"For the Eternal Joy, its radiance bent
Directed on Beatrice and from her eyes
Reflected, held me in entire content. ...
And saw her eyes so clear, so lit all through
With rapture, that her loveliness outshined
All earlier wont, yea and her latest too."
(Canto XVIII. 16-18, 55-57)
Beatrice, the constant guide toward God becomes ever more resplendent as they journey toward that radiant point of light. We often say that our eyes are windows into the soul and so it is to Dante as he gazes upon Beatrice. In so doing, Dante has materialized in his imagination her presence even though he realizes that her body is not yet united with her soul. She has become for Dante a mirror into the radiance,love and beauty of God. In her eyes "lit with rapture" or contemplation is a a light that can only be perceived by her intellect rapt in contemplation and Dante he sees this rapture in her eyes.
We are still in the heavenly sphere of Mars and Cacciaguida speaks to Dante thus,
"In the fifth tier of the tree,
Which takes life from the top and which bears fruit
Forever and which never sheds its leaves,
Bloom blesses spirits who, before they came
To heaven, had below such wide renown...."
(Canto XVIII.29-32/James F. Cotter translation)
The "fifth tier of the tree" is Mars. This tree unlike a tree which takes its nourishment from the ground by its roots, is a tree which signifies the tree of life in heaven which receives its unending life from God.
The men of renown which Cacciaguida names and Dante sees as moving lights from the cross were champions of the faith. Joshua and Machabees (Old Testament) Roland with Charlemaye, William, Reynald and Duke Godfrey, Robert Guiscard, secular rulers who in their times promoted the Christian faith.
Suddenly Dante finds himself on the sixth planet which he describes as temperate, and of sheen pure white. The bright souls on this sphere spell out with their multitudinous presence the following message:
QUI IUDICATIS TERRAM."
"Love justice, you who judge the earth."
This final M of TERRAM suggest the number 1,000 and the concept of millennium and monarchy or people united under a universal ruler. The M transformed into an eagle signifies the ancient supremacy of Rome ordained by God for the for the peace and unity of the world. This emblem is spelled out by the souls of the just and indicates Dante's emerging comprehension of the meaning of history and the divine pattern of justice. (Penguin Classics, Paradise, notes on p. 218) Dante exclaims--
"Loved star! what jewels, and how many of them
Showed me 'twas Justice whose terrestrial course
Is governed by heaven thou dost begem!"
(Canto XVII. 115-117)
Dante conceives that this heavenly sphere of just rulers influences justice on earth. But he also notes that justice on earth has been obscured by those who rule the Church. He asks that these just souls pray --
"So that once more he may be angry with
The buying and selling in the temple
Whose walls were built by miracles and martyrs."
This is a allusion to Christ who drove out the sellers from the temple of Jerusalem and in the verses that follow (124-132) Dante opposes the practice in the Church of selling indulgences, ecclesiastical positions and excommunications which were lifted after a sum of money was paid. He reminds Church leaders that the Church of Christ was built on miracles and the blood of martyrs not on greed.
Canto XIX- Jupiter: The Eagle of Divine Justice