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How to Read and Appreciate Paradiso: The Final Part of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Paradiso: The Final Journey of Dante's Divine Comedy

Have you ever wondered what heaven looks like? How does it feel to be in the presence of God, angels, and saints? What kind of wisdom and joy can you find in the realm of eternal bliss?

Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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If you are curious about these questions, you might want to read Paradiso, the third and final part of The Divine Comedy, the masterpiece of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. In this epic poem, Dante takes you on a journey across the three realms of the afterlife: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Along the way, he meets various characters from history, mythology, and literature, who reveal to him the secrets of the universe and the human soul.

In this article, we will explore what Paradiso is about, who translated it into English, why you should read it, and how you can get a copy of it from Dover Thrift Editions.

What is Paradiso?

Paradiso is the last section of The Divine Comedy, which Dante wrote in the early 14th century. It follows Inferno, where Dante descends into the nine circles of Hell with the Roman poet Virgil as his guide, and Purgatorio, where Dante climbs the seven terraces of Purgatory with Virgil until he reaches the Earthly Paradise, where he meets his beloved Beatrice.

The plot and structure of Paradiso

In Paradiso, Dante leaves behind Virgil and follows Beatrice, who represents divine love, into the celestial spheres of Paradise. He travels through nine heavens that correspond to the planets and stars in medieval cosmology, each representing a different aspect of God's creation and grace. Along the way, he encounters various souls who have attained salvation, such as saints, theologians, philosophers, poets, rulers, and his ancestors. They teach him about theology, ethics, politics, history, and science.

The nine heavens are:

  • The Moon: The sphere of those who were inconstant or broke their vows.

  • Mercury: The sphere of those who were virtuous but sought fame or glory.

  • Venus: The sphere of those who were lovers or devoted to love.

  • The Sun: The sphere of those who were wise or learned.

  • Mars: The sphere of those who were warriors or martyrs for the faith.

  • Jupiter: The sphere of those who were just or righteous rulers.

  • Saturn: The sphere of those who were contemplative or ascetic.

  • The Fixed Stars: The sphere of those who were faithful or loyal to God.

  • The Primum Mobile: The sphere of those who were moved by God's will or providence.

After visiting the nine heavens, Dante reaches the Empyrean, the highest heaven and the dwelling place of God, angels, and the blessed. There, he sees the Rose of Paradise, a giant flower that contains all the souls of the saved. He also sees the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, and other figures of Christian doctrine. He experiences a vision of God that transcends human understanding and language.

Paradiso consists of 33 cantos, or chapters, each containing about 140 lines of verse. The poem is written in terza rima, a rhyme scheme that uses three-line stanzas with an interlocking pattern (aba, bcb, cdc, etc.). The poem is also written in Italian, rather than Latin, which was the common language of literature at the time. Dante chose to write in his native tongue to make his work more accessible and expressive to his audience.

The themes and symbolism of Paradiso

Paradiso is not only a poetic description of heaven, but also a profound exploration of various themes and symbols that relate to Dante's worldview and vision. Some of the main themes and symbols are:

  • Light: Light represents God's presence, glory, and love. The more Dante ascends into Paradise, the more he is surrounded by dazzling light that illuminates his mind and soul.

  • Music: Music represents harmony, order, and joy. The souls in Paradise sing praises to God and create beautiful melodies that reflect their happiness and gratitude.

  • Geometry: Geometry represents logic, structure, and perfection. Dante uses geometric shapes and figures to describe the arrangement and movement of the heavens and the souls.

  • Numbers: Numbers represent meaning, significance, and symbolism. Dante uses numbers to convey hidden messages and connections between different elements of his poem. For example, he uses the number three to symbolize the Trinity, the number nine to symbolize the nine heavens, and the number 33 to symbolize the 33 cantos of each part of The Divine Comedy.

  • Free will: Free will represents human dignity, responsibility, and choice. Dante shows how free will is a gift from God that allows humans to love Him and follow His laws. He also shows how free will can be abused or misused by those who sin or stray from God's path.

  • Love: Love represents the ultimate goal, motive, and source of all things. Dante shows how love is the essence of God, who created everything out of love and for love. He also shows how love is the force that moves the heavens and the souls, who love God in return and reflect His love to others.

Who is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who lived in the 19th century. He was one of the most popular and influential poets of his time, known for his lyrical and narrative poems that celebrated American history, culture, and nature. He was also a professor of literature at Harvard University and a translator of several works from European languages.

The life and works of Longfellow

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine in 1807. He showed an early interest in poetry and languages, learning Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and other languages. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825 and became a professor of modern languages there in 1829. He married Mary Potter in 1831 and traveled to Europe for further study.

In 1835, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and became a professor of modern languages at Harvard University. He also published his first collection of poems, Voices of the Night, which included some of his famous poems such as "A Psalm of Life" and "The Light of Stars". In 1836, his wife died during a miscarriage.

The translation and reception of Paradiso by Longfellow

In 1867, Longfellow began working on a translation of The Divine Comedy, which he considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written. He was inspired by his admiration for Dante and his desire to share his poetry with the English-speaking world. He also found solace and comfort in Dante's words after the tragic death of his second wife in 1861, who was burned in a fire accident.

