The Divine Comedy is widely perceived as the classic of literature. Its author Dante Alighieri united in this work attainments of the artistic, religious, and philosophical thought of the Middle Ages along with a new perception of a person, their unlimited opportunities, and uniqueness. The Universe is the basis of the author’s idea. It is composed of three parts, namely Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, and each of them has its location. Hell is a crater in the Northern Hemisphere. It appeared due to Lucifer’s fall. Purgatory Mount occurred because part of the land was dislodged on the Earth’s surface in the Southern Hemisphere. In turn, Paradise is located higher than the top of Purgatory Mount. The work is divided into three pieces since there are three parts of the Universe. Primarily, the author embodied the idea of the Holy Trinity, as The Divine Comedy has a direct relation to the Bible. The current paper gives an analysis of the second part of the work, Purgatory. This part reveals the idea of forgiveness, and due to Dante, Purgatory was recognized by the church.
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The Catholic Church claimed that even the most severe sin and act could be forgiven if a person repented of it. In this case, souls of sinners get into Purgatory. In this place, people in agony expiate for their sins to receive entrance to Paradise. In general, people of that time did not have a clear perception of Purgatory. It is necessary to note that before Dante, Purgatory was not the Biblical doctrine. In the Scripture, it is written that it is possible to seek the Lord while He may be found, (Isaiah 55:6) and a man is destined to judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27). However, Dante gave Purgatory a peculiar place in the world system.
The author depicts Purgatory in the form of a high mountain with seven flanges. In fact, they are a symbol of seven sins described in the Bible, namely anger, pride, greed, voluptuousness, despondency, gluttony, envy, and stinginess. The more serious the sin is, the lower it is located. Regarding the author, pride is situated at the very bottom. Dante represents a completely new idea of the mountain, the purpose of which is to externalize the notion of purification and persons ascent to Paradise.
Purgatory is the second part of The Devine Comedy. This part of the work is regarded more complicated than the first one for the readers that do not accept the necessity of godlike grace and inexplicable help to clear from perversions of nature and desires. Nevertheless, Purgatory is generally characterized by the feeling of tender sadness, peace, and hope for the future. This part is perceived more realistic. Additionally, there is warmth and light in it. In The Devine Comedy, the author demonstrates the fact that wilderness divests a person of human virtue and makes them beastlike. According to Dante, people who cognize outcomes of the moral fall should aspire to primeval liberty of the soul. In such a way, the altitude of the mountain with an ideal man on the top should match the groove punched by devil when falling from the sky.
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Purgatory’s terraces represent the mountains of extreme contrition. In The Divine Comedy, they are situated regarding the system of Aristotelian ethics corresponding to small circles and large parts of hell. Every terrace contains three lines of figures from history of the Bible, mythology, and modern history. It incarnates brightly Virgils idea of the notion that the human soul achieves victory only with the help of struggle and hard work. Only in such a way, sufferings can be corrected. Terraces of the mountain of true conversion and repentance are separated into three big areas. Accordingly, they come from the bottle with a clean sea to the area enclosed with the side and protected by the angel who has a glowing sword. There are seven terraces in the second area. The third area is the representation of the threshold of the Earthly Paradise. Indeed, it is rather different from the highest point where the purest person is.
As it was mentioned above, scenes on seven terraces invoke the soul to clean itself from seven deadly sins. They are portrayed by seven Latin Ps. The angel being a symbol of church power draws Latin P with the help of a sword on the brow. The angel also deflates the ash, as it is a symbol of affliction for sins committed. P vanishes on every terrace and every time, it is easier for Dante. The area protected by the angel is enclosed by the wall with the gates that could be opened only by heavenly grace and Beatrice serves as its symbol. The angel mentions that it is necessary to climb the steps that have a certain symbolism. These steps show a church concept about the ecclesiastical ways of spiritual correction. God resolves sins where there is a humble recognition of repentance and sins as well as severe self-torture and bitter penitence. There is an adamant near the gate where Christ established the true church. It leads to God with sufferings and humility, righteous deeds and exalted aspirations. However, mechanical prayers and empty ceremonies cannot lead to God.
Dante releases from sins in the twenty-seventh verse of Purgatory. He reaches the threshold of the Earthly Paradise, where he is to feel heavenly blessedness with the help of spiritual consecrations into the significance of the church symbols. At the same time, Dante must drink from the river of forgetfulness and from the river of sublime ambitions. The poet receives a revelation concerning imaginary and real happiness of the person. This revelation originates from the deepness of Christian thoughts. In the twenty-seventh verse, Dante is claimed that he will see and learn everything that is able to prepare him for contemplation of divinity in Paradise, where Beatrice leads him. In the one hundred and twenty-eighth verse, Virgil says that Dante should further follow his inner conviction and his true will is reasonable and free (Alighieri). After this, Dante enters Heaven.
The whole poem is riddled with the Catholic symbolism. It penetrates into all motives and images. Every image has a double and frequently multiple meaning. Dante introduces prophetic dreams, signs, mysterious visions, and mystical episodes into the poem. Medieval theological traditions suggested creating the architectonics of the portrayed afterlife. Following a classical theological pattern of the Universe, the author describes Purgatory as the mountain enclosed by sea with seven steps. In agreement with the Catholic thought of the posthumous fate of the person, Dante portrays Purgatory as a place with sinners who received an opportunity to repent before death. After severe ordeals that can purify a person, people go from Purgatory to Heaven, which serves as the abode of pure souls. Carefully elaborating the typology of defects inherent in people, Dante provides everyone a certain place in the appropriate circle of Purgatory.
The Divine Comedy is considered the peak of the work of the famous Italian poet. The goal of this poem is to save people from the condition of sinfulness and lead them to the way of blessedness. In the literal sense, the poem is a journey of the soul after death in the otherworldly world. The world comprises of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Initially, the notion of Purgatory was the least developed and the least known in theology. Before The Divine Comedy, there was no unified view about its location or appearance. Subsequently, the perception of Purgatory proposed by Dante had a great impact on shaping the Catholic dogma about it.