by Dante Alighieri
Purgatorio Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto, Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
I think no man now walks upon the earth
who is so hard that he would not have been
pierced by compassion for what I saw next;
for when I had drawn close enough to see
clearly the way they paid their penalty,
the force of grief pressed tears out of my eyes.
Those souls – it seemed – were cloaked in coarse haircloth;
another’s shoulder served each shade as prop,
and all of them were bolstered by the rocks:
so do the blind who have to beg appear
on pardon days to plead for what they need,
each bending his head back and toward the other,
that all who watch feel – quickly – pity’s touch
not only through the words that would entreat
but through the sight, which can – no less – beseech. (Purg. XIII, 52-66)
Reminding us of Dante in Inferno, Dante again is “pierced by compassion” by the terrible suffering of the Envious penitents. He seems to pity most those who have obviously lost God’s love; while this may not true of the Envious, their sightlessness (their eyes sewn are shut by iron wire) moves him because it means they cannot see the loving light of the sun.
[Virgil]: That Good, ineffable and infinite,
which is above, directs Itself toward love
as light directs itself to polished bodies.
Where ardor is, that Good gives of Itself;
and where more love is, there that Good confers
a greater measure of eternal worth.
And when there are more souls above who love,
there’s more to love well there, and they love more,
and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other.” (Purg. XV, 67-75)
Virgil explains the miraculous self-multiplying effect of love. God, who is present wherever love is, gives himself to those who love. Now for the weird part: because God, the “infinite…Good” is infinite, the more people love, the more He gives His love. Thus the sheer amount of love increases exponentially when many people show love, unlike all material goods whose numbers decrease the more people acquire them.
She [the wife of Pisistratus] said: “If you are ruler of that city
to name which even goddesses once vied –
where every science had its source of light –
revenge yourself on the presumptuous
arms that embraced our daughter, o Pisistratus.”
And her lord seemed to me benign and mild,
his aspect temperate, as he replied:
”What shall we do to one who’d injure us
if one who loves us earns our condemnation?” (Purg. XV, 97-105)
As an example of Gentleness (the corresponding virtue to Wrath), King Pisistratus shows compassion to the man who would love his daughter. Whereas the Queen wants the lover punished for his insolence in daring to love a woman above his station, the King acts with mercy. This reaffirms God’s compassion, since we see it happening between humans on earth.