Of Thieves and Salvation Victories: Purgatorio V, 133
Glenn, Diana Cavuoto
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Dante's discourse with the penitent souls in the 'Purgatorio' reveals that these shades are characterised by a tendency towards self-effacement that is radically different from the destructive and self-absorbed attitude of the infernal spirits. Whereas the latter preserve an inner core of obduracy devoid of remorse, the contrite souls in 'Purgatory', through their trusting openness and willingness to communicate information about their private lives and the wider social and political circles of influence in which they once moved, help the Wayfarer to gain immeasurably in courage and inner strength. Throughout his journey, Dante-character is privy to surprising disclosures and, if the souls in Purgatory express amazement at his living presence among them, he is equally astonished by the news they relay to him, which has the potential to alter the destiny of members of the living Christian community and also to advance the spiritual cause of members of the community in Purgatory: "qui per quei di là molto savanza" (Purg. III, 145). Through his encounter with the shade of Pia in 'Purgatorio' V, the Pilgrim Dante is led to a higher level of spiritual cognition, not only as regards the souls in 'Purgatory', whose dialogues move back and forth in temporal and spatial terms as they reconstruct past events, relationships and places on earth, but also in relation to social networks and the interconnectedness of human society at large.