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The seven terraces of Purgatory From the gate of Purgatory, Virgil guides the pilgrim Dante through its seven terraces.

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As with the other two parts of the Divine Comedy, the Purgatorio ends on the word
Dante announces his intention to describe Purgatory by invoking the mythical Muses, as he did in Canto II of the Inferno Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the penitent Christian life.

Divine Comedy: Purgatorio Summary | GradeSaver

At this point Virgil is able to explain to Dante the organization of Purgatory and its relationship to perverted, deficient, or misdirected love.
Dante and Virgil emerge from Hell just before the dawn of Easter Sunday, and in Purgatorio Dante begins the difficult climb up Mount Purgatory. Souls that are repentant of their sins against God and man go to Purgatory and become free of temptation, and know that they will eventually be with God. Purgatory is a Mountain with seven ledges or cornices, one for each of the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust). The renunciation of sin occurs in Purgatory, as one begins his ascent to Purity by practicing virtue. ( 4:8). For each cornice, Dante first offers biblical and classical examples of the particular virtue to encourage the penitents, and after they are reformed, examples of the sin to remind them of its destructive nature. On the first cornice (just above Hell) one is purified of pride, inordinate self-love or conceit, by learning the contrasting virtue, Humility. When one is cured of pride, he moves up to the second cornice, envy, resentful awareness of another's good fortune and the desire to obtain the same advantage. Envy is purified by the virtue of Caritas, love of others. Anger is offset by Meekness and Patience, which leads one to become a peacemaker. Sloth, spiritual apathy and inactivity, is cured by Zeal and Diligence. Generosity is the virtue that overcomes greed. Gluttony, an excessive appetite for food and drink, is controlled by Temperance through Fasting and Abstinence. On the seventh and last cornice, lust is overcome by the virtue of Temperance through Chastity. Dante offers the following Biblical examples of the Virtues that offset the seven deadly sins as well as the sins themselves:


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The Divine Comedy Purgatorio, Dante - Essay - …
Allegorically, it represents the state of innocence that existed before Adam and Eve fell from grace – the state which Dante's journey up Mount Purgatory has been recapturing.

Purgatorio Study Guide | The Divine Comedy
Bonagiunta has kind words for Dante's earlier poem, La Vita Nuova, describing it as the sweet new style, and quoting the line "Ladies that have intelligence of love," written in praise of Beatrice, who he will meet later in the Purgatorio.

Purgatory: 8 Maps of Dante's Purgatorio - St. Peter's List

Each terrace purges a particular sin in an appropriate manner (those in Purgatory can leave their circle voluntarily, but will only do so when they have corrected the flaw within themselves that led to committing that sin).

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This gate has three steps: polished white (reflecting the purity of the penitent's true self), black (the colour of mourning; cracked in the shape of a Christian cross), and red (symbolising the blood of Christ and the restoration of true life) The gate of Purgatory, Peter's Gate, is guarded by an angel who uses the point of his sword to draw the letter "P" (signifying peccatum, sin) seven times on Dante's forehead, bidding him "take heed that thou wash / These wounds, when thou shalt be within." With the passage of each terrace and the corresponding purgation of his soul that the pilgrim receives, one of the "P"s is erased by the angel granting passage to the next terrace.

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Dante's beautiful description of evening in this valley was the inspiration for a similar passage in Byron's Don Juan Waking from a dream, Dante finds that he has been carried up to the gate of Purgatory proper.

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Allegorically, the sun represents God, meaning that progress in the penitent Christian life can only be made through Divine Grace Since the sun is setting, Dante and his companions stop for the night in a beautiful valley where they meet persons whose preoccupation with public and private duties hampered their spiritual progress, particularly deceased monarchs such as Rudolph, Ottokar, Philip the Bold, and Henry III.