Dear everyone, hope everything is well and that life is good!
It’s been a long time since the last newsletter, partly due to spending time on several smaller projects and not having any “big news” to share. But, we’ve just started a new reading of Dante’s Purgatory this spring, and recently wrote a short essay on the Vice of Envy. We’re sharing it here now for everyone, and perhaps we’ll post more short essays like this in the coming weeks, in addition to the more “big picture” updates in the official Newsletters. Just let me know in the comments if that could be interesting as well!
Here’s the essay - from Dante’s Purgatory Canto 13:
Envy as Blindness to Reality
After a string of beautiful moments with Virgil’s Smile, the healing effects of the Mountain, and the warming Sun as Rational Illumination, the mood is sharply contrasted with the suffering and penance of the Envious.
Envy is the second most damaging vice in the moral structure suggested by Dante Alighieri, and he evokes the idea of blindness as a metaphor in at least two ways: The first is that envy clouds your ability for Rational Illumination, and thus making you mentally “blind”.
Just as the blind cannot enjoy the sun,
so, to the shades I saw before me here,
the light of Heaven denies its radiance.
which connects directly back to a few moments earlier, with Virgil’s invocation of “O cherished light in whom I place my trust”.
The second idea, which is the one more directly described on this terrace, is how the cure and medicine for this vice is to become deprived of looking towards other people, and what they have. Pay more attention to yourself, your own life, your own values and virtues, your own choices and how you choose to exercise your Free Will, to make a better life for yourself.
Envy is a devouring vice that leaves you blind to the wonderful and illuminated life that might lie right ahead of you. Once you stop looking too much towards the others, you might see a new path and a bright and joyful new world opening up for you.
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It’s very true that envy makes us miss what blessings we have been given. As “the grass always seems greener on the other side,” comparison to others robs us of the joys that we have.