Study Guide

Statius in Purgatorio


If you’ve perused Virgil’s "Character Analysis," you might’ve gotten the impression that we’re a little lukewarm about Statius. Everything about him might seem a little too perfect: he’s courteous, grateful, and smart. All of this points to him being something of a Christ figure. Which is great and all... but it's not terribly interesting in terms of his character development. He goes from good to... good.

When we first meet Statius, he’s compared to the resurrected Christ shadowing two oblivious pilgrims. Like the two Biblical pilgrims, Dante and Virgil don’t realize Statius is there until he greets them. Statius is perfectly pious, immediately dropping to his knees to kiss Virgil’s feet when he meets the man who converted him.

Hold on a second, you say: Statius was a penitent. He sinned during his lifetime. That should immediately eliminate any consideration of him as a Christ figure. Okay, but consider his sin: prodigality. In one passage, Statius describes his sin as having “hands… open too wide,” almost implying that his sin was in being too generous. Ooh, that's terrible.

Finally, Statius is the authority on the soul. He’s the one that describes how the soul is born, dies, and has aery form in Hell and Purgatory. Who would know better about the human soul than the son of the Holy Spirit himself? Finally, Statius is cleared to accompany Dante into Heaven, having purged his soul of all sins.