The Terrace of Envy


In Cantos XIII and XIV of The Purgatorio, we enter the second terrace of envy.  The first thing that grabbed my attention in this terrace was the visual that those awaiting  to purge envy were all huddled together like poor blind beggars, the type that you might see in a Robin Hood flick.  Much to my amazement, those guilty of envy had their eyes sewn shut!

What an interesting take on how envy should be purged!  While they are experiencing this penance, examples of love and envy are shouted to them while they are sitting.  These individuals, also would need to depend on the kindness/love of strangers to speak to them.  Dante shows this kindness when he tips Sapia’s head toward the sound of his voice, so Dante could be heard better.

One item that I found particularly interesting is related to my last post about the terrace of pride.  I mentioned there that Dante felt he was in the same class of poet as Virgil and those poets that resided in limbo in the inferno.  In this canto, while speaking to Sapia, he acknowledges that he may be guilty of the sin of pride and not envy by stating in Canto XIII, lines 134-138:

Mine eyes,” I said, “will yet be here ta’en from me, but for short space; for small is the offence Committed by their being turned with envy.  Far greater is the fear, wherein suspended My soul is, of the torment underneath, For even now the load down there weighs on me.

Interesting indeed, on how Dante, both the Pilgrim, and the Poet himself, is guilty of this sin of pride.  Perhaps, during this journey, Dante is learning the true nature of the grace of God, and by experiencing this journey, he may be able to change his life, that of the poet, before he passes from the living.

It will definitely be interesting to see how Dante, the Pilgrim, progresses, from a character standpoint, during the rest of our journey up the mountain of Purgatory.

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About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

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