Canto 2: New Souls Arrive in Purgatory
- How do souls arrive in Purgatory?
Souls arriving in Purgatory have quite a captain piloting the boat they ride on. An angel is their captain. The dead saved souls gather at a certain point (the port by Rome), then they are taken to the Mountain of Purgatory.
The angel uses his wings — not sails — to power the boat.
Purgatory has art. The souls here sing often. The dead but saved souls on the boat are singing Psalm 114, whose topic is the escape of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
The dead but saved souls ask Virgil and Dante the way up the mountain, but Virgil tells them that he and Dante are newly arrived pilgrims, also.
- A man named Casella died several months ago, but he is just arriving in Purgatory. Why did it take so long?
That man is Casella, a deceased friend of Dante. He greets Dante and asks why he is here. Dante replies that he is here now so that he can return here after he dies.
Casella took so long to arrive in Purgatory because on earth he had delayed repentance. We will see God use this principle quite often in the Ante-Purgatory, the lowest part of the Mountain, before Purgatory Proper. We can regard the bottom of the Mountain as being somewhat like the Vestibule of Hell. These people put off repenting, so God is going to make them wait before they can begin to climb the Mountain.
Casella was able to arrive in Purgatory quicker than he otherwise would have because of the first Jubilee year, which was declared by Pope Boniface VIII. So it turns out that Pope Boniface VIII did something good for Casella. Of course, Pope Boniface VIII is still condemned to the Inferno, but we learn that God can accomplish much even through the deeds of evil men.
Dante tries to embrace Casella three times but fails. This is reminiscent of a scene in Homer’s Odysseyin which Odysseus visits the Underworld, sees the ghost of his mother, tries three times to embrace her, but fails.
- Who is Casella?
Of course, Casella is a recently deceased friend of Dante. He was also a musician who once put a poem by Dante to music so it could be sung. Dante requests a love song, and Casella begins to sing a song which consists of Dante’s poem set to music:
Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona,
began the words of his sweet melody —
Mark Musa translates “Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona” as “Love that speaks to me in my mind” (26). Longfellow translates it as “Love, that within my mind discourses with me” (2.112).
- Why is Cato so stern when Casella sings?
Part of Cato’s job is to make sure that the saved souls stay focused on the job at hand: being purged of their sins. Singing romantic love poetry is not going to help in that quest.
The souls in Purgatory are not perfected. Occasionally, they will be distracted from what ought to be their goal: purging their sins. For example, a few times the souls are astonished that Dante is still living. However, although they are interested in this, they take advantage of the opportunity to ask Dante to let other people know to pray for them so that they can climb the Mountain of Purgatory faster.
Of course, the souls know that Dante is living for a few reasons:
- He breathes.
- He casts a shadow.
- His body has weight and can move stones when he walks on them.
- Are Cato and the angels against music?
Note that Cato and God are not against music in general. We will see music and dance in Paradise. On the Mountain of Purgatory we have much singing and art. The Inferno has no art.
Remember that the saved souls were singing a Psalm on the angel-piloted boat that brought them to the Mountain of Purgatory. The Psalm they were singing was about Israel getting out of slavery in Egypt. That music was appropriate for the purpose of their being here. The Psalm tells a story of going from slavery to freedom. These saved sinners have to go from the slavery of their sins to freedom from their sins.
Can a person be a slave to sin? Yes, a person who is addicted to crack cocaine has to feed the addiction. A person who is addicted to alcohol has to feed the addiction. A person who is addicted to TV will find it very hard to get away from the TV and do something worthwhile — such a person is addicted to sloth.
Canto 2 of Purgatory is bookended by two songs: one appropriate and the other inappropriate for the task at hand. In Purgatory souls need to figure what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for the task at hand.
The newly arrived souls in Prepurgatory can be distracted from the task at hand. For example, apparently they listen to the song that Casella plays. In addition, they are very interested in Dante’s shadow.
- What is Prepurgatory?
It is going to take us a long time to get to Purgatory Proper. Only in Canto 9 does Dante pass through the gate into Purgatory Proper. Before that, we have Prepurgatory or Antepurgatory, and we will have a lot to learn in these cantos.
In Prepurgatory, we will see many souls who kept God waiting:
- The Excommunicated
- The Spiritually Lazy
- Those Who Repented While Meeting Violent, Sudden Deaths
- The Negligent Princes
Note: Prepurgatory or Antepurgatory refer to the same place: the foot of the Mountain of Purgatory. Both names mean Before Purgatory Proper.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
DANTE PDFs and LINKs
INFERNO KINDLE EBOOK
INFERNO SMASHWORDS (EBOOKS)
PURGATORY KINDLE EBOOK
PURGATORY SMASHWORDS (EBOOKS)
PARADISE KINDLE EBOOK
PARADISE SMASHWORDS (EBOOKS)
DIVINE COMEDY KINDLE EBOOK
DIVINE COMEDY SMASHWORDS (EBOOKS)
DIVINE COMEDY PAPERBACK
PURGATORY: CANTO 1 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 2 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 3 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 4 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 5 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 6 RETELLING
PURGATORY: CANTO 7 RETELLING