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Dante's Empyrean and the Eye of God Author(s): Richard Kay Source: Speculum, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 37-65 Published by: Medieval Academy of America

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Dante's Empyreanand theEye ofGod

By Richard Kay

One learnsa subjectby teachingit,and in teachinga textone learnsto read it in newways.Thiswas how I came to perceivea newimagewhileteachinga class about theendingofDante's Paradiso.' To helpthestudentsvisualizethedescrip- tionoftheEmpyrean,I drewfigureson theblackboard:first,theMysticRose as seenfromabove (Fig. 1), as a circlewiththelake oflightinthecenter,surrounded firstbychildrenand thenbyadultsaints,who weredividedintoranksofconcen- triccirclesand fileslikespokesradiatingfromthecenter.To makethiscommon, two-dimensionalrepresentationmoreclear,I supplementeditwithan uncommon one oftheEmpyreanin cross-section:a semicircleequallydividedbytheRay (in yellowchalk),whichcomes fromabove and is reflectedback fromthePrimum Mobile to formthelake oflightat themidpointofthearc (Fig.2).2 As I stepped back to admirethesecondfigure,suddenlyI realizedthatitmightjustas wellbe a diagramofthehumaneye,illustratingsomeversionoftheextramissiontheory ofvision.Most peoplewould notthinkto comparean objectofimmense,literally cosmicdimensionswithanotherhardlyan inchindiameter,butDantistsofcourse are accustomedto analogiesbetweenthemicro-and macrocosm. Stillone maywonderwhetheritwas justa coincidencethatDante's description of theEmpyreanresemblesan ocular diagram.Far frombeingcoincidental,the resemblanceis certainlysignificantbecausea commonsymbolforGod is a single eyethatradiateslight,3as on theGreatSeal oftheUnitedStates,whichisdisplayed on everyone-dollarbill (Fig. 3).4 The Bible is, of course,theultimatesourceof

' In thisarticlethe Comedyis citedfrom"La Commedia" secondo l'antica vulgata,ed. Giorgio

Petrocchi,EdizioneNazionale 7, vols. 1-4 (Milan, 1966-67); Dante's otherworksarecitedas edited

in his Opere minori,La LetteraturaItaliana:Storiae Testi5, 3 vols. (Milan, 1979-86). I am indebted

forbibliographicassistancetoKarlF.Morrison,RichardA. Orchard,and RichardR. Ring;forreading theworkin progress,to Casey Law, David C. Lindberg,JohnA. Scott,and R. Dean Ware; and for enhancingthefigures,to Paul Hotvedt. 2 As will becomeapparentin thecourseofthisstudy,severalfeaturesin Fig.2 are notexact: (1) in orderto illustratethereflectionoftheRay,thePrimumMobile has beenseparatedfromtheEmpyrean,

althoughit is most likelythattheyare in contact;(2) the Ray has been representedas a cylinder, althoughitmightperhapsbe a cone; (3) someoftheincidentraysare reflectedback at an angle,as in Fig. 4. Two featuresof Fig. 2 will be justifiedsubsequently,namely,the hemisphericformof the Empyreanand theplacementoftheRay's source.

rayofcreativelightcame forth,

was used as a symbolforGod (butnotfortheEmpyrean)byNiccola Nicolinion hismap "L'universo

di Dante veduto al lume dell'Idealismo" (1842), whichwas reproducedby FrancescoTorricellidi

Torricella,Studiisul poema sacro di Dante Allighieri,2nd ed. (Naples, 1856), facingp. 489; see also

p. 495. 4The Eye of Providencein a radianttrianglewas suggestedin 1776 byPierreEugenedu Simitiere, consultantto thead hoc congressionalcommittee;itwas incorporatedin thefinaldesign,whichwas approvedin 1782. The originalrighteyewas alteredto a leftone in 1856. A die has neverbeencut oftheseal's reverse,or "spiritualside," butithas beendepictedon theone-dollarbillsince1935. See The GreatSeal oftheUnitedStates,UnitedStatesDepartmentofState,BureauofPublicAffairs,Office

3A smalltrianglecontainingtheEye of Providence,fromwhicha

Speculum 78 (2003)

37

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38

The Eye of God

ROSA CELESTIALE

1,

X

Fig. 1. TheEmpyreanviewedfromabove. Reprintedfrom PagetToynbee,A DictionaryofProperNamesandNotable Mattersin the Worksof Dante (Oxford,1898),p. 612, pl. 2.

this image: althoughthe Latin VulgateusuallyrepresentsGod as havingtwo eyes-for example,"Oculi enimDomini contemplanturuniversamterrain"5- thesingularformoculusdoesappeartwice.6Moreover,lightisa propertyofGod's

ofPublicCommunication,Publication10411 (Washington,D.C., 1996), pp. 3, 7-8, and 19,whichis based on theworkofRichardS. Pattersonand RichardsonDougall, who findno conclusiveevidence ofMasonic influenceon thechoiceofthesymboland thinkitmorelikelythatdu Simitierewas familiar withRenaissancedepictions:The Eagle and theShield,UnitedStatesDepartmentofStatePublication 8900, Departmentand ForeignServiceSeries161 (Washington,D.C., 1978), pp. 529-32.

52 Par. 16.9a. SimilaroccurrencesincludeProv.15.3: "In omniloco oculi Dominicontemplantur

bonos et malos"; Heb. 4.13b: "omnia autemnuda et apertasuntoculisejus"; Ps. 33.16b (AV34.15):

"Oculi Domini superjustos"; Job36.7a: "Non aufereta justooculos suos"; Ps.

"oculi tuivideantaequitates";Ecclus.34.19a: "Oculi Dominisupertimentesejus" (cf.Ecclus.15.20); Ps. 10b.5b (AV 11.4): "Oculi ejusinpauperemrespiciunt:palpebraeejusinterrogantfilioshominum"; Ecclus.11.13a: "Et oculusDei respexitillum[pauperem]inbono"; andAmos9.8a: "Ecce oculiDomini Dei superregnumpeccans."

6 Ecclus. 11.13a: "Et oculusDei respexitiliumin bono"; Ecclus.23.27b: "omniavidetoculusillius [scil.Altissimi,vs.261." The HebreworiginalofPs. 32.18 also usedthesingular,hencetheAVreading, "theeyeoftheLord" (AV 33.18), buttheVulgatefollowedtheSeptuagintin usingtheplural:"Ecce

16.2b (AV 17.2b):

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E m p y r e a n

Primum

OfRay

Lake N

>

Mobile

Fig. 2. The Empyreanin cross-section.

s~~~~~~~1I I t 1

Fig. 3. Reverseof the Great Seal of the United Statesof America.Realizationby BensonJ.Loss- ing,based on theofficialverbaldescription,from Harper'sNew MonthlyMagazine(July1856), 184.

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40

eyes,foraccordingtoEcclesiasticus:"theeyesoftheLordarefarbrighter(lucidi-

ores)thanthesun."7To

GodintheBible-Pseudo-Dionysiuslistednineofthem8-but theeyeistheno- blestofthemall.SinceDanteknewtheBiblewell,makingithisprincipalsource fortheComedy,9we canbe surethathewas authorizedbyScriptureto usethe imageofaneyetorepresentGod.Indeed,forDanterevelationwouldprovidethe bestbasisfora descriptionoftheEmpyrean,sinceheconsidereditto be a con- structofChristiantheology,as opposedtothelowernineheavens,thenatureof

whichisthesubjectofnaturalscience.10

Thereforeitseemsplausibleto supposethatDante'sEmpyreanis an imageof God'sEye.PromptedbytheBible,intheirisofa livinghumaneyehecouldhave readilyobservedthelinesradiatingfromthepupil(andperhapsalsothefainter circlessurroundingit),whichwouldsufficetosuggestthestructurehegavetothe seatsoftheblessed.Butno amountofobservationwouldsuggesttheconceptof a rayemanatingfromthepupil;thisfeaturewouldhavetohavebeenderivedfrom theextramissiontheoryofvision,sinceGod'sEye,withorwithouta ray,wasnot an iconographicthemeinDante'sday."I thereforebegintheprocessofverifica- tionbyshowingthatDantedidmakeuseoftheextramissiontheory,bothinhis lyricpoemsandintheComedy.

The Eye of God

besure,manypartsofthehumanbodyareattributedto

oculi Domini supermetuenteseum." The Book of Ecclesiasticus(or Sirach),thoughtodayregarded as deuterocanonical,was an undifferentiatedpartoftheLatinVulgatecanon; as such,Dante citedit

withouthesitation:Ecclus. 1.3 and 3.22 at Convivio3.8.2; 24.14 at Convivio3.14.7; cf.42.16 at Epistolae 13.22.62. 7Ecclus. 23.28a: "oculi Domini multoplus lucidioressuntsupersolem" (Douay trans.);cf.Apoc. 19.12a: "Oculi autemejus sicutflammaignis." 8 Pseudo-Dionysius,The Divine Names 1.8 (Migne,PG 3:597AB), trans.Colm Luibheid,Pseudo- Dionysius:The CompleteWorks(New York,1987), p. 57: "[Scripturewriters]have applied to the

divineGoodness

; theypraiseitseyes,ears,hair,face,and hands,

back,wings,and arms,a posterior,and feet." 9 Dante's use of theBiblewas convenientlydocumentedbyEdwardMoore, StudiesinDante, First

Series(Oxford,1896), pp. 321-34. Many furtherechoes and oblique referenceshave beendetected sincethen;fora recentappreciationofthepredominantplace oftheBibleinDante's thought,seePeter

S. Hawkins,"Dante and theBible,"in The CambridgeCompanionto Dante,ed. RachelJacoff(Cam-

bridge,Eng.,1993), pp. 120-25.

descriptionsof

10Convivio2.3.8: "Veramente,fuoridi tuttiquesti,li cattolicipongonolo cielo Empireo,che e a

." ("Moreover,outsideall ofthese[nineheavens]theCatholics

trans.

RichardH. Lansing,Dante's II Convivio[The Banquet],GarlandLibraryof Medieval LiteratureB/ 65 [New York, 1990], pp. 45-46). See also Cesare Vasoli's extensivecommentin Opere minori1/

2:133-35.

place theEmpyreanHeaven,whichis to say,the'heavenofflame,'or 'luminousheaven'

direcielodi fiammao

":

l "No medievalexample[oftheEyeofGod]

," accordingtoPeterand Linda

Murray,The OxfordCompanionto ChristianArtand Architecture(Oxford,1996), p. 177, s.v."Eye of God." In Italytheuse ofa singleeyeto representGod apparentlydatesfromthefifteenthcentury,

afterthe Greektextof Horapollo's Hieroglyphicawas broughtto FlorencefromGreecein 1419:

"Oculo pictoDeum intelligebant,quod utoculusquicquidsibipropositumestintuetur,sicomniaDeus cognoscitac videt"(Paris,1551, p. 222), quotedbyEdgarWind,Pagan MysteriesintheRenaissance, 2nd ed. (London, 1968), p. 232, n. 52 (see also pp. 231-35 and fig.84); cf. RudolfWittkower, "Hieroglyphicsin theEarlyRenaissance,"in Developmentsin theEarlyRenaissance,ed. BernardS. Levy(Albany,N.Y., 1972), pp. 66, 69-70, and 74-76.

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The Eye of God

41

1. THE EXTRAMISSION THEORY OF VISION

The mostprominentfeatureof Dante's Empyreanis therayof lightthatme- diates betweenGod and his creatures.It comes fromabove (Par. 30.100), and consequently,on thehypothesisthatthe scene is set withinGod's Eye,theRay operatesin accordancewiththeextramissiontheoryof vision,whichexplained thephenomenonofsightbyattributingan activeroleto theeye.Thereweremany variants,12but thecommonfeatureof extramissiontheorieswas thatthevisual processbeganwiththeeye,whichemittedsomesortofray.ForDante,thetypical extramissiontheoristwas Plato,13butby 1300 otherversionswerewellknownin theLatinWest,bysuchauthoritativeauthorsas Galen,Euclid,Ptolemy,Hunain, and especiallySt. Augustine.14Indeed,in theLatinWestdown to thethirteenth century,all theoriesofvisionwerefoundedon theprincipleofextramission,most notablythatof RobertGrosseteste;15thereaftertheextramissionthesiswas not forgotten,and itwas widelyavailablein theLatintranslationsofEuclid's Optics and al-Kindi'sDe aspectibus.'6 By 1300, however,an alternativeexplanationof visionwas morewidelyheld inuniversitycircles,namely,theintromissiontheory,whichassigneda passiverole to theeye,intowhichthevisualrayswere(correctly)supposedto enterfromthe outside world. The authorityof Aristotlemade this view influentialin the schools,17whereitwas supportedbyhiscommentators,suchas Averroes,Aquinas, and AlbertusMagnus, as well as by the philosopher-physicianAvicenna.18Stu-

12 For thedevelopmentofextramissiontheories,see David C. Lindberg,Theoriesof Visionfromal- Kindito Kepler(Chicago, 1976), pp. 1-57.

13 Convivio3.9.10. Here Dante's immediatesourcewas certainlyAristotle,De sensuet sensato2,

437blO-15 (see Vasoli ad loc.). Plato's theoryof visionwas also available to Dante in Calcidius's Latintranslationof,and commentaryon, theTimaeus,butwhetherhe did in factuse it seems,after

heated controversy,unlikely:Maria 1970-78), 5:604-5 (see also 4:548).

have beensuggestedbyCalcidius,who understoodPlatoto havedrawnan analogybetweenGod and the human eye because both can be likenedto the sun: "idem auctor [Plato] in Politia [Republic 508B12-C2] solem quidem simulacrumesse ait inuisibilisdei, oculum uero solis et solstitiale[= solare]quiddam": Timaeusa Calcidio translatuscommentarioqueinstructus,ed.J.H. Waszink,Plato Latinus4 (London,1962), p. 258.

Cristiani,"Timeo," in Enciclopedia dantesca,6 vols. (Rome, Nonethelessitis remarkablethattheimageof God's Eyecould

14 For Galen, see Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 10-11 and 212 (bibliographicdetailsin David

C. Lindberg,A CatalogueofMedievaland RenaissanceOptical Manuscripts,SubsidiaMediaevalia4

[Toronto,1975], no. 187); Euclid:pp. 12-14 and 210 (no. 79); Ptolemy,pp. 15-17 and211 (no. 100);

al-Kindi,pp. 18-32 and 211 gustine,pp. 89-90, citingDe

(no. 4); Hunain, or Joannitius:pp. 34-42 and 212 (no. 185); and Au- Trinitate11.4.4 and De Genesiad litteram.

15 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 94-102.

16 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 31-32.

17 For medievalAristotelians,such as Aquinas,Aristotle'sdefinitivestatementon visualrayswas De sensu 2, 438a26-b2. They had to explain away otherpassages thatallowed thepossibilityof extramittedrays (De generationeanimalium5.1, 780b36-781a8) or even assumedtheirexistence (Meteorologica2.9, 370a18-19, 373a35-374a3, and 3.4, 374bl 1-15, probablyan earlywork):Lind- berg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 6-11.

18 Averroes:Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 52-57 and 212; Albert:pp. 104-7; Avicenna,pp.43-

52 and 212 (Lindberg,Catalogue,nos. 66 and 180). Aquinas commentedon Aristotle'sDe sensuet sensatoand his Meteorologica(see n. 17, above), botheditedbyRaymundM. Spiazzi (Turin,1949

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42

dentsofopticsadoptedthemoreelaborateformulationofAlhazen,whichinthe Westgave riseto the so-calledperspectivistschool,19theleadingproponentsof whichwereRogerBacon, Pecham,and Witelo.20Dante himselfclearlyaccepted

theintromissiontheoryinhisexpositionofthevisualprocess(Conv. 3.9.6-10).21 But,althoughDante acceptedintromissionas thescientificaccountof vision,

as a poet he nonethelessmade repeateduse of extramission,particularlyto de- scribetheeffectofhislady'seyes.In thishe was guidedbypoeticconvention,for

the "richheritageleftby

influencedpoetsin thelyrictraditionfromtheSiciliansto Petrarchand beyond.

."22 In at least six of his lyricpoems,Dante clearlyhas his lady emittingeye rays:forinstance,"De gli occhide la mia donna si move/un lumesi

e de' suoi razzi

eyesof Beatriceare said to emitrayson fouroccasions,beginningin theInferno (10.130), thenin the Purgatorio("quando con li occhi li occhi mi percosse," 33.18),24butmostprominentlyin theheavenofthemoon.JustbeforeBeatrice's

discoursethere,whenDante-personaggiogazed at her,she "flashed(folgoro)"on him(Par. 3.128-29); afterherdiscourse,she looked at him"con li occhipieniI

di favilled'amorcosi divini,"whichovercamehispowerofvisionand causedhim

to look down (Par. 4.139-42), and she thenwenton to explainwhy "I flame (fiammeggio)on you in thewarmthof love" (Par. 5.1-12).25 A centurylater,the incidentwas graphicallyrenderedby a Paduan artistwho depictedthepilgrim

overcomebyvisualraysemanatingfromBeatice'seyes.26IntheComedy,however,

visualraysare explicitlyidentifiedas suchonlyonce:

The Eye of God

and

modelsof vision

"23

The sameconventionis used in theCommedia,wherethe

and 1952). AlessandroParronchi,"La perspettivadantesca," Studi danteschi36 (1959), 5-103, stressesDante's dependenceon Albertand Aquinas; see also SimonA. Gilson,Medieval Optics and Theoriesof Lightin the Worksof Dante, Studiesin ItalianLiterature8 (Lewiston,N.Y., 2000), pp. 32, 54-55, and 113-15. 19See AlessandroParronchi,"Perspettiva,"inEnciclopediadantesca,4:438-39; Lindberg,Theories of Vision,pp. 104-21; and Gilson,MedievalOptics,pp. 7-37.

20 Alhazen: Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 58-86 and 209-10 (Catalogue,no. 3); Bacon, pp. 107-16 (no. 67); Pecham,pp. 116-18 (no. 98); Witelo,pp. 118-20 (no. 105).

21 Convivio3.9.7: "Queste cose visibili

vengonodentroa l'occhio-non dico le cose, ma le

formeloro-per lo mezzo diafano,non realmentema intenzionalmente,si quasi come in vetrotran-

sparente"("These

forms-throughthediaphanousmedium,notas matterbutas an image,justas throughtransparent glass": trans.Lansing,p. 115). Gilson,MedievalOptics,pp. 62-67.

enterintotheeye-I do notmeanthethingsthemselvesbuttheir

22 Gilson,MedievalOptics,p. 69, n. 70; see also p. 15, n. 15.

23 Dante's LyricPoetry,ed. K. Fosterand P. Boyde,2 vols. (Oxford,1967), nos. 30.1-2 and 5 (= Rime65, ed. MicheleBarbi,in Le operedi Dante [Florence,1921]). Otherunambiguousoccurrences in 33.51-54 (Barbi 14 = Vita nuova 14); 35.2 (21); 45.5-8 (69); and 79.43 (102). Furtherbut ambiguousreferencesin 32.7-13 (67); 67.28 (90); and 80.74-75 (103).

24 For visualraysthat"strike"(percosse),see Guido Cavalcanti:"la qual degliocchisuoi vennea ferire"and "Per gli occhi ferela sua claritate,"in his canzone "lo non pensava," ed. Gianfranco Contini,Poetidel Duecento,2 vols. (Milan, 1966-88), 2:500-501. See also Gilson,MedievalOptics, p. 36.

25 DiscussionofParadiso 3-5 in Gilson,MedievalOptics,p. 85.

26 IlluminatedManuscriptsoftheDivine Comedy,ed. PeterBrieger,MillardMeiss, and CharlesS.

Singleton,BollingenSeries81, 2 vols. (Princeton,N.J.,1969), plate435a, initialat head ofParadiso

4 in Padua, Bibliotecadel Seminario,MS 67, fol.208r (Paduan,saec. XV in.). Ca. 1456 thiswas the

modelfora

(Brieger,1:226-30).

similarillustrationin Florence,BibliotecaMedicea Laurenziana,MS Plut.40.1, fol.221r

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TheEyeofGod

43

cosideliocchimieiognequisquilia fug6Beatricecolraggiod'i suoi, cherifulgeada piiidimillemilia

(Par.26.76-78)

([T]husBeatricechasedawayeverymotefrommyeyeswiththeradiance[raggio]ofher own,whichshonemorethana thousandmiles.)27

ConsequentlyitseemsthatDante usedtheextramissiontheoryofvisionas a poetic device,even thoughhe consideredthe opposing intromissiontheoryto be the correct,scientificexplanation.28Hence it appearsthathe regardedextramission as a poeticfiction,or conceit,ratherthanan establishedphilosophictruth.There- forethereis no difficultyin supposingthathe extendedthesame principleto his constructionof theEmpyreanas God's Eye,whichalso was necessarilya poetic fiction.

THE RAY

SinceDante's use ofextramittedvisualraysis notcontroversial,itis quitepos- sible thatthe Ray in the Empyreanis an emanationfromGod's Eye. If so, we should expect thisray to be the featureof Dante's Empyreanthat linksit to

medievalopticsand ocular anatomy.Let us accordinglyconsiderDante's raggio as an opticalphenomenon. The narratorfirstdescribestheraggioas thepilgrimperceivesit at thecenter oftheRose. It is a lightcomingfromabove (Par.30.100) that"spreads(distende)

so wide in a

thesun" (103-5). Consequently,accordingto thefigureDante himselfcalculated in the Convivioforthe sun's diameter,thiscircleof lightwould be morethan 35,750 mileswide.29Whileit is mostlikelythattheRay was a cylinderof light withthisimmensediameterthroughoutitslength,itis also possiblethatitwas a cone oflight,justliketheraythat,accordingto manymedievaltheoriesofvision, had its apex in thelens.30In thatrespectthepoet is, forwhateverreason,non- committal.

circularfigurethatthecircumferencewould be too largea girdlefor

27 Trans. Charles S. Singleton,The Divine Comedy,BollingenSeries80, 6 vols. (Princeton,N.J., 1970-75). (This translationis used hereafterunlessotherwisestated.)See also Gilson,MedievalOp- tics,pp. 86-87.

28 RobertPodgurskihas arguedthatDante reconciledthetheoriesofextramissionand intromission by treatingthe formeras a supraphysicalphenomenon:"WhereOptics and VisionaryMetaphysics Convergein Dante's Novella vista,"Italian Quarterly35 (1998), 29-38.

29 Convivio4.8.7, hisreckoningbeingbased on Alfraganus'sstatementsthattheearth'sdiameteris 6,500 milesand thatthesun'sis 5.5 timesgreater:Alfraganus,De scientiaastrorum8.3 and 22.2, ed. FrancisJ.Carmody,Al FarghaniDifferentiescientieastrorum(Berkeley,Calif.,1943), pp. 14 and 39. For Dante's use ofAlfraganus,see Convivio2.5.16 and 2.13.11; hisfigurefortheearth'sdiameteris also repeatedat Convivio3.5.9.

30 Such a cone plays a prominentpart in perspectivists'accountsof intromission:e.g., Pecham, Perspectivacommunis1.36-38, ed. David C. Lindberg,JohnPechamand theScienceofOptics(Madi- son, Wis., 1970), p. 121; see also p. 38. FollowingArabicpractice,thecone was oftencalled a pyra- midus(p. 243, n. 8). Extramissionistswerelessprecise:Euclidlocatedthevertex"intheeye"(Lindberg, Theoriesof Vision,p. 12, n. 77); Ptolemy"at thecenterofrotationof theocular globe" (p. 17; see also p. 29).

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44

He mostfullytermsit "therayof theloftylight"("lo raggio/de l'alta luce," Par. 33.53-54). Althoughwe are givento understandbyBeatricethatthislight is not ordinarylight,but "luce intellettual"(30.40), stillit is clear that,even thoughsome of thelaws of natureare suspendedin theEmpyrean(31.73-78), nonethelesstheRay does conformto thelaws ofopticsinasmuchas itis reflected:

Fassidiraggiotuttasuaparvenza reflessoal sommodelmobileprimo, cheprendequindiviveree potenza.

The Eye of God

(Par.30.106-8)

(Its[thecircularfigure's]wholeappearanceismadebya rayreflectedfromthesummit

ofthePrimumMobile,whichtherefromtakesitslifeandpotency.)31

It is noteworthythattheRay does not formthe "circularfigure"as it passes downwardbutonlyas itis reflectedback upwardfromtheconvexoutersurface of thePrimumMobile, whichbythelaws of opticswould mean thattheRay's circumferenceprogressivelyincreasedas itwas reflectedback upwards.The "cir- cularfigure,"therefore,would be somewhatlargerthantheRaywas at thepoint whereit struckthePrimumMobile. The distancewould be negligible,however, ifmyhypothesisis correct,namely,thattheRay is a visualrayemittedfromthe EyeofGod inaccordancewiththeGalenictheoryofextramission,becauseinthat case the extramittedlightbonds withthe ambientair as soon as it leaves the confinesof theeyeball.32In otherwords,thePrimumMobile would be a sphere in directcontactwiththeEyeofGod. Thiswould fittheconceptoftheEmpyrean as a light-filledspace justbeyondthelastmaterialsphere(Par.27.112).33 This ray,whichnow gives"lifeand potency"to thePrimumMobile,and hence to universalNature,is to be identifiedwiththetriformeeffettobywhichGod in one momentcreatedtheangels,theheavens,and primematter:

Formae materia,congiuntee purette, usciroad esserchenonaviafallo, comed'arcotricordotresaette. E comeinvetro,inambrao incristallo raggioresplendesi,chedalvenire a l'essertuttonone intervallo,

cosi'1triformeeffettodelsuosire

nel'essersuoraggi6insiemetutto

sanzadistinzioneinessordire.

31 Trans.Singleton,altered("appearance" forparvenza,not"expanse"). The apparentparadoxmay

be resolvedbyAquinas's explanationthatintellectuallightis visible,butnotto our senses:Scriptum superlibrosSententiarum2.2.2.1 ad 1 (Opera omnia,ed. RobertoBusa,annexedtoIndexThomisticus [Stuttgart,1980], 1:130-31), citedby BortoloMartinelli,"La dottrinadell'Empireonell'Epistolaa Cangrande(capp. 24-27)," Studidantescbi57 (1985), 49-143, at p. 111.

32 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 9-11.

33 It is debatablewhetherthelightin Dante's Empyreanis corporealor incorporeal,buteitherway,

insofaras it can be reflected(see above, at n.

majorityviewthattheEmpyreanlight,being"luce intellettual"(Par.30.40), is incorporeal:Medieval Optics, pp. 250-56; bibliographyin n. 70. However,Martinellihas forcefullyarguedthatin the Scholastictradition,theEmpyreanwas regardedas corporeal(n. 31, above).

31), it obeysthe laws of optics.Gilson supportsthe

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The Eye of God

45

Concreatofuordinee costrutto

a le sustanze;e quellefuroncima nelmondoinchepuroattofuprodutto; purapotenzatennela parteima; nelmezzostrinsepotenzaconatto talvime,chegiamainonsidivima.

(Par.29.22-36)

(Formandmatter,conjoinedandsimple,cameintobeingwhichhadnodefect,as three arrowsfroma three-stringedbow;andas inglass,inamber,orincrystal,a rayshines so thatthereis nointervalbetweenitscominganditspervadingall,so didthetriform effectrayforthfromitsLordintoitsbeing,allatonce,withoutdistinctionofbeginning. Orderandstructurewerecreatedtogetherinthesubstances;andthoseinwhompure actwas producedwerethesummitoftheuniverse.Purepotentialityheldthelowest place;inthemiddlesucha bondtieduppotentialitywithactthatitisneverunbound.)34

Althoughthispassage is generallyunderstoodto describethecreationof the nine lower heavensthatconstituteNature,the textimpliesthecreationof the Empyreanas well, because it statesthatthe Ray's effectwas that "order and structurewere createdtogetherin the substances"(31-32).35 Since thesesub- stancesare the angels (32-33), it followsthattheirplace of abode would have beenconcreatedwiththem,namely,theEmpyrean(4.28-32). Sincewe knowthat one partofthatheaven-the lago-was createdbyreflectionoftheRay fromthe PrimumMobile, we have good reasonto suppose thatthesedi of theblessed,36

theonlyotherinanimatefeatureoftheEmpyrean,werecreatedinthesameway.37

Certainlythey,liketherestoftheEmpyrean,are composedoflight;in formthey are circlesof light,risingstepbystepfromthelake,each beinglargerin circum- ferenceand higherthantheprecedingone. Can sucha configurationbe produced byreflectedlight? By 1300 reflectionsofthissortwerewellunderstoodbyScholasticscience,and explanationswerewidelyavailable,especiallyin theworksoftheperspectivists. Specifically,suchreflectionsbelongto thestudyofcatoptrics,or reflectioninmir- rors-in thiscase, a convexsphericalone. Althoughtheprinciplewas illustrated in the Latin translationof Ptolemy'sOptica,38 it was mostreadilyavailable in JohnPecham'sPerspectivacommunis,whichwas widelydisseminatedas a uni-

34 Trans. Singleton,lines 31-33 revised.Cf. PatrickBoyde,Dante Philomythesand Philosopher:

Man in theCosmos (Cambridge,Eng.,1981), pp. 243-45.

35 My translationofParadiso 29.31-32a; Singleton's:"Therewithorderwas createdand ordained ." and Boyde's:"The separatesubstanceswerecreatedintheirorderedhierarchy (Dante Philomythes,p. 245).

"

36 Onlycalledsedi at Paradiso 32.7 (butcf.scanni,4.31), althoughthenounsediois impliedbythe frequentuse oftheverbsedere:e.g.,Paradiso 30.136; 31.116; and 32.8, 42, 102, 118, 130, 133, and

137.

37 For ScholasticargumentsthattheEmpyreanwas amongthefirstcreatedthings,see Martinelli, "La dottrinadell'Empireo,"pp. 66-67 and 99-100.

38 L'Optique de Claude Ptolemeedans la versionlatined'apres l'arabe de l'emirEugenede Sicile, ed. AlbertLejeune,2nded.,Collectionde Travauxde l'AcademieInternationaled'HistoiredesSciences 31 (Leiden,1989).

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46

The Eye of God

versitytextbook.39Bothtreatisesillustratea case analogousto thatoftheEmpy- rean (Fig. 4).40 For Pecham,thevisibleobjectin Figure4 is ABC, withincident, or incoming,raysAE, BF,and CG reflectedto theeyeoftheobserverlocatedat D; butthelightgeometrywould be thesame if,as I suppose,theRay emanated fromD and was reflectedto formthe lago at EFG and theprogressivelylarger circlesofreflectionalong thereflectedraysAE and GC. GivenDante's well-knownand extensiveuse of theprinciplesof catoptrics,41

thisexplanationseemsaltogetherprobable;nonetheless,itdoesraiseseveralprob-

lemsthatmustbe confronted.First,it assumesthatthePrimumMobile, which Dante, likeall medievalastronomers,understoodto be an invisible,transparent sphere,has a reflectiveoutersurfaceso thatitcan functionas a convexspherical mirror.Howeverpuzzlingthisassumptionmaybe, itwas made bythepoethim- self,when he specifiedthatthe Ray was reflectedfromthePrimumMobile, so therecan be no doubt thatwithinthe fictionof the poem thiswas somehow

possible.We can onlyspeculateon how he thoughtthatthiswas so. Bothexpe- rienceand authorityindicatedthatrayswerereflectedfromanysurfacethatwas smoothand highlypolished,42butsincewe are dealingwithan act of God, more likelyno scientificexplanationis required-it was donethusbecauseGod willed

it.

The sameexplanationbased on divineomnipotencemaywell be theanswerto theotherobjectionthatcan be raisedagainsttheirradiativeoriginof theRose. For thelago and thesedi to be formedbyreflectedrays,theraysmustencounter anothermirrorlikesurface,whichin bothcases mustbe invisible.One can spec- ulate that,justas thePrimumMobile was formedat thefirstcreationto reflect theraggioback,so also thatraycreatedan invisiblehemispherictunicfromwhich it was reflectedto formthe seats. Again,no scientificexplanationis required becausetheformationof thelago byreflectionis also a givenfact,and we must be contentwiththequia, to know thatit is a fact,withoutknowingthereason why(propterquid).43SinceI havesupposedthatthesediweresimilarlygenerated, theirformationconsequentlypresentsno difficulty.

THE HEMISPHERIC AMPHITHEATER

Althoughit is clear thatthe seats of the blessedare arrangedin concentric circulartiers,itis problematicwhethertheyforma cone,a hemisphere,or some less regularshape. Most commonly,thearrangementis comparedto an amphi- theaterwithno furtherspeculation.44Althoughthe poem repeatedlycalls this

39 Lindberg,JohnPecham,pp. 29-32.

40 Fig. 4 reproducesfig.27 fromPecham,Perspectivacommunis2.32, ed. Lindberg,p. 185; fora similarfigure,notin themanuscripts,see p. 259 (fig.48). A comparablediagramappearsinPtolemy, Optica 3.118 (prop.32), ed. Lejeune,p. 139.

41 DiscussedbyGilson,MedievalOptics,pp. 109-49.

42 Thus Pecham,Perspectivacommunis2.7 and 2.10, ed. Lindberg,pp. 162-65.

43 Thus Virgil,makinga commonplaceScholasticdistinctionat Purgatorio3.32.

44 Francescoda Buti (d. 1405) comparedtheseats to the "gradinell'arenadi Verona" (Natalino Sapegnoat Par. 30.114). BeginningwithParadiso 30.112-14, Singleton'scommentaryregularlycalls theRose an amphitheater.

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The Eye of God

A

D

B

G

C

47

Fig.4. Reflectionfromthesurfaceofa sphere.Re-

produced,bypermissionoftheUniversityofWis-

consinPress,fromPecham,Perspectivacommunis 2.32, ed. David C. Lindberg,JohnPechamand the

Scienceof Optics (Madison,Wis., 1970), p. 85.

amphitheatera rose,45eventuallythe readerlearnsthatthisimageis not to be takenliterally:itis revealedin Paradiso 32 thattheseatsalso formverticalfiles, one above the other,as is evidentfromBernard'sidentificationof the Hebrew women(4-18) and theircounterpartsacrosstheRose (31-36). No realrosean- swersthisdescription,because in thegenusRosa whenthefloweris doubledby havingmorethanone row,or whorl,of petals,theyare imbricate,thatis, they overlaplikerooftiles,each petalbeingcenteredovertheedgesofthoseintherow beneath;thusthepetalsofa realrose do notformverticalfiles.46Instead,we are leftwiththeimageof a netlikegridof circularhorizontalranksand of vertical files.The seatson thehigher,largercirclesmustnecessarilybe widerthanthose on the lower,smallerones, since each circlenow appears to containthe same numberofseats;in otherwords,thefilestaperdownwards.Althoughsucha grid could be imposedon a cone,itis bestknownas thedivisionofa sphere,suchas thelinesoflatitudeand longitudeon a terrestrialglobe.Whilegeographicallati-

45 The Empyreanis referredto as a rosa at Paradiso 12.19, 30.117 and 124, 31.1, and 32.15 and

120.

46 EncyclopaediaBritannica,11thed., 23:729-30. Giovannidi Paolo depictedtheempyrealrose withbotanicallycorrectimbricatepetalsin London, BritishLibrary,MS Yates Thompson36 (saec.

