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Previously


Purgatorio

And as Easter Saturday, (sue me Iím not Catholic. I donít know what the day is called) I sat down to read Purgatory. Way back when, was it last Easter, I promised to analyze, review, ramble on about Purgatory.

Karen and I tried over and over to sit down in our reading group of two and review Purgatory Canto by Canto. However, she changed jobs, we werenít taking the ferry together anymore, excuse, excuse, excuse. Whatever. We made it to the level of Anger and ran out of steam, which is funny because the whole level is filled with smoke and visual obfuscation.

So, anyway, time to talk purgation. Most people, well the ones who have an opinion on the subject, prefer Inferno. Itís all Grr Argh suffering. Look the angst. The pathos. The humanity of it all. 

Hello, everyone is damned. Inferno is just darn depressing. Now Purgatorio is something I can sink my teeth into. Sure people are suffering. However, instead of reenacting the results of their errors over and over, they are purging away the sin itself.

Purgatory is about hope. The suffering isnít about making people, well, suffer. Purgatory isnít about punishment. The suffering is Godís way of helping sinners wrap their brain around why and how that sin hurts them. Hurts others. Basically, itís God showing a little tough love. Purgatory is hopeful because eventually, Purgatory will be empty. There is the promise that one day, each sinner will have a place in paradise.

Purgatory is also about people. They arenít damned and they arenít saved. They werenít saints. Most of them screwed up at some point or another. Thatís why they are there. 

Casella, who sings in the sweet new style. Okay, so he waited a bit to long to reform, but at least he reformed. Save me, but not yet. 

La Pia, who was filled with envy, the mean old woman on her porch making fun of people. Now she sits with her eyes sewn shut, talking with others. Learning to listen. Learning to lean on others for support.

Statius, who hid his Christianity out of fear.  And okay, you gotta love a guy who starts out by saying that Virgil is his hero and you, the reader, know Virgil is standing right there. And Dante the character starts to lose it. Okay, itís couched in poetic language. But come on, his eyes are filled with mirth and heís dying to tell Statius, hey your hero, heís standing right here. Lovely moment.

Although, there is a thread of sadness that runs through the narrative. Virgil. Heís damned through no fault of his own. Over and over Dante returns to a question that clearly bothers him. How can Virgil, brave, noble, Danteís literary father, be damned. Which as I think of it is an another example of Danteís damned fathers, saved sons theme. And yet, and yet. I like Virgil. I understand Danteís sadness.  His need to get around theology and dogma to save someone he loves.

There is something so fresh and poignant about that moment, when upon seeing Beatrice, Dante is struck by confusion. Turns to ask Virgil what he should do, but Virgil has slipped away all unnoticed to return to his blameless place in hell.

Shed a sad tear for Virgil and then turn to Beatrice. Virgil urged Dante on with words of Beatrice and here she is. Now that Dante has been taught to purge away the seven deadly sins, heís ready to look on the face of love. 

Well, the face of love which wears Beatriceís face. Beatriceís moon to the Primal Love Orgy of ecclesiastical vision that is Paradise.  However, that must wait until the next book. And donít worry, Dante still has some by why, why, why thoughts for poor faithful Virgil.

Now, weíll see if I can have something to say about Paradise before next Easter.

 
 
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