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Dante's Purgatory

A Study on Part II of the Divine Comedy
Narrated by: Anthony Esolen PhD
Series: The Divine Comedy, Book 2
Length: 4 hrs and 20 mins

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We know what happens in Hell.... But what about Purgatory?

Dante's Inferno revealed some titillating details about the punishments inflicted on sinners - but in a way, we already knew what happens to people in Hell. What we don't know is what happens to people who end up in Purgatory. In this second part of The Divine Comedy, Dante probes the mysteries of that strange and often misunderstood place between Earth and Heaven.

Climb the Mount

Purgatory is a place to work through - no one gets stuck there forever. The souls in Dante's Purgatory must climb up seven terraces on Mount Purgatory before they can reach Heaven. On these terraces, Dante and Virgil find:

• The prideful, who are forced into humility by heavy loads of stones on their backs

• The envious, whose eyes are sewn shut to prevent them from seeing the goods of others

• The wrathful, who climb through choking smoke that represents the blinding nature of anger

• The slothful, who engage in ceaseless activity to overcome their former laziness

• The covetous, who must lie face down on the ground for their attachment to earthly goods

• The gluttonous, who must starve in sight of unreachable fruit hanging from trees above them

• The lustful, who are purified by running through a wall of flame which represents God's pure love

Along the way, they are cleansed from the stains of sin by punishments which are like, and yet unlike, those suffered by the sinners in Hell. Here, the suffering souls glorify God and rejoice in their suffering, because they know it prepares them for the eternal bliss of Heaven.

A Real Place

Virgil and Dante discover the astonishing spiritual reality of Purgatory as they climb through the terraces on Mount Purgatory. Dante created a poetic vision which might be the best imaginative representation of Purgatory ever written. While his poem might not reflect the actual nature of Purgatory, his insights can help us understand it better.

Your Expert Guide

A celebrated translator and teacher of Dante, Professor Esolen interprets and describes the rich theological insights discovered by Dante on his journey up the mountain. Join Dante, Virgil, and Professor Esolen to continue the journey begun in the Inferno which will culminate in the ineffable beauty of Paradise.

©2012 Saint Benedict Press, LLC (P)2012 Saint Benedict Press, LLC

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  • Eclectic Reader
  • 06-05-19

Wonderful lectures!!!

I am a Protestant believer and after reading three different translations of The Divine Comedy (including Professor Esolen's), I was having an especially difficult time understanding and sympathizing with Dante's Purgatory. How should I approach this poem about existence in a place many Protestants believe is a mistake in theology? Professor Esolen's lectures helped tremendously.

His lectures skillfully integrate literary explication and analysis, theology, history, biography, philosophy, cultural criticism, and personal observations and insights. And he does this smoothly, clearly, and enthusiastically (I would LOVE to take his classes; these lectures, I suppose are the next best thing). You might expect this breadth of knowledge and subtle understanding from someone who has translated the Comedy, but that he can lecture about the poem so gracefully, earnestly and persuasively is amazing (think about the lectures you might have had to sit through in your college experience).

The lectures were especially valuable because Professor Esolen is able to explain how to understand Dante's spiritual journey in the light of Roman Catholic beliefs and showed me the faultiness of some ideas I had about them. But even if you have no interest in religion, Professor Esolen's lectures will help you understand the people, places, events, history and ideas in the Comedy and how they weave together in this great work.

The day I finished listening to the lectures on Purgatory (I listened to them in two days and KNOW I will be listening to them again many times--more slowly--as I reread the poem), I ordered the lectures on Inferno and Paradise.

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  • Mom
  • 04-06-19

great course to understand Purgatory

great insight into truly understanding Purgatory...not at a merely academic level but the spiritual level which Dante was writing for...not with modern slant or sensationalism. If you've never read The Divine Comedy, this is a marvelous companion to bring it to life (unlike the more academic Great Course and my least favorite modern Scholar course).