When Jesus realized they [still] did not believe, he said, ‘Who will help me in God’s cause?’ The disciples said, ‘We will be God’s helpers; we believe in God—witness our devotion to Him. Lord, we believe in what You have revealed and we follow the messenger: record us among those who bear witness [to the Truth].’ The [disbelievers] schemed but God also schemed; God is the Best of Schemers. God said, ‘Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me: I will purify you of the disbelievers. To the Day of Resurrection I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieved. Then you will all return to Me and I will judge between you regarding your differences. I will make the disbelievers suffer severely in this world and the next; no one will help them.’ God will pay those who believe and do good deeds their reward in full; God does not love evildoers. We relate to you [Muhammad] this revelation, a decisive statement. In God’s eyes Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, ‘Be’, and he was. This is the truth from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt. If anyone disputes this with you now that you have been given this knowledge, say, ‘Come, let us gather our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, and let us pray earnestly and invoke God’s rejection on those of us who are lying. This is the truth of the matter: there is no god but God; God is the Exalted, the Decider.’ If they turn away, [know that] God is well aware of anyone who causes corruption. Say, ‘People of the Book, let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all: we worship God alone, we ascribe no partner to Him, and none of us takes others beside God as lords.’ If they turn away, say, ‘Witness our devotion to Him.’
While I stood thus confounded, my light shed,
out of the dazzling flame that had consumed it
I heard a breath that called to me, and said:
“Until your eyes once more regain their sense
of the light you lost in me, it will be well
for discourse to provide a recompense.
Speak, therefore, starting with the thing that most
summons your soul to it, and be assured
your sight is only dazzled and not lost;
for she who guides you through this holy land
has, in a single turning of her eyes,
the power that lay in Ananias’ hand.”
“As she wills, late or soon, let remedy
come to my eyes,” I said, “the gates through which
she brought the fire that ever burns in me.
The Good that is this cloister’s happiness
is the Alpha and Omega of the scripture
love reads to me with light and heavy stress.”
The same voice that had soothed my fear away
when I found suddenly that I could not see
called me back to the question. I heard it say:
“Surely a finer sieve must sift this through.
You must explain what made you draw your bow
at this exalted target—what and who.”
And I: “By the arguments of philosophy
and by authority that descends from here
such Love has clearly stamped its seal upon me.
For the Good, to the extent imperfect sense
grasps its goodness, kindles love; the brighter
the more we understand its excellence.
To the Essence then in which lies such perfection
that every good thing not immediate to It
is nothing more than Its own ray’s reflection—
to It, above all else, the mind must move
once it has seen the truth that is the proof
and argument that so compels man’s love.
That truth he first made evident to me
whose proofs set forth the First Cause and First Love
of every sempiternal entity.
It was proved by the True Maker’s voice sent forth
to Moses when It said, meaning Itself,
‘I shall cause you to see a vision of all worth.’
And proved by you in the high proclamation
that cries to earth the secrets of this heaven
more clearly than any other revelation.”
And I heard: “As human reason and Holy Writ
in harmony have urged you, keep for God
the first, most sovereign passion of your spirit.
But tell me if you feel yet other ties
bind you to Him. Say with how many teeth this
love consumes you.” So in Paradise
Christ’s Eagle spoke his sacred purpose whole,
concealing nothing; rather, urging me
to make a full profession of my soul.
I therefore: “All those teeth with power enough
to turn the heart of any man to God
have joined in my heart, turning it to Love.
The existence of the world, and my own, too;
the death He took on Himself that I might live;
and what all believers hope for as I do—
these and the living knowledge mentioned before
have saved me from the ocean of false love
and placed me by the true, safe on the shore.
The leaves that green the Eternal Garden’s grove
I love to the degree that each receives
the dew and ray of His all-flowering love.”
The instant I fell still, my love professed,
all Heaven rang with “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
my lady joining with the other blest.
As bright light shatters sleep, the man being bid
to waken by the visual spirit running
to meet the radiance piercing lid by lid,
and the man so roused does not know what he sees,
his wits confounded by the sudden waking,
till he once more regains his faculties;
so from my eyes, my lady’s eyes, whose ray
was visible from a thousand miles and more,
drove every last impediment away;
in consequence of which I found my sight
was clearer than before, and half astonished,
I questioned her about a fourth great light
near us, and she: “In that ray’s Paradise
the first soul from the hand of the First Power
turns ever to its maker its glad eyes.”
