Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Botticelli’s Drawings for Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri

O’er better waves to speed her rapid course
The light bark of my genius lifts the sail,
Well pleas’d to leave so cruel sea behind;
And of that second region will I sing,
In which the human spirit from sinful blot
Is purg’d, and for ascent to Heaven prepares.

These pictures are another selection from Botticelli’s illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy.  This second offering comes from the second of the three books that comprise the poem.  They depict Dante’s journey, accompanied first by Virgil and later by Beatrice, out of Hell and up the mountain of Purgatory, terrace by terrace.  Each of the seven levels corresponds to one of the deadly sins, beginning with the deadliest, Pride, and ending with least deadly, Lust.  Having passed through the flames of Desire, Dante gains the summit of this mountain, which represents Earthly Paradise.  There he is met by Beatrice in a heavenly chariot, whereupon, having confessed his sins to her, she removes her mask and he is able to gaze fully upon her face.

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