Mint XXI jumps back to Dante’s ‘Purgatorio’ to finish up their outstanding ‘Divine Comedy’ trilogy of silver coins

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of last year, Mint XXI’s stunning Divine Comedy: Inferno, was a gorgeous interpretation of the classic Medieval Italian literary work by Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy is a three part work, so it was a little disappointing to see the mint jump to the last part, Paradiso, for the next coin, along with indications that this was to be a two-part series. Fortunately, that has not turned out to be the case, and Purgatorio is now upon us.

We’re pleased to see that not only has the high standard of the previous pair been maintained, but in many regards, exceeded. The multitudes are back, and they’ve been exquisitely layered to replicate the seven terraces that Dante describes in his trip through purgatory. There are fine details everywhere, and this one does by far the best job of depicting an actual journey, with each terrace filled with appropriately posed figures. Just awesome stuff.

That superb profile portrait of Dante Alighieri returns for the obverse, as does the fine quality presentation that has marked the series to date. We’ve seen the first coin in hand, and it lives up to all expectations, so we’d have no concerns saying this one will do exactly the same. This has been a wonderful series, perfectly realised. At five-ounces in weight, and with a mintage of just 333 pieces, it clearly isn’t a budget item, but sometimes you just have to treat yourself… Available to order now, it will ship towards the end of Q1/2022.


An Italian poet born around 1265 and dieing in 1321, Dante is widely lauded for his three part ‘Divine Comedy’ which is not only considered the greatest literary work in the Italian language, but also one of the most important of the Middle Ages. He eschewed the traditional use of Latin so that more people would have access to his writing, helping to set the local Tuscan dialect on its path to becoming the modern Italian language.

His influence is quite incredible to this day. The depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, set out in Divine Comedy, remain one of the greatest influences on a vast body of art across multiple mediums. Great writers like Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton and Alfred Tennyson were said to be inspired by it. Countless works of art also bear its influence. Those that are familiar with, and like Scottsdale Mint’s Biblical Series of Gustave Dore based coins, will be pleased to know thaat Dore also did extensive work depicting The Divine Comedy.

He was buried in Ravenna in an ancient Roman sarcophagus. A Neo-classical tomb was built over the grave that remains there to this day.


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.

TERRACE 3: WRATH: On the terrace of the wrathful, which the poets reach at 3 PM, examples of meekness (the opposite virtue) are given to Dante as visions in his mind. The souls of the wrathful walk around in blinding acrid smoke, which symbolises the blinding effect of anger

TERRACE 4: SLOTH: On the fourth terrace we find souls whose sin was that of deficient love – that is, sloth or acedia. Since they had failed in life to act in pursuit of love, here they are engaged in ceaseless activity. The examples of sloth and of zeal, its opposite virtue, are called out by these souls as they run around the terrace.

TERRACE 5: GREED: On the fifth terrace, excessive concern for earthly goods – whether in the form of greed, ambition or extravagance – is punished and purified. The avaricious and prodigal lie face-down on the ground, reciting the psalm Adhaesit pavimento anima mea, taken from Psalm 119:25 (“My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word”), which is a prayer expressing the desire to follow God’s law.

TERRACE 6: GLUTTONY: It is between 10 and 11 AM, and the three poets begin to circle the sixth terrace where the gluttonous are purged, and more generally, those who over-emphasised food, drink, and bodily comforts. In a scene reminiscent of the punishment of Tantalus, they are starved in the presence of trees whose fruit is forever out of reach.

TERRACE 7: LUST: The terrace of the lustful has an immense wall of flame through which everyone must pass. As a prayer, they sing the hymn Summae Deus Clementiae (God of Supreme Clemency) from the Liturgy of the Hours. Souls repenting of misdirected sexual desire call forth in praises of chastity and marital fidelity (the Virgin Mary’s chastity and the chastity of Diana) (Canto XXV).

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “PURGATORIO (DANTE)”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

DENOMINATION 5,000 Francs CFA (Cameroon)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 155.5 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, hand polished
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes