Canto 3 - The Sphere of the Moon

Dante sees a number of pale faint faces that seem eager to speak with him - indeed so faint are they that he believes them to be reflections but Beatrice tells him that they are 'real substances', souls who unwillingly broke their vows through the forces of circumstances.

Piccarda Donati (represented by the artist Camille Claudel)

One of them, Piccarda Donati, explains how as a nun she was forced to leave a convent and marry against her vows, due to her brother's desire to create a political alliance. Shortly after the marriage she died, but she is nevertheless content with her comparatively low position in Paradise:-

Our station which appears so lowly here
has been assigned because we failed our vows
to some degree and gave less than we pledged."

But Dante still wonders why they do not yearn a 'higher' place in Paradise. She replies:-

In His will is our peace - it is the sea
in which all things are drawn that it itself
creates or which the work of Nature makes."

Donati's gentleness and sweetness of disposition makes her a fitting image in general of the nature that yields to the pressure of others and lacks the necessary steadfastness to remain constant to the will's resolve."

Continue Return