XV med.),fols.185r,187r,and 188r: Brieger(n. 26, above), 2:513 and 516.

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48

tude and longitudewere recognizedand usefulconceptsin medievalScholastic culture,47thesphereso dividedthatwould mostreadilycometo mindforDante's contemporarieswas thecelestialsphere,especiallyas itwas depictedon thetym- pan of an astrolabe(Fig. 5). Because theempyrealamphitheaterhas a horizon,itcorrespondsexactlywith thehalfof thecelestialsphererepresentedon a tympan.This horizonis theam- phitheater'supperedge,formedbythetopmosttieron whichareseatedtheVirgin Mary,PeterandJohnon herrightand Adamand Moses on herleft(Par.31.115- 35, 32.115-32, and Fig. 1). Bernardsays it is the "mostremote"of thecircles (31.115), and the narratorsays thatMary's place was "a parton the extreme verge"(122).48 The correspondencebetweentheamphitheater'srimand thece- lestialsphere'shorizonis not a matterof conjecture,forthetwo are explicitly comparedbythenarrator,who likenstheangelicgloryabove Maryto a sunrise in "la parteorientalde l'orizzonte"(Par.31.119). Our conceptionofGod's Eyeis significantlyexpandedbythediscoverythatthe Empyreanis a hemispherewitha horizon,becausethesefeaturesimplythatitis partof a largerstructure,namely,a sphere.Dante himselfdefinesa horizonas "themid-linebetweentwo halvesof a sphere."49 Moreover,as Aquinas explains in his commentaryon theLiberde causis, "a horizonis a circlemarkingoffthe boundariesofwhatis seen."50 Accordingly,theEmpyrean'shorizonwould seem to dividetheinvisible,ineffable,and eternalCreatorfromhiscreation.Thus God and the Empyreantogetherforma sphere,whichmay convenientlybe termed "Supernature,"sinceitis separatefrom,adjacentto,and above thePrimumMo- bile,whichcontainsthemundusof Nature.The idea thatthetenthheavenwas sphericalin shape (coelumspheriforme)was in facta Scholasticcommonplace, takenfromJohnDamascene and repeated,forinstance,byBartholomewtheEn- glishman,s1butsincemedievalanatomistsconceivedthehumaneyeas a sphere, ofwhichonlytheanteriorhalfwas visible,itwould be fittingto representGod's Eye byitsexteriorhemisphere,whichwas theinterfacebetweentheCreatorand his creatures.This implicitimageof God's Eye as a spherehas importantconse- quencesthatI shallexploreat theendofthisstudy,butfirstI wantto showthat, in additionto thisgeneralresemblanceto thehumaneye,Dante's Empyreanpos- sesses manyparticularfeaturesthathave counterpartsin medievalocular anat- omy.

The Eye of God

2. ANATOMY

AlthoughDante's Empyreanis composedof light,stillthefeaturesformedby theRay mayresemblestructuresinthehumaneyethatwereknownto anatomists

47 On Dante's use ofthelatitude-relatedclimaticzonesin Paradiso,see RichardKay,Dante's Chris- tianAstrology(Philadelphia,1994), pp. 63-64, 88-91, 119-20, 173, 217, and 226.

48 Singleton'stranslation;he offers"a partofthehighestedge" or "rim"as an alternativetranslation of "partene lo stremo"(Par.31.122).

49 Monarchia3.15.3: "[homo] assimilaturorizonti,qui estmediumduorumemisperiorum":trans. RichardKay,Dante's "Monarchia,"Studiesand Texts131 (Toronto,1998), p. 309. 50 ThomasAquinas,Commentaryon theBook of Causes,ad prop.2, trans.VincentA. Guagliardo et al. (Washington,D.C., 1996), p. 17. See also Kay at Monarchia3.15.3.

51 Martinelli,"La dottrinadell'Empireo,"pp. 64-65.

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The Eye of God

Azimuth-Mr-ErianLines.-

Zenith*--

49

Almucantars 3;~~~~~~~-~.Circles of

Eastern

North

Celestial'

\

Circle of

Pole

X

X

Capricorn

Latitude- a"

UnequalHourLines

Mark

(12 Hoursof Day) (12 Hoursof Night)

Fig.5. A tympan,or tablet,foran astrolabe,showingthecoordinates ofthecelestialspherefora specificlatitude(altitude,azimuth,zenith, and horizon).Reproduced,by permissionof Marjorie V. Webster, fromRoderickS. Webster,The Astrolabe,2nd ed. (Lake Bluff,Ill., 1974), p. 10.

in the LatinWestcirca 1300; consequently,I will now inquirewhetherDante's descriptionoftheEmpyreancorrespondstotheocularanatomycurrentinhisday. Since Simon Gilson has alreadyestablishedthat Dante made extensiveuse of opticalscience,we can turnwithconfidenceto someofthenumeroustreatiseson opticsavailableto Dante52in searchofpossiblesourcesforhisdescriptionofthe tenthheaven.This will be morethan an exercisein Quellenkundeforits own sake,fortheresultswillnot onlyconfirmmyoriginalhunchbutwillalso enable me to expand and elaboratehisuse oftheoculusDei image. FollowingGilson'slead,I willnotattemptto identifyanyparticularsourcefor Dante's optics;thebettercourseis to seekinsteadto ascertainwhichdoctrineshe made use of,sincemanyofthemwerecommonplacesthatwereoftrepeated.This is particularlytrueoftheeye'sanatomy,forwhichall ofDante's contemporaries ultimatelyreliedon theworkofGalen ofPergamum(d. ca. A.D. 199).53 Although

52 Summarizedin Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 209-13; formanuscriptsand editions,seeLind- berg,Catalogue (above,n. 14).

53 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,p. 41. While writersfollowingAlhazencame to interpretocular functionin geometricalterms(pp. 68-71), observationalanatomyof the eye remainedessentially Galenicuntilthesixteenthcentury:StewartDuke-Elderand KennethC. Wybar,The Anatomyofthe VisualSystem,Systemof Ophthalmology2 (St. Louis,Mo., 1961), pp. 33-38. Butsee n. 68, below.

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50

it is possiblethatDantemighthaveknownGalen'sDe usu partiumin Latin translation,54thesubstanceofGalen'sanatomywas mostwidelyknowninthe WestfromthetreatiseDe oculis,commonlyattributedtoitstranslator,Constan-

tinetheAfrican(fl.1065-85),butsometimestoGalenhimself.55Galen'sanatomy

oftheeyewasalsocommonlysummarizedbyothersourcesavailabletoDante,56

includingseveralwithwhichhe was certainlyfamiliar,suchas Avicenna57and

The Eye of God

AlbertusMagnus58(thoughnot Peterof Spain).59In seekinganalogues between

Dante'sEmpyreanandGalenicocularanatomy,itwillbeenoughtoestablishthe basicfeaturesoftheGaleniceyewithoutattemptingto determinewhereDante mighthavelearnedaboutthem.

GALENIC

OCULAR

ANATOMY

Thecasualobserverofthehumaneyeseesonlypartofa sphereaboutan inch indiameter;mostofthevisiblesurfaceiswhite,surroundinga coloredcircle,the iris,at thecenterofwhichis thepupil,a darkspotthatdilatesandcontracts.

GalenandhisGreekpredecessorswerelittleconcernedwiththesesuperficialfea-

tures;instead,as an anatomistGalendescribedtheocularstructuresthatcould bediscernedbypainstakingdissection,andmodernanatomystillrecognizesmost ofthemandoftendesignatesthembytheLatinterminologydevisedbymedieval translators.MuchofGalen'sdescriptionis irrelevantto thepresentinquirybe- causeDante'simageconcernsonlytheanteriorportionoftheeye,towhichGalen devotedrelativelylittleattention.Letmebegin,then,witha summaryoftheGa- lenicanatomyoftheanteriorhemisphereoftheeye. Accordingto Galen,thefrontoftheeyeis coveredbythreecoats(tunicae, panniculi).(1) Theoutermosttunicistheconjunctiva,a thinlayerthatcoversthe

posteriorhemispherebut extendsonlyslightlyinto the anteriorhalf.60(2) The

54 Seen. 81,below.

55 ConstantinimonachiMontiscassiniLiberde oculis,ed. P.Pansier,inhisCollectioophtalmologica veterumauctorum,2 vols. (Paris,1903-33), 2:167-82. The workis in facta reworkingof Galen by

Hunain ibn Ishaq (d.

(Cairo, 1928). See Lindberg,Catalogue,no. 185. Accordingto Meyerhof'snotes,Hunain'sprincipal

sourcewas Galen'sDe usupartiumcorporishumanis,buthe also usedGalen'sDe placitisHippocratis et Platonisand De demonstratione,neitherofwhichDante could have knownbecause one was not yettranslatedand theotherhas beenlost(pp. 20, 21, 27, 36, and 38).

877), The Book oftheTen Treatiseson theEye,ed. and trans.Max Meyerhof

56 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,p. 41, citesas examplesof Galenic ocular anatomyBenvenutus Grassus,BartholomaeusAnglicus,Vincentof Beauvais,and RogerBacon.

57 Dante citesAvicennabut not his Liber canonisor othermedicalworks:Enciclopediadantesca,

1:481-82.

58 Alberttreatstheanatomyoftheeyemostfullyin his De animalibus1.2.7, in Opera omnia,ed. AugusteBorgnet,38 vols.(Paris,1890-99), 11:50-52. See also Lindberg,TheoriesofVision,pp. 105-

6.

59Not surprisingly,since Dante alludes onlyto his work as a logician:Paradiso 12.134-35. His treatiseon ophthalmology(Lindberg,Catalogue,no. 206) simplynamesthetunics,whichheremarks numbersevenliketheplanets,and thethreehumors:Brevariumde egritudinibusoculorumet curis 1.1, ed. A. M. Berger,Die Ophthalmologie(Liberde oculo) des PetrusHispanus(Munich,1899), pp.

2-3.

60 Constantine,De oculis 1.2.4 and 1.3.6, ed. Pansier,2:168 and 170; Hunain,TenTreatises,trans. Meyerhof,pp. 5 and 12; Galen,De usu partium10.2, trans.MargaretTallmadgeMay, Galen on the UsefulnessofthePartsoftheBody,2 vols. (Ithaca,N.Y., 1968), 2:469.

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The Eye of God

51

nextcoat is differentiatedintotwo distinctstructures:five-sixthsof itformsthe sclera,or scleroticcoat, visibleas thewhiteoftheeye,whilethefront-mostsixth

is transparentand is called thecornea because it is hornlike.6'(3) The thirdan-

teriortunicis theuvea, so called forthegrapelikecolor of itsinteriorsurface;it

is theanteriorcontinuationof thechoroid,or secundina,tunic.62Galenistswere

not in agreementas to thepointat whichthechoroidbecomestheuvea; Galen himselfappearsto have consideredtheuvea to be thestructurewe call theiris.63 The pupil is an apertureor hole in theuvea (foramenuveae).64 Thesethreeconcentriccoats forma cavitythatcontainsa thin,purefluidcalled theaqueous humor,or thealbugineous(albuminoid)humorbecauseitresembles

thewhiteof an egg.65Behindthishumorlies another,sometimescalled thelens, not forits optical propertiesbut because its shape is thatof a lentilseed (Lens culinaris),namely,a flattenedsphere;thelenswas also termedthehumorthatis "icelike"(glacial)or "crystalline"(crystalloid).66Galenthoughtheobserveda thin filmcoveringtheanteriorsurfaceofthelens;he compareditto an onion skinor

a spiderweb(tela araneae) and statedthatit was reflective,like a mirror.67It is commonlyreferredto simplyas thearanea or "the arachnoidmembrane."Al- though,like modernanatomists,Galen apparentlylocated thelensclose to the pupil,Hunain situatedit "in themiddleoftheeye,likea pointwhichwe imagine to be in thecentreof a globe," and in thishe was followedby Latinanatomists (but not theperspectivists)untilthesixteenthcentury.68Similarly,beforeKepler the lens was consideredto be, in Galen's words, "the principalinstrumentof

61 Constantine,De oculis 1.2.4 and 1.3.6, ed. Pansier,2:168 and 170; Hunain,TenTreatises,trans. Meyerhof,pp. 4 and 9; Galen,De usu partium10.3, trans.May,2:470-71.

