Dante’s view of politics is essentially a negative one. The sorry state of politics is to be blamed on the passage of time, the infective nature of sin, and man’s misguided exercise of free will. As Purgatorio goes on, Dante’s political perspective becomes clear. Dante sees individuals as susceptible to selfishness; societies need a just ruler and laws to guide them towards virtue. However, Dante’s hope for an ideal emperor who might restore a beneficial balance between church and state seems to die halfway through Purgatorio. The second half of the text discusses politics not in terms of practice, but in terms of theory and philosophy. An important aspect of Dante’s theory is his emphasis on the importance of the individual and his soul.
By asserting that a just emperor is the cure for the maladies of the Empire, Dante claims that the secular arm of the state is more crucial for political purity than the Church.
When Beatrice charges Dante to accurately record his narrative “to profit the world which lives badly,” she asserts that it is neither the Church’s nor the state’s responsibility to see to the good of its citizenry; rather, the burden of living virtuously should fall to the individual himself.