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by Dante Alighieri

Purgatorio Theme of Pride

As the first vice punished in Purgatory, pride is the most serious of the forgivable sins. As punishment for pride, penitents have to carry such heavy weights that their heads are bent down, rendering them unable to challenge anyone with their defiant eyes. Unfortunately, Dante suffers from this perilous pride. Dante’s artistic ego soars, especially when he establishes himself as heir to the masters of the genre of epic poetry genre, especially Virgil and Statius, and as the foremost practitioner of the dolce stil novo style.

Questions About Pride

  1. Where in the text does Dante’s arrogance show itself most clearly? In what context does he show his pride?
  2. Does Dante know what his greatest fault is? Does he attempt to atone for it?
  3. Does Dante’s lesson in humility stay with him throughout Purgatorio? Do we know for sure?
  4. To what kinds of people or creatures does Dante often compare proud people (including himself)? What does this say about possessors of pride?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Dante’s frequent comparisons of proud persons (in both Inferno and Purgatorio) to children point to pride as a defining characteristic of a spiritually immature individual.

Despite Dante’s professed humility, which he flaunts on the first terrace, much of his behavior in the rest of Purgatory suggests that he has not truly purged himself of his pride.

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