The reason why that grief had penetrated me so easily and deeply was that I had poured out my soul on to the sand by loving a person sure to die as if he would never die. The greatest source of repair and restoration was the solace of other friends, with whom I loved what I loved as a substitute for you; and this was a vast myth and a long lie. By its adulterous caress, my mind which had ‘itching ears’ (2 Tim. 4: 3– 4) was corrupted. But this fable did not die for me when one of my friends died. There were other things which occupied my mind in the company of my friends: to make conversation, to share a joke, to perform mutual acts of kindness, to read together well-written books, to share in trifling and in serious matters, to disagree though without animosity—just as a person debates with himself—and in the very rarity of disagreement to find the salt of normal harmony, to teach each other something or to learn from one another, to long with impatience for those absent, to welcome them with gladness on their arrival. These and other signs come from the heart of those who love and are loved and are expressed through the mouth, through the tongue, through the eyes, and a thousand gestures of delight, acting as fuel to set our minds on fire and out of many to forge unity. This is what we love in friends. We love to the point that the human conscience feels guilty if we do not love the person who is loving us, and if that love is not returned—without demanding any physical response other than the marks of affectionate good will. Hence the mourning if a friend dies, the darkness of grief, and as the sweetness is turned into bitterness the heart is flooded with tears. The lost life of those who die becomes the death of those still living. ‘Happy is the person who loves you’ (Tobit 13: 18) and his friend in you, and his enemy because of you (Matt. 5: 44).
Of course, those first elements of the language were better, because more fundamental. On that foundation I came to acquire the faculty which I had and still possess of being able to read whatever I find written, and to write myself whatever I wish. This was better than the poetry I was later forced to learn about the wanderings of some legendary fellow named Aeneas (forgetful of my own wanderings) and to weep over the death of a Dido who took her own life from love. In reading this, O God my life, I myself was meanwhile dying by my alienation from you, and my miserable condition in that respect brought no tear to my eyes. What is more pitiable than a wretch without pity for himself who weeps over the death of Dido dying for love of Aeneas, but not weeping over himself dying for his lack of love for you, my God, light of my heart, bread of the inner mouth of my soul, the power which begets life in my mind and in the innermost recesses of my thinking. I had no love for you and ‘committed fornication against you’ (Ps. 72: 27); and in my fornications I heard all round me the cries ‘Well done, well done’ (Ps. 34: 21; 39: 16). ‘For the friendship of this world is. fornication against you’ (Jas. 4: 4), and ‘Well done’ is what they say to shame a man who does not go along with them. Over this I wept not a tear. I wept over Dido who ‘died in pursuing her ultimate end with a sword’. I abandoned you to pursue the lowest things of your creation. I was dust going to dust.
“Just as was said above, during the time in which Dido, queen of Carthage, was living happily in her city and ruling gloriously in peace, it happened by chance that Aeneas, fugitive from Troy following its destruction, leader and captain of many Trojans, tossed about by many storms, his ships wrecked and provisions exhausted, having lost many of his men, in need of rest, out of money, weary of wandering at sea, and in need of shelter, arrived in the port of Carthage. And when, out of fear of inadvertently landing without permission, he sent to the queen to know whether it would please her that he come into port, the noble lady, full of honor and valiance and well aware that the Trojans enjoyed a better reputation than any other nation of the world at that time and that Aeneas was of the royal house of Troy, not only gave him leave to land but also went out with a most noble company of barons and ladies and maidens to the shore to meet him and there received him and his entire company with the greatest honor. She brought him into her city and honored and feasted him and put him at ease. Why should I give you a long account? Aeneas was able to rest so long there that he hardly recalled the torments he had suffered. Dido and Aeneas spent so much time with one another that Love, who knows how to subjugate all hearts with the greatest of skill, made them become enamored of one another. But as experience showed, Dido’s love for Aeneas was far greater than his love for her, for even though he had given her his pledge never to take any other woman and to be hers forever, he left after she had restored and enriched him with property and ease, his ships refreshed, repaired, and placed in order, filled with treasure and wealth, like a woman who had spared no expense where her heart was involved. He departed at night, secretly and treacherously, without farewells and without her knowledge. This was how he repaid his hostess. His departure caused so much grief for the unhappy Dido, who had loved too much, that she wished to renounce all joy and her own life. Indeed, after lamenting a great deal, she threw herself into a large fire which she had lit. Others say she killed herself with Aeneas’ own sword. And so the noble queen Dido died in such a pitiful manner, who has been honored so greatly that her fame has surpassed that of all other women of her time.”
