Dante's Inferno revealed some titillating details about the punishments inflicted on sinners - but in a way, we already knew what happens to people in Hell. What we don't know is what happens to people who end up in Purgatory. In this second part of The Divine Comedy, Dante probes the mysteries of that strange and often misunderstood place between earth and Heaven.
Climb the Mount
Purgatory is a place to work through - no one gets stuck there forever. The souls in Dante's Purgatory must climb up seven terraces on Mount Purgatory before they can reach Heaven. On these terraces, Dante and Virgil find:
- The prideful who are forced into humility by heavy loads of stones on their backs
- The envious whose eyes are sewn shut to prevent them from seeing the goods of others
- The wrathful climb through choking smoke which represents the blinding nature of anger
- The slothful engage in ceaseless activity to overcome their former laziness
- The covetous who must lie face down on the ground for their attachment to earthly goods
- The gluttonous must starve in sight of unreachable fruit hanging from trees above them
- The lustful are purified by running through a wall of flame which represents God's pure love
Along the way, they are cleansed from the stains of sin by punishments which are like, and very unlike, those suffered by the sinners in Hell. Here, the suffering souls glorify God and rejoice in their suffering because they know it prepares them for the eternal bliss of Heaven.
A Real Place
Virgil and Dante discover the astonishing spiritual reality of Purgatory as they climb through the terraces on Mount Purgatory. Dante created a poetic vision which might be the best imaginative representation of Purgatory ever written. While his poem might not reflect the actual nature of Purgatory, his insights can help us understand it better.
Your Expert Guide
A celebrated translator and teacher of Dante, Professor Esolen interprets and describes the rich theological insights discovered by Dante on his journey up the mountain. Join Dante, Virgil, and Professor Esolen to continue the journey begun in the Inferno which will culminate in the ineffable beauty of Paradise.
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- Anthony Esolen, Ph.D.
- Catholic Courses
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