The cantos describing the Earthly Paradise are notoriously difficult, and deliberately so. We are not necessarily meant to understand fully all that happens in these cantos, and we should beware of trying to fix their meaning down too rigidly. You will need to pay particular attention, however, to the symbolism employed by Dante in these cantos. Keep in mind, too, that Dante is not witnessing the Earthly Paradise as a neutral bystander. His own spiritual well-being is directly implicated in much of the action. It is here that he must confess to his own sins; it is here that his own name is mentioned for the only time in the Commedia; it is here that he finally meets Beatrice, the instigator, as we have known since the opening of the Inferno, of the entire journey.
These cantos, then, are central to Dantes presentation of his spiritual journey in the Commedia.
© Vittorio Montemaggi, Matthew Treherne, Abi Rowson