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Sacred Spaces


Inferno

 

In Dante's vision of the afterlife, hell is a cone-shaped funnel located directly underneath the city of Jerusalem, and was created when Lucifer, the fallen angel, was cast out of heaven for his rebellion against God. Hell is divided into nine cerchi or circles, and in each circle a particular sin or vice is punished.  

First Circle (Limbo):  Virtuous Pagans born before the time of Christ; Unbaptized Children

Second Circle: The Lustful

Third Circle:  The Gluttonous

Fourth Circle:  The Avaricious and Prodigal

Fifth Circle: The Wrathful

Sixth Circle:  The Heretics

Seventh Circle: The Violent 

Eighth Circle:  The Fraudulent

Ninth Circle: The Traitors 

Angels who refused to take sides with either Lucifer or God during the rebellion are doomed to spend eternity in a place between the Gates of Hell and the first circle called “Ante-Hell”. The upper region of hell which includes the first five circles is reserved for what Dante considers less serious sins or sins of incontenenza (lust, gluttony, greed, and wrath)These sins are committed out of the inability to control one's passions.  Sins of malizia,on the other hand, are deliberately and willfully committed, and are therefore punished in the lower region of hell (heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery).  Although all in hell are equally damned, the lower region is reserved for the most wicked of souls because it is furthest from God.

 

Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non eterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'intrate. (Inf. III. 7-9)

Purgatorio

 

According to Dante's vision of the afterlife, souls that are not damned, yet not worthy of heaven, must first enter Purgatory.  Purgatory is a place of redemption and therefore, there are no demons, monsters, or devils.  Angels stand guard on each of the seven terraces and watch over the penitent. In the Inferno, punishment serves to further immerse the damned in their vice.  The torment is so great that they blaspheme God and seek to end their pain.  On the other hand, the penitent of the Purgatorio patiently and willfully accept their punishment because it is only through pain that they might be cleansed of vice.

According to Dante, Purgatory is a mountain with seven terraces, and was created when God cast Lucifer out of Heaven as punishment for his rebellion.  As Satan crashed to the ground, he displaced a large mound of earth which would later become Mount Purgatory.  The pilgrims must climb each of the seven terraces which represent one of the seven deadly sins.  As the weight of sins is lifted from them, they rise to next terrace with greater ease and eventually make their ways towards Paradise.

Terrace 1: The Proud

Terrace 2: The Envious

Terrace 3:  The Wrathful

Terrace 4:  The Slothful

Terrace 5:  The Avaricious and Prodigal

Terrace 6:   The Gluttonous

Terrace 7:  The Lustful

Ante-Purgatory lies between the shores of Mount Purgatory and the First Terrace.  In this place, Dante and Virgil meet the souls of the excommunicated and the late penitents.  After climbing all seven terraces and reaching the summit, the pilgrims drink from the Lethe and the Eunoe Rivers in Terrestrial Paradise.  The waters of the two rivers allow the penitent to forget their past transgressions and to remember only their good deeds.  

 

Paradiso

 

After passing through Terrestrial Paradise, Dante enters Heaven, the dwelling place of God, the angels, and the blessed.  The poet's vision of this eternal place of joy was heavily modeled after the ptolemaic system of astronomy whereby a stationary earth is orbited by the sun, the moon, and the planets.  Dante's Heaven is comprised of nine spheres which are moved by the nine orders of angels.

Beatrice explains to Dante that all souls in the Paradiso are eternally blessed, but because of his human limitations, will appear to him in a kind of hierarchy.  Beatrice makes clear to Dante that although the blessed may experience the beatific vision differently, they are all equally contented and dwell in the Empyrean.

First Sphere: The Moon: The Inconstant

Second Sphere: Mercury: The Ambitious

Third Sphere: Venus: The Lovers

Fourth Sphere: The Sun: The Wise

Fifth Sphere: Mars: The Warriors of the Faith

Sixth Sphere: Jupiter: The Just Rulers

Seventh Sphere: Saturn: The Contemplatives

Eighth Sphere: The Fixed Stars

Ninth Sphere: The Primum Mobile: The Angels

After making his way through the nine spheres of the Paradiso, Dante ascends to a mystical place beyond the physical realm: The Empyrean is filled with light, joy, and beauty and is devoid of space and time.  It is the eternal resting place of the blessed and the home of God.  In the Empyrean, Dante sees a vision of a large white rose.  All of the blessed, including his beloved Beatrice, are seated inside its petals.

