The three books whose images are used on this site come from the collections of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University:


La Commedia, with commentary by Christophorus Landinus. (Brescia, Boninus de Boninis, de Ragusia, 31 May 1487). Call number: Rare Book Incunabula GoffD31. Purchased by the Library in 1902.

The first printed edition of the Divine Comedy was made in 1472, and by 1487, there had been nine editions. This incunabule (a book printed before 1501, in the first half-century of printing) is illustrated with full page woodcut illustrations for each canto, many hand colored, and some with manuscript annotation to identify the characters involved. There are several woodcut borders which repeat as frames around the images.


La comedia di Dante Aligieri con la nova espositione di Alessandro Vellvtello. (Vinegia : Per Francesco Marcolini ad instantia di Alessandro Vellutello, 1544). Call Number: Rare Book B85DL B44. From the library of the American Type Founders, Inc.

Woodcuts for each canto are colored by hand, although probably not until the nineteenth century.


Dante : con l’espositione di M. Bernardino Daniello da Lucca, sopra la sua Comedia dell’Inferno, del Purgatorio, & del Paradiso; nuouamente stampato, & posto in luce. (Venetia : Appresso Pietro da Fino, 1568). Call Number: Rare Book PQ4302 .B68. Gift of Christopher Coover.

Three engraved maps, one for each book, act as maps of the books’ spaces, and charts of Dante’s movements. The relative lack of illustrations are balanced by the fineness and detail made possible by using expensive copper engravings as a medium, and by the lively decorated and historiated woodcut initials sprinkled throughout the volume at the head of each canto.


-Jane Siegel, Librarian for Rare Books, Columbia University


The first page of Cristoforo Landino's commentary on the Commedia. The two capitals have been hand-inked, probably in the 16th or 17th century. As Dante and Virgilio leave the sixth circle and the latter explains the structure of Hell, Dante sees an inscription about Pope Anastasius (Inf. 11.8-9).This illustration balances the poignancy of Dante's encounter with Brunetto Latini and the graphic nature of the punishment that sodomites are subjected to in Inferno 15. Of particular note is the extreme division between Dante and his teacher that has the pilgrim bending down to speak to him.Illustration showing scenes from Inferno 17 and 18. The background shows Dante and Virgilio standing beside Gerione, the foreground shows a combination of the first two bolgias. In the first bolgia panders and seducers are whipped by the devils; in the second bolgia the flatterers are submerged in a sea of excrement.Dante and Virgilio encounter five Florentine thieves in the seventh bolgia, undergoing metamorphosis into serpents.In the background, Dante and Virgilio leave the seventh bolgia, where they have encountered the five Florentine thieves. Puccio Sciancato, the only one who has not mutated into a serpent, is seen here from behind. In the foreground, Dante and Virgilio enter the eighth bolgia, where the souls are trapped in flames.In the background of the image, Dante and Virgilio encounter the souls of Mohammed, ripped from the chin down. Beside him, Pier di Medicina, with his throat pierced. At his right, Mosca de' Lamberti, lifting his stumps. In the foreground, Dante and Virgilio are shown with Bertran de Born, holding his head as a lantern. On the bottom right, we see a demon holding a sword who strikes the sinners as they come around.The poets observe the following:
Maestro Adamo with bloated belly having just slapped Sinon (foreground), Gianni Schicchi biting Capocchio in his neck (middle left side), Myrrha (middle top). Between the eighth and the ninth circle, Dante and Virgilio encounter the Giants. In the top right hand corner is Nimrod, who speaks unintelligible words, which a reader has transcribed in the margins. In the foreground, we see Ephialtes, who dared to challenge the Olympic gods, and now finds himself in chains. To the left, we see Antaeus, who is going to transport the poets to the lowest level of Hell.Dante and Virgilio witness the arrival of the penitent souls, who crowd the beach of Mount Purgatory to begin their journey. At the center of the page, Catone is identifiable by his long beard.In the foreground of this image, Virgilio is shown conversing with Manfredi, the natural son of Frederick II, who shows the poets his two mortal wounds and explains that he is here among