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[70] when the latter part of the Vita Nuova, nay, perhaps the whole of the explanatory portion of it, was written, the plan of the Commedia was complete, a poem the higher aim of which was to keep the soul alive both in this world and for the next. As Dante tells us, the contradiction in his mind was, though he did not become aware of it till afterwards, more apparent than real. He sought consolation in study, and, failing to find it in Learning (scienza), he was led to seek it in Wisdom (sapienza), which is the love of God and the knowledge of him.1 He had sought happiness through the understanding; he was to find it through intuition. The lady Philosophy (according as she is moral or intellectual) includes both. Her gradual transfiguration is exemplified in passages already quoted. The active life leads indirectly by a knowledge of its failures and sins

1 There is a passage in the Convito (Tr. III. c. 15) in which Dante seems clearly to make the distinction asserted above, ‘And therefore the desire of man is limited in this life to that knowledge (scienzia) which may here be had, and passes not save by error that point which is beyond our natural understanding. And so is limited and measured in the angelic nature the amount of that wisdom which the nature of each is capable of receiving.’ Man is, according to Dante, superior to the angels in this, that he is capable both of reason and contemplation, while they are confined to the latter. That Beatrice's reproaches refer to no human pargoletta, the context shows, where Dante asks,

But wherefore so beyond my power of sight
Soars your desirable discourse that aye
The more I strive, so much the more I lose it?
That thou mayst recognize, she said, the school
Which thou hast followed, and mayst see how far
Its doctrine follows after my discourse,
And mayst behold your path from the divine
Distant as far as separated is
From earth the heaven that highest hastens on.

Purgatorio, XXXIII. 82-90.

The pargoletta in its ordinary sense was necessary to the literal and human meaning, but it is shockingly discordant with that non-natural interpretation which, according to Dante's repeated statement, lays open the true and divine meaning.

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