Justice’s Vessel of Gold
The container of gold was given to Justice from God. It represents the eternal reward and salvation that await the faithful. It also stands for a justice that is higher and superior to the justice of man practiced and measured out on Earth. From this vessel, Justice gives out each person’s “rightful portion,” the payment received as a reflection of how morally and forthrightly an individual lived his or her life. It is inscribed with the fleur-de-lis, or lily, which signifies the Trinity. In this way, the three Virtues appearing to Christine are symbolically linked to the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost that constitute the cornerstone of Christian faith.
Encrusted with jewels, Reason’s mirror is a source of wisdom, clarity, and, above all, self-knowledge. Reason brings the mirror to Christine to give her the direction and certainty she needs to pursue the truth about the virtues of women. The Virtues stress to Christine that she must do a good job of constructing the city and that the task must be performed flawlessly. The mirror aids this pursuit in unveiling to Christine the essence and inherent qualities of the subjects she will be tackling in her text.
Rectitude carries her “shining ruler” in her right hand, and this ruler carries several meanings. In order to build the City of Ladies, Christine must measure her words carefully and proportion them to the task at hand. The ruler is offered to her as she constructs the facades of the palaces, houses, and public buildings and lays out the city’s squares and streets. Rectitude wields her ruler as a staff of judgment. It separates right from wrong and indicates the dividing line between good and evil. The ruler is a guide that, when heeded, indicates the proper path or decision. Rectitude also declares that it is a rod of peace that supports the just and punishes the unjust.
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