Purgatorio, Canto 4




Anthony Clark is an Associate Professor of Chinese History at Whitworth University. He is the author of Catholicism and Buddhism: The Contrasting Lives and Teaching of Jesus and the Buddha and China’s Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church.

Questions for Reflection

  • This canto opens with an extended meditation on the disruption of attention and the inability of the finite person to attend to all of the data coming through her various faculties. Why might Dante begin the canto with this discussion? Is this simply an extended poetic metaphor or is there a spiritual insight about the nature of the Christian life at play here?
  • Why do Dante and Virgil need to rely on the other purgative souls to learn the way? Why does Dante depict Virgil as a far less knowledgeable guide in Purgatory?
  • Why is the mountain harder to climb at lower levels than at higher ones (4.88-90)? What insight into the moral life is Dante revealing here?
  • Who is Belacqua and why is he so lazy? How can the spiritually lazy enter into heaven?
  • How does Belacqua’s situation highlight the importance of the Church’s prayers (4.130-135)?


  • Dr. Anthony Clark
  • Whitworth University
  • Run Time 10:06