Dante levels-up, now he’s in Eden
So Dante climbed to the top of Mount Purgatory, had a nap, went up some steps, and is now in the garden of Eden. Yeah, what? I know, right, that makes no sense. Has it always been there? Was there a Mount Purgatory sat under the garden before Adam and Eve messed up? Or was it just a mountain back then, used by god for winter sports? When Adam and Eve were booted out, did they slide down it snakes and ladders style?
Anyhoo, Dante is having himself a walk about, thinking how lovely it all is, when he sees a woman (later names as Matelda) picking flowers. She’s ever so pretty, and she explains to him that the gentle breeze he can feel is the motion of the earth, as the garden rotates along with it, and that’s what keeps the air full of the scent of the flowers. I have epic motion sickness, so the idea of a spinning garden at the top of a mountain makes me reach for a bucket.
After a chat where the lady explains more about the garden’s logistics and a highly improbably water distribution set up (it never rains, god’s put in never-ending springs) little while later, Dante sees what he thinks are seven golden trees coming towards him. Turn out, these are seven candlesticks (trees would have been more exciting) and there’s a procession all of all kinds of weird stuff behind them, all of which have meaning, which with the aid of the footnotes are as follows –
Seven candlesticks to symbolise the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety and fear of the lord. Fear? That’s a gift? Then comes twenty-four fancily dressed elders, who represent the books of the Old Testament. Then there are four creatures/beasts who have six wings each, who are the four gospels, then a chariot (the church) drawn by a griffen (cool, now we’re talking!) and his dual nature represents the two parts of Christ, human and divine. Then there’s a load of dancing ladies, to one side there are the theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, to the other are the cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. Prudence has three eyes, so she can see the past, present and future. Dickens should have had her visit Scrooge, she could have done the job for a third of the price.
After the dancing women, come a seven men who represent the books of the New Testament. In general, there’s a lot of gold, a lot of fancy purple cloth, crown, flags and dancing. We’ve all been to enough carnivals, Mardi Gras/gay prides/school fairs/festivals to know somewhere a load of angels were up until 3 a.m sewing their fingers and burning themselves with hot glue guns to get that show in the road.