National Epics
By Kate Milner Rabb

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Public Domain Books

The Divine Comedy - The Purgatory

The Purgatory of Dante is situated on a mountain top on the opposite side of the earth from Jerusalem, and is surrounded by the western ocean. The souls of those who go there collect on the banks of the Tiber, and are taken to the mountain in a boat by an angel pilot. The shores of the island are covered with the reeds of humility. Around the base of the mount dwell the souls that, repenting late, must “expiate each year of deferred penitence with thirty years of deferred Purgatory” unless the time be shortened by the prayers of their friends on earth. There are three stages of this Ante-Purgatory: the first, for those who put off conversion through negligence; the second, for those who died by violence and repented while dying; the third, for those monarchs who were too much absorbed in earthly greatness to give much thought to the world to come. The ascent of the terraces, as also those of Purgatory proper, is very difficult, and is not allowed to be made after sunset. The gate of St. Peter separates Ante-Purgatory from Purgatory proper. Three steps, the first of polished white marble, the second of purple, rough and cracked, and the third of blood-red porphyry, signifying confession, contrition, and penance, lead to the gate where sits the angel clad in a penitential robe, with the gold and silver keys with which to unlock the outer and inner gates. Purgatory proper consists of seven terraces, in each of which one of the seven capital sins, Pride, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lasciviousness are punished; Pride first, because no other sin can be purged from the body until this deepest sin is eliminated. The soul, cleansed of these sins, mounts to the terrestrial paradise, which, above the sphere of air, crowns the Mount of Purgatory.


Preface  •  The Râmâyana  •  The Story of the Râmâyana  •  Selections From the Râmâyana  •  The Story of the Mahâ-Bhârata  •  Selections From the Mahâ-Bhârata  •  The Iliad  •  The Story of the Iliad  •  Selections From the Iliad  •  The Story of the Odyssey  •  Selections From the Odyssey  •  The Kalevala  •  The Story of the Kalevala  •  Selections From the Kalevala  •  Selection From the Aeneid  •  Beowulf  •  The Story of Beowulf  •  Selection From Beowulf  •  Selections From the Nibelungen Lied  •  The Story of the Song of Roland  •  Selections From the Song of Roland  •  The Story of the Shah-Nameh  •  Selections From the Shah-Nameh  •  The Story of the Poem of the Cid  •  Selections From the Poem of the Cid  •  The Divine Comedy - The Hell  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Hell  •  The Divine Comedy - The Purgatory  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Purgatory  •  The Divine Comedy - The Paradise  •  The Story of the Divine Comedy - The Paradise  •  Selections From the Divine Comedy - Count Ugolino  •  Selection From the Orlando Furioso  •  The Lusiad  •  The Story of the Lusiad  •  Selections From the Lusiad  •  The Jerusalem Delivered  •  The Story of the Jerusalem Delivered  •  Selection From the Jerusalem Delivered  •  The Story of Paradise Lost  •  Selections From Paradise Lost  •  Apostrophe to Light  •  The Story of Paradise Regained  •  Selection From Paradise Regained