The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Purgatory, Volume 2

Dante’s Divine Comedy in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance art
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In line 2 we see that Purgatory is different from the other two realms because it is the only non-eternal realm.

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It is not eternal because at the Last Judgment, when all souls will be allocated to either Hell or Paradise, Purgatory will cease to exist. Again, the point is that the system is fundamentally binary. Both realms are situated in or on earth. Both realms are conical in shape, both are traversed in spirals: down and to the left in Hell, up and to the right in Purgatory. Dante further binds these two realms by making them the locus of the most deeply human story of the Commedia , that of the love between him and his father-guide, Virgilio.

Volume 2: Purgatorio

There all the shades on every side I see make haste, and, without stopping, kiss each other, with this short form of greeting satisfied. Citation: Inf. All Edges Gilt. New edition, with critical and explanatory notes, life of Dante, and chronology. Examining eternal questions of faith, desire, and enlightenment, Dante exercised all of his learning and wit, wrath and tenderness in his creation of one of the greatest of all Christian allegories. And ere in all of its unmeasured range the horizon had assumed one single tone, and night had everywhere diffused itself, each of a step had made himself a bed; because the nature of the Mount deprived us rather of power to climb than of desire.

But none of these extremely strong bonds between Hell and Purgatory can offset the reality of the abyss between them. As we shall see, the abyss between damnation and salvation will be dramatized in this very canto in the words that Cato will speak to Virgilio: if you dwell on the other side of river Acheron, there is no point in evoking our shared past as great Romans or my wife Marcia. You are damned, while I am not. The firstness of Adam and Eve—their existential newness—speaks to an important purgatorial theme. This is the place where everyone is working on becoming new again.

Those who journey to the top of Mount Purgatory are engaged in a quest to purge themselves of sin. This is a process in which humans essentially return to a condition of first innocence, of existential newness. When Adam and Eve were new, they looked upon the stars that Dante sees now, the stars that are only visible in the uninhabited southern hemisphere.

The place where Lucifer fell and hit the earth is the place where Christ lived and died, Jerusalem. That displaced earth rose up on the other side of the globe from Jerusalem, exactly opposite to Jerusalem, and became Mount Purgatory. Mount Purgatory is consequently in the middle of the uninhabited southern hemisphere.

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The southern hemisphere is completely watery, containing only one land mass: Purgatory. It appears first in Purgatorio 1. Is it this syntactical loophole that allows Dante to say that the stars of the other pole have never been seen except by the first people, when Ulysses certainly indicates that he saw them?

And, again, as in Inferno Where Ulysses is concerned, the world itself and its component parts—the night, the shore—are the only witnesses to his grandeur, and to his failure.

Dante, Illustrated Gustave Dore

In these verses Dante is reminding us that the one previous living human who navigated these waters, Ulysses, was not able to return. The narrator has created two sets of beings with respect to the right and ability to reach Mount Purgatory: those who reach this shore while alive and those who reach this shore already dead. There are two men who have journeyed to Purgatory in the flesh: these are first Ulysses and later Dante. Ulysses comes by sea as it turns out that the dead souls also do , while Dante comes by land.

The dead souls who journey to Purgatory journey by sea, like Ulysses. However, these souls, who come here licitly, will arrive by a different route. They come from the mouth of the river Tiber at Ostia, near the Vatican in Rome, as we will learn in the next canto. As verses show, Virgilio knows who the identity of the soul to whom he is speaking. He knows enough of Purgatory to know under whose guardianship it is. Virgilio therefore tailors his request to his interrogator, declaring that Dante-pilgrim is on a quest for freedom analogous to the quest for which his interrogator gave up his life:.

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Virgilio here defines his interlocutor as one who gave up his life for freedom. How does Virgilio know that the person to whom he speaks gave his life for liberty?

The Divine Comedy (Dramatic Reading)

Apparently those in Limbo know that one who was once one of their own—Cato of Utica, a Roman and a pagan—is now the saved guardian of purgatory. Here we see Dante save a pagan who killed himself rather than lose the freedoms of Republican Rome, freedoms that were lost when Caesar took absolute power. And yet, in the previous canto, Inferno 34, Dante damned as traitors those who killed Caesar. Cato killed himself rather than allow himself to be subjected to Caesar. Dante has therefore a more liberal construction of suicide than we might have expected; he does not view self-sacrifice for the cause of political liberty as a form of wanton self-destruction.

In his address to Cato, Virgilio conflates the two quests for freedom: the political quest for which Cato sacrificed his life, and the moral quest pursued by Dante. Indeed, the moral and the political do not truly diverge, as all readers of Dante know. The identity of the guardian of Purgatory is shocking not only because he is a suicide, but most of all because he is a pagan. Indeed, the identity of the guardian of Purgatory creates shock waves that persist long after Purgatorio 1. This reality that has enormous and discomforting repercussions with respect to our friend Virgilio.

