But suddenly this drowsiness was snatched away
by a crowd who were approaching,
having already rounded the terrace from behind us.
Fourth Ledge: the Slothful. – Discourse of Virgil on Love and Free Will. – Throng of Spirits running in haste to redeem their Sin. – The Abbot of San Zeno. – Dante falls asleep.
As Canto XVIII begins, Dante thinks to ask Virgil another question but holds back. Yet Virgil anticipates his curiosity and prods him to ask. Dante hopes he’ll further explain this love. Virgil says that the mind is “disposed to love at its creation” and that, after forming mental images from “real forms,” it will become inclined to that thing in natural love. These natural inclinations rise “as fire” towards love of God, “where matter lives the longest.” Yet Dante wonders how this love could result in sin, if desire is natural and uncontrollable. Virgil explains that while desire may not be controlled, one can refrain from acting on one’s desires. This ability to refrain, he says, is free will. Suddenly, “a throng” of runners rush past them: these are the slothful, now made to run continually in a vigorous sprint. One mentions Mary, and another mentions Caesar. Virgil asks for assistance, and one penitent, the Abbot of San Zeno, introduces himself and runs forward. Two others, straggling behind, mention the Israelites who died in the wilderness and the Trojans who failed to obtain glory with Aeneas. At this point, Dante falls asleep.
Riassunto in inglese tratto da https://www.gradesaver.com/divine-comedy-purgatorio
Canto adopted by Salbaroli Editore di Patrizia Passanti.