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Divine Comedy: Novel Summary: Purgatorio section 7- Purgatorio section 11

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Purgatorio section 7: The scene returns to Virgil and Sordello, fellow Mantuans.  Sordello asks Virgil to identify himself.  Struck with awe that he has encountered the great poet, Sordello bows down and exclaims that Virgil has brought great honor to the city of Mantua.  Sordello wonders where Virgil now lives.  Virgil explains that he dwells with other virtuous pagans who practiced the cardinal virtues but did not practice the three holy virtues.  Finally, Virgil once again asks Sordello for directions up the mountain.  Sordello leads the travelers to a beautiful valley filled with sweet flowers.  Sordello points out some of the notable figures that dwell in this valley: Henry of Navarre, Peter III of Aragon, and Charles I of Anjou.  These shades give the valley its name, Valley of the Rulers.  The spirits are consigned to this spot because they too neglected to repent.  Dante uses this example to show that one's character is not necessarily noble even when one comes from a noble line of birth-an issue hotly debated during Dante's time.
Purgatorio section 8: Darkness falls on the Valley of the Rulers.  The spirits begin to sing an evening devotion, "Te lucis ante." Two angels take posts in the Valley to stand guard for the night.  Although Dante cannot see their faces because they are so bright, he sees that the angels hold flaming swords and that their wings are green.  Dante and Virgil take spots among the spirits for the night.  One spirit, Nino Visconti, recognizes Dante and begs him to ask his daughter to pray for him because his wife no longer cares about him.  Dante notices that three twinkling stars overhead have replaced the constellation of four that he had seen at dawn.  Sordello spots a serpent snaking through the grass but the sound of angels wings, like those of a falcon, scare the serpent away.  Visconti's companion, Conrad Malaspina asks Dante for news from his native land, Val di Magra.  Although Dante has never been to this place, he has heard of it because its rulers are well known.  Conrad prophesies that Dante will visit Val di Magra before "the sun [has] rested seven times."
Purgatorio section 9: As Dante sleeps in the Valley of the Rulers, he dreams of an eagle plucking him from Mount Ida.  He and the eagle soar toward the sun and as they catch fire, Dante awakens from his dream.  Virgil comforts his startled friend by explaining that while he slept St. Lucia carried him up the steep mountain to the gates of Purgatory (until now they had been in Ante-Purgatory).  An angel bearing a sword guards the gates of Purgatory.  Once the angel hears that Dante travels by divine design, he bids the poet to him.  Dante climbs three gleaming stairs: white marble, dark purple, blood-red porphyry.  The angel marks seven P's with his sword on Dante's forehead.  Each P represents a level of Purgatory and will be removed as Dante passes each level.  The angel opens the gates of Purgatory with a silver and a gold key and warns the poets to never look back.  As they enter, Dante hears beautiful voices singing " Te Deum laudamus."
Purgatorio section 10: Dante and Virgil make a difficult climb up a zigzag path to the First Terrace where the Prideful dwell.  Beautiful carvings of scenes depicting acts of humility adorn the marble cliff adjacent to the First Terrace.  The scenes include: the Annunciation, King David dancing before the Ark, and a woman begging Emperor Trajan to avenge her son's death.  A sorrowful group of spirits approaches the poets.  Hunched low to the ground by huge rocks slung about their shoulders, these spirits must contemplate their pride until they have served their appropriate penance.  Dante berates these souls by saying, "O Christians, arrogant, exhausted, wretched, whose intellects are sick and cannot see, who place your confidence in backward steps, do you not know that we are worms and born to form the angelic butterfly that soars, without defenses, to confront His judgment?"
Purgatorio section 11: The Prideful spirits recite a long version of the Lord's Prayer.  Moved by their sincere solemnity, Dante believes that the living ought to help these spirits with their prayers.  Virgil asks for directions and one shade, Omberto Aldobrandeschi, responds.  Omberto describes how his unwarranted pride of ancestry caused the downfall of his kinsman and his own death.  Another spirit, belonging to the artist Oderisi of Gubbio, explains how the pride he took in his talents landed him on this Terrace in Purgatory.  Oderisi claims that artists such as him should not strive for fame because their fame is so transient-as an example, he notes how Giotto surpassed Cimabue.  Oderisi identifies one of his companions, the leader Salvani from Siena.  Surprised to see that Salvani bypassed a lengthy stay in Ante-Purgatory, Dante asks how Salvani came to the Terrace so quickly.  Oderisi explains that Salvani performed a momentous act of humility at the height of his power when he begged in the streets to get money for the ransom of a friend.  Salvani's quick ascent into Purgatory shows that great acts of humility can mitigate late repentance.


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