The Purgatorio is considered to be referred to Divine Comedies by Dante reflecting the features of Italian and classical Roman history; the author managed to mix cultural and historical issues with political commentary. The Purgatorio discloses the peculiarities of author’s travel accompanied by Statius, a poet of epic Roman epoch, and Sordello, who is considered to be a Medieval troubadour.
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The role of Statius is presented by the author from theological point of view; it should be noted that this character was introduced as a Christ figure hiding under the mask of a poet/ the concept of the Bible place in the work is merely shown through Statius’ reflection of the Christianity features through inner sins and soul investigation. Dante shows the growing toward Christianity of the world population by means of Statius; he stressed that religion was perceived without any political power in the center of it, describing “the corruption of church and state and the ideal society that might be, and will return to earth with a message and a promise of salvation”(Ferrante, p. 239).
The role of Sordello, described by Dante as the representative of Middle Ages, is aimed at illustration of such concepts as hatred, pride and human division observed in the Hell and contradicted to the character’s fight with social sins in Italian society. He had no relation to the development of Roman Empire and wrote creative poets for the generation of 13th century. Dante showed this character as a political analyst through his moral and political poetry. The words “sola, soletta” (Purgatorio, 59) characterizing Sordello prove that he was the first solitary soul introduced by Dante; he was depicted as a spiritual and intellective character rather than a recollective one. The author described Sordello as “come ti stavi altera e disdegnosa” stressing the character’s attitude to the political strife.
Now let us go down into the valley among the grade shades,
And we will speak to them; well pleasing will it be to them to see you (Purgatorio, p. 32).
The lines demonstrate the role of Sordello as the guide to goal achievements being a strong and self confident representative of mid cultural movements.
Statius supported the idea of “possible intellect” sticking to intellective soul creation. He noted that every person had threefold soul comprising sensitive, vegetative and intellective spirits.
And here-even as Luke records for us
that Christ, new-risen from his burial cave…
Dante strived to show the combination of political and religious messages introduced with the help of Statius’ role introduction. This character appeared to be the embodiment of Christianity in the period of Italian religion development reflecting the place of politics and culture in the society.
So, the work Purgatorio showed the depiction of religious and political issues in the characters of Sordello and Statius; poems and literature works created by these poets appeared to be the basic means of characters’ presentation manner by Dante because the author took into account the style and mood of their works created in various periods of Roman Empire development. Dante managed to reflect the whole cultural and religious epoch through a travel in time and political interactions observed in Italian society.
- Ferrante, Joan. The Political Vision of the “Divine Comedy”. Princeton University Press. 1984.
- Dante, A. Purgatorio. Kessinger Publishing, 2004.