62 Constantine,De oculis 1.2.4 and 1.3.6, ed. Pansier,2:168 and 170; Hunain,TenTreatises,trans. Meyerhof,pp. 4 and 9; Galen,De usu partium10.4, trans.May,2:474-76.

63 Galen,contraryto priorGreekusage,used theterm"iris" to referto theequatorofthelens,the dividingcircle(or wreath,corona) wheretheanteriorand posteriortunicsjoined (May, Galen, pp. 467-68, n. 10). See thediagramin Hugo Magnus,Die Anatomiedes Augesin ihrergeschichtlichen Entwicklung,AugenartzlicheUnterrichtstafeln20 (Breslau,1900), pl. 22; reproducedin Duke-Elder, Anatomy,p. 16.

64 Constantine,De oculis 1.3.6, 3.1.15, and 4.1.10, ed. Pansier,2:170 and 175-76; Hunain, Ten

Treatises,trans.Meyerhof,pp. 10,29-30, and 36; Galen,De 76 and 479.

65 Constantine,De oculis1.2.3 and 1.3.6, ed. Pansier,2:168 and 170 ("e[u]gaidos" and "eugaydas"); Hunain,TenTreatises,trans.Meyerhof,pp. 4 and 10 (@ocs6tS; = "egglike"or "albuminoid");Galen, De usu partium10.4-6, trans.May,2:475-78 ("aqueous humor").

usupartium10.4-6, trans.May,2:475-

66 Constantine,De

oculis 1.1.1, 1.2.2-3, and 1.2.5, ed. Pansier,2:167-68; Hunain,Ten Treatises,

trans.Meyerhof,pp. 3-4; Galen,De usu partium10.1, trans.May,2:463-65.

67 Constantine,De

oculis 1.3.6, ed. Pansier,2:170; Hunain, Ten Treatises,trans.Meyerhof,p. 10;

Galen,De usu partium10.6, trans.May,2:478-79. See Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,-pp.36, 55, and

238, nn. 141-42. ProbablyGalenwas describingtheanteriorlenscapsule(Meyerhof,May,and Lind- berg),thoughLindbergalso considersitto be "a hypotheticalmembrane."

68 Hunain, Ten Treatises,trans.Meyerhof,p. 3; Constantine,De oculis,1.2.2, ed. Pansier,2:168:

"In medio[crystalloidoshumor]locaturutceterepartessibiministrent

canonis3.3.1: "Et hic quidem [glacialis]humorpositusest in medio: quoniam estdigniorlocis que suntcumcustodia" (Venice,1507, fol.203va; repr.Darmstadt,1964). See also Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,p. 34; and Duke-Elder,Anatomy,p. 309. Sincethecentrallyplaced lensis not authentically "Galenic," I shall hereafterdesignatethemedievalLatintraditionincorporatingthisfeature,derived fromHunain and Avicenna,as thatofthe"Latinmedicalanatomists."

"

Similarly,Avicenna,Liber

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52

The Eye of God

vision,"and all theotherpartsoftheeyeexistedinorderto helpthelensperform itsfunction.69Hence thelenswas-significantlyformytheme-called "thedivine partoftheeye" (divinumoculi).70 Unfortunately,Galen leftno diagrammaticrepresentationoftheeyeto clarify his description;and althoughhis medievalfollowersagreedin general,theydif- feredin detailsand clarity.Hunain's diagram(Fig.6) is theearliestthatillustrates thetextsI havecited;71however,to makeiteasierto followthenextstageofthe argument,I providediagramsof therelevantfeaturesof theanteriorhalfof the Galeniceyeballin longitudinalsection(Fig. 7) and itsexterioraspect(Fig. 8), as medievalLatinmedicalanatomistsconceivedit.We arenow preparedto see how theprincipalfeaturesofDante's Empyreancorrespondto thoseofthehumaneye as describedbyGalen and hisfollowers.

ANATOMICAL

PARALLELS

IN THE EMPYREAN

God As thesourceoftheRay,God correspondsto thelens,whichis theimmediate sourceof extramittedrays.72Furthermore,thecircularshape of thelensas seen fromthefrontmatchesGod's appearanceto thepilgrimas threesuperimposed d'una contenenza,"Par. 33.116-17). It is not immediately apparent,however,justwheretheobject of thisvisionis locatedrelativeto the hemisphericamphitheater.To be sure,itis locatedon thecentralaxis formedby the Ray, to whichthe lago and the circularranksof sedi are concentric;it is

problematic,however,how highabove thelago he is supposedto be. The Galenic anatomistswhoseworksDante could haveknownplacedthelensat thecenterof thesphericaleyeball,73and hencethecenterofthelenswas equidistantfromall pointson thesurfaceof theeye's anteriorhemisphere.Ifsuchweretheposition of God's imagein theempyrealamphitheater,thenitwould be on thesamelevel withtheVirginMary and theothersaintsseatedin thetopmostrank.The prob- lem,then,is to discoverwhetherthiswas thecase. The answeris impliedby thenatureof thebeatificvision."Blessedness,"Be- atricedeclares,"is foundedon theact ofvision(si fonda/l'esserbeato ne l'atto che vede)" (Par. 28.109-10). WithoutseeingGod, then,one cannotbe blessed.

Later,thenarratorrestatesthisfundamentaltruth:thedivinelightmakestheCre-

atorvisible"to everycreaturethathas hispeace onlyin beholdinghim(a quella

69 Galen,De usupartium10.1, trans.May,2:463; cf.Hunain,TenTreatises,trans.Meyerhof,p. 3; Constantine,De oculis 1.1.1 and 1.2.2, ed. Pansier,2:167-68.

70 Duke-Elder,Anatomy,p. 17, citingno source.

71 ReproducedfromLindberg,Theoriesof Vision,p. 35 (cf.p. 229, n. 14), based on a manuscript dated to 1196; an inferiorrenditionin Meyerhof,p. 5. A crudedrawingillustratingGalen's De usu partiumis reproducedas thefrontispieceto vol. 2 ofMay's translation(VaticanLibrary,MS Urb.gr. 69, fol.118r). See also n. 63, above.

72 The lensin turnreceivesitspowerfromthebrain,whichcorrespondsto God himself(see p. 63, below); consequently,itis God's image,notGod himself,thatis thesubjectofthepresentdiscussion.

73 See,forinstance,Hunain'sdiagram(Fig.6) and n. 66, above. FollowingAlhazen,theperspectivist tradition,includingBacon, Witelo,and Pecham,locatedthelens(correctly)well forwardoftheeye- ball's center.

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The Eye of God

OPTIC NERVE

ftft

SCERA

CHOROID

RETINA

ALBUMINOID

HUMOR

PUPIL

CRYSTALLINE HUMOR

53

Fig.6. The eyeaccordingto HunainibnIshaq. Reproduced,by permissionoftheUniversityofChicagoPress,fromDavidC. Lind-

berg,TheoriesofVisionfromal-KinditoKepler(Chicago,1976),

p. 35.

creatura/chesolo inluivedereha la sua pace)" (Par.30.101-2). Consequently, therecanbenodoubtthateachandeveryoneoftheblessedsoulsintheEmpyrean islookingat God.Thepoetprovidedan exceptionthatprovesthisrule:

Di contr'a PietrovedisedereAnna, tantocontentadimirarsuafiglia, chenonmoveocchiopercantareosanna

(Par. 32.133-35)

(OppositePeteryouseeAnnasitting,so contentto gazeuponherdaughterthatshe movesnothereyesas shesingsHosanna.)

Anna, in otherwords,looks fixedlyat theVirginMary,who is almost,butnot quite,diametricallyoppositeheron theuppermostleveloftheamphitheater(see Fig. 1). At leastone commentatorjumpedto theconclusionthatAnna cannotin consequencebe lookingat God, because he assumed,withouta shed of textual authority,thatGod mustbe located somewhereabove therimoftheamphithe- ater.74But thiswould involvethe poet in a contradiction,since by definitiona blessedsoul mustsee God to enjoythebeatificvision,whereasAnnahas hergaze

74 Thus Singletonad Par. 32.133-35: "Mothergazes constantlyat daughter,insteadofgazingup- wardsto enjoythedirectvisionof God!"

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54

conjunctiva

scleraw

(white)

\

The Eye of God

 

