The Terrace of Lust


Wow!  Talk about some serious pain for the purgation of lust, here on the seventh, and final terrace of Purgatory.  If I were to rank the punishments, this one would definitely be in the top 3.  Both those sinners who were guilty of same-sex, and heterosexual lust, were required to walk through an area of fire while speaking out examples of chastity and lust.  I don’t even want to think of the type of pain that would be.  And then to have to do that for decades, maybe even centuries before being allowed to make your way to paradise!

I think one of the most telling parts of these cantos, is the fact that Dante, Statius, and Virgil have to walk through the fire in order to make their way to the final area of Purgatory, Terrestrial Paradise.  Why would Dante place this terrace, with walking through fire, as the final obstacle to reaching paradise?  Could it be because the fire helps to purge any last remnants of sin before reaching paradise?  I completely understand, from a Biblical sense, that God is number one, and that you should love Him and His Son above all else, anything else, in particular lust would be a sin.  So walking through the fire could be the last proof that a sinner needs to demonstrate their ultimate love for God.

Dante, the Pilgrim, has fear that the fire will harm him, even kill him, but Virgil says that he had not led the Pilgrim astray, trust him now.  Of course, Dante completes his journey by walking through the fire, and has the final P removed from his face, signifying he has been purified of each of the seven deadly sins.

He is now ready to finally face Beatrice before making his way to Paradise, and the final leg of his journey.  However, before that can happen, Virgil must bid his farewell.  Since he is a ‘pagan’ anything beyond the purgation of sin, he will not be able to understand, nor fathom.  So he must return to limbo in the inferno.

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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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