those who died in contumacy of Holy Church (Pg. 3.136-37). In the middle left side of the image, a cluster of souls described by Dante as a In the foreground, Dante and Virgilio leave the penitents of the last hour and continue their journey on the mountain upwards.Dante awakes and finds himself at the gates of Purgatory. Virgilio explains that the eagle of his dream was St. Lucy, shown here beside Virgilio, her head surrounded by rays of light. In the middle part of the image, Dante and Virgilio climb the three steps towards the guardian angel (his face so bright that Dante cannot sustain its light (Pg. 9.79-84), who holds a sword with which he will inscribe seven Dante and Virgilio encounter the souls purging the sin of envy, who sit along the cliff. As night falls, Dante and Virgilio stop on the terrace of anger to discuss disordered love as the principle of all sin.Dante and Virgilio encounter the Slothful in Canto 17 of PurgatorioIn the foreground, Dante and Virgilio meet the Angel of Peace. In the background, they speak with Pope Adrian V, as the penitent souls purge the sin of avarice and prodigality.At the bottom left corner, Dante and Virgilio continue their journey up the mountain. They come across the avaricious penitents, who lie prostrated on the ground (middle of the image). One soul emerges to greet them: this is Stazio, who will accompany Dante until he reaches the Earthly Paradise.Dante, Stazio, and Virgilio come across a tree. A voice from among the branches cries: Dante and Virgilio encounter two groups of penitents, meeting for a friendly salutation before continuing. Guido Guinizzelli explains that these are the two classes of sexual sinners, those who sinned by excess of natural passion or against nature itself, following the appetite like Dante is about to cross the fire and enter the Earthly Paradise. The fire purges penitent souls, and the angel awaits them on the right of the image. Stazio, having finished his purgation, follows Dante and Virgilio up the mountain.Dante, Stazio, and Beatrice arrive at the river Eunoè, crossing the Seven Virtues (three theological, and four cardinal, allegorized by the seven women). Last page of the edition, with the last four terzine of Paradiso, surrounded by the commentary by Cristoforo Landino. The printer's colophon appears at the bottom left.In this frontispiece of the 1544 edition of the Commedia, the portrait of Dante is hand-colored, with an elaborate laurel wreath drawn around it to embellish the image.Dante and Virgilio watch as the Neutrals endlessly chase their banner, a punishment for never having chosen a side in life. Charon and his ferrying boat are featured in the center of the image. Dante and Virgilio enter Limbo, where those who had not been saved by Christianity but who also had not sinned must reside. Here they meet the classical poets Homer, Ovid, Lucan and Horace. Dante identifies Aristotle simply as Dante and Virgilio encounter the lustful sinners, condemned to be forever tossed about by an unceasing wind that mirrors their uncontrolled passions in life. Dante asks to speak with Paolo and Francesca and faints at their sad tale. Minos and his long tail, used to judge which circle of Hell to assign sinners, appears in the top right.Dante and Virgilio encounter Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gluttonous. The blinded gluttons are forced to lie in a vile slush that comes from a ceaseless, icy rain, heedless of those around them in a symbolic punishment that symbolizes the cold and empty selfishness of their indulgent lives. Virgilio can be seen scooping up mud to fill Cerberus' three mouths so that he and Dante can pass. The Avaricious, who hoarded their possessions, and the Prodigal, who squandered their possessions in life, must joust with great weights upon their chest as Pluto stands guard.Phlegyas will reluctantly ferry Dante and Virgilio across the River Styx to the walled city of Dis. The wrathful fight each other on the surface of the river as the sullen lay gurgling beneath the water, deprived of all joy. After an angel sent from Heaven forces the gates of Dis open to Dante and Virgilio, they see the Heretics in their flaming tombs. They see many familiar faces but converse with Farinata degli Uberti, a former Ghibelline, and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, a Guelph and the father of Dante's friend, Guido Cavalcanti.The monster Minotaur guards the three rings of the seventh circle, where the violent are punished. In the outer ring, those who