Encounter with the Eagle of Justice and the Light, Dante and Beatrice, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rectangular Pillow

Regular price $29.00 Sale

In these scenes from Dante Aligheri’s 14th-century poem, the Divine Comedy, Dante and Beatrice encounter the Eagle of Justice, and the Light — one scene on each side of this pillow.

The pillow measures 20 x 12 inches. The fabric is pre-shrunk polyester — soft and durable, with a moisture-resistant coating. The pillowcase is machine washable, with a concealed zipper. The resilient polyester filling insert retains its shape, and can be washed by hand. Made in USA.

The Eagle of Justice

The Eagle of Justice is made up of the souls of just rulers in the sphere of Jupiter. Dante marvels that although the eagle is made up of many souls, it speaks as one voice.

for I did see the beak, did hear it speak 
and utter with its voice both “I” and “mine”
when “we” and “ours” were what, in thought, was meant.

 

The eagle explains to Dante that God is the source of all goodness, and thus justice, and that mere mortals should not presume to understand Divine Justice.

Now who are you to sit upon the bench,  
to judge events a thousand miles away,  
when your own vision spans so brief a space?

The Divine Comedy

Dante’s journey through the World of the Dead was entertaining, but not that funny – so why is it called a comedy? Because the poem ends with Dante experiencing a vision of God — that’s the mix of happy ending and Godly influence that qualified as a comedy in those days. In fact, Dante originally called it just Comedy, but a later editor changed it to “Divine Comedy”, I guess so people didn’t get the wrong idea.

These gorgeous and inventive illuminations of the Divine Comedy were produced between 1444 and 1450 — more than a century after Dante wrote it. The work was split between two artists: Priamo della Quercia took Hell and Purgatory, while the more well-known Giovanni di Paoli di Grazia illustrated Heaven.

The book originally belonged to Alfonso V, king of Aragon, Naples, and Sicily. His great-grandson, Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, donated it to a convent in Valencia in 1538. In 1901, it was bought by Henry Yates Thompson, who donated it to the British Museum in 1941.

Dante’s companion through hell and purgatory is the Roman poet Virgil. But Virgil is a pagan, so cannot enter paradise. Thereafter, Dante is accompanied by Beatrice, based on a girl he met when she was nine years old and fell instantly in love with. He saw her again only once more, nine years later — she was a banker’s daughter and married to another banker — but she was a huge influence on Dante, as his muse.

The Divine Comedy is over 14,000 lines long, and very intricately constructed. To see the original poem, and translations, and commentary, and context, visit the delightful site Digital Dante, from the Columbia University Center for Digital Research and Scholarship.

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Original art for Dante and Beatrice Encounter the Eagle of Justice.

Original art for Dante and Beatrice Encounter the Light.

Thanks to the Public Domain Review and the British Museum for making these pixels accessible for public use.

See more items on Anomaly Panoply that feature Dante-related art.