Purgatorio 33.Final

Purgatorio 33.Final - Canto XXXIII Beatrices Prophecy,...

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Canto XXXIII Beatrice’s Prophecy, Matelda’s Name, and the Pilgrim’s Renewal Dino S. Cervigni Closely connected with the allegorical scene described at the end of Canto XXXII, and thus consequently also with Cantos XXX-XXXI, the Canto begins with the seven ladies’ sad proclamation of the chariot’s destruction (XXXIII, 1- 6). It then continues with Beatrice’s prediction of an ultimate redemption (XXXIII, 7-102), and it concludes with Dante the Pilgrim’s total transformation and renewal through the waters of the second Edenic river, Eunoè (XXXIII, 103-45). Furthermore, in the last part of Canto XXXIII Beatrice instructs the lady whom Dante the Pilgrim encountered upon entering the Earthly Paradise to complete the role assigned to her and reveals her name, Matelda. Beatrice’s proclamation of the future coming of a redeemer is prophetic and apocalyptic. By contrast, the Pilgrim’s individual transformation takes place at a specific moment of his journey, shortly after Beatrice’s prophecy. His renewal marks the conclusion of his purgatorial experience, linking it directly with his imminent ascent to Paradise. Beatrice’s prophecy confirms, on the one hand, the evil forces’ presence in human history and their constant attack on God’s creation and work of Redemption, and, on the other, God’s ultimate victory, as is shortly afterward evidenced by the Pilgrim’s total transformation (XXXIII, 91-99). Immediately after the seven ladies’ proclamation at the canto’s beginning, 1 Beatrice’s prophecy of a future redemption brings to completion the sacred drama enacted for the sake of Dante the Pilgrim. Preceded by the appearance of Matelda, who describes the structure of the Earthly Paradise ( Purg. XXVIII), the allegorical pageantry ( Purg . XXIX) culminates in the manifestation of Beatrice, who calls Dante by name and rebukes him harshly ( Purg. XXX). Becoming fully aware of his past transgressions and verbally acknowledging them, Dante the Pilgrim is purified of his past failings through the waters of the first Edenic river, Letè, which deletes even the memory of his past sins ( Purg. XXXI). Thus purified, he witnesses the unraveling of the past and future history of humankind and the Church, represented, respectively, by the tree and the chariot ( Purg. 1 Appearing as part of the pageantry along the right and left sides of the chariot in two groups of three and four ( Purg. XXIX, 121-32), the seven ladies represent the three theological (Faith, Hope, and Charity) and the four cardinal virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance). All seven play a major role in the Pilgrim’s transformation ( Purg. XXXI, 103-16; 127-38; XXXII, 8-9) and remain with Beatrice even after the pageantry returns to heaven (XXXII, 37-39).
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2 DINO S. CERVIGNI XXXII). 2
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This note was uploaded on 10/16/2011 for the course ITAL 333 taught by Professor Brownlee during the Spring '10 term at UPenn.

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Purgatorio 33.Final - Canto XXXIII Beatrices Prophecy,...

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