The three Cantos 8 were rather difficult for me to pull much commentary about them. The most gathered was from Paradise.
The three common appearances in these Cantos are angels. In Inferno the fallen angels block the way to the city of Dis. In Paradise the angels defend against the serpent who is allowed to live until the end of time. The same serpent mentioned in Genesis. In Paradise, the Seraphim are mentioned in the realm of Venus–of love.
Love is a main topic in Paradise. In Inferno, those who are filled with hatred ply the river Styx–a direct contrast to those in Venus.
Eros is spoken of in Paradise. Esolen in his commentary talks about the pagans and how they were powerless against Eros and the worship of the stars. What are idols but the worship of the created as oppose to the Creator. The worship of the stars had influence on the actions upon humans, so it was thought by the pagans. But in Dante’s poetry in Paradise, determinism and radical individualism is rejected as Esolen points out. Only a loving God allows free will. He will not force us to love him or to love anything at all.
Love, divine love, true love is being content in the place that a person is given and rejecting envy. Envy near to hatred, wanting nothing as Professor Mazzotta point out. The love of God, well God who is love, moves the spheres (that are not divided) and all who seek goodness, truth, and beauty that points toward God.
The Greeks talk about several loves. C.S. Lewis has a book on four different loves. So it is appropriate that Eros, a misguided love when it is worshipped, and divine love–the love of God are expounded upon in Canto 8.
We are not determined by the cosmos to be a certain way. We have a will and it is a free will. But we are not such individuals that we can recklessly choose self-destruction without consequence. We can certainly choose it, but to the course of Hell. What we choose will always be with us as many have reminded me. We choose because we have a will and an intellect. It will lead us on toward God or away from God. The great hope is that God’s grace and love will move a soul that is hot, cold or frighteningly lukewarm toward Him.
(I realize this isn’t the most coherent piece. More like notes).