committed violence against people and property are submerged, according to the severity of their sins, in Phlegethon, the boiling river of fire and blood. The profligates, forever chased and mauled by dogs, and the suicides, who have been transformed into thorny bushes and trees that are fed upon by Harpies, reside in the middle ring. Dante is shown breaking off a twig and hearing the tale of Pier della Vigna from the broken, bleeding bush. The blasphemers and sodomites are in the inner ring, in a desert of flaming sand and fire raining down, where Dante encounters his beloved mentor, Brunetto Latini, whom he treats with respect despite his place in hell.Dante and Virgilio can only access the 10 bolgie of the Malebolge by riding on the back of the winged monster, Gerione, down the vast cliff. The sinners reside within the stone ditches of each bolgia with bridges connecting each one. Dante and Virgilio reach the ninth and lowest circle of Hell, a frozen lake of ice filled with traitors. It is ringed by classical and Biblical giants, symbolizing pride and other flaws that lead to treachery. The four rings of ice encase sinners deeper and deeper according to the severity of their treachery. In the center, the Judecca, sits Satan in ice, condemned for being the ultimate traitor to God, weeping and beating his wings in a futile attempt to free himself. At the very beginning of the Commedia, Dante finds himself in middle age, in a dark wood, confronted by 3 beasts: a lion, a leopard and a she-wolf, which he cannot evade. At last, Virgilio appears.Virgilio claims to have been sent by Beatrice to guide Dante through the underworld. He explains that his soul resides in Limbo and that Beatrice asked him to seek out Dante, her lost friend, and guide him. The two begin their journey. Dante and Virgilio watch as Charon ferries soul across the river Acheron and as the Neutrals run around and around without stopping. Dante and Virgilio pass through the gates of Hell.Dante and Virgilio enter Limbo, where Virgilio's soul normally resides, surrounded by other blameless souls who could not control their salvation: unbaptized babies and those who were born before the coming of Christ. Dante and Virgilio converse with the great classical poets Homer, Ovid, Lucan and Horace.Dante and Virgilio enter the second circle of Hell, where they encounter the Lustful, punished by being forever buffeted by a strong wind, symbolic of their uncontrolled passions in life. Dante and Virgilio stop so Dante can speak with Paolo and Francesca, tragic lovers whose story so moves Dante that he faints. The monster Minos appears at the top right- Minos wraps his long tail around himself when judging sinners- the number of coils equals the circle of Hell to which the sinner has been consigned.Dante awakens in the third circle of Hell, guarded by the vicious three-headed dog, Cerberus. Virgilio is seen scooping up mud to stuff in the dog's mouths so he and Dante may pass. In the center of the image the gluttonous are punished by perpetual, filthy rain- they try to keep themselves clean but it never works. Dante and Virgilio pass Pluto, who guards the fourth circle of Hell, where the Avaricious and Prodigal are punished. The two groups are forced to push crushingly heavy stones toward one another as they shout insults back and forth. Dante and Virgilio continue their journey and reach the River Styx. They persuade Phlegyas to ferry them across the river to the gates of the walled city of Dis, passing over the wrathful fighting one another in the muddy surface of the river, and the sullen, lying joylessly underwater in the gurgling mud. The bright colors in this image reflect Dante's observation of the redness on the horizon and the eternal flame that burns in the lower regions of Hell. Dante and Virgilio reach the gates of Dis and prepare to enter. A heavenly messenger appears and ensures that Dante and Virgilio can enter Dis. The sinners without and within are powerless to stop Dante and Virgilio because they move with God's authority. Inside Dis, in the sixth circle of Hell, there are flaming open tombs in which unseen heretics are screaming in agony. Dante converses with Farinata degli Uberti and then with his friend Guido's father, Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti.Dante and Virgilio encounter the Minotaur, who mistakes Dante for Theseus and charges at them. They escape and make their way down an embankment that was formed by a landslide. Virgil explains to Dante that the landslide occurred