The Influence of John Scottus Eriugena in Dante's Paradiso
The Platonism, or, rather, Neoplatonism of the conception of Heaven in the third canticle of the Commedia has long been observed, especially as it contrasts with the Aquinas-inflected scholastic Aristotelianism of Dante's depictions of Hell and Purgatory. Dante scholars have usually located the sources of Dante's Neoplatonic thought either in the writings of pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's Mystical Theology and De Coelesti Hierarchia, in the Chalcidian commentaries on Plato's Timaeus, or, less directly, in the cosmographic poetry of the so-called School of Chartres. While I would certainly acknowledge the influence of all these texts upon Dante's thought and poetic practice, I want here to point a special emphasis on a long-overlooked Christian philosopher whose work, I think, bears a direct relationship to the Paradiso, the ninth-century Irishman John Scottus Eriugena. I am interested in developing an article-length piece that explores some of the many connections between these two great minds. Central to the concerns of this essay would be a consideration of the Eriugenan inflection of Dante's notions of the gran mar dell'essere -- " the great sea of being" -- and of the paradisiacal union with God as a kind of celestial court.