by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[Judge Nino]: “Through her [Giovanna’s mother], one understands so easily
how brief, in woman, is love’s fire – when not
rekindled frequently by eye or touch.” (Purg. VIII, 76-78)
Judge Nino condemns earthly romantic love as sinful lust. He denounces his wife Giovanna’s desires as “brief” and merely physical, since they constantly have to be “rekindled…by eye or touch.” This, of course, differs distinctly from God’s love.
[The guardian angel to Dante]: “Whenever one of these keys fails, not turning
appropriately in the lock,” he said
to us, “this gate of entry does not open.
One is more precious, but the other needs
much art and skill before it will unlock –
that is the key that must undo the knot.
These I received from Peter; and he taught me
rather to err in opening than in keeping
this portal shut – whenever souls pray humbly.” (Purg. IX, 121-130)
That Saint Peter instructed the guardian angel to “err in opening [rather] than keeping this portal shut” reveals God’s boundless compassion and His desire to forgive anyone who “prays humbly.” The frequent openings of the gate represent God’s generous bestowal of second chances upon all who repent.
[The Prideful]: “Even as we forgive all who have done
us injury, may You, benevolent,
forgive, and do not judge us by our worth.
Try not our strength, so easily subdued,
against the ancient foe, but set it free
from him who goads it to perversity.
This last request we now address to You,
dear Lord, not for ourselves – who have no need –
but for the ones whom we have left behind.” (Purg. XI, 16-24)
On the first terrace, the Prideful – who presumed themselves above God while on earth – show their humility by taking God as their role model. Just as He forgives sinners, the Prideful generously “forgive all who have done [them] injury.” However, they also show great love for their fellow man by their prayer at the end to “forgive…the ones whom we have left behind.” The message is that those still on earth have more need of compassion than those in Purgatory, who are already guaranteed entry into Heaven. This prayer, perhaps, shows the ultimate love: unreciprocated love for those who are less fortunate.