Divine Comedy: Novel Summary: Purgatorio section 22- Purgatorio section 26
Purgatorio section 22: After brushing another P from Dante's forehead, an angel directs the poets to the next level. As they move toward the Sixth Terrace where the Gluttonous dwell, Virgil and Statius discuss the Aeneid. Statius admits that he was so moved by this passage in Virgil's epic poem that he became prodigal: "Why cannot you, o holy hunger for gold, restrain the appetite of mortals?" Opposite sins, prodigality and avarice, are punished in the same circle of both Hell and Purgatory. Virgil asks Statius how he became a Christian. Again, Statius reveals that a passage in one of Virgil's poems that prophesized the coming of a new faith led Statius to his religion. However, Statius kept his conversion to Christianity a secret and had to repent for his sloth as well. Virgil names Roman and Greek poets who reside with him in Limbo: Plautus, Terrence, Antigont, and Ismene. As the travelers reach the Sixth Terrace, Dante encounters a strange tree that bears sweet fruit and tapers at the bottom rather than the top. Dante hears voices reciting examples of temperance: Mary, the women of ancient Rome (who only drank water), Daniel (who was granted the power to interpret dreams because he would not eat the king's meat), and John the Baptist who ate only honey and locusts when he lived in the wilderness.
Purgatorio section 23: Still on the Sixth Terrace, the three poets hear a spirit singing "Labia mea, Domine" ([Open] my lips, O Lord [and my mouth will proclaim your praise]). As the voice sings praises, Dante sees numerous pale spirits hurrying past him. The spirits appear hollow and emaciated from hunger. Dante meets an old friend, Forese Donati, a fellow Florentine poet, who explains that the tree and the water the feeds it purify the gluttonous sinners who must spend their time in Purgatory without food and water. Dante asks Forese to explain how he was able to pass Ante-Purgatory so quickly. Forese responds that the prayers of his virtuous widow helped him leave Ante-Purgatory early. His widow, Nella, stands in stark contrast to current Florentine women who are immodest and appear in public with their breasts exposed. Forese notices Dante's shadow and asks for an explanation. Dante reminds his friend that he has led a reckless life and that Virgil was sent to rescue him and will be Dante's guide until he meets Beatrice.
Purgatorio section 24: Forese points out other gluttonous penitents: a pope who loved eels cooked in wine, Ubaldino dalla Pila, Bonafazio, and Marhese, a man who was never satisfied despite his constant drinking. One of the Gluttons, the poet Bonagiunta, asks Dante if he wrote the poem, "Ladies who have intelligence of love" and Dante replies that he writes about love when he is moved by love. Bonagiunta believes that it is this inspiration that sets Dante apart from other poets. With the exception of Forese, the spirits that have gathered around the poets disperse. Dante tells Forese that he hopes to return to the terrace soon because his city has become so corrupt. Forese prophesizes that the man responsible for the downfall of Florence will be killed violently and descend to Hell shortly. As Forese bids farewell to his friend, the poets move to another fruit tree. A voice from within the branches of the tree tell the travelers to keep moving and remember these examples of gluttony: the centaurs who had to fight Theseus when they were drunk, and the soldiers who were rejected by Gideon for being drunk. The angel of temperance descends and erases another Pfrom Dante's forehead. Glowing like molten glass, the angel directs the poets to the next level as it recites the last part of the Fourth Beatitude: "Blessed are those whom grace illumines so, that, in their breasts, the love of taste does not awake too much desire-whose hungering is always in just measure."
Purgatorio section 25: Statius, Dante, and Virgil climb the stairs to the Seventh (and final) Terrace where the Lustful serve their penance. As they travel, Dante asks Virgil to explain how shades can suffer from hunger when their bodies are made of air and, therefore, have no need for food. Virgil cites the example of Meleager, who starved because of a prophecy of the Fates, to suggest that Dante consider supernatural phenomenon as the explanation. Virgil then turns to Statius for a more detailed response to Dante's question. Based on a medieval understanding of reproduction, Statius' answer begins with the act of procreation. Statius explains that refined blood passes from man to woman and creates a human being. The fetus (although he does not use this term) goes through three stages of development: vegetative, sensitive, and intellective. God creates the complete soul by endowing babies with the intellective faculty at birth. At death, the soul leaves the body but retains its intellect, memory, and will. When the soul reaches either Acheron (entrance to Hell) or Tiber (entrance to Purgatory) the soul assumes a body without mass that takes attributes of its former body. The shades, therefore, see, hear, speak, and weep. The poets reach the Seventh Terrace and find a river of fire. Voices from within the flames chant "Summae Deus clementiae" (O God of supreme clemency). After each hymn, spirits recite examples of chastity such as Mary's words during the Annunciation, and the banishment of Helice from the woods of Diana. The shades also list names of men and women who were chaste during their lifetimes.
Purgatorio section 26: Dante's shadow attracts the spirits' attention. As Dante begins to explain his situation, two groups of spirits moving in opposite directions pass each other. As they pass, the shades greet one another with quick kisses and one group shouts "Sodom and Gomorrah" while the other group cries that Pasiphae has turned into a cow to attract a bull. Once the groups pass, the first group resumes its hymn-chanting. Dante explains that he still lives as a mortal and asks the spirits to identify themselves. One spirit reveals that the souls in the group yelling "Sodom and Gomorrah" were guilty of the unnatural vices for which Caesar was called "queen" while the other souls in the other group were guilty of natural lust. The spirit identifies itself as Guido Guinizelli. Dante expresses his admiration for Guido who he considered a preeminent writer of love poetry. Guido, however points to another spirit, that of Arnaut Daniel, writhing in the flames as a better poet than himself. Dante greets Arnaut who responds in the Provencal language.