Danielle Callegari and Akash Kumar on Par. 19 for “Canto per Canto”

“Dante has just reached the heaven of Jupiter when the shape of an eagle, made by the gathering souls, lights up before his eyes. To the eagle Dante poses a question he had thought about for a long time: how can somebody who is utterly virtuous be excluded and condemned for having been born out of the boundaries of Christianity? Dante’s doubt concerning God’s inscrutable justice is followed by a reflection on the necessity for earthly rulers to act justly and by an attack against those who do not. While considering the issue of justice in Paradiso 19, Danielle Callegari and Akash Kumar explore the relevance of the canto to our time and its pressing questions. As human beings, across time and space, we must ask ourselves what is the extent of our communities, of our forms of justice, and of our responsibilities. Dante appears to suggest that what binds us is not an answer to such questions, but the posing of the questions itself. The message he appears to convey in this canto is the same our times are giving us: ‘we all fall short, but by engaging we do the work that is to be done’.” – Leonardo Chiarantini

Watch or listen to the video “Paradiso 19: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.