The Terrace of Sloth

As we reach the fourth terrace of Purgatory, the deadly sin of sloth, we find that Dante and Virgil stop to take a break as they are losing daylight on the mountain.  As I discussed previously, movement can only be made during the day on Purgatory.

I find it very interesting that on this fourth terrace is the first throughout Divine Comedy thus far, where Dante and Virgil have stopped in a terrace or circle while witnessing the activity taking place.  It is here where we hear Virgil explain to Dante the importance of love, and how penance in Purgatory is handled.  I also finally understood the geographical differences between Purgatory and the Inferno.  They are geographical opposites.

In Canto XVII, I finally see for the first time where Dante, the Pilgrim, actually commits the sin in question that he is observing.  As you see in lines 4-7:

And I, whom a new thirst still goaded on,
Without was mute, and within:  “Perchance
The too much questioning I make annoys him.”

Now, whether this attitude demonstrates sloth, I’m not entirely convinced of, but it does show a side of the Pilgrim that I haven’t seen up to this point in time.  I also found the depiction of those being purged of sloth running around at a fast pace shouting out examples of sloth.  They’re running around as if they’re in a hurry to get their tasks accomplished.  Of course, that is the complete opposite of what sloth is.

Finally, in these cantos, Dante is chided again for taking a brief look behind him to observe where he came from.  At the beginning of The Purgatorio, the angel chided both Dante and Virgil that they needed to make progress up the mountain.  It looks like it serves as a reminder that Dante is nearing paradise and being completely purged of all sin in order to meet his beloved Beatrice.


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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