Paradiso Canto 12




Paul Contino is a Professor of Great Books at Pepperdine University. He teaches courses on Dante, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and C.S. Lewis.

Questions for Reflection

  • What is the second wheel of solar souls that appear after Aquinas finishes his speech? What is the relationship of the second wheel to the first (12.1-21)?
  • The song that Dante hears filling this heaven “far excels our muses and our sirens” (12.7-8). Dante has used these terms to great effect in previous episodes in the Commedia. Why use them here and now? Does heavenly reality for Dante destroy or fulfill natural or pagan wisdom? What might this mean for Virgil?
  • What beautifies St. Bonaventure, who offers an account of the life of St. Dominic (12.31-33)? How is St. Dominic similar to St. Francis? How are they and their ministries different? How do we make sense of Dante’s praise of Dominic’s campaign against the Albigensian heresy?
  • “What once I was, I am” (12.123). What point is Bonaventure making with this line? How does Dante show us grace making us more truly ourselves?
  • For those with some knowledge of the medieval theological tradition, you might note that Thomas Aquinas is placed next to his theological antagonist Siger of Brabant, and Bonaventure is placed next to his theological antagonist, Joachim de Fiore. What is Dante trying to communicate to his readers by placing these intellectual disputants together in Paradise?


  • Dr. Paul Contino
  • Pepperdine University
  • Run Time 10:58