uvea

~~~~visible

o"ris

 

aqueous

X

humor

cornea

(transparent)

pupil

(foramenuveae)

Fig. 7. The anteriorhalfof theeye accordingto medievalLatinmedical anatomists.

fixedon Mary.The contradictiondisappears,of course,ifAnna could see both God and Mary simultaneously,whichwould be thecase ifGod's imagewereon thesame levelas theedge oftheamphitheater.Theologically,thissolutionis ap- pealing,as itplaces all of theblessedequidistantfromtheobjectoftheirvision, irrespectiveof itsintensity,whichis indicatedbythegraduatedranksoftheam- phitheater.We can accordinglytakeGod's imagein theEmpyreanto be a precise parallelto thelocationofthelensin theeyeball. Finally,thelensis a fittinganalogue forGod because,accordingto Galen,all theotherpartsoftheeyeexistforitssake (propterquid). As has beenremarked above,thisgodlikecharacterofthelenscaused itto be knownas "thedivinepart oftheeye" (divinumoculi).ThusineveryrespectDante's God isaptlyrepresented as thelensof God's Eye,"so that,"as thepoem saysin anotherconnection,"the correspondenceis exact betweentheringand finger"(Par.32.56-57).

The lake oflight Dante's raggio,as alreadynoted,correspondsto thelightextramittedfromthe lens;descendingto thesurfaceof theninthheaven,it is reflectedback fromthe PrimumMobile to formthe "circularfigure"ofthelago, or lake of light.Ifthis takesplace in God's Eye,theoutward-boundRay mustpass throughthehole in thegrapeliketunicknownas theforamenuveae,or pupil,and nextthroughthe outersurfaceof thehemisphere,whichcorrespondsto theinvisiblecornea;and thenreturningback fromthePrimumMobile,theRay floodsthepupilwithlight to formthelake. The correspondencebetweenthelago and thepupilis suggested by a significantreversal:the pupil,when viewed fromoutsidethe humaneye, appears to be whollydark; the lago, by contrast,is just the opposite,its most

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The Eye of God

sclera/

(white)

pupil

X

55

Fig. 8. Exteriorviewofthehumaneye.

distinctivecharacterbeingthatitis composedof light, whichenablesitto be the immediatesource of illuminationin the Empyrean(Par. 30.100-102). But the strongestreasonsto identifythe lago withthe pupil are thatboth are circular figuresand thatbothare similarlylocated,one beingas itwerethecentralarena oftheheavenlyamphitheaterand theotherbeingcenteredon theanteriorpole of

theocularsphere'sgeometricalaxis.75

Theblessedandtheirseats

The blessedare firstidentified,byBeatrice,as "theassemblyofthewhiterobes ('I conventode le bianchestole)" (Par.30.129). Color readilyidentifiesthewhite robes withthe whitetunic,or sclera,and the identificationis all the stronger because bothare garments.76As alreadyshown,thereadermustreconstructthe layoutoftheamphitheaterfromscatteredreferences,butonceitis discoveredthat theseatsare arrangednotonlyin circularranks,likelinesoflatitude,butalso in verticalfiles,dividedbylongitudinallines,thepatternprovesto beonethatanyone can observein thevisiblepartoftheeye'siris(Fig. 8). Sincemedievalanatomists synonymizedtheirisand theuvea, takingwhattodayis called theiristo be the visibleportionof thegrapeliketunic(Fig. 7), thesame patternofradiatinglines and concentriccirclescould byextrapolationbe extendedto thewholesurfaceof the uvea, whichwould thuscorrespondto theconfigurationof theseats in the hemisphericamphitheater.

75 For thetopographyofthehumaneye,see Duke-Elder,Anatomy,p. 78 (fig.65).

76 Dante used tunicain its anatomicalsense: "la tunicade la pupilla," Convivio3.9.13; gonna is used as itsequivalentat Paradiso 26.72. Galen's GreektermxItxv was translatedintoLatinas pan- niculus,"a pieceoffabric,"and hencea "membrane,"byConstantine,De oculis1.3.6-8, ed.Pansier, 2:169-71; but also as tunica,e.g., in the Liber oculorumof JesuHaly, translatedbefore1279 by DominicusMarrochini,ed. Pansier,1:200-201 (see Lindberg,Catalogue,no. 194).

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The analogy is not altogetheranatomicallycorrect,however,because in the humaneyethewhitetunicenclosesthegrapelikeone, whereasthewhiterobed saintsare presumablyseatedon theseatsthatconstitutetheoutersurfaceofthe hemisphere.The discrepancymay well be attributedto poeticlicense,but that appeal perhapsassumestoo readilythatGod's Eyemustreplicateocularanatomy in everyrespect,forwithinthefictionofthepoem itis clearthatthewholeEm- pyreanwas "establishedbyeternallaw" (Par.32.55), thatis,byGod's omnipotent will,and thatin doingso he sometimestranscendednaturallaw (31.76-78). The conclusionto be drawn fromall theseparallelsmustbe thatthereis a remarkablecorrespondencebetweentheprincipalfeaturesoftheEmpyreanand the structuresof theanteriorhalfof the Latin Galenic eye: God is thelens;the raggioexitslikean extramittedvisualray;thelago is a reverseimageofthepupil; theseatsare arrangedin a patternfoundin theiris,or uvea; and theblessedare clothedinwhiterobescorrespondingto thesclera,or whitetunic.Theseparallels shouldbe sufficientto confirmmyhypothesis,buttherearetwomore,lessobvious perhaps,butnonethelessimpressive.

The Eye of God

ANGELS

AND VISUAL

SPIRITS

In additionto thebeati,Dante's empyrealhemisphereis filledwitha vastmul- titudeof angels-"tanta moltitudinevolante" (Par. 31.20)-that mediatebe- tweenGod and hissaints,constantlycirculatingfromone to theother(31.1-18). As we know,they,too, werepartof thefirstcreation,havingbeen producedas part of the primalRay's triformeffect(Par. 29.28). Since Dante describesthe angelsin theEmpyreanas transparentto thedivinelight(Par. 31.19-24),77 they mightbe identifiedwiththetransparentaqueous humorthatfillsthe space be- tweentheuvea and thelens(above,n. 65), butinsteaditseemsto memorelikely

thatDante ignoredthatinvisiblesubstancein hisimageofGod's Eyeand instead equated theangelswiththeplenitudeof visual spirit(spiritusvisibilis)that,ac- cordingto Galen,permeatedtheaqueous humor.Whattheeyeemitted,according to Galen'sextramissiontheory,was pneuma,whichoriginatedinthebrain,passed throughthelens,and emergedfromthepupilto coalesce withtheambientair.78 In histreatiseDe usupartiumGalenassertsthat"thespacebetweenthecrystalline humor[thelens]and thegrapeliketunic[theiris]containsa thinliquid [theaque-

ous humor]and thattheregionaroundthepupilis fullof pneuma

he adducestwo reasonsto believethatpneumais presentin livingsubjects:first, afterdeaththeeyeballshrivelseventhoughfilledwithaqueous humor;and sec-

ond,thatwhenoneeyeisclosed,thepupiloftheotherdilates,becausethepneuma comingfromthebrainis concentratedin theactiveeye.80

79 Then

" Cf. Convivio3.7.5: angels"sono sanza grossezzadi materia,quasi diafaniperla puritade la loro forma." 78 Lindberg,Theoriesof Vision,pp. 10-11 and esp. n. 63. Galendescribestheprocessmostfullyin De placitisHipprocratisetPlatonis7.4, ed. and trans.PhillipDe Lacy,CorpusMedicorumGraecorum 5/4/1,2 vols. (Berlin,1980-81), 2:449-53, whichDante couldnothaveknownbecausethefirstLatin translationwas made in 1490. See n. 55, above.

79 Galen,De

80 Galen,De

usu partium10.5, trans.May,2:476.

usu partium10.5, trans.May,2:476-77.

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Dante could have knownthispassage in anyone ofthreeLatintranslationsof theDe usu partium,81butitsbasic contentwould also havebeenavailableto him in ConstantinetheAfrican'sDe oculis,whichwas a standardmedicaltextbook.82 ConstantineturnsGalen's GreektermpneumaintoLatinas spiritusvisibilis,"vi- sual spirit."In a passage ultimatelyderivedfromGalen's De placitisHippocratis etPlatonis,83Constantineexplainsthatwhenone eyeis closed,thevisualspiritis divertedto theother,open eye:"hencethehole ofthetunicthatis calledtheuvea is necessarilydilatedon accountofthemultitude(multitudinem)ofthesubstance

ofthespirit."84

WhereverDante learnedthe Galenic theoryof visual spirits,he undoubtedly helditto be correct,sincehe notonlyexpoundeditin Convivio3.9.9, wherethe visual spiritis singular("lo spiritovisivo"), but also alluded to it in Paradiso 30.47, wherethepilgrim's"spiritivisivi"are pluralvisualspirits.85The variation is crucialformyinterpretation,becauseitauthorizestheidentificationofthemul- titudeofangelswiththevisualspirits,whichin themedicaltraditionare usually singular.Nor does Dante permitus to doubtthatangelsare spirits,foralthough mostoftenhe uses spirito(or spirto)to designatea humansoul, stillon at least one occasionin theComedytheword surelyrefersto an angel(Purg.17.55).86 Thereis,then,a markedparallelbetween,on theone hand,theGalenic"mul- titudoofthesubstanceofthespirit"issuingfromthelensto filltheuvea and,on theother,theDantesque "moltitudine"of angelspiritscirculatingbetweenGod and hissaints.Moreover,Galen'svisualspiritnotonlyissuesfromthelensto join the air,whichwhenilluminatedby the sun or some otherexternallightsource becomesthespirit'sinstrumentforperceivingexternalobjects,butsignificantly, whena perceptionreturnsto theeye,italso is thevisualspiritalone thatconveys the incomingdata back to the lens, and thenceto the brain.87Consequently Dante's angelsalso resemblethevisualspiritsintheircirculating,mediatingfunc-

81 The threeknownLatin translationsof Galen's De usu partiumare (1) a translationfromthe

Arabic thatabbreviatedGalen's books 1-11 into nine tractates,accordingto

Pietro'sown translationfromtheGreek,made before1310 and now lost;and (3) Niccol6 da Reggio's

translationfromtheGreek,madein 1317. See LynnThorndike,"TranslationsofWorksofGalenfrom

the Greekby Peterof Abano," Isis

Worksof Galen fromtheGreekbyNiccolo da Reggio(c. 1308-1345)," Byzantina-Metabyzantina1 (1946-49), 213-35, at pp. 214 and 232 (no. 53). Version(1) survivesin manymanuscriptsand in earlyprintedcollectionsof Galen's works(Venice,1490, vol. 1, fols. 16r-32r; Pavia, 1515, vol. 1, fols.52r-67r); version(3) is also printedin the 1515 Opera, vol. 1, fols.67r-131r. I have notbeen able to consultanyoftheseLatinversions.

Pietrod'Abano; (2)

33 (1942), 649-53, at p. 649, n. 4; and idem,"Translationsof

82 See n. 55, above.

83 Galen, De placitis7.4, ed. Lacy,2:451; cf.Hunain, Ten Treatises,trans.Meyerhof,pp. 27-31, esp. p. 29, lines23-30.

84 Constantine,De oculis4.1.16, ed. Pansier,2:176: "unde foramenpanniculiqui dicituruvea per multitudinemsubstantiespiritusnecessariodilatatur."Cf. Pansier,2:177: "proindemultaquantitas spiritusvisumfacientisnecessariafult."

85 Butcf.Paradiso 26.71: "lo spirtovisivo."

86 Possiblyalso at Paradiso 12.68 and certainlyat De vulgarieloquentia1.2.4 (see PierVincenzo Mengaldoad loc.); fulldiscussionbyPaolo MugnaiinEnciclopediadantesca,5:387-90, s.v."spirito," includingbothGalenicand angelicsensesoftheterm.

87 Constantine,De oculis4.2.22, ed. Pansier,2:179-80; cf.Hunain,TenTreatises,trans.Meyerhof, pp. 38-39.

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tionwithinGod's Eye.88In conclusion,then,theempyreanangels,no less than theRay,theamphitheater,and thecircularpool oflight,have theiranaloguesin medievaloptics.

The Eye of God

THE ARACHNOID

MEMBRANE

AND

"LA NOSTRA

EFFIGE"

One finalfeatureof Dante's Empyreanseemsto have been suggestedby the medievalopticaltradition.The poemendswiththepilgrim'svisionofGod; look- ingup at thesourceoftheRay (Par.33.49-53), Dante-personaggiofirstseesthe triuneGod as threeinterrelatedcircles(115-20), and thentheone representing the Son "appeared to me depictedwithour effigy(mi parvepinta de la nostra effige)"(Par. 33.131). Clearlythepilgrimhas seen Christin his twofoldnature, bothdivineand human,thoughfora whilehe cannotunderstandhow thenew "image" (imago, 138) is relatedto thecircle,untilhe is miraculouslygiventhe answer,whichthenarratordoes notreveal(133-41).89 This visionof "our effigy"is a familiarocular phenomenoncommonlyexpe- riencedwhenlookingintosomeoneelse's eye.Todaythereflectionis understood to be fromthecornea,buttheancientGreekslocateditinthepupil,whichiswhy the "hole of the uvea" (foramenuveae) came to be called thepupilla,or "little doll."90By Dante's time,however,it seemedimpossiblethatanythingcould be reflectedfroma hole, so the phenomenonwas assignedinsteadto a reflective surfacebehindthepupil,namely,theweblikefilmknownas the "spider'sweb" (aranea or arachnoidmembrane)that,accordingto Galen,coveredtheanterior surfaceof thelens.91This explanationwas givenby Hunain and translatedinto LatinbyConstantinetheAfrican:

Ifa manlooksfixedlyandsteadfastlyintotheeyeofhiscompanion-ata timewhenit ishealthy-heseeshisownimage(suamfaciem)init.Thecauseofthisisthereflection ofhislookatthatmomentbythethinmembranewhichcoverstheexteriorhalfofthe lenslikethesolidified[filmof]greaseon brothafteritis cooled.Forthisfilmis more

88 For angelsas spheremoversand astralinfluences,see StephenBemrose,Dante's AngelicIntelli- gences:TheirImportancein theCosmos and in Pre-ChristianReligion,Letturede Pensieroe d'Arte

62 (Rome,1983), pp. 77-113; fortheircontactswithhumans,Enciclopediadantesca,3:270. Although

Dante clearlyindicatesthatintheEmpyreantheycirculatebetweenGod and theblessed(Par.30.64-

69 and 31.4-12), itis notclearwhatthiscirculationsignifies.

89 On the poem's climax,see Ronald B. Herzman and GaryW Towsley,"Squaringthe Circle:

Paradiso 33 and thePoeticsofGeometry,"Traditio49 (1994), 95-125. 90HenryGeorgeLiddelland RobertScott,A Greek-EnglishLexicon,9thed.,2 vols.(Oxford,1940), 1:980, s.v. "KOpfj" 3; Oxford Latin Dictionary,ed. P. G. W. Glare (Oxford, 1982), p. 1521, s.v.

"pupilla." 91Galen,De usupartium10.6, trans.May,pp. 478-79: "[thecrystallinehumor's]ownpropertunic is not only'like theskinstrippeddown froma driedonion' [Odyssey19.232-331, butis also even thinnerand clearerthanthincobwebs,and what is moreremarkable,it does not extendaroundall

All ofthepart,however,thatlooks to theoutsideand is incontactwiththe

thecrystallinehumor

grapeliketunicputson thisthin,brillianttunic.Moreover,theimageofthepupiltakesshape in this as in a sortofmirror;foritis smootherand moreglisteningthananymirror."Definitelynotavailable

to Dante was themoreextensivedescriptionofthearachnoidin Galen's AnatomicalProcedures;see Galen on AnatomicalProcedures:The Later Books, trans.W L. H. Duckworth(Cambridge,Eng., 1962), p. 40.

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The Eye of God

59

polishedandshiningthanall otherbright,luminousandpolishedbodies,andclearer

thanthey.92

Consequently,thepilgrim'svisionofthehumanformimposedon thecirclerep- resentingGod the Son has itscounterpartin thefaciesthatwas supposedto be reflectedfromtheweblikemembranecoveringthelens.EvidentlyDante was fol- lowingtheGalenictraditionofopticalanatomyinhavinghisvisionof"oureffigy" superimposedon thelensof God's Eye,and indeeditseemsplausibleto suppose thattheveryidea of havingthehumanformappear at thesourceof thedivine raywas also suggestedto himbythesametradition.93

3. CONCLUSIONS

AND CONSEQUENCES

My hunchat the blackboardnow has been confirmedand elaborated.The structuresof Dante's Empyreanall correspondto featuresof the eye foundin authoritativemedievalLatindescriptionsofocularanatomy,and especiallyinthe treatiseDe oculistranslatedbyConstantinetheAfrican,whichwas undoubtedly thebestrepresentativeoftheGalenictraditionavailableto Dante. Specifically,the raggioseenbythepilgrimis likethevisualraythatin someextramissiontheories ofvisionflowsfromthelensthroughthepupilto forma new mediumofvision, whichcorrespondsto thetriformeffectof Dante's Ray thatcreatesNatureand Supernatureas themediaofGod's love.In theGalenictradition,thislightfillsthe circularpupil beforeextramission,whereasDante has it do so afterwards,as a reflectionfromthe PrimumMobile. For Dante, the raggio,passingabove and beyondthecircularfigura,gave riseto a thirdocularfeature,thehemisphereof lightthatformsthe seats of the blessed,whichresemblesthe uvea in its hemi- sphericshapeand in itspatternofradiatinglinesand concentriccircles.Fourthly, thewhiterobesoftheblessedare analogousto thewhiteoftheeye,whichis also a garment,beingthetunicknownas thesclera.Furthermore,theangelscirculating betweenGod and theblessedcorrespondto thevisualspirits,or pneuma,thatfill theconcavityoftheuvea. The circularlens,or glacialhumor,as theseatofvision and thesourceofthevisualrayand spirits,is readilyequatedwiththesitewhere Dante's pilgrimsees God as threesuperimposedcirclesat thecenterof theam- phitheater'srim,justas thelenswas oftensupposedto standat thecenterofthe eye.The seventh,last,and mostremarkablecorrespondenceis thehumaneffigy thatappearsto thepilgrimon one ofthesedivinecircles,justas Galeniststhought

92 Hunain, trans.Meyerhof,p. 37; Constantine,De oculis 4.2.21, ed. Pansier,2:179: "si aliquis studiosein oculo alteriuscernit,videtin eo suam faciem.Causa, quia visusad pupillamconvertitur propterpanniculisplendoremqui dicituraranee tela. Est enimsupercrystallinumsicutadeps super jura coagulatus,que nimisrutilanset clara est."

93 In Convivio3.9.7-8 Dante explainsthattheformsofvisiblethingsentertheeyeand pass through theaqueous humoruntiltheyare stoppedbyitsboundary,justas theywould pass throughtheglass of a mirroruntilstoppedbyitslead backing.Vasoli (ad loc.) thinksthatthestoppingpointmustbe theretina(as ifDante had anticipatedKepler!)because thecrystallinelensis transparent;buthe has overlookedthe aranea, the reflectivemembranecoveringthe anteriorsurfaceof the lens. Dante's apparentsourcesforthispassage,givenbyVasoli and discussedbyGilson(MedievalOptics,pp. 64- 67), do notidentifythestructurethatstopsthevisualrays.

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60

an observercouldseehisfaciesreflectedintheweblikecoverofthelens.Thisset ofcorrespondencesisallthemoreimpressivebecausetheonlyanatomicalfeatures oftheanteriorhalfoftheeyethatareomittedareonesthatanatomistsdescribed as transparent,andhenceinvisible-thecorneaandtheaqueoushumor.Taken together,thesecomprehensiveequivalencesareso manyandso appropriatethat theycannotbe dismissedas merecoincidence.Theprincipalconclusionofthis investigation,therefore,mustbe thatthepoetconstructedhisEmpyreanas the imageofGod'sEye. Thishypothesishasalso proventohaveexplanatoryvalue,becauseithasled to unnoticedimplicationsinDante'sdescriptionoftheEmpyrean.Themostim- portantoftheseis thereflectiveworkoftheRayincreatingnotonlythenine lowerheavensbutalso thetenthoneas well.Anotherunsuspectedbonusis the reconfigurationofthecelestialamphitheateras a hemisphere.Last,andperhaps themostsurprising,is thelocationofGod at thecenteroftheamphitheater's uppermostcircle,whichexplainshowAnnacanenjoythebeatificvision. Theobjectiveattainedhereisa limitedone.I haveattemptedonlytoshowthat thefeaturesofDante'sEmpyreancorrespondto thoseofthehumaneyeas de- scribedin sourceshe mighthaveread;I makeno claimto haveidentifiedhis immediatesources,whichwouldbe difficult,ifnotimpossible,becausewe are

dealingwithcommonplacesintheclericalcultureoftheLatinWestcirca1300.94

The Eye of God

Despitethosedisclaimers,I shouldnotconcludewithoutsuggestinghowmyre- sultscanenrichthereadingofa poemaboutman'srelationswithGod.Thisis especiallyto be expectedbecausetheimageofGod's Eyecomesat thepoem's

end,wherepreviouslyscatteredthemesarebeingcombinedintolarger,morecom-

prehensivemasterimagesthatservetouniteandexplainallthathasgonebefore. Accordingly,to ascertainthefullsignificanceofmydiscoverywouldrequirea comprehensive,book-lengthsurveyoftheentireComedy,inlieuofwhichI can offerhereonlya fewsamplesofthewaysinwhichtheimageofGod'sEyecan expandourunderstandingofthelargerthemesofthepoem.

TheEmpyrean Perhapsthemostfruitfulby-productofmyinvestigationistherecognitionthat theEmpyreanis a hemispherethatis dividedintoranksandfilescorresponding

tothelinesofcelestiallatitudeandlongitude,andalsothatitresemblestheheav-

ensas theyareviewedfromtheearth,beingtheportionabovea givenhorizon. ThatthesupernaturalEmpyreanresemblesNatureisnotsurprising,becauseboth

94 The moralizedopticsofPeterof Limoges(d. 1306) is an unlikelysourceofinfluencebecausehe considersonlytheeffectsof God's Eye as theycan be deducedfromtheBible.Thus theoculus Dei seesall, instillsfear,elicitstears,promoteshardwork,confersspiritualfortitude,curessicksouls,and bringsthemto heaven(Tractatusmoralisde oculo 15). Foraccesstothistext,I am indebtedtoRichard Newhauser,who is editingit fortheCorpus Christianorum.On thework,see Lindberg,Catalogue, no. 99; David L. Clark,"Optics forPreachers:The De oculo moralibyPeterofLimoges,"TheMichi- gan Academician9 (1977), 329-43; RichardNewhauser,"Nature's Moral Eye: Peterof Limoges' Tractatusmoralisde oculo," SewaneeMediaevalStudies6 (1995), 125-36; and Dallas GeorgeDenery II, "Seeingand BeingSeen:Vision,VisualAnalogyand VisualErrorinLateMedievalOptics,Theology and ReligiousLife,"Ph.D. diss.,Universityof California(Berkeley,Calif.,1999), pp. 103-59.

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61

werecreatedsimultaneouslybytheRay,andtheiridenticaloriginandgeometry

suggestthatthetenthheavenmayresembletheloweronesinotherwaysas well. MostobviousisthedivisionofthesphereofSupernatureintovisibleandinvisible

hemispheres,whichisreplicatedinNaturebythehemispheresoflightanddark-

nessthatdividenotonlytheearthbutalltheplanetsilluminatedbythesun-one

ofDante'sfavoriteimagesforGod.95Morespecificandsignificant,however,are

furthercorrespondencesbasedonastrologyandastronomy,whichforDantewere

a singlesciencecalledastrologia.96

One ofthefirstlessonsthepilgrimlearnsfromBeatriceis thatthesoulshe encountersintheninelowerheavensallhavetheirabodeintheEmpyrean,where thedegreeoftheirparticipationinthebeatificvisionis determined,at leastini-

tially,byastralinfluence(Par.4.28-39 and49-60). Thepoetproceedstoillustrate thisprincipleabundantlyinthesevenplanetaryheavensbyhavingthe"natives" ofeach(intheastrologicalsense)displaytheastrologicalpropertiesappropriate

totheirstar.97ThereaderhasthusbeenpreparedtoexpecttheheavensofNature

to correspondwiththegradesofblessedness,whichintheEmpyreanarerepre- sentedbytheranksofseatsresemblingcirclesoflatitude.Suchcorrelationscan in factbe discernedin theuppermosttiersofthehemisphere,whicharefirmly linkedtocorrespondingheavens.ThetopmosttiercontainsMary,whosetriumph

is seenintheheavenofthefixedstars(Par.23.73-120); aboveherarea hostof

angelsmatchingtheangelswhoaretheprimarysubjectintheheavenofthePri-

mumMobile(28.16-29.81);belowher,inthesecondtier,sitsEve,whoforDante

isrelatedtoSaturn,andthustotheseventhheaven,as EdenistotheGoldenAge (Purg.28.138-41). ConsequentlytheEmpyreanprovesto bethespiritualcoun- terpartofNature,andthissymmetryexemplifiestheworkofdivineprovidence, whichbymeansoftheRayconcreatedboththemodesofsalvationandtheir appropriaterewards. GiventhattheEmpyreanis a hemispherevisibleaboveitshorizon,itshould, accordingtothescienceofastronomy,alsopossessa meridian.Sacrobosco,inhis introductiontoastronomy,givesthefollowingdefinition:"Themeridianisa circle passingthroughthepolesoftheworldandthroughourzenith,anditis called 'meridian'because,wherevera manmaybe andatwhatevertimeofyear,when thesunwiththemovementofthefirmamentreacheshismeridian,itisnoonfor

him."98

The zenithof theEmpyreanis readilyidentifiedas Fig. 5), but can any of its diametersbe said to pass

thecenterof thelago (see "throughthe poles of the

world" (Sacroboscomeansthenorthand southpoles)?99Onlyone lineintheRose

95 Convivio3.12.6: "lo sole spiritualee intelligibile,che e Iddio." AmongtheComedy'smanyref- erencesto the sun,thesesurelyreferto God: Purgatorio7.26, Paradiso 9.8, 10.53, 15.76, 18.105, 23.29, 25.54, and 30.126.