when Christ removed the good men from the Old Testament from Hell and the universe quaked with love. As they continue on, they are confronted by angry centaurs, armed with bows and arrows. Virgilio assures the centaurs that he and Dante are on a mission from God and one centaur, Nessus, is chosen to guide them through this ring of Hell. Beneath them, sinners who had committed violence against their neighbors writhe in boiling blood. In the second ring of the seventh circle of Hell, Dante and Virgilio encounter a forest of gnarled trees and bushes, the home of the disgusting Harpies. Dante breaks off a branch and is startled to see that he has injured a tortured soul, that of Pier della Vigna. Pier tells Dante and Virgilio that all of the trees were once people, consigned to Hell for having committed suicide. The suicides long for their physical bodies more than any other souls in Hell, and are perpetually tortured by the Harpies ferociously eating their leaves. Dante and Virgilio move through the forest of the suicides and come upon a giant plain filled with naked sinners, some walking, others crouching, and the most tortured lying supine in the sand as flakes of fire rain down upon them. Among these sinners, the blasphemous, Dante speaks with the giant, Caphaneus, whose arrogance Virgilio rebukes. Dante and Virgilio skirt around the plain so that Dante's feet will not burn, coming upon a stream, actually part of the river Phlegethon, that leads them out of the woods. Phlegethon flows into a huge waterfall and Dante and Virgilio encounter 3 Florentine sodomites, Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci. Virgilio asks Dante to remove the cord from around his waist- Virgilio makes a lasso and throws it into the ravine, summoning Gerione. Despite his fears, Dante climbs onto Gerione at Virgilio's instruction, and the two descend on the monster's back. At the bottom of the ravine Dante and Virgilio climb down from Gerione and continue their journey.In the third bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell, Dante and Virgilio encounter the Simonists, buried upside-down in small holes with the tops of their feet eternally burning. Dante speaks with Pope Nicholas III, who mistakes Dante for his successor in simony, Boniface VIII. Nicholas tells Dante that once Boniface arrives he will be buried further in the bedrock, as are all simonists. Dante is shocked by the corruption in the papacy but his respect for the church keeps him from saying too much to Nicholas.Next, Dante and Virgilio meet the Diviners, Astrologers and Magicians in the fourth bolgia of the eighth circle. These sinners' heads have been turned to face behind them so they are forced to walk backwards, as the tears they shed trickle down their buttocks.In the dark fifth bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell, Dante and Virgilio watch as the barrators are tortured in a river of boiling pitch, poked and prodded by the long forks wielded by the Malebranche. Dante and Virgilio are still in the fifth bolgia. The Malebranche, like lewd comedians, fart and make evil gestures. Dante fears for his safety when the demons propose to accompany Dante and Virgilio to the next unbroken bridge. Dante and Virgilio rush away from the Malebranche, reaching the sixth bolgia, where the hypocrites are punished. They wear long, heavy golden cloaks lined with lead and must walk very slowly in a continuous circle. Caiaphas is the naked giant chained to the ground (in the pose of the crucifixion he suggested for Jesus), unable to move as the hypocrites walk over him.This illustration tracks Dante and Virgilio's movement from the sixth to the seventh bolgia, with the hypocrites ringing the outer part of the image, and the thieves in their pits of coiling snakes visible in the center of the seventh bolgia. Dante and Virgilio speak with Vanni Fucci, who prophesies the political fall of Dante's White Guelphs.This illustration traces Dante and Virgilio's journey from the seventh bolgia to the eighth, that of the fraudulent counselors. First, Dante and Virgilio watch the Ovidian transformations and interminglings of the thieves and serpents. Then, passing into the eighth bolgia, they see that each sinner has been turned into a tongue of flame. Dante spots a double flame and Virgilio tells him that it contains Ulysses and Diomedes, who were responsible for the Trojan horse and the sacking of Palladium. Ulysses recounts his death and the deaths of his men in a shipwreck. Dante also speaks with Guido