Thursday, January 18, 2007

Purgatorio 13: A few notes

There are notable differences in medium and spatial orientation, among others, between the Terrace of Envy and that of Pride.

First off, where the Terrace of Pride had white bas-reliefs and a marble path of divinely wrought images, the first glimpse of Envy's domain is of a bleak, livid space with no one in sight.

The words occhi (eyes) and videre (seeing, sight) appear numerous times in this canto, but what's striking is what is not seen - the invisibile parlare, we might call it, of the voices that rush past Dante and Virgil as they approach the band of sinners.

Why are the eyes of the envious sealed "like hawks"?

Why, when Dante asks if one of them is Italian, is he told that all are "citizens of one true city"? Why does the theme of the City of God, versus the City of Man, surface here amid the envious?

Singleton notes yet another element of Dante's realism: La Sapia knows Dante is alive because, with the extra sensitivity of the blind, she hears him breathing, while she and the others have no idea of Virgil's presence.

La Sapia is overjoyed at the defeat of her fellow citizens in the battle of Colle, some of which she might have seen from her husband's castle. It was this battle in which Provenzan Salvani, met on the previous terrace, was killed.

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