As discussed in the Introduction to Inferno 4 , Virgilio specifically told Dante that those in Limbo are guilty only of not being baptized, through no fault of their own, simply because they lived before the birth of Christ. Now it turns out that someone who lived before the birth of Christ can be saved.

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Nor is the difference between damned Virgilio and saved Cato presented in a subtle way. But now — in the present tense — Marcia dwells on the other side of the evil river and therefore has no more power to move him, by the law established when he left Limbo:. In the Now of Salvation, all that matters is the lady who descended from heaven. This is the Law, and for all the beauty of the sapphire sea and limpid air, we cannot but feel the painful consequences.

On the voyage metaphor of Convivio 4. Barolini, Teodolinda. About the Commento. The lovely planet that is patroness of love made all the eastern heavens glad, veiling the Pisces in the train she led. Then I turned to the right, setting my mind upon the other pole, and saw four stars not seen before except by the first people.

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Heaven appeared to revel in their flames: o northern hemisphere, because you were denied that sight, you are a widower! After my eyes took leave of those four stars, turning a little toward the other pole, from which the Wain had disappeared by now,. I saw a solitary patriarch near me—his aspect worthy of such reverence that even son to father owes no more. His beard was long and mixed with white, as were the hairs upon his head; and his hair spread down to his chest in a divided tress.

The rays of the four holy stars so framed his face with light that in my sight he seemed like one who is confronted by the sun. What served you both as lantern when, from the deep night that will always keep the hellish valley dark, you were set free? The laws of the abyss—have they been broken?

Or has a new, a changed decree in Heaven let you, though damned, approach my rocky slopes? My guide took hold of me decisively; by way of words and hands and other signs, he made my knees and brow show reverence. There was a lady sent from Heaven; her pleas led me to help and guide this man. But since your will would have a far more full and accurate account of our condition, my will cannot withhold what you request.

This man had yet to see his final evening; but, through his folly, little time was left before he did—he was so close to it. As I have told you, I was sent to him for his deliverance; the only road I could have taken was the road I took. I showed him all the people of perdition; now I intend to show to him those spirits who, in your care, are bent on expiation.

To tell you how I led him would take long; it is a power descending from above that helps me guide him here, to see and hear you. Now may it please you to approve his coming; he goes in search of liberty—so precious, as he who gives his life for it must know. You know it—who, in Utica, found death for freedom was not bitter, when you left the garb that will be bright on the great day.

Allow our journey through your seven realms. I shall thank her for kindness you bestow— if you would let your name be named below.

By Dante Alighieri

Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Dante Alighieri was an Italian poet of the Middle Ages, best known for his masterpiece, the epic Divine Comedy, considered. The Divine Comedy by Dante, Illustrated, Purgatory, Volume 2 is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Dante Alighieri.

Now that she dwells beyond the evil river, she has no power to move me any longer, such was the law decreed when I was freed. But if a lady come from Heaven speeds and helps you, as you say, there is no need of flattery; it is enough, indeed,. There, before rising to heaven, he enters the Earthly Paradise, where he is movingly reunited with his lost love, Beatrice.

This gloriously vivid portrayal of the search for redemption transformed the traditional conception of Purgatory and affirmed the dignity of human will and compassion. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. As he progresses through the spheres of Paradise, he grows ever closer to experiencing divine love in the overwhelming presence of the deity. Examining eternal questions of faith, desire, and enlightenment, Dante exercised all of his learning and wit, wrath and tenderness in his creation of one of the greatest of all Christian allegories.

As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters doomed souls including the pagan Aeneas, the liar Odysseus, the suicide Cleopatra, and his own political enemies, damned for their deceit. Led by leering demons, the poet must ultimately journey with Virgil to the deepest level of all. Portraying a huge diversity of characters culminating in a horrific vision of Satan, the Inferno broke new ground in the vigour of its language and storytelling.

It has had a particular influence on Modernist writers and their successors throughout the world. Dante relates his mystical interpretation of the heavens, and his moment of transcendent glory, as he journeys, first with Beatrice, then alone, toward the Trinity.

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As he travels through the first seven levels, Dante observes the sinners who are waiting for their release into Paradise, and through these encounters he is himself transformed into a stronger and better man. For it is only when he has learned from each of these levels that he can ascend to the gateway to Heaven: the Garden of Eden. The second part of one of the greatest epic poems, Purgatory is an enthralling Christian allegory of sin, redemption and ultimate enlightenment. He made it swift, exciting and topical, lavishing upon it all his learning and wit, all his tenderness, humour and enthusiasm, and all his poetry.

For it is only by encountering Satan, in the heart of Hell, that he can truly understand the tragedy of sin.