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Paradise, the third and final part of The Divine Comedy, tells the story of Dante's journey through the heavenly realms.
Representative of the divine soul's ascent to the Lord, this timeless epic portrays haven as a series of intricate spheres which surround the Earth. Each of these represents an astronomical body, such as the Moon, Mercury, Venus and even the distant stars.
Dante's deceased love interest, Beatrice Portinari, is his guide through the journey to the paradise of heaven. Just as Dante depicted Hell as having nine circles, Heaven is depicted as consisting of nine celestial spheres. Gradually the pair ascend through each of these, observing their appearance and meeting with various inhabitants along the way.
The poem's grand finale sees Dante and Beatrice enter the Empyrean - the very home of God himself. Beatrice's beauty becomes more marked, while Dante himself is bathed in an intense light, so that he may be fit to behold the divine. He experiences a vision of a gigantic rose, symbolic of love, where all the souls of heaven reside in eternal splendour and virtue. Thereafter, and with the help of St. Bernard, Dante efforts to arrive at a final understanding of heaven and the nature of the Holy Trinity.
Splendidly presented in dual columned format, this edition of Dante's epic contains the well-regarded translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who himself spent a lifetime in study of Renaissance poetry.