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Dante's Fleece: Instilling the Divine, Transfiguring the Human in the Heaven of the Fixed Stars



At the outset of Paradiso 25, Dante imagines himself returning triumphant as poeta (8) "with altered fleece, with altered voice" (7) to his beloved Florence after long exile, so as to be crowned with the poet's laurel at the font of his baptism. At first glance, this seems a strangely presumptuous and poignantly personal ambition for one who has supposedly risen above all such earthly concerns. But a closer reading will suggest otherwise. Teetering between hubris and humility as he strives to give voice to the unbounded reaches of his vision, Dante may now dare to count himself among the poets of old; indeed, he has surpassed them, for his is a poetry, "to which both Earth and Heaven have set their hands" (1-2). The fleece that Dante seeks to bear back to the world is far greater than the golden treasure sought by Jason (Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.720-7.158). Where Jason's magnanimous journey has as its end mere earthly glory and leaves in its wake a trail of destruction, Dante's purpose in ploughing a furrow through the ocean of Heaven, drawing us in his wake (Par. 2.18) is to transhumanise us (Par. 1.70), to open us up to the infinite possibilities of the divine within us. His "altered fleece" is the dew-impregnated fleece of Gideon (Vulgate Bible, Judg. 6.36-40), traditionally interpreted as a type of the Incarnation, because, like the Virgin Mary, the poet wants to "magnify the Lord" (Luke 1.46). His poem, far from being some sort of personal vindication, bears a message of conversion for the world that lives so badly (Purg. 32.103) that it might rediscover the God who "open[ed] the road that runs from Heaven to earth" (Par. 23.37).


Dante Commedia Virgin Mary incarnation poetics divinization

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但丁 《神曲》 聖母瑪利亞 道成肉身 詩學 占卜


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