Paradiso Canto 4




Sebastian Langdell is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Baylor University. He works primarily on later medieval literature, and his research interests include: Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, William Langland, fifteenth-century poetry and religious writing, modes of poetic authority, and transnational literary exchange.

Questions for Reflection

  • What are Dante’s two questions? Which is the more poisonous and why?
  • Why do the blessed souls appear to Dante at various levels of the heavens (4.34-45)?
  • Piccarda’s life story raises the issue of the will. How can Piccarda be culpable for breaking her vows when it was her brother who forced her to break her vows under the threat of death (4.70-87)?
  • What are the absolute and the conditional will and what is the relationship between them (4.100-114)? How does this way of understanding the will make some sense of Piccarda’s situation?


  • Dr. Sebastian Langdell
  • Baylor University
  • Run Time 8:13