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读书笔记 Notes to Canto IX
TARDELLINO

At the beginning of the canto Charles Martel is called ‘the life’ —la vita, here rendered ‘the living soul’—‘of that holy light’. This singular use of the word occurs six times in the Paradiso and nowhere else in the Divine Comedy. It is apparently Dante’s device by which to impress on the reader from time to time that the spirits that are hidden in their own radiance are not thereby reduced to a mere uniform saintliness, as they might appear to be, but that they have in Paradise their full and individual personality, their ‘life’. The word in this sense does not occur in the sphere of the Moon, where the features of Piccarda and the other saints are visible, nor in the spheres of Mercury and Mars, where Justinian and Cacciaguida are, respectively, the only speakers and give a full account of themselves, but in all the other five spheres, in which the souls are concealed in their own light. It is an example of the sustained significance and consistency of Dante’s diction.

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