Divine Comedy – Pagans in Paradise

1474 WordsJun 24, 20186 Pages
Divine Comedy – Pagans in Paradise In the beginning when God created humanity, it was said that He created all humans in His image of goodness (Genesis 1:27). Dante then adds in his Divine Comedy that God has instilled a certain predetermined capacity of goodness in each human being as He wills, which should be utilized fully during life (Paradise 3:84). It would then be assumed, in Dantean thought, that all humans have the choice to live fully to this capacity and assume a place in heaven upon death, to fail to utilize this capacity and suffer in Hell for eternity, or to sin and seek repentance at some point in their lives, allowing them to enter Purgatory. Yet, this statement seems to have certain restrictions when we first look at…show more content…
But upon further reading, it is evident that there are pagans in Dante’s Paradise. The two examples of virtuous pagans in Heaven are Emperor Trajan of Rome and Ripheus of Troy. Ripheus was said to have been baptized after his death while in Purgatory, a thousand years before baptism existed. Emperor Trajan was supposedly brought back to life by "God’s sanctifying grace" and was baptized in his second life (Paradise 20:106-108). Unless you believe another human being besides Jesus Christ was resurrected, this explanation of why Trajan is found in Heaven is invalid. In addition, a reason must exist why God would show so much concern for Ripheus of Troy to allow him baptism in Purgatory. Therefore, from a different angle, one must analyze what the virtuous pagans in Limbo are lacking to explain the presence of Trajan and Ripheus in Paradise. When Dante encounters these two pagans in Paradise, he immediately questions their presence. He asks the eagle of the pagans’ presence there and the bird replies, "And to this realm none ever rose who had not faith in Christ, before or after he was crucified" (Paradise 19:104-106). From this statement we are told that every soul in Heaven had faith in Christ, whether or not they had knowledge of Him. But how can you have faith in a person whom you do not know? Since it seems impossible for a human to have faith in someone they have never heard of, it can be assumed that
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