Purgatorio, Canto 17




Brian Williams is the Dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He is the author of The Potter’s Rib: Mentoring for Pastoral Formation, and his research focuses on Dante, Karl Barth, and classical education.

Questions for Reflection 

  • This is a significant canto. It is, firstly, the middle canto of the Comedy. It is also the 51st canto of the poem, thus tying it back to the pilgrim’s first words in Inferno 1: “Miserere mei” (from Psalm 51 [50 in the Latin Vulgate]). In light of this, why do you think Dante chooses to begin this canto with an address to the reader?
  • What role does the imagination play in the first 27 lines?
  • What is sloth (17.85-87)?
  • How does love work according to lines 91-105? How can virtue and vice both be the result of love? How can we think of sin in terms of love?
  • How is Mount Purgatory divided into failures of love?


  • Dr. Brian Williams
  • Templeton Honors College
  • Run Time 13:46