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by Dante Alighieri

Purgatorio Suffering Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto, Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.

Quote #7

Guido del Duca]: “My blood was so afire with envy that,
when I had seen a man becoming happy,
the lividness in me was plain to see.
From what I’ve sown, this is the straw I reap:
o humankind, why do you set your hearts
there where our sharing cannot have a part?” (Purg. XIV, 82-87)

Guido admits that the vice of envy includes more than just jealously wanting someone else’s belongings; it also includes wishing ill on that other person simply because he has something that the envious one lacks. Guido’s “lividness” here is a testament to the rage he felt against the person whom he envied. But, again, he justifies his punishment: “From what I’ve sown, this is the straw I reap.” Of course, “straw” is not very valuable, so Guido suggests that what he sewed in life was not something to be envied.

Quote #8

Following them, the others [the Slothful] cried: “Quick, quick,
lest time be lost through insufficient love;
where urge for good is keen, grace finds new green.” (Purg. XVIII, 103-105)

The Slothful are punished by an immoderate sense of haste; they feel the urge to rush everywhere. This obviously has physical ramifications, wearing down their bodies and feet, but also not allowing their minds to reflect or relax. However, the sense of justice pervades here – as with all the penitents – because “where urge for good is keen," “grace finds new green.” They realize that their suffering now will result in a rebirth (“new green”) of their grace, after which they’ll be permitted to enter Heaven.

Quote #9

[Pope Adrian V]: “Until that point I was a squalid soul,
from God divided, wholly avaricious;
now, as you see, I’m punished here for that.
What avarice enacts is here declared
in the purgation of converted souls;
the mountain has no punishment more bitter.
Just as we did not lift our eyes on high
but set our sight on earthly things instead,
so justice here impels our eyes toward earth.
As avarice annulled in us the love
of any other good, and thus we lost
our chance for righteous works, so justice here
fetters our hands and feet and holds us captive;
and for as long as it may please our just
Lord, here we’ll be outstretched and motionless.” (Purg. XIX, 112-126)

Because the Avaricious have twisted their natural desires towards material goods and have spent their whole lives pursuing wealth, their ability to reach out and grab things is restricted in Purgatory. As Pope Adrian V explains, “justice here fetters our hands and feet and holds us captive,” leaving the sinners “motionless.” Because in life the Avaricious never turned their eyes upward towards God in desire, here they are punished by being forced to look downwards – just as they did on earth. But, like the others, Pope Adrian recognizes the justice of his situation, even naming “justice” as the force that punishes him.

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