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[56] his teeth where only poetry, and not doctrine, was concerned.

If Dante's philosophy, on the one hand, was practical, a guide for the conduct of life, it was, on the other, a much more transcendent thing, whose body was wisdom, her soul love, and her efficient cause truth. It is a practice of wisdom from the mere love of it, for so we must interpret his amoroso uso di sapienzia, when we remember how he has said before1 that ‘the love of wisdom for its delight or profit is not true love of wisdom.’ And this love must embrace knowledge in all its branches, for Dante is content with nothing less than a pancratic training, and has a scorn of dilettanti, specialists, and quacks. ‘Wherefore none ought to be called a true philosopher who for any delight loves any part of knowledge, as there are many who delight in composing Canzoni, and delight to be studious in them, and who delight to be studious in rhetoric and in music, and flee and abandon the other sciences which are all members of wisdom.’2 ‘Many love better to be held masters than to be so.’ With him wisdom is the generalization from many several knowledges of small account by themselves; it results therefore from breadth of culture, and would be impossible without it. Philosophy is a noble lady (donna gentil3), partaking of the divine

1 Convito, Tr. III. c. 11. Ib. Tr. I. c. 11.

2 Convito, Tr. III. c. 12-15.

3 Inferno, II. 94. The donna gentil is Lucia, the prevenient Grace, the light of God which shows the right path and guides the feet in it. With Dante God is always the sun, ‘which leadeth others right by every road.’ (Inferno, I. 18.) ‘The spiritual and unintelligible Sun, which is God.’ (Convito, Tr. III. c. 12.) His light ‘enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,’ but his dwelling is in the heavens. He who wilfully deprives himself of this light is spiritually dead in sin. So when in Mars he beholds the glorified spirits of the martyrs he exclaims, ‘O Elios, who so arrayest them!’ (Paradiso, XIV. 96.) Blanc (Vocabolario, sub voce) rejects this interpretation. But Dante, entering the abode of the Blessed, invokes the ‘good Apollo,’ and shortly after calls him divina virtu. We shall have more to say of this hereafter.

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