Divine Comedy: Paradiso

Distraction and the Afterlife in Dante's Divine Comedy

"Blessed are those in whom grace shines so copiously that love of food does not arouse excessive appetite, but lets them hunger after righteousness" (2.23.150-154). On the sixth terrace of Purgatory, a tree speaks these words, communicating a broader theme of The Divine Comedy, that our attention should be consumed by a desire for God instead of worldly pleasures and distractions. Through each canticle, there is evidence that salvation is more about effort to obey God and less about success in doing so.

In the Inferno are souls who busied themselves in life with the distractions of earthly existence, spending no effort on trying to live for God. They are left to their distractions for all of eternity, or at least for as long as they choose to continue pursuing them. In Purgatory, souls who made some effort to live by God's will are given haven from distractions, so that they may focus solely on God and reaching Paradise. The differentiating quality between the souls in Inferno and those in Purgatory is a willingness to struggle and make the effort to live for God, regardless of failure. In Paradise, souls who successfully struggled to live virtuously are positioned so they are eternally focused on God, enjoying...

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