou fixest still thy mind entirely upon earthly things, thou pluckest darkness from the very light” (Purgatorio, Canto XV, 64-66). In other words, to refuse to chase one's dreams in the first place is far worse than to chase one's dreams and fail.

“All things whate’er they be have order among themselves, and this is form, that makes the universe resemble God” (Paradiso, Canto I, 103-105). This is to say that God is the origin of and synonymous to the force of Order.


“For if thine utterance shall offensive be at the first taste, a vital nutriment ‘twill leave thereafter, when it is digested” (Paradiso, Canto XVII, 130-132).

“Hope. . . is the certain expectation of future glory” (Paradiso, Canto XXV, 67-69).