Purgatorio, Canto 5




Alina Beary is an Associate Professor in the Torrey Honors College at Biola University. She is interested in virtue ethics, the deadly sin tradition, implicit biases, and she primarily studies St. Thomas Aquinas.

Questions for Reflection

  • Why does Dante take pleasure in having some purgative souls gazing at him in amazement? Is this Dante’s pride and vanity inhibiting his moral progress?
  • In 5.24, the purgative souls are singing the Miserere of David (Psalm 50/51). This is the second of three references to the Miserere in the Divine Comedy (see also Inferno 65 and Paradiso 32.12). What role does the Miserere play in this scene and how does it help us understand the meaning and purpose of Purgatorio? How does the use of the Miserere here help us better understand the pilgrim’s use of it in the dark wood of Inferno 1?
  • Is it surprising that deathbed conversions have such a prominent place in Purgatory? What kind of penance must these late repentants pay before entering into Purgatory proper?
  • Who is Buonconte (5.88ff) and what does his salvation reveal about the character of divine mercy? Does Buonconte’s salvation mean that you can sin as much as you want and assume that you can just repent at the end of your life? How might we understand Buonconte’s salvation in relation to his father’s damnation (see Inferno 27)?
  • Who is Pia? What purpose does her very brief appearance in this canto serve?


  • Dr. Alina Beary
  • Torrey Honors College
  • Run Time 10:41