The invention of Ante-Purgatory: sluggards and excommunicates in Dante’s “Hopeful limbo” (Purgatorio i-ix)

George Corbett*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article uncovers Dante’s rationale for inventing ‘Ante-Purgatory’, a highly peculiar region of his afterlife where souls, although saved, are temporarily relieved of the poena sensus prior to entering Purgatory-proper. It also demonstrates the significant influence of William Peraldus’s De vitiis et virtutibus on this section of the poem (Purg. i-ix). Section 1 analyses Ante-Purgatory in relation to two other strange groups of souls: the neutrals (Inf. iii) and the virtuous pagans in limbo (Inf. iv). In all three cases, it argues, Dante’s purpose is ethical, not eschatological. In other words, Dante represents particular moral states through these invented eschatological regions. While section 2 demonstrates how Dante represents specific sub-vices of sloth (acedia) through the five groups of souls in Ante-Purgatory, sections 3 and 4 focus in more detail on two groups: the sluggards and the excommunicates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-65
Number of pages25
JournalLe Tre Corone
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023


  • Ante-Purgatory
  • Dante
  • Excommunicates
  • Limbo
  • Neutrals
  • Peraldus
  • Pride
  • Purgatory
  • Sloth
  • Sluggards


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