Outline of Purgatorio -- Canto by Canto

Purgatorio, Canto I

Synopsis: Dante has left Hell. The second part of the poem begins with the invocation to the Muses to accompany his song. Dawn approaches and he feels renewed as he sees four stars into the heavens. Then he sees a dignified old man standing near him: Cato of Utica. He questions Dante end Virgil as he thinks they escaped from Hell. Virgil explains purpose of Dante's journey, and why He is still a still living man doing this journey. Cato, then, instructs Virgil to make sure Dante gets cleansed with a reed. The two descend to the shore, and Virgil performs the cleansing ritual.

Purgatorio, canto II

Synopsis: As the Sun rises on the shores of Purgatorio, Dante sees a reddish glow moving across the waters. The light approach at an incredible speed: it a boat moved by the wings of an angel. It brings the souls of the Redeemed who are singing a liturgical songs. The souls get off, and wander on the shore, not knowing what to do. Dante and Virgil join them, all stranger to the place. In the crowd Dante recognizes a friend, Casella, who sings one of Dante's song. The crowd is broken by Cato, who urges them to go to the mountain.

Purgatorio, Canto III

Synopsis: The journey resumes, and Dante realizes the enormous height of the mountain. Then he realizes that he is the only one casting a shadow, which leads to Virgil explaining the theory of the non physical bodies, and how they have physical sensations. As they reach the foot of the mountain, Dante finds that is very hard to go up, because it is too steep. Meanwhile a band of souls moving slowly appears; they are scared at seeing Dante alive. These are the souls of the excommunicated. Dante talks to Manfred, who repented at the last moment, still excommunicated by the Church. Manfred presents himself not as an emperor, but as a family men.

Purgatorio, Canto IV

Synopsis: After talking to Manfred, Dante is absorbed in a discussion with Virgil and is not aware of time passing: he realizes that when his faculties are taken by intense thought, he becomes unaware of everything else. The climb is hard, and when they reach the first ledge, the poet is amazed at the sun's location, which is opposite to what he is used to see. Virgil explains that this is so because they are in the Southern Hemisphere. Their conversation is interrupted by Belacqua, an old friend of Dante., who is seating there doing nothing. He was slow in accepting salvation, and must wait outside Purgatorio. Belacqua repeats the doctrine that people alive can help them through their prayers.

Purgatorio, Canto V

Synopsis: As he leaves behind the souls of the lazy, Dante sees, as he goes up, another group: the souls of the Late Repentant, as they are chanting a liturgical song. These are the souls of people who died a violent death, but managed to repent in their final moments. Dante talks to three of them: 1) Jacopo del Cassero, who tells how he was ambushed and left to bleed to death in a swamp. Buonconte da Montefeltro, who tells of a struggle between the forces of good and evil over his body and soul at his death. He was saved because he died with Mary's name in his heart and a true repentant. Finally Dante talks to Pia de' Tolomei who gently asks Dante to remember her.

Purgatorio, Canto VI

Synopsis: More souls crowd Dante, once they realize he is alive, to ask him to bring the message to their relatives about the help they may give receive. Dante recognizes quite a few of them, then asks Virgil how the power of prayer affect the will of heaven. Virgil is able to give only a partial explanation, referring the question to Beatrice, who will give him a more comprehensive education of the matter. Then he sees one near by by standing alone in silence. Virgil and Dante go to him to ask for directions. When the stranger learns that Virgil is from Mantua by birth, he embraces him. This is Sordello, a poet of the Provençal language. At this point, the poet digress with a powerful invective against the evil and corruption in Italy.

Purgatorio, Canto VII

Synopsis: The narrative continues after Dante's invective against Italy. Sordello continues his embrace of Virgil as he realizes that his countryman is also the great poet Virgil, the very glory of the Latin race. Virgil explains to Sordello the nature of Dante's journey and asks for the quickest way to continue up on the mountain. Sordello volunteers to guide them, but nightfall approaches and tell them that they had to stop. It is the law of Purgatorio that no one may go up without the light of the sun. Then Sordello takes Dante to a peaceful place to rest: the valley of the negligent princes. As they get there, they hear a liturgical song: Salve Regina. Sordello then points to a number of princes.