 

Plan of the Inferno and Itinerary of Dante{'<br/>'}Source: Vernon, William Warren, de Imola Benvenutus, and Edward Moore. Readings On the Inferno of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. London; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.
Plan of the Inferno and Itinerary of Dante
Source: Vernon, William Warren, de Imola Benvenutus, and Edward Moore. Readings On the Inferno of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. London; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map of Purgatorio{'<br/>'}Source: Vernon, William Warren, Dante Alighieri, and de Imola Benvenutus. Readings On the Purgatorio of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. 3d ed., rev. London: Methuen, 1907. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.
Map of Purgatorio
Source: Vernon, William Warren, Dante Alighieri, and de Imola Benvenutus. Readings On the Purgatorio of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. 3d ed., rev. London: Methuen, 1907. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General View of Paradise According to Dante{'<br/>'}Source: Vernon, William Warren, Dante Alighieri, and de Imola Benvenutus. Readings On the Paradiso of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. 2d ed., rev. London: Methuen, 1909. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.
General View of Paradise According to Dante
Source: Vernon, William Warren, Dante Alighieri, and de Imola Benvenutus. Readings On the Paradiso of Dante: Chiefly Based On the Commentary of Benvenuto Da Imola. 2d ed., rev. London: Methuen, 1909. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.

In Exitu Israel

 

A beautiful angel ferries the penitent across a river.  As the souls reach the shores of Mount Purgatory they sing Psalm 114, "In Exitu Israel de Aegypto". [1]

 

 

In exitu Israel de Aegypto, domus Jacob de populo barbaro, facta est Judaea sanctificatio ejus;  Israel potestas ejus.  (Psalm 114.)

Botticelli Arrival of Penitent Souls<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Arrival of Penitent souls at Mount Purgatory. Purg. II. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> <span style="font-size: 70%;">John Flaxman. The Benediction. An angel ferries the souls of the penitent to the shores of Mount Purgatory. 'Upon the poop the heavenly pilot stood/ with stamp of blessedness irradiate.' Purg. II 43. Source: Dante Alighieri, Ichabod Charles Wright, and John Flaxman. The Divine Comedy. 5th ed. London: Bell & Daldy, 1867. Falvey Memorial Library Special Collections.</span> <span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. The Penitent at the Shore of Mount Purgatory. 'The heavenly steersman at the prow was seen,/ Visibly written Blessed in his looks.' Purg II. 42-43. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library Special Collections.</span> <span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Arrival of the penitent at the shores of Mount Purgatory. Then when he knew/ the pilot cried aloud, Down, down; bend low/ Thy knees; behold God's angel: fold thy hands; Now shalt thou see true ministers indeed.' Purg. II 27-30. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library Special Collections.</span>

 

 

 

Gates of Purgatory

As Dante passes through the Gates of Purgatory he hears a heavenly chorus singing "“Te Deum Laudamus”. [2] 

 

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur. Te aeternum Patremomnis terra veneratur. Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates; Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae. Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus, Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus, Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia, Patrem immensae maiestatis: Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium; Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum. Tu Rex gloriae, Christe. Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius. Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum. Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum. Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris. Judex crederis esse venturus. Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti. Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari. 

Dor.gate_of_purgatory.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Gates of Purgatory. 'In visage such, as past my power to bear.' Purg IX. 74. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York [etc.]: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Flaxman_the_river_Eunoe.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">'Now enter he exclaimed' Purg. IX. 130. Source: Dante Alighieri, Ichabod Charles Wright, and John Flaxman. The Divine Comedy. 5th ed. London: Bell & Daldy, 1867.</span>

 

 

 

Gallery of Sacred and Infernal Spaces

 

 

