Dante and Virgil starting climbing down Satan at 6PM on Holy Saturday. They emerge at 5am Easter Sunday at the base of Mount Purgatory.
Doing the Time Warp Medieval Style
Did it really take almost 12 hours to get out of Hell? According to Virgil, it’s because time runs slightly differently.
Think of it as a medieval-style time warp. Virgil explains that because they are on the other side of the world, time is opposite to what it is when they started out. Think of it as a completely different time zone, so that as they traveled, time seems to move backwards.
So, technically, when they emerge from Inferno, they emerge into the beginning of Holy Saturday again. Dante doesn’t necessarily go by this, however, because it’s the allegory that counts, not the reality.
Allegorically, he enters Purgatory on Easter Sunday. It’s now possible because of the events of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Time in Purgatory
Hell only took 48 hours. Purgatory takes three days.
There a a few explanations for this:
- Purgatory has prayers, lessons, and examples on each level. Hell did not.
- Purgatory is about instruction in virtue, not punishment for vice.
- Dante and Virgil sleep at the end of the day–they don’t travel onwards like they did when they were in Hell.
Enjoy the more leisurely pace!
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