Purgatory II

Confusion and Curiosity

What does the passage mean on page 265 of Dante’s Purgatory, “Blessed are they whom grace grants so much light, / that in their hearts the overhot desires,” / said he, “send up no smoke for taste’s delight— / Whose thirst is always what the just requires” actually mean?!  I have examined and re-examined it several times but Dante still has me searching (very likely, he hoped this would happen to his readers).  First of all, a man with a red face—“[no] metal in the furnace [could] glow so red”—is speaking to and (I believe) referring to Dante, Virgil, and their temporary companion.  The first line, “Blessed…so much light,” seems to obviously mean these three companions have been given grace (“light”) to make it thus far on their journey.  In the next line, “overhot desires” refers to their persistence to finish this difficult journey.  “Send up no smoke for taste’s delight” resonated in my memory as similar to Psalm 50’s “You will not be pleased with whole burnt offerings,” because there are greater things in God’s eyes than smoke.  The final line is the one that stumps me most, however, “Whose thirst is always what the just requires.”  My best guess is that Dante’s (and his companions’) desires (thirsts) to reach their destination is enough to please God (described by “just”).  The dilemma remains, however, because “just” is not capitalized.  Confusion and curiosity will soon become understanding and fulfillment :-).

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