Purgatorio, Canto VIII

Synopsis: The canto begins with all the souls singing another liturgical evening chant. Meanwhile two angels descend from Heaven taking position on both sites of the entrance. Sordello explains that they have come to guard the valley against the serpent who will appear at any moment. The three step into the valley to meet the princes, Dante recognizes Nino Visconti, who discusses his wife's infidelity to his memory by remarrying. Then he notices three stars that cannot be seen in the northern hemisphere. The serpent comes and the angels chase it away. The evening passes with Dante talking to Nino and Currado Malaspina.

Purgatorio, Canto IX

Synopsis: Dante falls asleep, and near dawn, dreams that he is being snatched up into the sphere of fire by an eagle. The imaginary heat of his dream wakes him up, and he is confused and terrified until he sees Virgil near by. Virgil explains that they have now come to the gates of Purgatory, and that, While Dante was asleep, a lady named Lucia came and brought him up. As Dante gets near the gates, he sees three steps of different colors leading up to the entrance. The first is white marble, the second is darker than black, the third is fiery red. On the last step stands a guardian angel, clothed in ash garments, and holding a sword. He traces seven "P" on Dante's forehead, telling him to wash away these wounds as he goes through Purgatory. Then the angel takes two keys -- one gold and one silver -- given to him by St. Peter so he can unlock the gates. He warns Dante not to look back as he gets in. The two poets enter the gates and hear a liturgical song.

Purgatorio, Canto X

Synopsis: Dante and Virgil pass through the gate which closes behind them. They make their way up a narrow path to emerge on a deserted ledge. The walls that rise on the side of this ledge are adorned with carvings in white marble, all of them offering example of the virtue of humility. The first example is the scene of the Annunciation, the second represents David who, having set aside his kingly dignity, humbly dances before the Lord, and the third scene presents the emperor Trajan stopping his warriors to listen to a poor widow's plea for justice. Then the poets see a group of souls coming toward them. These are the Proud who, beating their breasts, make their way around the ledge under a heavy wight they carry on their backs.

Purgatorio, Canto XI

Synopsis: The canto opens with the prayer of the Proud -- an expanded of the Lord's Prayer. Virgil asks the Penitent to tell him the quickest way up the mountain, and one of them complies. He is Omberto Aldombrandino, who acknowledges that the si of Pride has ruined not only himself but his entire house. The Dante is recognized by Oderisi of Gubbio, who proclaims the empty glory of human talent.. The canto ends with the third soul, Provenzan Salvani, dictator of Siena.

Purgatorio, Canto XII

Synopsis: As they leave the souls of the Proud, Virgil calls Dante's attention to a new set of carvings in the rock beneath their feet. These are examples of the vice of Pride as it is being punished. There are 13 examples divided in three groups of four plus one as conclusion that reprises all three themes. Finally, Virgil has Dante lift his head as he is about to encounter the Angel of Humility. The angel, with a brush of his wing, removes the first P from Dante's forehead, and the first of the beatitudes is heard: "Blessed the poor in spirit." As the first P is removed, Dante feels lighter, and able to climb the mountain with less effort.

Purgatorio, Canto XIII

Synopsis: Dante and Virgil reach the second terrace, which is set in the livid color of stone. They don't see anyone around to ask for direction, Virgil turns his attention to the Sun for guidance. As the two walk along the terrace, they hear a disembodied voice crying out examples of Generosity, the virtue that is opposite to Envy. Two of the examples are from the Gospels, one from Greek history. Then Dante becomes aware of how the sin of Envy is punished: the penitent are sitting next to each other against the rocks reciting the Litany (a serial monotonous prayer). They are dressed in coarse haircloth, their eyelids have been stitched shut with iron thread. Dante here talks to Sapia from Siena, who confesses she rejoiced in the defeat of her own townsmen at the battle of Colle.

Purgatorio, canto XIV

Synopsis: The canto opens with two blind souls excited by their awareness of Dante's presence. They ask Dante where he is coming from, and as he says that he is coming from the "valley of the Arno river," one of the penitent begins a lengthy outburst of anti-Tuscan sentiment. This is Guido del Duca, and the other, Rinier da Calboli, does the same against his country, Romagna (a northern Italian region). As Dante leaves the section of Envy, he hears more voices -- examples of Envy.

