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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Dante. (search)
he best texts read I s' appellava, and others Un s' appellava. God was called I (the Je in Jehovah) or One, and afterwards El,—the strong,—an epithet given to many gods. Whichever reading we adopt, the meaning and the inference from it are the same. It is true that he puts all Pagans in Limbo, where without hope they live in longing, and that he makes baptism essential to salvation. Inferno, IV. But it is noticeable that his Limbo is the Elysium of Virgil, and that he particularizes Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, and others as prisoners there with the rest till the descent of Christ into hell. Dante's Limbo, of course, is the older Limbus Patrum. But were they altogether without hope and did baptism mean an immersion of the body or a purification of the soul? The state of the heathen after death had evidently been to Dante one of those doubts that spring up at the foot of every truth. In the De Monarchia he says: There are some judgments of God to which, though human reaso