da Montefeltro.In the ninth bolgia of the eighth circle, Dante and Virgilio meet the sowers of scandal and schism. The sinners are covered in blood and gore, some even having been eviscerated, as punishment for the discord and conflict they wrought in life. They walk in a never-ending circle and are attacked by a sword-wielding demon whenever they pass him. In the tenth bolgia, Dante and Virgilio encounter the falsifiers of metal, the alchemists who are all afflicted with terrible diseases and claw at one another unceasingly. Dante speaks with Griffolino and Capocchio, two renowned Sienese alchemists, whom Dante sneers at, showing his Florentine pride.This image shows Dante and Virgilio approaching the Ninth Circle of Hell, and actually depicts them passing through each ring, culminating in their arrival at the Giudecca, the first time Dante sees Lucifer in all of his terrifying misery. Dante and Virgilio are in Caina, the first ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell, where many giants are submerged in ice around the perimeter. Here, Dante threatens Bocca degli Abati with slander. Dante and Virgilio then move to Antenora where they see one sinner, Count Ugolino, gnawing upon the head of another sinner, Archbishop Ruggieri, both of them encased in ice. We see the second ring of the Ninth Circle, Antenora, where traitors to the homeland are punished, and the third circle, Ptolomea, where reside traitors to their guests. A small image of Lucifer appears at the center. Dante and Virgilio speak with Fra Alberigo who informs them that Ptolomea has the power to take a soul to hell even while the body remains on Earth, using Dante's acquaintance, Branca Doria, as an example.In the fourth ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell, the Giudecca, Virgilio and Dante come upon Lucifer. All of the other traitorous sinners in this ring are completely encased in ice but Lucifer is gigantic and his heads, arms, and massive wings are free of the ice. He has a black head, a red head, and a  yellow head, and in each of the three mouths he is chewing a sinner to a bloody pulp: Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Julius Caesar. Lucifer flaps his six wings, attempting to escape, but only produces a freezing wind. Virgilio and Dante follow Lethe to exit Hell and find themselves once again under a starry sky.A sage-like old man with a long beard approaches Dante and asks how he has escaped Hell. Virgilio identifies the old man as Catone, who instructs Dante to clean himself before he can ascend Mount Purgatory. Virgilio picks a reed (which immediately grows back) and washes Dante's face for him.An angel guides a boat of penitents to Purgatory, where they will cleanse their souls of sin before being allowed to ascend to Paradise. Dante identifies Casella and attempts to hug him, but Casella has no body. Dante asks Casella to sing and it is so beautiful that all the other penitents are mesmerized. As Dante and Virgilio leave behind the Indolents, one recognizes that Dante is alive and points him out to the others. Virgilio tells Dante to ignore them and the two continue on to meet those who died by violence and without last rites. Dante speaks with Buonconte da Montefeltro, who reveals to Dante how he died, and asks that his story be relayed to the living.Dante and Virgilio continue their journey, happening upon Sordello of Mantua, who embraces his countryman, Virgilio, and offers to guide them to the entrance to Mount Purgatory. As the sun sets on the Valley of the Rulers, two angels descend from the heavens bearing flaming swords with broken tips. The angels are dressed in vivid green, and their wings are green as well. Sordello points to the slithering serpent, which the angels swiftly scare away. While Dante sleeps, St. Lucia comes and carries him all the way up to the entrance of Mt. Purgatory.  