Purgatorio, Canto 23




Paul Contino is a Professor of Great Books at Pepperdine University. He teaches courses on Dante, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and C.S. Lewis.

Questions for Reflection

  • How do the penitents heal the vice of gluttony? What virtue is being cultivated through this horrific purgation?
  • Why would Dante draw readers’ attention to the way our skulls spell out the word for “OMO” or “human”? Why is it important to rediscover our base humanity as part of the purgative process?
  • How does Dante depict holy sorrow throughout this canto? Is there a way that we can smile and weep at the same time?
  • Who is Forese Donati and how does Dante treat him upon their meeting?
  • How does Dante honor Forese’s wife, Nella?
  • How is Dante’s interaction with Forese a kind of redemption of his earlier misuse of poetry?


  • Dr. Paul Contino
  • Pepperdine University
  • Run Time 9:09