Divine Comedy: Purgatorio Irony

Divine Comedy: Purgatorio Irony

Irony of Animal Punishment

In many instances, sinners are punished as if they are animals in order to purify themselves and become perfectly human. It's a degradation in pursuit of elevation. For example, the Envious have their eyes sewn shut like falcons in order to train them to focus on the heavenly and immaterial rather than desiring the material, as they did in life.

Irony of Statius

It seems like Statius should be in the circle of the Virtuous Pagans in the Inferno, but Dante puts him at the gate of Purgatory because of his devotion to freedom and justice.

Irony of Fire

Counterintuitively, fire is still an important element of Purgatory, even having escaped the Inferno. It represents torment and punishment, but it has a different meaning in Purgatory: the purging of sins through suffering.

Irony of the Garden

In Biblical tradition, the Garden of Eden is the place God created and placed Adam and Eve, the first humans, and it is the location of their temptation and ultimate fall from grace by eating of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Ironically, Dante forms the Earthly Paradise at the top of Mount Purgatory like the Garden of Eden, with flowing rivers and the Tree of Knowledge. In doing so, he creates a sense of ascension by means of coming full circle, returning to the state of perfection and fellowship with God that Adam and Eve had in the Garden.

Irony of Celebrity

At the beginning of Purgatory, the souls marvel at Dante and treat him almost as a celebrity because he has a real body made of flesh and blood (which they discovered by the fact that he casts a shadow). In terms of worth, though, Dante is the least holy person in the entirety of Purgatory, since he is still living and therefore has a multitude of sins and temptations within him and still ahead of him.

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