In comparison to the souls in Inferno, the souls in Purgatorio have not only realized their
wrongs but have also accepted them, and their sole goal is reaching God's love. However, how much of
an understanding do the souls in Purgatorio understand their sin? The characters who exemplify this
understanding are the Negligent Rulers and Statius.
The Negligent Rulers in the fourth circle mourn for their lack of spiritual duty to God. Among
the Negligent Rulers Dante and Virgil meet in the fourth circle are Rudolph of Hapsburg, Ottocar of
Bohemia and Marquis William Longsword. When Sordello, Dante and Virgil's guide, point out the
rulers they are unhappy and miserable. However, what is the ...view middle of the document...
Two, Ottocar's act in comforting Rudolph shows
that in Purgatorio, there is no room for hatred, only the pursuit of God's love in its hierarchy. Although
the Negligent Rulers, in their previous lives, were focused on revenge for the other and fulfilling their
duty to the fullest, they failed in their duty in pursuing their faith; however, because they had faith to
begin with they were granted access into Purgatorio.
Statius, a converted Christian, spent over 400 years in the fifth circle repenting because of his
inadequacy to differentiate between the balance of what to give away and what to keep. When Dante
and Virgil arrive in the fifth circle, Sordello's assistance is of no further use because he has reached the
point where he is forbidden to advance. In the fifth circle Dante and Virgil meets Statius, their new
guide. As soon as Statius had finished his story and recognized Virgil, he bent over and embraced
Virgil's knees (Purg. XXI. 130). A moment of acknowledgment, but if the sole purpose of the souls in
Purgatorio is pursuing God's love why is Statius embracing Virgil's knees? Is it not a penalty to idolize
another soul, especially because Virgil is a pagan? What particular knowledge allows Statius to be on a
higher level than the Negligent Rulers then?
While Statius was alive, he lived as a pagan poet and spent his money lavishly; however, he felt that something was missing. Then, he suddenly stumbled upon Virgil's writing and through Virgil's writings' Statius converted to Christianity. Through Statius's conversion, he began helping others and went strictly by the “rules” (Pur. XXII. 85-87). In other words, Statius did not fully comprehend that there was a balance between what to give away and what to keep. When Statius was baptized into the Catholic faith, he kept it a secret in fear of the Greeks finding out (Pur. XXII. 88-91) nevertheless, he practiced his faith as often as possible. The knowledge, which Statius obtained, that allowed him to be on a...