by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Education Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
As soon as I, responding to my duty,
had joined her [Beatrice], she said: “Brother, why not try,
since now you’re at my side, to query me?”
Like those who, speaking to superiors
too reverently do not speak distinctly,
not drawing their clear voice up to their teeth –
so did I speak with sound too incomplete
when I began: “Lady, you know my need
to know, and know how it can be appeased.” (Purg. XXXIII, 22-30)
Beatrice, like Virgil, encourages Dante to ask questions of her and to take advantage of her superior knowledge. That Beatrice knows the extent of Dante’s curiosity suggests that good teachers can anticipate the needs of their students.
[Dante to Beatrice]: “But why does your desired word ascend
so high above my understanding that
the more I try, the more am I denied?”
“That you may recognize,” she said, “the school
that you have followed and may see if what
it taught can comprehend what I have said –
and see that, as the earth is distant from
the highest and the swiftest of the heavens,
so distant is your way from the divine.” (Purg. XXXIII, 82-90)
Beatrice reinforces the message that Virgil imparted to Dante earlier: God’s knowledge is not for man to understand, no matter how hard he strives towards it. However, if man behaves as a good Christian and earns entry into Heaven, then – as a pure soul and no longer just human – he may have hope of learning God’s ways.
[Beatrice]: “But from now on the words I speak will be
naked; that is appropriate if they
would be laid bare before your still-crude sight.” (Purg. XXXIII, 100-102)
Beatrice, after spewing many confusing and convoluted words to Dante in the form of prophecies, finally promises that her words will be “naked,” so that Dante with his “still-crude sight” can comprehend them. Here, author-Dante suggests that good teachers should attempt to make their subject as clear as possible for their students to understand.