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Purgatory | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Dawn, Easter Sunday, 1300

    Dante and Virgil emerge from the earth after their voyage through Hell.

    Canto 1
  • As the sun rises

    The two travelers reach the foot of Mount Purgatory.

    Canto 3
  • Throughout the day

    Dante confers with the souls in Ante-Purgatory, who must wait to begin their penance.

    Canto 3
  • Morning of Easter Monday

    Passing through a massive gate, Dante enters Purgatory proper.

    Canto 9
  • Mid-morning

    Dante encounters the prideful, who bear heavy stones.

    Canto 10
  • Early afternoon

    On the second terrace Dante meets the envious, blinded and in hair shirts.

    Canto 13
  • About 3:00 p.m.

    Amid heavy smoke Dante visits the wrathful on the third terrace.

    Canto 15
  • Late Monday night

    Halfway up the mountain, Dante watches the slothful energetically atoning for their sins.

    Canto 18
  • Dawn on Tuesday

    On the fifth terrace Dante and Virgil encounter the souls of the avaricious.

    Canto 19
  • Mid-morning

    Dante is joined by the Roman poet Statius, newly freed from his sins.

    Canto 21
  • About 10:00 a.m.

    A horrified Dante beholds the gluttonous, now shriveled with hunger and thirst.

    Canto 22
  • As the sun sets

    Dante arrives at the seventh and final terrace, where the lustful burn.

    Canto 26
  • Early Wednesday morning

    Reaching the summit, Dante, Virgil, and Statius enter the Earthly Paradise.

    Canto 28
  • Mid-morning

    Dante witnesses a grand procession of symbolic figures.

    Canto 29
  • Soon thereafter

    Beatrice, Dante's lost love, greets him and urges him to confess his sins.

    Canto 30
  • Immediately

    Confessing, Dante falls into a faint and is drawn through the river Lethe.

    Canto 31
  • Late morning

    A second elaborate vision reveals the history and immediate future of the Church.

    Canto 32
  • Noon

    Drinking of the river Eunoe, Dante purifies and prepares himself to visit Heaven.

    Canto 33

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Canto 1 Dante begins Purgatory by likening his mind to a ship in search of "better waves" after escaping the "gulf" of Hell. In ... Read More
Canto 2 The sun crosses the horizon, and Dante waxes lyrical about the beauty of the dawn. A flash of light from across the sea ... Read More
Canto 3 Crossing a plain with Virgil, Dante makes his way toward Mount Purgatory. Not seeing Virgil's shadow, he panics momentar... Read More
Canto 4 Finding a narrow passage up from the base of the mountain, Dante and Virgil scramble their way to the top of a ledge. Da... Read More
Canto 5 As Dante and Virgil continue to seek a path up Mount Purgatory, they are distracted by gossiping souls who comment on Da... Read More
Canto 6 Dante continues to make his way through the crowd of late-repenting souls. According to the metaphor in the poetry, he i... Read More
Canto 7 Sordello, the deceased Italian poet introduced in the previous canto, continues to converse with Virgil. He finally asks... Read More
Canto 8 The sun sets as Dante, Virgil, and Sordello continue to look down over the valley. Below, a single soul leads the other ... Read More
Canto 9 Partway through the night, Dante finally falls asleep. He dreams of a golden-plumed eagle which snatches him up in its t... Read More
Canto 10 Dante and Virgil take their first tentative steps beyond the gate of Purgatory, eventually reaching a wide, even road th... Read More
Canto 11 The weighed-down sinners who arrived in Canto 10 now join in a poetically embellished version of the Lord's Prayer. They... Read More
Canto 12 Dante follows closely behind Virgil as the two make their way through the first level of Purgatory. On the floor are car... Read More
Canto 13 Dante and Virgil reach the second terrace of Purgatory, which is devoted to the envious. Seeing no spirits to ask for di... Read More
Canto 14 This canto opens with the envious souls resuming their gossip about Dante, whose presence in Purgatory continues to draw... Read More
Canto 15 As Dante looks out at the afternoon sun, he is struck by "splendor far more bright than first there'd been." This, Virgi... Read More
Canto 16 Engulfed by smoke, Dante and Virgil continue their circuit of the third terrace of Purgatory. As they walk on, they hear... Read More
Canto 17 The setting sun "feebly" shines through the haze; by the time Dante emerges from the smoke, it has already set. Dante no... Read More
Canto 18 In the previous canto Virgil has just explained that all sin stems from a failure of love: loving the wrong things, not ... Read More
Canto 19 As the night wears on, Dante dreams of a hideous old "crone" who transforms into a Siren, then attempts to seduce the po... Read More
Canto 20 Complying with Pope Adrian's request, Dante and Virgil continue along the terrace of the avaricious, picking their way o... Read More
Canto 21 Bursting with curiosity about the earthquake he has just witnessed, Dante nonetheless keeps quiet as he resumes his asce... Read More
Canto 22 Dante ascends from the terrace of the avaricious (number five of seven) and the corresponding scar is wiped away from hi... Read More
Canto 23 As Dante marvels at the unusual tree before him, Virgil chides him for wasting time and insists on resuming their journe... Read More
Canto 24 Dante and his companions continue to traverse the terrace of the gluttonous. Forese Donati walks with them a while and p... Read More
Canto 25 As Dante, Virgil, and Statius make their way up to the final terrace of Purgatory, Virgil senses Dante's confusion about... Read More
Canto 26 Dante carefully circles the terrace of lust, trying to avoid both the flames on the one side and the sheer drop on the o... Read More
Canto 27 At last Dante and his companions ascend from the trials of Purgatory. An angel pronounces the final Beatitude, "Beati mu... Read More
Canto 28 Dante marvels at the beauty of the Earthly Paradise, a garden of dark, lush trees and cool streams. He encounters a beau... Read More
Canto 29 Now that she has sung the praises of the Earthly Paradise, Matelda goes her way, still singing. Dante follows her from h... Read More
Canto 30 The participants in the procession from Canto 29 now circle the chariot, singing songs of praise and strewing flowers be... Read More
Canto 31 Put on the spot by Beatrice, Dante confesses his sins. Amid sighs and sobs, he admits to pursuing "mere things of here a... Read More
Canto 32 Dante gazes his fill of Beatrice, as if to make up for lost time, since she is so long dead on earth. The procession beg... Read More
Canto 33 Having witnessed the symbolic abduction of the Church, the seven virtues gather round and weep. Beatrice listens in symp... Read More
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