Purgatory, Canto 6
AFTER extricating himself from a whole crowd of the Unshriven, who besiege him with requests for help, Dante asks Virgil about the ef icacy of prayer, and receives an interim answer, the profounder aspects of the matter being referred to Beatrice for explanation. The Poets meet with Sordello, who af ectionately hails Virgil as his fellow Mantuan, and thus prompts Dante to denounce at some length the internecine quarrels which divide Italy, concluding with a savagely ironical passage of invective directed against Florence.
The Prepatory Lecture
Questions for Reflection
Purgatory, Canto 6 © Jan Hearn
Sordello: Since Virgil (whether considered literally as an Ancient and a heathen, or allegorically as the Natural Man) cannot of himself know all the inhabitants of Mount Purgatory or explain its organization in detail, an interpreter is provided at each stage of the journey to supply the deficiency. Sordello performs this office in Ante-Purgatory, as does Statius later on in Purgatory Proper, and Matilda in the Earthly Paradise.
In this canto we are still in the region of the Unshriven.
Mark Vernon's Lecture