| Quote #1
[Virgil to Dante]: “Foolish is he who hopes our intellect
Virgil reiterates that man cannot hope to fully understand God’s universe. His admonition for man to “confine [himself]…to the quia” (which is Latin for “what”) should remind us of Ulysses in Inferno, Canto XXVI, who sets sail as an old man, trying to “gain experience of the world / and of the vices and worth of men.” Because Ulysses tried to reach beyond the scope of men, God punishes him by condemning him to eternal damnation. Here, Virgil warns Dante of doing the same, but instead of comparing him to Ulysses, he compares Dante to “Aristotle and [...] Plato,” both confined to Limbo for trying to reach beyond the bounds of human reason.
| Quote #2
Even as sheep that move, first one, then two,
It makes sense that the Excommunicates should be described as sheep in Purgatory. Because they were too rebellious in life – to the point of getting exiled by the Pope – here they pay for their crimes by taking the opposite role: being exceedingly meek. Here, it seems they do not think for themselves; instead of questioning things (as they did in life), they obediently follow the example of their leader.
| Quote #3
[Virgil]: “Come, follow me, and let these people talk:
Virgil imparts a very relevant lesson to Dante. He urges his pupil to be firm in his resolution and to focus so that he does not become distracted from his ultimate goal. In his case, that means Dante should stop his ears to the gossip of others.