Dante Alighieri Divine Comedy

Dante's The Divine Comedy section of Purgatory is a depiction of Dante and his
struggle to reach paradise. He is a character as well as a narrator. The
purgatory section deals with the seven deadly sins and Dante's task of cleansing
himself on his journey to heaven. He confronts many different people on his
journey to self-righteousness, which help and guide him to his destiny.

Accompanied by Virgil or reason as he is depicted, his quest is a hard journey
with many answers to be found. Dante was born in May 1265 and lived his early
life at a time of change and of great economic and cultural expansion in

Florence (Kirkpatrick 2). The poet was critically aware of developments in

Florentine poetry and painting (2). He also had an eye for the political scene
as well. He was elected several times to one of the six priors that governed his
republic. Dante had left the city for a short time when a revolt took place
between the Black's and the Whites. Dante was exiled and sentenced to death for
corruption. Little is known about Dante's personal life or family life. His
mother died early in his childhood and his father died shortly after remarrying
again in 1285 (Grandgent 2). He gained a half brother and half sister out of
this marriage, but little is known of them either (2). There was possibly
another sister but if she was from the first or second marriage, we do not know.

Around 1277 Dante's father arranged Dante's marriage to Gemma, daughter of

Manetto Donati. The approximate date of marriage is around 1283, but again not
for certain. Dante had three children, two sons and a daughter who became a nun
and changed her name to Beatrice (Foster 12 ). After Gemma's death, Dante began
studying philosophy, which he soon seemed to fall in love with. Dante was never
able to return to the city for fear of his life. He wandered for the next twenty
years depending on patrons to help him survive. It is hard to find any
documentation on Dante's journey outside of Florence. It is know that his last
days were spent in Ravenna, under the watchful eye of Guido da Polenta. The city
recognized him as a great poet and it was here the last of The Divine Comedy was
written. Dante died shortly after finishing his final and best work in 1322. His
ashes are still buried next to the church of San Francesco. Dante's Purgatory
section of The Divine Comedy covers Dante's journey through Purgatory and the
challenges he faces. Purgatory was an island with a huge mountain towering from
it. At the top was Paradise or heaven. It was sealed off by a gate with angles
guarding the entrance. The bottom was antepurgatory where the souls that were
not ready for the journey resided. The mountain itself was composed of seven
concentric ledges separated by steep cliffs. On each ledge, one of the seven
capital sins waited on a soul. They were composed of Pride, Envy, Wrath Sloth,

Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust. When the soul had released his sin, he was able to
proceed to the next level. When he ascends to the next level, an angle would
greet him and perform a cleansing ritual. In addition, on each ledge of

Purgatory, there were models of the sin as well as the virtues which opposed the
sin. These were a kind of test for the soul. Dante was guided by Virgil or
reason as Virgil is depicted. Cato refuses to let Dante sit around and do
nothing. At first, he will not let them pass, but Virgil explains their reasons
for being there and gains passage. For Dante to be purified, he must first
witness a miracle. He breaks a reed in his hand and it instantly regrows itself.

Dante is now ready for his journey through Purgatory. The journey is a quest for
freedom, which could be considered the idea of purgatory. After leaving Hell,
each soul must make it through purgatory to find its place in heaven. Why was
freedom so important to Dante in The Divine Comedy? Early on in his life he had
been persecuted by the Black Party and forced into exile for his beliefs. This
could have influenced his writings in the Purgatory section of his work (Haller

6). We do not have much information on the early part of his life, but he should
have been seemingly happy for the most part. He had married a women which he did