Purgatorio, Canto XV

Synopsis: Passage from the second to the third terrace. The poet is stunned by the light emanating from the Angel, and Virgil tells him that soon he will become accustomed to bright light. The Angel performs the ritual of passage, with the cleansing of the second P, and the singing of the second Beatitude "Blessed are the Merciful." Then Virgil explains the difference between earthly and heavenly possessions. He arrives to the Third Terrace, where the sin of Wrath is cleansed. The poet's first experience consists of three examples of Meekness, the virtue opposite to the sin of Wrath. These come in ecstatic visions: the first is the Virgin Mary questioning Christ when he was late in the Temple, the second is about Pisistratus who forgives the man who embraced his daughter, and the third is Lazarus, the first martyr. The canto ends with the appearance a thick black cloud of fog which envelops the poets.

Purgatorio, Canto XVI

Synopsis: Dante is blinded by the smoke and clings to Virgil. He hears the voices of the Wrathful singing the Agnus Dei. One of the souls, Marco Lombardo, comes forward to speak with Dante and, at his invitation, accompanies him (and Virgil) to the end of the smoke-filled space, discussing problems connected with the present-day corruption of society. He downplays the influences of the stars on human affairs, affirms the existence of Free Will, and points out the lack of good leadership in church and state.

Purgatorio, Canto XVII

Synopsis: As Dante emerges from the cloud of smoke that surrounds the Wrathful, the sun is about to set. He experiences three more visions of examples of Wrath from classical and biblical sources. Then the Angel of Meekness appears and points the way to continue the journey up the mountain. Another P disappears from Dante's forehead, and the poets hear another beatitude: Blessed are the Peacemakers. As they reach the Fourth Terrace, Dante and Virgil feel weak, and rest from the journey. This is the terrace of the Slothful. Night has arrived, and Virgil takes advantage of the pause to talk to Dante on the Nature of Love, showing that all the sins in Purgatory derive from one of the three perversions of Love. The discussion continues next canto.

Purgatorio, Canto XVIII

Synopsis: The first part of the canto concludes the philosophical discourse by Virgil on the nature of Love, and the second presents the content of the Terrace the Slothful. Dante asks for more detailed information on the subject of Love, and Virgil concludes his discourse. As Dante is about to fall asleep, a group of Penitent rushes from behind. These are the Slothful. They walk fast, shouting examples of the virtue of Solicitude (which is opposite to Sloth). One of them, the Abbot of St. Zeno, exchanges a few words with Virgil. The canto ends with Dante falling asleep.

Purgatorio, Canto XIX

Synopsis: Just before dawn Dante dreams of a woman who is ugly, cross-eyed, maimed, and with ugly skin. But as he stares at her, she loses her deformities and takes on a very desirable aspect. She is the Siren, and her singing captivates the poet, until a saintly lady appears to show her ugliness and stench, which wakes up Dante. As the two poets begin their third day, the Angel of Zeal appears and washes up another P form Dante's forehead, while they hear the beatitude Blessed are they who mourn. Dante and Virgil reach the next terrace, and see souls stretched out on the ground everywhere, as they recite a prayer. These are the Avaricious. Dante talks to Pope Adrian V, who explains the condition of the Penitent, and asks Dante to bring news of him to his niece, the only one free from corruption.

Purgatorio, Canto XX

Synopsis: As the two poets begin their way through the terrace of the avaricious, they hear someone calling out examples of the virtue opposite to greed. The speaker if Hugh Capet, forefather of the Capetian dynasty. In talking to Dante, he denounces his descendants for their avarice. Then he explains that the Penitent keep reciting examples of condemnation of Avarice. Another list of examples is followed by a mysterious trembling of the mountain, and a song of praise: Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Purgatorio, Canto XXI

Synopsis: As Dante and Virgil walk along the Terrace of Avaricious, a shade appears and speak to them. Virgil explains Dante's presence, and asks him the reason for the trembling. The shade says that the Mountain of Purgatory is not affected by Nature, such as rain, winds, and lightning, but when a soul feels it is time to progress, or to be free of Purgatorio altogether, the mountain shakes from joy. This time the trembling was for his release: he is the Latin poet Statius, an imitator of Virgil, author of minor epics on Achilles and Thebe. Statius expresses his desire to have lived at the same time as Virgil, and to have met the poet. Dante reveals Virgil's identity to Statius, who embraces Virgil, only to be reminded that both are shades.

