by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
While we began to move in that direction,
“Beati paupers spiritu” was sung
so sweetly – it can not be told in words.
How different were these entryways from those
of Hell! For here it is with song one enters;
down there, it is with savage lamentations. (Purg. XII, 109-114)
As Dante leaves the first terrace of the Prideful, he hears the Latin phrase that translates “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” a phrase from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Interestingly, these Beatitudes (as they’re called) are set to music. Again, this deliberate manipulation of art directs praise towards God, reinforcing the Christian message and flaunting the best social use of art.
We climbed, already past that point; behind us,
we heard “Beati misericordes” sung
and then “Rejoice, you who have overcome.” (Purg. XV, 37-39)
The Beatitude sung here translates as “Blessed are the merciful.” Coming from the mouths of the Wrathful, this is especially merciful, particularly because the penitents are celebrating the overcoming of their vice.
But I heard voices, and each seemed to pray
unto the Lamb of God, who takes away
our sins, for peace and mercy. “Agnus Dei”
was sung repeatedly as their exordium,
words sung in such a way – in unison –
that fullest concord seemed to be among them. (Purg. XVI, 16-21)
After the smoke of the Wrathful envelops Dante and Virgil, they hear the hymn "Agnus Dei" sung. The Latin translates to “Lamb of God.” That is it sung “repeatedly” and “in unison” is especially relevant given that the Wrathful are blind. The repetition of the verses and their singing in unison help them, perhaps, stay in step with one another when they cannot see each other. In addition, the unison style of singing expresses the “fullest concord,” in contrast to the discord they have sown in life with their divisive wrath.