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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.

Quote #16

[Forese]: “But tell me if the man whom I see here
is he who brought the new rhymes forth, beginning:
Ladies who have intelligence of love.’”
I answered: “I am one who, when Love breathes
in me, takes note; what he, within, dictates,
I, in that way, without, would speak and shape.”
“O brother, now I see,” he said, “the knot
that kept the Notary, Guittone, and me
short of the sweet new manner that I hear.
I clearly see how your pens follow closely
behind him who dictates, and certainly
that did not happen with our pens; and he
who sets himself to ferreting profoundly
can find no other difference between
the two styles.” (Purg. XXIV, 49-63)

Donati Forese recognizes Dante purely by his art; as a fellow poet, he has deep knowledge of Dante’s style. Forese quotes the opening line of Dante’s “Vita Nuova” and Dante acknowledges that it’s his poem by confirming himself as a lyric love poet. Author-Dante sees his style of writing, known in Italian as the dolce stil novo (sweet new style), as superior to any other, including Forese’s. It is a testament to Dante’s pride that Forese is shown here admitting that Dante’s style is superior to his own. The names Forese mentions in conjunction with his – the Notary and Guittone – also exemplify an older school of poetry from which Dante breaks.

Quote #17

As, after the sad raging of Lycurgus,
two sons, finding their mother, had embraced her,
so I desired to do – but dared not to –
when I heard him [Guinizzelli] declare his name: the father
of me and of the others – those, my betters –
who ever used sweet, gracious rhymes of love. (Purg. XXVI, 94-99)

Dante considers Guinizzelli one of the fathers of his preferred style, the dolce stil novo. As such, Dante considers him the poetic “father of me and of the others […] who ever used sweet, gracious rhymes of love.” In claiming something like a familial link to Guinizzelli, Dante establishes an artistic pedigree for his poetry, not only humbling himself before Guinizzelli, but also preparing future generations of dolce stil novo poets to look to him as an icon.

Quote #18

He [the Angel of Chastity] stood along the edge, beyond the flames,
singing “Beati mundo corde” in
a voice that had more life than ours can claim. (Purg. XXVII, 7-9)

The Angel of Chastity sings the final Beatitude heard in Purgatory proper. It translates as “Blessed are the pure in heart.” This is especially fitting given Dante’s situation. He is about to pass through the final terrace of Purgatory, having the final P on his forehead removed, and thus be purified ("pure of heart") and prepared to see God.

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