Dante begs the angel guarding the entrance to let them pass and the angel can be seen brandishing the sword with which he will carve 7 P's into Dante's forehead. Dante and Virgilio cross the threshold onto Mount Purgatory and the door closes behind them; Dante fears looking back even though the way up is very difficult. He notices ornate and magnificent white marble carvings that are so realistic he cannot believe his eyes. He sees Mary, the angel Gabriel, King David dancing before the ark, and Trajan and the poor widow.The Prideful are weighed down on the first terrace of Purgatory by enormous stones on their backs. Dante and Virgilio speak with Oderisi, who demonstrates how penitent he has become by declaring that Franco Bolognese had been a better painter than he. Virgilio uses the sun as a compass to guide him and Dante as they ascend to the second terrace. Here, the Envious are punished with their eyes sewn shut, wearing coarse haircloth.An angel welcomes Dante and Virgiliio to the third terrace, telling them to keep climbing because the way is becoming less steep. They are soon swallowed by black smoke that appears out of nowhere. Dante and Virgilio watch as the Slothful rush past, shouting about making haste. Dante and Virgilio arrive at the fifth terrace of Mount Purgatory, where the Avaricious and Prodigal lie face down, chained to the ground and weeping. Their contrapasso punishment compels them to gaze at the ground because they cared only for material things on Earth and never On the sixth terrace, where the emaciated gluttonous are purged of their sin, Dante, Virgilio and Stazio encounter a strange tree smelling of ripe figs with branches pointing downward, making it impossible to climb. The tree cites, in a disembodied voice, examples of temperance. Dante speaks with his friend Forese Donati and introduces him to Virgilio and Stazio. They continue on, past another beautiful but inaccessible fruit tree, and pass the Angel of Temperance on their way up.Stazio explains to Dante and Virgilio how a soul is born. They are confronted by a wall of flames into which souls are walking, singing God of Greatest Mercy; these souls are purging themselves of lust. The way is narrow and hazardous and Virgilio warns Dante to be very careful. Dante, Stazio and Virgilio reach the forest of the Earthly Paradise. At the top middle of the image Matilda can be seen by the waters of the stream. Dante, Virgilio and Stazio follow Matilda along the banks of the stream, where they see angels wielding a candelabra with seven candles. A slow-moving procession of twenty-four elders wearing all white follows the candelabra, while the elders are followed by a chariot drawn by a griffin. Three women, one dressed in red, one in green and one in white, dance by, and a group of seven elders, one of whom Dante identifies as Luke, can then be seen.This image beautifully depicts all the characters from the previous canto's procession, with the griffin and chariot at center. Out of a cloud of falling flowers descends a beautiful woman with a crown of olive branches, Beatrice.Beatrice identifies herself and tells her story to Dante and the surrounding angels. Dante hangs his head in shame.Dante faints at the sight of Beatrice's beauty and when he wakes up, Matelda is dipping him in the waters of Lethe before leading him to Beatrice's side. The procession begins heading east, Dante being led by Matilda and Stazio. They approach the Tree of Knowledge. Once the chariot is tied to the tree, it miraculously blooms. Beatrice and her handmaidens sit under the tree and Beatrice tells Dante that she will now accompany him through Paradiso. An eagle descends violently towards the chariot and a ravenous fox begins to attack it. The chariot sprouts three horned and monstrous heads. The 7 handmaidens walk along the rivers as Beatrice, Dante, Matilda and Stazio follow along. Matilda tells Dante they are the Lethe and Eunoe rivers. Beatrice orders Matilda to lead Dante into the Eunoe to restore his memory of good deeds so he can be ready to ascend the steps to Heaven.Dante and Beatrice gaze at the brilliance of the sun although Dante, being mortal, must avert his eyes after a short while. They fly towards the Heavens, passing the Zodiac symbols for Taurus, Aries, and Pisces along the way.Beatrice patiently explains to Dante why the moon has dark spots.Dante and Beatrice meet Piccarda, the sister of Forese Donati, who explains that all the souls in Paradise are happy to assume their rightful places in God's order. She also introduces them to Empress Constance of Sicily.Beatrice answers Dante's unspoken questions (and doubts) about the nature of free will, elucidating the difference between absolute will and contingent will. Dante and Beatrice encounter the inhabitants of the Second Heaven, the Sphere of Mercury. He speaks with Justinian I, the emperor who reformed Roman laws and, with God's inspiration, created the Codex Justinianus, bringing peace to his people. Romeo of Villaneuve, whom Justinian praises, is also visible. Beatrice warns Dante that no man can fully understand God and explains that Adam's sin was one of pride, because he believed the serpent's