Botticelli_Dante_and_Matelda_at_Lethe.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Matelda and Dante in Earthly Paradise. Par. XXVIII. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Botticelli_earthly_paradise.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Earthly Paradise. Purg. XXXIII. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Botticelli_eighth_sphere_of_heaven.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Heaven of the Fixed Stars. Par. XXIV. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Botticelli_Heaven_of_the_fixed_stars.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Heaven of the Fixed Stars. Par. XXVI. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Botticelli_the_empyrean.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Sandro Botticelli. Beatrice and Dante in the light of the Empyrean. Par. XXX. Source: Dante Alighieri, Sandro Botticelli, Mario Casela, Henry Francis Cary. La Divina Commedia or Divine Vision of Dante Alighieri. New York. Nonesuch Press, limited, 1928. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Caronte_ferries_souls.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Charon ferries souls across infernal river. Source: Dante Alighieri, and Corrado Ricci. La Divina Commedia. Milano: U. Hoepli, 1921. Volumes 1-3. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_Sinners_gathering_at_the_shore.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Sinners gather at the infernal shore. 'E'en in like manner Adam's evil brood/ Cast themselves, one by one, down from the shore.' Inf. III. 107-109. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Inferno. New Edition. New York. P.F. Collier, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_Charon.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Charon ferries souls across infernal river. 'And, lo! towards us in a bark/ comes on an old man, hoary white with eld/crying Woe to you wicked spirits!.' Inf. III 76-78. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Inferno. New Edition. New York. P.F. Collier, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Siena_Duomo_Damned_souls.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Damned souls. Source: Dante Alighieri, and Corrado Ricci. La Divina Commedia. Milano: U. Hoepli, 1921. Volumes 1-3. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_dark_wood_of_sin.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">'In the midway of this our mortal life/ I found me in a gloomy wood, astray.' Inf. I. 1-2. 'Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Inferno. New Edition. New York. P.F. Collier, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_cato_the_gatekeeper_to_mt_purgatory.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Cato the Gatekeeper to Mount Purgatory. 'My guide, then laying hold on me, by words/ And intimations given with hand and head,/ Made my bent knees and eye submissive pay/ Due reverence.' Purg. I 49-52. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_the_wall_of_rock_mt_purgatory.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Wall of Rock. 'And I gazed upward round the stony height;/ On the left hand appear'd to us a troop/ of spirits, that toward us moved their steps; / Yet moving semm'd not, they so slow approach.' Purg. III. 56-59. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Flaxman_Charons_Boat.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">John Flaxman. Charon's Boat. ' Thus pass they slowly o'er the water brown.' Inf. III 118. Source: Dante Alighieri, Ichabod Charles Wright, and John Flaxman. The Divine Comedy. 5th ed. London: Bell & Daldy, 1867. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_Paradiso.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Blessed of the Paradiso. 'About us thus,/ of sempiternal roses, bending, wreathed/ those garlands twain; and to the innermost/ E'en thus the external answer's.' Par. XII 16-19. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_shores_of_lethe.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Shores of Lethe. 'Already had my steps,/Though slow, so far into that ancient wood/ Transported me, I could not ken the place/ where I had entered' Purg. XXVIII. 22-25. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Flaxman_River_Eunoe.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">John Flaxman. The River Eunoe. 'To Eunoes fount do thou direct his course.' Purg. XXXIII. 127. Source: Dante Alighieri, Ichabod Charles Wright, and John Flaxman. The Divine Comedy. 5th ed. London: Bell & Daldy, 1867. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_Matelde_in_terrestrial_paradise.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Terrestrial Paradise. 'A lady young and beautiful, I dream'd/ Was passing o'er a lea; and, as she came,/ Methought I saw her ever and anon/ Bending to cull the flowers.' Purg. XXVII. 97-100. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_Lethe.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Shores of Lethe. 'Were further space allow'd/ then, Reader! might I sing, though but in part,/ That beverage, with whose sweetness I had ne'er/ Been sated.' Purg. XXXIII 134-137. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_dante_and_virgil_in_purgatory_gaze_at_stars.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Dante and Virgil Gaze at Stars. 'The radiant planet, that to love invites,/ Made all the orient laugh, and veil'd beneath/ The Pisces' light, that in his escort came.' Purg. I 19-21. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York [etc.]: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_dante_and_Virgil_in_purgatory.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustae Doré. 'Many exclaim'd the bard/ are these, who throng/ Around us: to petition thee, they come./ Go thereforeon, and listen as thou go's.' Purg. V. 42-44. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York [etc.]: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span> Dor_dante_and_virgil_in_dark_wood_of_sin.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Virgil and Dante in the Dark Wood of Sin. 'Onward he moved, I close his steps pursued.' Inf. I 132. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Inferno. New Edition. New York. P.F. Collier, limited, 1883. Falvey Memorial Library. Special Collections.</span> Dor_Buonconte_on_shores_of_Archiano.jpg<br/><span style="font-size: 70%;">Gustave Doré. Buonconte on the shores of Archiano. 'From my breast/ Loosening the cross, that of myself I made/ When overcome with pain.' Purg. V 123-124. Source: Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and Gustave Doré. Purgatory and Paradise. new ed. New York: Cassell & company, limited, 1883.</span>

 

 

 

References

1.  Citation:  Purg. II. 46.  Dante Alighieri, and Mark Musa. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

2.  Citation:  Purg. IX.140.  Dante Alighieri, and Mark Musa. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

3.  Psalms.  The New American Bible.

4.  Scott, John A. Understanding Dante. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004.