We meet Virgil in the Inferno just when Dante begins to lose all hope in going through that “shadowed forest.” Beatrice has appointed him to guide our hero through hell and then through Purgatory. Himself being in Limbo, Virgil knew the nooks and crannies of hell. His knowledge would then profit Dante in his perilous journey.
On the allegorical level, however, Virgil represents reason. Dante, on the other hand, is the personification of every man. Every human person is a sinner. In order to obtain forgiveness and salvation, every person needs reason to acknowledge the nature of sin, and how it goes against God’s love and His divine plan for everyone. As we all learned in our very extensive theology classes, the way to salvation is through reason enlightened by faith. Beatrice, whom we meet in Purgatorio, embodies faith.
The role of Virgil in both books is not always the same. The character of Virgil in the Inferno is more confident and reassured than he was in Purgatorio, wherein he is often insecure and uncertain.
The Divine Comedy could be read from many different angles. One could take in everything at face value, judging the book as just another piece of fine poetry. On the other hand, there is more to what the lines actually say. Underneath the story, one finds a richness of symbolism and metaphors which reflects each and everyone’s spiritual lives. This paper is divided into four parts. The first part is the literal sense of the Inferno, the second, the allegorical, the third is the literal meaning of the Purgatorio, and finally followed by its allegorical sense.
Virgil in the Inferno is the “head honcho.” He knows where to go, who to talk to, and what to do. His confidence is something to be admired.
As Virgil and Dante embark on their journeys in Canto I of the Inferno, Virgil is cool, calm, and collected. When he sees Dante, he immediately takes charge:
“…I think it best for you
... middle of paper ...
...atorio because man’s reason supports his faith. Blind faith would be just as dangerous as blind reason. There should be reason but enlightened by faith. Reason equips man with the knowledge of the natural law. Love, freewill, responsibility, and prayer are facilitated by reason. These virtues and actions would not amount to anything without reason.
We might say that the Inferno and the Purgatorio are veritable theology lessons. Both teaches the reader the requirements of a life of grace. In order to attain salvation and reach the earthly paradise, we must be cleansed of our sins. Cleansing makes it imperative for us to be truly contrite. We must sincerely be remorseful for our sins, not because we fear the punishments, but because we have offended God, who is all-Good. Once cleansed, we must lead a life of grace. Reason enlightened by faith is a primary factor in this life of grace. Living in the footsteps of Christ requires the use of reason to discern the good from evil. It requires faith to light up the path where Christ has walked. Only when we are furnished with the right use of reason and faith are we ready to (like Dante), climb onto the stars.
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