Mount Purgatario

Purgatory (also known as Purgatorio in Italian) was the second Kingdom of the Afterlife and was a major realm in Dante's Inferno.


The realm of Purgatory appeared briefly at the end of Dante's Inferno when Dante finally escaped Hell. When Dante slowly made his way out of a cave, naked and stripped of all of his equipment, he walked out to the view of a large mountain with several waterfalls streaming out of it at several points. Stating, "I did not die and I did not live," Dante smiled and ripped the cross-shaped tapestry off his chest, tossing it aside. Dante then began to walk toward the mountain. His long journey through the Inferno finally came to an end, but his journey through Purgatory only just began.

Dante's Purgatory Edit

In The Divine Comedy, Lucifer's fall created Hell, which in turn displaced land on the opposite side of the world. This created Mount Purgatory. The Roman philosopher, Cato the Younger, was Charon's counterpart here as ferryman of the repentant sinners (their contrition has saved them from being condemned to Hell). He is cast in this role by Dante despite being a pagan because of his fame as an orator and a virtuous man.

In an Ante-Purgatory (counterpart to Hell's Limbo and Shores of Acheron) are those who were excommunicated or late repentant, including those who did not receive last rites. These souls wait for their chance to begin their ascent up Purgatory, but remained joyful as their presence here was a clear sign that they are spared from Hell. Beyond that and the Valley of Rulers (containing the souls of monarchs who were unable to worship God properly because of their royal duties) stretched Purgatory proper.

In a manner similar to Hell, Purgatory was divided into separate concentric areas. These areas, called Terraces, led upwards instead of downwards, forming a mountain. On each terrace, the penitent atone for a different deadly sin. In order from bottom to top, the sins addressed in these terraces are: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony and Lust.The Deadly Sins expunged here are classified into three categories: Corrupted Love that caused harm (Pride, Envy, Anger), Deficient Love (Sloth) and Excessive Love of good things (Greed, Gluttony, Lust).

As in the Inferno, symbolic retribution was enforced - for example, the proud must carry great weights upon their backs - and the countering virtues to each vice (for example, Humility countering Pride) are present on each terrace in both a Biblical and Classical example. An appropriate Beatitude was associated with each terrace as well.

Unlike Hell, souls can move between terraces, but only under specific conditions. The souls can advance among the terraces during daylight hours only, and all obey a code of honor to rise to the next terrace once they truly felt that they atoned completely for a specific sin. The focus of Purgatory was not on the action of sin, like Hell, but on the motive which caused the sins to occur.

At the summit was the Garden of Eden, where those who completed their time in Purgatory ascended to Heaven. This final ascent of any soul was signified by an earthquake harmlessly shaking the mountain. It was also here that Virgil departed (as being a pagan, he could not enter God's presence) and Dante was reunited with Beatrice, who became his guide in Heaven.

Dante's JournalEdit

  • In "The Inferno," to leave Hell Dante hangs onto Virgil's back and they proceed to slowly make their way down Lucifer's body (which is said to span the entire diameter of Earth). They then arrive in the Southern Hemisphere. Once there, Dante and Virgil both finally reach the surface and proceed to observe the stars in Heaven, before beginning the journey to Purgatory.
  • While journeying through the circle of Fraud in Hell, Dante encounters the soul of the Greek hero Odysseus (Ulysses), who describes his final voyage. During this trip, Odysseus actually spotted Purgatory at a distance. However, when he attempted to get nearer to the mountain, his ship was capsized by a massive wave, as no living human was meant to go there against God's will. The king of Ithaca drowned as a result of the ship sinking.