Purgatory is located in the watery Southern Hemisphere, at the antipodes of Jerusalem. It is a high mountain on the island Ulysses saw before getting sucked by a whirlpool – with a beach at its foot. The mount of purification emerges from the sea and rises high towards the sky, thus conveying the idea of transience.
Before getting to the mountain, the souls of those who died in God’s grace gather at Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber. A Helmsman Angel escorts them to the shore of Ante-Purgatory by means of a quick light boat. Mount Purgatory is divided into three sections, Antepurgatory, Purgatory-proper, and Earthly Paradise. The earth’s atmosphere envelops the inferior part of the mountain up to the gate of Purgatory, from which point there is not bad weather.
Ante-Purgatory consists of:
- the island shore – temporarily occupied by the Excommunicated who embraced Faith again at the end of life – here dwells Cato, the guardian of the mountain,
- a first spur, where are those who died a natural death who repented in the last moments of their lives,
- a second spur with the souls of those who were killed violently, and who didn’t repent until the very end. Here we can also find the Valley of the Princes, who turned to God just before dying.
Purgatory is composed of seven terraces – concentric ledges of decreasing radius. The first one is inhabited by the prideful, the second by the envious, the third by the wrathful, the fourth by the slothful, the fifth by the avaricious and prodigal, the sixth by the gluttons and the seventh by the lustful. These seven terraces correspond to the seven deadly sins. However, here there is a crucial reversal of Hell’s geography. The Earthly Paradise, humans’ natural seat, consists in a “forest – dense, alive with green, divine”, which is compared to the pine forest of Classe. Souls purify themselves by bathing in the rivers Lethe and Eunoè before ascending to Paradise. It is here that Dante meets Beatrice, who will guide him through Paradise.
Traduzione a cura della classe 5aC A.S.20/21 del Liceo Scientifico A. Oriani di Ravenna