96 Convivio2.13.8 and 28-29; 2.3.4 and 6; 4.15-16.

97 For extensivedocumentation,see Kay,Dante's ChristianAstrology.

98 Sacrobosco,Sphere2: "Est autemmeridianuscirculusquidam transiensperpolos mundiet per zenithcapitisnostri.Et diciturmeridianusquia, ubicumquesithomo et in quocumquetemporeanni, quando sol raptufirmamentipervenitad suum meridianum,est illimeridies"(ed. LynnThorndike, The "Sphere"ofSacroboscoand Its Commentators[Chicago,19491,p. 91; trans.,p. 126). 99 Sacrobosco,Sphere2, ed. Thorndike,pp. 86-87; trans.,pp. 123-24.

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can be so described,namely,the one thatrunsfromMary's seat to Lucy's (see Fig. 1),100because in the ConvivioDante used the names Maria and Lucia to designateimaginarycitieslocated respectivelyat the earth'snorthand south poles.101Thisidentificationis confirmedbyBernard'sallusionto theroleofMary in definingtheempyrealmeridian:"Here thou art forus thenoondaytorchof charity(Qui se' a noi meridianaface/di caritate)"(Par. 33.10-11). We already knowthatthislinein theamphitheaterseparatesthoseoftheblessedwho came beforeChristfromthosewho came afterhim(32.19-21); withitsidentification as a meridian,a largerintendedimagesnapsintofocus.Christ,"theSunofjustice (Sol justitiae)"(Mal. 4.2), is beinglikenedto thesun at itszenith,and salvation historyis accordinglyfiguredby the daily course of the sun, ascendingto the meridianoftheIncarnationand thendescending.Again,divineprovidenceis ev- idencedin thestructureoftheEmpyrean,fortheimageof ChristtheSun shows how God fromthemomentofcreationforesawthepatternofsalvationand pro- videdforitsfulfillment.Furthermore,thismeridianimageinterlockswiththatof God's Eye,because,as is plainfromSacrobosco'sdefinition,on earththereis not one meridianbut many,each one relativeto an observer.In the Empyreanthe positionoftherequiredobserver,at thecenterofthehorizon'scircle,is occupied by the lens: God, then,is the eternalobserver,who generatesthe Empyrean's horizonand meridianrelativeto himself.AlisonCornishhas pointedouttheim- portanceof "losingthemeridian"in thepoem, forwhenthepilgrimleavesthe earth'ssurface,he has no meridianduringhisascent;102butnow itis evidentthat whathe has lostis onlyhishumanperspective,whichintheEmpyreanis replaced bytheviewfromGod's Eye.

The Eye of God

God As shownabove,theempyrealhorizonimplies(byDante's definition)a second, correspondinghemispherethatis invisible.In Dante's cosmologyGod himselfis representedby thisunseenhemisphere;thevisiblehemispherethatformsGod's Eye is not God butan effectof God, createdbytheRay,so thatGod's Eye is an imageof God. It is formedbythelight"whichmakestheCreatorvisible(visibile face)to everycreaturethathas hispeace onlyinbeholdingHim,"'103and thatlight is in turnmade by theRay.104The existentialstatusof God's Eye is determined bythelightthatcreatedand sustainsit,and hereDante is unequivocal:thelight oftheRay is no ordinary,materiallightsuchas we perceiveinthephysicalworld;

100 GiuseppeC. Di Scipiohas arguedthatthislinecutsthroughthecenteroftheverticalfileofseats runningfromthe VirginMary to Johnthe Baptist:The SymbolicRose in Dante's "Paradiso," L'Interprete42 (Ravenna,1984), p. 49. 101Convivio3.5.10-11: "Imaginandoadunque,permegliovedere,in questo luogo ch'io dissi[the

northpole, 5 81 sia un cittadee abbia nome Maria

un'altracittade,che abbia nome Lucia." Dante's names forthe poles are unprecedentedand have resistedexplanation:see Vasoli on Convivio3.11 (pp. 347-49). 102 AlisonCornish,ReadingDante's Stars(New Haven, Conn.,2000), chap. 5, "LosingtheMerid- ian," pp. 79-92.

103 Paradiso 30.100-102: "Lume e la su chevisibileface/lo creatorea quella creatura/che solo in lui vedereha la sua pace."

E qui [diametricallyopposite]imaginiamo

104 Paradiso30.106: "Fassi di raggio

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instead,itis "pura luce:/luceintellettiial,pienad'amore" (Par.30.39-40). Hence theimageformedbythisintellectuallightis visible,notto thesenses,butonlyto theintellect.God's Eye,likeotherhumanorgansattributedto God in Scripture, is onlya "sign (segno)" adequated to the humanpower of understanding(in- gegno), "since only throughsense perceptiondoes it apprehendthatwhichit afterwardsmakesfitfortheintellect."'105It is an imageof God, just as was the visionin Paradiso 28 thatrepresentedhim as the pointof light(16-18) from which"theheavensand all natureare dependent"(42), surroundedbythenine concentriccirclesof theangelicorders(24-39), each movingat a speedpropor- tionateto thedegreeof itsvisionof God (100-102, 106-11). The raisond'etre of boththeseimagesis to providean analogybased on visionfortheCreator's relationto hiscreatures. The visualmodelimpliedbyGod's Eye is thatof Galenicmedicine.According to Galen,thebrainproducesthevisualspirit(pneuma),whichfillstheeyeballand passes throughthepupil to sensetheexteriorworld;106similarly,God emitsthe Ray thatcreatestheEmpyreanand producesNaturebythetriformeffect.Dante's modelfortheophany,then,is a fictionbecause itrepresentsGod byan imageof humanvision;buttheanalogyis nonethelessjustifiedbecauseman,ofcourse,was madein God's image(Gen. 1.26-27), so in somesensehumanvisionshouldhave itsdivinecounterpart.Indeed,theperceptionthatthehumanimageis somehow relatedto thatofGod formstheclimacticrevelationoftheComedy(Par.33.130- 32), forthepilgrimsees thereflectionofhisown image.

Imagesofvision For Dante, humansand angelsare thecreaturesthatmostresembleGod, and thelikenessconsistsinthepowerofintelligence.For suchcreatures,"thegood of theintellect"(Inf.3.18) is to participateinthedivineintellectas muchas possible, whichis to say that,to the bestof theirability,theybecomegodlikeby under- standing.Sinceit is well knownthatDante regularlyrepresentsthisintellectual processof deiformcontemplationin termsof vision,his usage can be sketched briefly.When firstcreated,theangelswereonlypotentiallyintelligent("a tanto intenderpresti,"Par. 29.60); themodestones,who did not fall,had theirvision ("le viste,"61) exaltedand thereafterneverturnedtheireyes("viso," 77) from God. The mostobvious instanceof suchintellectualvisionis thevisiobeata en- joyed by the blessed in the Empyrean,thanksto the "luce intellettual"thatis Dante's equivalentofthetheologians'lumengloriae.107 Dante's use ofthevision metaphoris bestexemplified,however,in thepilgrim'supwardprogressthrough all tenheavens,forhis progressiveincreasein understandingis accomplishedby an act of vision each timehe is transportedto a higherheaven by lookingat Beatrice'seyes,whichreflecta rayfromabove.108These briefexamplessufficeto

105 Paradiso 4.37-48, esp. 38 and 40-42: "per farsegno

/Cosi parlarconviensial vostroin-

gegno,/per6che solo da sensatoapprende/ci6 che fa poscia d'intellettodegno."

106 Constantine,De oculis4.1.16, ed. Pansier,2:176.

107 Gilson,Medieval Optics,pp. 250-56.

108 E.g.,Paradiso 1.64-66 and 18.16-18. FurtherreferencesareconvenientlyassembledbyFederico Tollemachein Enciclopediadantesca,4:120, s.v. "occhio."

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showthatwhenmenand angelsare fulfillingtheirpotentialas intellectualbeings, Dante describestheprocessbyusingmetaphorsderivedfromhumanvision.Since theyare mostlikeGod when"seeing"himthus,and moreoveraremadeinGod's image,one would expect that God's understanding,to whichtheyapproach, would also be comparableto humanvision.Dante fulfillsthatexpectationwith theimplicitvisionmetaphorofGod's Eye.Itcompletesand complementsDante's abundantvisionimagesof angelicand humanintellectionbyprovidinga corre- spondingimageofGod.

The Eye of God

Scienceand fiction God's Eye is an imagein two senses:it is not a real eye buttheimageof one thathas beencreatedbytheRay; itis also an imageofGod thathas beencreated bythepoet. In thelattersense,as a poeticimage,Dante's EyeofGod, likemany otherfeaturesofhispoem,can be characterizedas a kindofsciencefiction.109The elementsoftheimagethatwerederivedfromopticsand medicineare scientificin themodernsense,buttheunderlyingconcept,thatGod could be representedby an eye,was suppliedby "the divinescience,whichis called theology."110The combinationof thesematerialsdrawnfromacceptedscientificauthorities,how- ever,was notscienceinanysensebutinsteadan act ofcreativeextrapolation,and hencea fiction.What is more,Dante treatedhis scientificmaterialswithpoetic license,mostevidentlyby employingthe extramissiontheoryof visionthathe rejectedin theConvivio,11butalso apparentlybyrelyingon God's omnipotence to resolvedifficulties. The resultwas an imagethatrepresentedGod in termsthatanyonecould un- derstand,as a mindthat,like otherminds,was invisiblebut nonethelessmani- festeditselfphysicallythroughthe eye,the mind'swindow.112To perceivethe image,however,requireda level of scientificknowledgewell above thatof the ordinaryreader;indeed,it seemsto have surpassedthatof thenarrator,whose comprehensionwas notofthehighestdegree,sincehe was destinedto viewGod fromthethirdtierwithBeatrice.Dante thepoet apparentlyconceivedhisroleas thecreatoroftheComedyto be thatofa demiurge.His artfollowednatureand, aided byrevelation,Supernatureas well.One ofthemajorlessonsoftheParadiso is thatGod's creationcontainssomemysteriesknownonlyto theCreator,while othersare discoverableby unaidedhumanreason,and yetotherscan be rightly determinedbyreasononlywiththeguidanceof revelation.Dante thedemiurge constructedhispoema sacro on thismodel,to teachhisreaderbyexperiencethe

109 A fewinstancesofDante's "sciencefiction":how Pierdella Vigna'sthornbushtalks(Inf.13.40-

45); how Guido da Montefeltro'sflametalks(Inf.27.7-18); how shades growlean (Purg.25.34- 108); whyterrestrialfloraare not everywherethesame (Purg.28.97-117); and ofcourseBeatrice's

explanationofwhythereare spotson themoon (Par.2.49-148). Many moreare discussedbyBoyde in Dante Philomythes.

110 Convivio2.13.8: "la scienzadivina,che e Teologiaappellata."

"I

Convivio3.9.10.; see also n. 21, above.

112 The passionsoftheanimaare said to appear "a la finestradi le occhi" inConvivio3.8.10. Vasoli ad loc. citesa parallelpassageinAlbertusMagnus,De animalibus1.2.3: "occulosessetamquamflores

[var.fores] animae." Dante, however,morecloselyechoes Cicero: "oculis et auribus fenestraesintanimi" (Tusculanaedisputationes1.20.46).

quae quasi

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limitsand properuse ofhumanreason.Consequentlyitis whollyin accordwith thepurposeof thepoem to have it incorporatefeaturesthatare understoodby neitherthepilgrimnorthenarrator,butwhichcan be perceivedbyan alertand ingeniousreader,ifonlyas a reminderofthelimitationsofhumanunderstanding as exemplifiedby the narrator.Thus our appreciationof the poet's messageis deepenedby the recognitionthathe modeledhis Empyreanin the imageof an eye. Finally,one maywonderwhyithas takenalmostsevencenturiesforthisto be apparent.PerhapsDante's contemporaryreaderswereslow to recognizethepar- allelbetweentheactionoftheraggio andtheextramissiontheoryofvisionbecause themostlearnedof them(includingDante) had adopted thenewlyfashionable intromissiontheory.Atanyrate,thediscoveryhas had to waitfora combination offactors,chiefofwhichis thegreatprogressmade duringthelastgenerationby historiansofmedievalscienceand philosophyinourknowledgeofmedievaloptics and theoriesofvision.Hardlyless significantis theincreasinginterestin waysin whichDante incorporatedelementsof thesefieldsintohis poem. Withoutthis happycombinationofresourcesand interest,myhunchat theblackboardwould have goneno further.

RichardKayis ProfessorEmeritusofHistoryat theUniversityofKansas,Lawrence,KS

66045-2130(e-mail:skipkay@ku.edu).

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