The Mass'keteers wish Gil and Kathleen many wonderful blessings on their marriage May 8th.
When my wife Ann and I tied the knot and now Gil and Kathleen I can't help but recall the image of love flowing. (I insert my notes from Gil Bailie's taped lecture commentary series on Canto XXXI of The Divine Comedy Vol. II: Purgatory:)
The four Virtues said to Virgil, “Look deep, look well. However your eyes may smart, we have led you now before those emeralds from which Love’s shot his arrows through your heart.” They had led him to the transfigured Beatrice, who he had known in his youth.
Dante continues, “A thousand burning passions, every passion – every one hotter than any flame, held my eyes fixed on the lucent eyes she held fixed on the griffin.” So she is not looking at him, she is looking at Christ. (Christ is manifested in this pageant as the griffin, the figure that is part lion and part eagle. And the griffin represents for Dante the two natures of Christ, the divine and human nature.)
Dante says, “Like sunlight in the glass the two-fold creature shown from the deep reflection in her eyes.” So he looked into her eyes and he saw the reflection as in a mirror of Christ.
(108 – 126 from Mark Musa translation)
“It is us to lead you to her eyes. The other three, who see more deeply, will instruct your sight, as you bathe in her gaze of joyful light,” they sang to me; then they accompanied me up to the griffin’s breast, while Beatrice now faced us from the center of the cart.116. now you stand before those emeralds: Beatrice’s eyes are green, symbolizing Hope. Here we are presented with a clear indication of Beatrice’s two interconnected roles in the poem. The pilgrim is reminded first of the Beatrice of the “a thousand yearning flames of my desire,” the woman whose love should have sufficed to teach him to aspire to the Ultimate Good. But when he actually does look into Beatrice’s eyes, the Pilgrim sees the image of the griffin. One of Beatrice’s other roles, then, is that of Revelation. The mystery of Christ’s dual nature is still beyond the Pilgrim’s understanding, and so, allegorically, he is as yet unable to gaze directly at the griffin, the symbol of those two natures. But he can begin to comprehend through Beatrice’s (Revelation’s) green eyes.
“Look deeply, look with all your sight,” they said, “for now you stand before those emeralds from which Love once shot loving darts at you.”
A thousand yearning flames of my desire held my eyes fixed upon those brilliant eyes that held the griffin fixed within their range. Like sunlight in a mirror, shining back, I saw the twofold creature in her eyes, reflecting its two natures, separately.
Imagine, reader, how amazed I was to see the creature standing there unchanged, yet, in its image, changing constantly…
122. I saw the twofold creature in her eyes: The Pilgrim encounters in Beatrice’s eyes, as in a mirror, the mystery of Christ’s dual nature. The words of Paul (1 Cor. 13:12) come to mind: “We see now through a mirror in an obscure way (darkly).” Just as Christ is both God and man in one, and at the same time, so he is represented by the griffin, which is part eagle and part lion. The Pilgrim can “see” the two natures of the beast imaged in Beatrice’s eyes, but he cannot comprehend their oneness; hence the natures are visible to him only alternately (“separately,”) and not simultaneously. He can only marvel at the mysteriousness of oneness by describing an image that changed natures (from eagle to lion and back again) while the creature itself remains unchanged.