How we cite our quotes:
[Virgil to Cato]: “…but I am from the circle where the chaste
eyes of your Marcia are; and she still prays
to you, o holy breast, to keep her as
your own: for her love, then, incline to us.
Allow our journey through your seven realms…
“While I was there, within the other world,
Marcia so pleased my eyes,” he then replied,
“each kindness she required, I satisfied.
Now that she dwells beyond the evil river,
she has no power to move me any longer,
such was the law decreed when I was freed.” (Purg. I, 78-90)
Romantic love, even when faithful and conjugal, has no place in Purgatory, where all of one’s love must be directed toward God. Cato proves this by renouncing his love for his wife Marcia (who now suffers in Hell) in favor of the new “law” of Purgatory. Now, mortal love has no power to move him. This principal holds true for all the penitents in Purgatory.
[Manfred]: “After my body had been shattered by
two fatal blows, in tears, I then consigned
myself to Him who willingly forgives.
My sins were ghastly, but the Infinite
Goodness has arms so wide that It accepts
who ever would return, imploring It.” (Purg. III, 118-123)
God’s love is conveyed by his forgiveness of all those who repent, no matter how late in life. Here, Manfred describes his experience of God’s compassion, which he deems “Infinite Goodness” because it “willingly forgives” him no matter how “ghastly” his sins.
Despite the Church’s curse, there is no one
so lost that the eternal love cannot
return – as long as hope shows something green. (Purg. III, 133-135)
God’s love of an individual, Manfred suggests, has nothing to do with the Church’s opinion of him. This is exemplified by the character of Manfred, who was excommunicated by Pope Alexander IV for what was seen as an illegitimate bid for political power. By placing him in Purgatory, author-Dante hints that God can forgive even an excommunicate, if the individual repents and continues to “hope.”