words and thought that if he ate the apple he would become almighty like God. She also explains that God was merciful in giving Himself, in the form of Christ, as penance for mankind's sins. Dante and Beatrice meet Charles Martel, who tells Dante that God acts through Providence, a force that keeps the universe from chaos.In the Third Heaven, the Sphere of Venus, Dante speaks with Cunizza, who delivers an ominous and bloody prophecy about the murder of despots, and Charles Martel.Dante and Beatrice also speak with Folco, who prophesies that Florence will soon be rid of its corrupt priests. Folco introduces them to Rahab, the highest ranking member in the Sphere of Venus, and the first to be liberated when Christ harrowed Hell.In the Fourth Heaven, the Sphere of the Sun, Dante and Beatrice meet St. Thomas Aquinas, Albert of Cologne, Gratian, Peter Lombard, King Solomon, Dionysus the Areopagite, Paulus Orosius, Boethius, St. Isidore of Seville, the Venerable Bede, Richard of St. Victor, and Siger de Brabant.In the Fourth Heaven, the Sphere of the Sun, the souls dance around each other in two circles, moving in opposite directions. Dante compares their waltzing to a double rainbow.Dante and Beatrice ascend to the Fifth Heaven, the Sphere of Mars. The souls there form two bars of light, making a cross, Christ's cross. Dante notes that his words may be presumptuous, for he dares to describe in human terms what man cannot possibly understand. In the Sixth Heaven, the Sphere of Jupiter, Dante and Beatrice watch as the souls move to form letters with their glowing bodies. The M transforms into an eagle, an emblem for Imperial Rome and symbol of justice. Dante and Beatrice climb down the golden ladder and Dante speaks with St. Peter Damian.Dante and Beatrice reach the Sphere of Saturn, the Seventh Heaven. Beatrice announces to Dante the presence of Christ's troops, the angels. Dante glimpses Christ, dazzling as a sun, and Mary, descending towards them as a living star. Dante's mind begins to open and he can now bear to look at Beatrice's magnificent smile, having witnessed Christ in his glory. Dante is examined by St. Peter on Faith, who asks him what Faith is and whether Dante possesses it.  Dante is examined by St. James on Hope, who asks him what Hope is and where it comes from. St. James is here shown asking Dante to lift up his head and take confidence (Pd. 25.34).Dante and Beatrice are with St. Peter, who has been examining Dante for his faith, when St. James and then St. John join them. Dante is questioned by St. John about his love for God; Dante sees Adam for the first time. Dante and Beatrice congregate with Adam, St. John, St. James and St. Peter as the souls sing the hymn The souls in the Eighth Heaven then fly up to the Empyrean, like snowflakes in reverse. Dante is dazzled by Beatrice's beauty as they ascend to the Primum Mobile. Beatrice explains the 9 rings of the Primum Mobile to Dante. Starting from the center and moving outwards, she shows him the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The Celestial RoseThe host of blessed spirits inside the Celestial Rose appear as angels fly above and sing joyfully. St. Bernard appeals to the Virgin Mary on Dante's behalf and she gazes down upon him with compassion. Frontispiece of the Venetian edition, with commentary by Bernardino Daniello da Lucca, printed in Venice by Pietro da Fino in 1568.Map showing the structure of Hell, with Jerusalem and the The historiated initial depicts Neptune, the classical god of the sea.Map of Mount Purgatory, based on Virgil's description in Pg 17.82-139. The image shows the full section of  Antepurgatory, followed by the seven terraces of  Purgatory, with the Earthly Paradise at the top.This historiated initial suggests a scene from Purgatorio 5 in which Bonconte da Montefeltro describes his death after the Battle of Campaldino. His soul departed from the body, which remained in the swamp, as in Pg. 5.85-129. Again, it is more likely that this historiated initial was originally featured in another book and is being recycled here. Map of the Heavens with Earth at the center of concentric heavens spinning increasingly fast; the Empyrium is at the top of the page, as described by Beatrice in  Paradiso 2.112-123.In this historiated initial, figures that might be Dante and his host, Cangrande della Scala, sit down at the desk to read the third cantica. More likely, this woodcut was recycled from an earlier work that featured a reading scene but was not necessarily the Commedia.