| Quote #4
[The Prideful]: “Try not our strength, so easily subdued,
Dante seems to see prayer as one of the ultimate demonstrations of faith. Here, the Prideful beg God to give them the strength to resist “the ancient foe” (Satan). However, their faith and compassion are displayed most boldly in the last three lines, where they request this not for themselves but for “the ones whom [they] have left behind” – their loved ones still living on earth who still have time to change their sinful ways and be guaranteed a place in Heaven.
| Quote #5
[Statius]: “I had sufficient fame beyond,” that spirit
Statius, originally a pagan, found his faith in God through Virgil’s Aeneid. This is heavily ironic for Virgil: he is a pagan and condemned to Hell for it, but his works have the power to inspire faith and to convert others. Statius seems sympathetic to this fact, even though he does not yet know that he is speaking to Virgil; he shows this by claiming “I would extend by one more year the time I owe before my exile’s end.” If only he could have lived on earth when Virgil did. Ostensibly, he would have tried to convert Virgil to Christianity had he lived in the same period, thereby saving Virgil from damnation.
| Quote #6
“Now, when you sang the savage wars of those
Statius highlights Virgil’s tragic situation. Statius puts Virgil on a level almost akin to that of God (“You were the first […] after God, who enlightened me.”) He says, “You did as he who goes by night and carries the lamp behind him – he is of no help to his own self but teaches those who follow.” However, it is hard to ascribe such a generous description to Virgil because, if he has performed this sort of selfless leadership at all, he’s done it unintentionally and certainly without the goal of converting his readers to Christianity. Thus, it is heavily ironic that Statius reads the birth of Christ into a passage that is probably just a flattering referral to the birth of renowned Roman consul Gaius Asinius Pollio.