Essay on What Is Love

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What is Love?
An Examination on Love In Canto 26 of Paradiso, blind Dante is confronted by St. John about love. Dante tells St. John that he wants God’s love. John asks Dante to be more specific in why he wants God’s love. Dante’s desire is significant because everyone desires to love and be loved, but what is love is the question. When Dante answers the question, his blindness is stripped away and he is able to see more clearly. The stripping of the blindness indicates that Dante knows what the virtue of love is, but he still needs to apply this knowing to his own life and understand that we can’t know all that God has planned for us. Therefore, Dante’s question of what is the virtue of love is given the answer: loving God with your whole self before anything else because God’s love is imprinted within everyone so no one can ever stop loving him, He created the world to be good, He sent his only Son to redeem humans, and He gives us hope of reaching Heaven. Dante learns that he must love God above all else, but he still needs to understand that God’s love is everlasting and that it will never leave anyone no matter where they end up in the afterlife. Dante’s question is what is the virtue of love? It’s interesting that Dante asks this question to St. John. In the Gospel according to John, he states himself as the apostle whom Jesus loved. There are different definitions on love, such as love is a feeling for someone or something that the heart desires, love is sacrifice, or love is the theological virtue in which one loves God above all things. His question is never truly stated in the passage of Canto 26, but one can infer that it takes place from lines 13-18: “As pleases her, may solace-sooner or later- reach these eyes, her gates when she brought me the fire with which I always burn. The good with which this court is satisfied is Alpha and Omega of all writings that Love has-loud or low- read out to me.” (26.16-18) The term “fire” here refers to Dante’s burning passion for Beatrice. Passion is an emotion that has little control in itself such as love. If Dante knows what passion is, then shouldn’t he know what love is? Not necessarily, because Dante is trying to understand the virtue of love rather that the emotion of love. John asks Dante to be a little bit more specific which leads to Dante answering what is love. According to Dante, the virtue of love comes from God and it’s imprinted in him. “By philosophic arguments and by authority whose source is here, that love must be imprinted in me; for the good, once it is understood as such, enkindles love; and in accord with more goodness comes greater love.” (26.24-30) Anything that is good possesses love which means according to scripture everything God created possesses love. In the first creation story of Genesis, after each thing is created God sees how good everything is and blesses it. Human beings are part of creation which means they possess love for God. If God creates everything good and a virtue is a good habit, then wouldn’t loving God above all be the virtue of love? Dante realizes this, but St John asks Dante to tell him why he should love God above all things. Dante replies: “My charity results from all those things whose bite can bring the heart to turn to God; the world’s existence and mine, the death that He sustained that I might live, and that which is the hope of all believers, as it is my hope, together with living knowledge I have spoken of-these drew me from the sea of twisted love and set me on the shore of the right love.” (26.55-63) Dante gives the reasons why he should love God being: God created everything to be good; He gave His only Son to die for all so that people could gain eternal life; and that He gives everyone hope to come into Heaven. These are typical answers that any theologian would want to hear. However, the part of twisted sea of love and the shore of right love catches the eye. The twisted love refers to loving earthly