Longfellow spent several years studying Dante's original text, consulting various commentaries and dictionaries, and writing his own notes and annotations. He also formed a Dante Club with some of his friends and fellow scholars, who helped him revise and polish his translation. He completed his translation of Paradiso in 1870 and published it along with Inferno and Purgatorio in 1871.

Longfellow's translation of The Divine Comedy was the first complete translation of the poem into English by an American poet. It was widely praised for its accuracy, fidelity, and elegance. It also introduced Dante's masterpiece to a new audience and influenced many other writers and artists. Longfellow's translation is still considered to be one of the best and most popular versions of The Divine Comedy in English.

Why should you read Paradiso?

Paradiso is not only a beautiful and inspiring poem, but also a rich and rewarding source of knowledge and wisdom. By reading Paradiso, you can:

The literary and cultural significance of Paradiso

  • Appreciate the genius and creativity of Dante, who invented a new language, style, and form for his poem.

  • Learn about the history, culture, and beliefs of medieval Europe, which shaped Dante's worldview and vision.

  • Discover the references and allusions to various works of literature, philosophy, theology, science, and art that Dante incorporated into his poem.

  • Explore the influence and legacy of The Divine Comedy on other writers and artists throughout history.

The beauty and wisdom of Paradiso

  • Enjoy the poetic imagery and language that Dante used to describe the wonders and mysteries of heaven.

  • Feel the emotion and passion that Dante expressed for God, Beatrice, and his homeland.

  • Understand the moral and spiritual lessons that Dante learned from his journey across the afterlife.

  • Reflect on your own life, faith, and destiny in relation to God's plan and love.

How to get Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions)?

If you are interested in reading Paradiso, you might want to consider getting a copy from Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Thrift Editions is a series of books that offers affordable editions of classic works of literature. By choosing Dover Thrift Editions, you can:

The features and benefits of Dover Thrift Editions

  • Save money by buying high-quality books at low prices.

  • Support a reputable publisher that has been in business since 1941.

  • Enjoy the convenience of online shopping and fast delivery.

  • Access additional resources such as introductions, notes, glossaries, illustrations, and more.

The price and availability of Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions)

Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions) is available on for $5.99. You can also get it as part of a set that includes Inferno and Purgatorio. The set costs $25.97. You can order it online with a few clicks and get it delivered to your doorstep within a few days. You can also read it on your Kindle device or app for $4.62.

If you want to read one of the greatest poems ever written, don't miss this opportunity to get Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions). You will be amazed by Dante's vision of heaven and inspired by his message of love. Order your copy today and start your journey to Paradise!


Paradiso is the final part of The Divine Comedy, the epic poem by Dante Alighieri that depicts his journey across the three realms of the afterlife: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. In Paradiso, Dante follows his beloved Beatrice into the celestial spheres of heaven, where he meets various souls who have attained salvation and sees the vision of God. Paradiso is a masterpiece of poetry, theology, philosophy, and art that explores various themes and symbols such as light, music, geometry, numbers, free will, and love.

Paradiso was translated into English by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet who was one of the most popular and influential poets of his time. Longfellow's translation is faithful, elegant, and accessible, and it introduces Dante's masterpiece to a new audience and culture. Longfellow's translation is available from Dover Thrift Editions, a series of books that offers affordable editions of classic works of literature. By getting Paradiso (Dover Thrift Editions), you can enjoy reading one of the greatest poems ever written and learn from its beauty and wisdom.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. Thank you for reading!


Q: What is the difference between Paradiso and Heaven?

A: Paradiso is the Italian word for Paradise, which is the name of the third and final part of The Divine Comedy. Heaven is the English word for the realm of God, angels, and the blessed, which is what Dante describes in Paradiso. They are essentially the same thing, but Paradiso is also the title of the poem.

Q: Who is Beatrice in Paradiso?

A: Beatrice is Dante's beloved, who died when she was young. She represents divine love and grace, and she guides Dante through Paradise. She was a real person who Dante met when he was nine years old and fell in love with. He wrote about her in his earlier work, La Vita Nuova.

Q: How does Paradiso end?

A: Paradiso ends with Dante seeing the vision of God, which he describes as "the Love that moves the sun and the other stars". He tries to express what he sees in words, but he admits that his memory fails him and that his speech falls short of his experience. He concludes by saying that his will and desire were turned by God's love into one single motion.

Q: Is Paradiso hard to read?

A: Paradiso can be challenging to read for some readers, especially if they are not familiar with Dante's language, style, and references. However, with the help of a good translation, such as Longfellow's, and some annotations or commentaries, it can be easier to understand and appreciate. Paradiso is also rewarding to read for its poetic beauty and spiritual insight.

Q: What is the message of Paradiso?

A: Paradiso has many messages and meanings, but one of the main ones is that God is the source and goal of all things, and that love is the force that moves everything. Dante shows how everything in creation reflects God's glory and wisdom, and how everything in heaven praises God's love and mercy. He also shows how human beings can reach God by following His laws and loving Him above all else. 71b2f0854b

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