Dante, the author of Purgatorio, is keen to show that his writing has a legitimate social use. So his depictions of art – poetry, music, painting, and sculpture – all function as a means either of turning individuals (such as penitent souls in Purgatory) away from vice or moving them to praise God. From Dante’s perspective, the most important social use of art is to celebrate Christianity. However, the narrative also outlines a very personal aspect of art for Dante: he puts himself in a genealogy of poets, heralding himself not only as the foremost poet of the current (in the early 1300s) dolce stil novo style, but also as more than just a lyric poet. Placing himself in the company of great epic poets like Virgil and Statius, Dante also establishes himself as a master of the epic genre.
In Purgatorio, there are many references to nature as an artist. This points back to God as the ultimate creator and craftsman.
Although Cato scolds Casella for using art in a sinful way, art has its place and its function in Purgatory – namely, to convey a Christian message to all souls.