In Canto XIII Dante is still the solar sphere and he bids us to look at the different constellations of the night sky which are but shadows compared to the rings of brilliant souls melodious dance around where he stood.
St. Thomas sees that Dante is perplexed. How can Solomon be the wisest of men? Was not Adam and Christ wiser than Solomon? St. Thomas begins by making Dante aware the mysterious splendor which permeates all of creation.
"All that which dies and all that dieth not,
Is naught but the splendor of the Idea that knows
The Father's Love whereby It is begot."
(Canto XIII. 52)
This Idea which knows the Father's love is his eternal Son begotten by the Father's love from all eternity and through whom creation comes into being. The "nine substances" or nine choirs of angels are mirrors of that radiance which remains forever one. But Dante is also aware that the creature participates in the divine energies of creation when he states:
"Which radiance thence to the last potencies
Descend from act to act, becoming even
Such as to make mere brief contingencies -"
(Canto XIII. 61)
This radiance reaches all creatures from the highest to the lowest, even plants and animals, which last but for a brief time. This radiance is not only the inherent in intelligent design of creatures but also their "act to act" or their participation in begetting which is a reflection of the Father's begetting of his only Son.
Dante reasons that since primal matter was a direct creation of God each creature formed by God should reflect the perfection of its Maker, but when Dante looks at the workings of nature he sees a different story--
"But Nature fumbles, with no sure command
Over her tools, like an artificer
Who knows his trade but has a trembling hand."
(Canto XIII. 76)
Yet, the perfect image of its Maker was revealed in the First Man and Mary (the Virgin maid with child). Why this is so neither St. Thomas nor Dante explain in this canto. St. Thomas than goes on to explain the nature of Solomon's wisdom thus: "And if that phrase none rose thou rightly view, thou shalt see that kings alone are meant by this." (Canto XII. 106-107) Dante did not understand because he failed to make distinctions. Solomon's wisdom was not that of a philosopher or scientist but the practical wisdom of a king. Adam was not a king nor was Christ, therefore, their wisdom was of a different kind.
Dante here warns against rash judgement, prejudice and stubbornness which leads us to distort the truth. As an example he mentioned Sabellius, a third century theologian who maintained that the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), were only different names for the One God. Another example was Arius who regarded Christ merely a creature with divine perfections but not having the same divine nature as the Father.
11_Vision of Glorified Body