Purgatorio, Canto XXII

Synopsis: Leaving the Fifth Terrace, Dante and Virgil accompanied by Statius are directed to the next ledge by the Angel who removes another P from Dante's forehead, and recites the beatitude for the section. There is a long discussion between Virgil and Statius on various matters, one of them dealing with Statius's conversion; it is here that the Virgil's fourth Eclogue is brought up. In the meantime they arrive to the Sixth Terrace, of the Gluttonous. They see, in the middle of the road, a tree with sweet-smelling fruits with a cascade of fresh water raining down on the leaves. From the tree comes a voice shouting examples of moderation, a virtue opposite to gluttony.

Purgatorio, Canto XXIII

Synopsis: As the poets get closer to the tree, they hear a liturgical song. Then they see a quick moving group of emaciates spirits with famished faces coming from behind them. Dante recognizes one of them from his voice -- he would have never recognized his face because it was altered by starvation. He is Forese Donati. Dante is surprised to see him so up on the mountain, since he was a late repentant and dead for only five years. Forese tells Dante it had been his wife Nella's prayers ho helped him advance. This brings Forese to pass judgment against the corrupted custom of contemporary Florentine women. The canto ends with Dante explaining Forese the reason for his journey.

Purgatorio, Canto XXIV

Synopsis: Dante and Forese continue their conversation. Forese mentions that his sister Piccarda is already in heaven, and then points out a number of souls present here. The most important for Dante is Bonaggiunta Orbicciani, another poet of the earlier school of poetry than Dante's. The topic of their discussion is the meaning of true poetry. Bonaggiunta recognizes in Dante the new poet, who has expressed new rhymes. Then Dante states his poetical manifesto as the sweet new style: that is poetry derives from true inspiration and must be pleasing at the same time. Then the Penitent moves away, and Dante is left with Forese for further talk. In the meantime the group reach another tree, and from this tree examples of gluttony come out. The canto ends with the Angel of Abstinence performing the usual ritual, wiping out the sixth P from Dante's forehead, and showing him the way to the next terrace.

Purgatorio, Canto XXV

Synopsis: This is another doctrinal canto. It starts with Dante asking how the Penitent on the sixth terrace could be so emaciated, if they have no physical body. Virgil is not able to answer, and calls upon Statius, who embarks on a long discussion based on science and theology: the development of the soul from conception to the after-life. When he has finished, the three, Dante, Virgil and Statius, have arrived at the Seventh Terrace, where they discover a wall of fire. From inside the flames Dante hears another liturgical song, and sees the souls of the Lustful. Then they see examples of chastity, the virtue opposite the sin of Lust. These are followed by examples of husbands and wives who observe the laws of virtuous marriage.

Purgatorio, Canto XXVI

Synopsis: In this canto the discourse on poetry is brought to conclusion with Dante meeting two poets: Guido Guinizelli and Arnaut Daniel. This is the last terrace, where the Lustful, divided into two groups running in opposite direction, embrace each other as they meet. Each group quotes opposite example of the sin of lust: the Sodomites, and the Heterosexual or Bisexual (hermaphroditic, as Dante says). The Penitent that explains this to Dante is Guido Guinizelli, considered by Dante the forefather of the new poetry. However, Guinizelli does not accept the credit, and points to a poet greater than himself in vernacular rhymes, Arnaut Daniel, who concludes the canto by introducing himself in his own language, Provençal (the only one who does speak Florentine).

