Purgatorio is the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, following the Inferno and preceding the Paradiso. The poem was written in the early 14th century. It is an allegory telling of the climb of Dante up the Mount of Purgatory, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, except for the last four cantos at which point Beatrice takes over as Dante’s guide. Purgatory in the poem is depicted as a mountain in the Southern
Hemisphere, consisting of a bottom section (Ante-Purgatory), seven
levels of suffering and spiritual growth (associated with the seven
deadly sins), and finally the Earthly Paradise at the top.
After passing through the gate of Purgatory proper, Virgil guides the pilgrim Dante through the mountain’s seven terraces. These correspond to the seven deadly sins or “seven roots of sinfulness”: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice (and Prodigality), Gluttony, and Lust. The classification of sin here is more psychological than that of the Inferno, being based on motives, rather than actions. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. The core of the classification is based on love: the first three terraces of Purgatory relate to perverted love directed towards actual harm of others, the fourth terrace relates to deficient love (i.e. sloth or acedia), and the last three terraces relate to excessive or disordered love of good things. Each terrace purges a particular sin in an appropriate manner. Those in Purgatory can leave their circle voluntarily, but may only do so when they have corrected the flaw within themselves that led to committing that sin.
TERRACE 1: PRIDE: The first of the sins is Pride. Dante and Virgil begin to ascend this terrace shortly after 9 AM. On the terrace where proud souls purge their sin, Dante and Virgil see beautiful sculptures expressing humility, the opposite virtue. After being introduced to humility, Dante and Virgil meet the souls of the proud, who are bent over by the weight of huge stones on their backs.
TERRACE 2: ENVY: Envy is the sin that “looks with grudging hatred upon other men’s gifts and good fortune, taking every opportunity to run them down or deprive them of their happiness”. The souls of the envious wear penitential grey cloaks, and their eyes are sewn shut with iron wire, resembling the way a falconer sews shut the eyes of a falcon in order to train it.