Humility In Dante's Purgatory

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In Dante’s Purgatorio, the second installment of the Divine Comedy, Dante continues his journey as the Pilgrim, though this time in the realm of Purgatory. Unlike his time in Hell, however, Dante actually participates in the purgation along with the other souls in Purgatory. Upon his entrance to Purgatory proper, Dante is marked with seven P’s on his forehead, and is instructed to “cleanse away these wounds” during his time in Purgatory (IX.114). The P’s stand for peccatum, the Latin word for sin, and represent the seven deadly sins that the Penitents must rid themselves of before they are ready to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Notes 106). As Dante ascends the terraces of the prideful, wrathful, and avaricious, he is equipped with many valuable…show more content…
The first lesson Dante learns is that of humility in the terrace of the Proud. His first exposure to examples of humility are through his observation of sculptures near the entrance to the terrace. The sculptures depict various examples of humility. One shows the Virgin Mary at the annunciation, swallowing her pride and accepting the task of bearing the child Jesus. Another displays King David dancing in humility before the Ark of the Covenant, while yet another depicts Emperor Trajan halting his troops in order to listen to the pleas of a poor widow. All of these carvings provide Dante with whips, or virtues to model, to propel him towards paradise. Next, Virgil directs the Pilgrim’s attention to the approaching Penitents, who are bent low to the ground because of the huge weights they carry on their backs. During life, the Proud went around “stiff-necked, with head held high,” but are now forced toward the ground in a gesture of humility (Notes 116). As Dante begins to speak with one of the souls by the name of Omberto, he: “had [his] head bent low, to hear his words,” as he “moved with those souls, keeping [his] body bent” (X.73,75). Here, Dante is actually sharing in the purgation of the Proud. On each terrace of Purgatory, Dante will share in
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