Purgatorio, Canto XXVII

Synopsis: As the day ends, and the sun is getting close to sunset, Dante is still afraid to enter the fire and go to the other side. He then encounters the Angel of Chastity who performs the last ritual, followed by the last Beatitude: Blessed the pure in heart. The Angel reminds Dante that he can go no further without passing through the flames. As Dante hesitates for a long time, Virgil urges him to so by reminding him that Beatrice is waiting for him. Then he enters the fire feeling excruciating heat. As they emerge on the other side, they hear the invitation to proceed, and the Angel urges them to climb as long as there is daylight. Soon the sun sets, and the three, feeling exhausted, stop to rest.Toward morning, Dante dreams of Leah and Rachel. Who represent the Active and Contemplative Life. When he wakes up, Dante feels refreshed and eager to continue. The canto ends with Virgil describing the moral development achieved by the poet -- and that he no longer needs his guidance. Virgil's last words: he crowns Dante master of himself.

Purgatorio, Canto XXVIII

Synopsis: Dante walks along in the heavenly forest until a stops him. On the other side of the stream he sees a lady singing and gathering flowers. At Dante's request, she approaches him, and smiling from the opposite bank, tells him that this is Earthly Paradise, the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were created. She explains that the constant moving gentle breeze is caused by Earth's rotation, and explains the reproduction of plant life. She further speaks of two streams in the Garden, Lethe and Eunoè, the first washes away the memory of sin, and the second restores the memory of good deeds.

Purgatorio, Canto XXIX

Synopsis: When Matelda has finished speaking, she begin to sing, and moves upstream, with Dante keeping pace with her on the opposite side of the stream. Soon Matelda stops, and tells Dante to pay attention: A strong light is seen in the air, and a heavenly pageant approaches. It is led by seven golden candlesticks, which produce a light that extends over the procession that follows them. Next come twenty-four elders, two by two, and behind them four creatures. They form a square, in which there is a chariot drawn by a griffin. To the right of the chariot there are three ladies dressed in three colors: one red, one white, and one green; to the left of the chariot there are four ladies dressed in purple, and finally an old man alone -- the author the Book of Revelation. The chariot stops with a thunder opposite Dante.

Purgatorio, Canto XXX- and Canto XXXI

Synopsis: -- XXX: As the procession comes to a halt, the twenty-four elders tun toward the chariot. One of them sings: "Come, o bride, from Lebanon". A hundred singing angel appear overhead, filling the air with a rain of flowers. Through the flowers Beatrice appears. Dante turns to Virgil to express his astonishment, only to find out that he is gone. Beatrice then speaks harshly to Dante, calling him by name and reprimanding him for having wasted his talents, wandering from the path that leads to Truth. So hopeless, in fact, was his case, to such depths did he sinks, that the journey to see the souls of the Damned in Hell was the only way of setting him back on the road to salvation. -- XXXI: Beatrice concludes her harsh remark, and Dante is left incapable of speech. He is overcome by remorse, admits his guilty, and faints for shame. When he comes to his sense, he discovers that Matelda has drawn him into the stream, Lethe, immersing him completely so he drinks some of the waters. The she leads him on the other side, where he is accepted by dancing ladies. At this point he can stare at Beatrice in the eyes, where he sees the reflection of the griffin, and the mystical union between Dante and Beatrice takes place.

Purgatorio, canto XXXII

Synopsis: Dante and Statius, along with Matelda, follow the procession, which stops in front of a tree, where Beatrice descends from the cart. This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but it stripped bare of leaves and fruit -- as a result of Adam and Eve's transgression. The griffin is attached the chariot to the tree, which immediately blooms -- this means Christ's redemption which gave new life to humanity. Then Dante falls asleep. As he is awaken by Matelda, he realizes that the procession is gone, only Beatrice with her seven handmaidens are here.

Purgatorio, Canto XXXIII

Synopsis: The Seven Ladies sing, weeping over the sorrowful fate of the chariot , and Beatrice grieves. But soon they move on, the seven ladies, followed by Beatrice, with Dante, Matelda and Statius behind her. As they walk, Beatrice gives an obscure prophecy predicting the eventual deliverance of the Church, and instructs Dante to repeat in writing exactly what he has seen, in order to instruct the living. At Dante's request, Beatrice explains that her difficult language is needed to teach divine subjects, which are at times not understandable to human intellect. Then they come to the second stream, Eunoè, and Matelda, as told by Beatrice, leads Dante to drink its waters, which restores his recollection of good things. This is the last ritual in Purgatorio, and Dante says that the pages for the second canticle of the Commedia are all filled, and he is now ready to rise to the stars.