Purgatorio


Dante Alighieri reveals his theology, beliefs, and ideals in his work Divine Comedy. Specifically, in Purgatorio, Dante expresses his view of the importance of love, a view that is not completely homogenous with Catholic doctrine. That view is that through divine grace, all Christians can acquire eternal happiness and immortal love from God regardless of how wicked they lived life, as long as they are repentant. Another aspect of Purgatorio exists in Dante's immersion in the ancient, heroic traditions: the entanglements of love, duty, and moral obligation. On the whole, Dante offers an excellent account of life in the Middle Ages, for Catholic dogma and the leadership of the Pope dominated Medieval existence.
Throughout Purgatorio, Dante expresses several of his ideas about love: love of other humans and love from God. For example, the meeting with the spirit of Casella conveys a feeling of human warmth and love. This is the first of a series of encounters in Purgatorio displaying the everlasting power of friendship and human compassion. Another example of Dante's expression of love manifests on the second terrace, the terrace of envy. He displays love in the goads of envy - caritas, or love of fellow men: And my good master said: "The sin of envy/ Is scourged within this circle; thus the cords/ That form the scourging lash are plied by love. (XIII 37-39) Another example of Dante's expression of love exists in Canto XXX and XXXI. It is the character of Beatrice that inspires Dante throughout his journey. When Dante finally meets the spirit of Beatrice, the beauty of Beatrice overwhelms Dante. In the confrontation, Dante reveals his true love for Beatrice in confessing his infidelity to the love for Beatrice and how he suffers greatly by witnessing the immense beauty of her. In like manner, Dante expresses the importance of love in the actual structure of Purgatory. The four terraces before Paradise repent sins extending from love: the fourth terrace repents sloth, or insufficient love; the fifth, sixth, and final terraces atone for excessive love for material goods - greed and prodigality, gluttony, and lust, respectively.
Throughout Purgatorio, Dante offers his views on aspects of Catholic teachings and the leadership of the Pope. His views are both conforming and conflicting with Church doctrine. For instance, his vision of Purgatory concurs with the Church. According to Dante, upon entering the realm of Purgatory, a feeling of sweet and comforting relief exists. He expresses Purgatory as a kingdom of peace and affection; it is the realm of hope. In addition, in Dante's thinking, as in the doctrine of the Church, pride is not only the most heinous of the seven deadly sins - it is the source of all other sins. In Purgatorio, Dante accepts the leadership (and behavior stemming from it) of the Pope and Church authority. Dante's encounter with Marco Lombardo in Canto XVI displays this view. Dante agrees with Marco's explanation of God's plan of leadership of mankind: a dual system with the Pope as leader of the spiritual life and emperors for political affairs. Dante accepts that the failure of the emperors to fulfill their leadership obligations has led the popes to exercise secular authority, in addition to their rightful spiritual powers. However, in contrast to Catholic teachings, Dante expresses that redemption is possible for all who are truly repentant in heart, even those who have been condemned by the Pope. When Dante meets Manfred, Manfred says,
My sins were ghastly, but the Infinite
Goodness has arms so wide that It accepts
Who ever would return, Imploring It.
?Despite the Church's curse, there is no one
so lost that the eternal love cannot
return - as long as hope shows something green. (III 121-123, 133-135)
Dante's most significant attack on the Church exists in Canto XXXII. The pageant Dante witnesses in Canto XXXI displays his representation of the Church as it was conceived and as it should still be. The attacks upon the chariot in Canto XXXII represent the real history of the Church, and its near-destruction symbolizes the triumph of evil over the Church. However, Dante offers how the Church will be saved:
Know that the vessel which the serpent broke
was and is not; but he whose fault it is
may rest assured - God's vengeance fears no hindrance.
The eagle that had left its plume within
the chariot, which then became a monster
and then a prey, will not