by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto, Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[The Late-Repentant who died of Violence]: “We all were done to death by violence,
and we all sinned until our final hour;
then light from Heaven granted understanding,
so that, repenting and forgiving, we
came forth from life at peace with God, and He
instilled in us the longing to see Him.” (Purg. V, 52-57)
With God’s forgiveness comes a renewed “longing” in the repentant individual to “see Him.” Thus, the individual reciprocates God’s love and expresses it in his labors in Purgatory. This is one of our first indications that love behaves as desire (in this case desire to see God) and that God condones this desire.
[Buonconte da Montefeltro]: “…and there, as I
had finished uttering the name of Mary,
I fell; and there my flesh alone remained.
I’ll speak the truth – do you, among the living,
retell it: I was taken by God’s angel,
but he from Hell cried: ‘You from Heaven – why
do you deny me him? For just one tear
you carry off his deathless part; but I
shall treat his other part in other wise.’” (Purg. V, 100-108)
God’s love – shown through forgiveness – can be initiated by something as simple as an utterance of the Virgin Mary’s name or “just one tear.” This shows God’s infinite compassion, which is in contrast to Hell’s crazed cruelty, represented here by the demon who wants to torture Buonconte’s soul.
It was the hour that turns seafarers’ longings
homeward – the hour that makes their hearts grow tender
upon the day they bid sweet friends farewell;
the hour that pierces the new traveler
with love when he has heard, far off, the bell
that seems to mourn the dying of the day;
when I began to let my hearing fade
and watched one of those souls who, having risen,
had signaled with his hand for our attention. (Purg. VIII, 1-9)
That the sunset evokes such descriptions of melancholy love reinforces the idea that man’s most natural desire is for God. If one interprets the sun as a symbol of God (what with all the light imagery), this metaphor is apt.