‘But you do know, I take it, the source from which all things have come?’
‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘God is the source.’
‘So how can it be that you know the beginning of things, and not their goal? However, these emotional upheavals to which you are prone are powerful enough to unbalance a person, but they cannot undermine and utterly uproot him. Now please tell me this as well: Do you remember that you are a man?’
‘Of course I remember!’ I replied.
‘So can you define what a man is?’
‘Are you asking if I am aware that I am a mortal creature endowed with reason? Yes, I know that, and I proclaim it.’
‘But are you aware of being anything more?’ she asked.
‘No, nothing more.’
‘Now I know’, she said, ‘the further cause of your sickness, and it is a very serious one. You have forgotten your own identity. So I have now fully elicited the cause of your illness, and the means of recovering your health. Forgetting who you are has made you confused, and this is why you are upset at being both exiled and stripped of your possessions. Then, since you are unaware of the goal to which creation proceeds, you imagine that wicked and unprincipled individuals are powerful and blessed. Moreover, since you have forgotten the reins that control the world, you believe that the changes of fortune which have befallen you are random and unguided. These are serious symptoms, which bring on not only sickness, but also death. But thanks be to the source of health, for nature has not wholly forsaken you; your true conviction of the government of the world provides us with the nourishment to restore you to health, for you believe that the universe is guided by divine reason, and is not subject to random chance. So have no fear; this tiniest of sparks will cause life’s heat to be resuscitated in you.
The town where I was born lies by the shore
where the Po descends into its ocean rest
with its attendant streams in one long murmur.
Love, which in gentlest hearts will soonest bloom
seized my lover with passion for that sweet body
from which I was torn unshriven to my doom.
Love, which permits no loved one not to love,
took me so strongly with delight in him
that we are one in Hell, as we were above.
Love led us to one death. In the depths of Hell
Caïna waits for him who took our lives.”
This was the piteous tale they stopped to tell.
And when I had heard those world-offended lovers
I bowed my head. At last the Poet spoke:
“What painful thoughts are these your lowered brow covers?”
When at length I answered, I began: “Alas!
What sweetest thoughts, what green and young desire
led these two lovers to this sorry pass.”
Then turning to those spirits once again,
I said: “Francesca, what you suffer here
melts me to tears of pity and of pain.
But tell me: in the time of your sweet sighs
by what appearances found love the way
to lure you to his perilous paradise?”
And she: “The double grief of a lost bliss
is to recall its happy hour in pain.
Your Guide and Teacher knows the truth of this.
But if there is indeed a soul in Hell
to ask of the beginning of our love
out of his pity, I will weep and tell:
On a day for dalliance we read the rhyme
of Lancelot, how love had mastered him.
We were alone with innocence and dim time.
Pause after pause that high old story drew
our eyes together while we blushed and paled;
but it was one soft passage overthrew
our caution and our hearts. For when we read
how her fond smile was kissed by such a lover,
he who is one with me alive and dead
breathed on my lips the tremor of his kiss.
That book, and he who wrote it, was a pander.
That day we read no further.” As she said this,
the other spirit, who stood by her, wept
so piteously, I felt my senses reel
and faint away with anguish. I was swept
by such a swoon as death is, and I fell,
as a corpse might fall, to the dead floor of Hell.
Short Essay (Take no more than twenty minutes.)
What do you know about Socrates?
Imagine that superior beings from another planetary system have arrived and suddenly appeared in your room. They insist that you immediately accompany them back to their world. You do not even have time to inform anyone about your departure. You can only take a few clothes and only one book from the shelf where you have kept the texts we studied this year in Humanities 101-102. (If you have used electronic texts, add to this imaginary scenario that you used printed editions.) You take one, and off you go. On the way back to their world they ask you about your selection. In just a couple of sentences, identify the text and briefly explain your choice.
I have provided responses on this exam in conformity with the honor code, having neither received any unauthorized assistance nor provided unauthorized assistance to another student.