Dante’s Divine Comedy: Purgatorio
Why does Virgil crown and miters Dante on reaching the earthly paradise?
At this point Dante is crowned by Virgil after passing through the various stages of purgatory. Here is the last level in purgatory after the valley of Princes. The author and Virgil have scaled through the various levels of the mountain and passed the fire barrier so as to enter the earthly paradise. Dante’s crowning tends to make him liable to his own choices during his time on earth. Dante at this stage gets a view of the beautiful valley of Princes.
At the valley of Princes, Dante sees several European Monarchs that have died, as well as other luminaries who were too engrossed with their earthly duties. The consequences of their actions were a loss in their reliance on faith. Virgil here means that, he as the natural reason has done his duty of leading Dante through the horrible journey from hell to now purgatory to the best of his capacity. The experience Dante has had; the horrors of sin people go through in hell and have successfully gone through the stages of purgatory; has well prepared him for the journey ahead.
The task ahead of Dante would require somebody else, Beatrice, since Virgil is a pre-Christian, he would not be able to proceed any further. Natural reason here depicts that Dante is fully prepared and would be worthy in the eyes of the Lord and accepted in the Holy Church. Therefore he is mitered and crowned by Virgil to depict that he has found the freedom which only comes when ones desires concurs with reason. He has surpassed all necessary earthly authority i.e. pope and emperor and became independent.
Dante has gained self-independence and requires no earthly interventions to know his way to heaven. He has gained all the truths of this world. He gained the understanding of wrong from right. Unlike Hell where sinners receive a penal sentence purgatory allows for reconstitution of their souls. Every soul here has to pass through all the stages then through Peter’s Gate. After the sinner has demonstrated the desire for heaven by climbing up the three steps of penitence (confession, contrition and satisfaction), he receives a sevens P’s inscribing on his forehead.
The inscribing represents the seven capital sins namely lust, envy, covetousness, anger, pride, gluttony and sloth. The symbols vanish as one ascends slowly. The inscribing of the P’s serves to make the soul aware of the hidden sin that existed in life. Dante being exposed to life through Hell and Purgatory is ready and has the desire for reaching Heaven. Though the Pilgrim appears to have some fear after he realizes Virgil has disappeared, he remains clear of his goal to reach heaven.
This shows that Dante has truly gained the wisdom and knowledge of earth horrors, and his desire to reach his destination cannot be swayed. However, Dante’s journey of salvation does not end here. His soul needs nourishment with virtues of grace and charity. He still needs to expand and strengthen his spiritual insight. This is when Beatrice appears to see him through this process. Thus, the author here presents the road map to heaven. The greatest step towards heaven is to realize and demonstrate a desire for heaven. At this point one would have known the secrets towards heaven and needs not any earthly interventions from anyone (Aligieri N.P).
Alighieri, Dante. Divine Comedy – Purgatorio. 2011. N.P