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[57] essence by a kind of eternal marriage, while with other intelligences she is united in a less measure ‘as a mistress of whom no lover takes complete joy.’1 The eyes of this lady are her demonstrations, and her smile is her persuasion. ‘The eyes of wisdom are her demonstrations by which truth is beheld most certainly; and her smile is her persuasions in which the interior light of wisdom is shown under a certain veil, and in these two is felt that highest pleasure of beatitude which is the greatest good in paradise.’2 ‘It is to be known that the beholding this lady was so largely ordained for us, not merely to look upon the face which she shows us, but that we may desire to attain the things which she keeps concealed. And as through her much thereof is seen by reason, so by her we believe that every miracle may have its reason in a higher intellect, and consequently may be. Whence our good faith has its origin, whence comes the hope of those unseen things which we desire, and through that the operation of charity, by the which three virtues we rise to philosophize in that celestial Athens where the Stoics, Peripatetics, and Epicureans through the art of eternal truth accordingly concur in one will.’3

1 Convito, Tr. III. c. 12.

2 Convito, Tr. III. c. 15. Recalling how the eyes of Beatrice lift her servant through the heavenly spheres, and that smile of hers so often dwelt on with rapture, we see how Dante was in the habit of commenting and illustrating his own works. We must remember always that with him the allegorical exposition is the true one (Convito, Tr. IV. c. 1), the allegory being a truth which is hidden under a beautiful falsehood (Convito, Tr. II. c. 1), and that Dante thought his poems without this exposition ‘under some shade of obscurity, so that to many their beauty was more grateful than their goodness’ (Convito, Tr. I. c. 1), ‘because the goodness is in the meaning, and the beauty in the ornament of the words’ (Convito, Tr. II. c. 12).

3 Convito, Tr. III. c. 14.

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