Dante's predecessors: the origins of purgatory in the early Middle Ages
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Dante's masterpiece, Divina Commedia, blends his own imaginative brilliance with the rich traditions he inherited from previous generations of writers. This inherited material included a complex body of theological material and visionary literature which explored a range of ideas about the afterlife, and which developed over the centuries as Christians continually reinterpreted their relationship with God and the effects of that relationship on the fate of the soul in the next world. This lecture examines purgatory's origin in the early Middle Ages, and traces how and why the idea of an intermediate existence for the soul, neither heaven nor hell, was appealing and important to early medieval Christians as they sought to ensure their salvation in an uncertain world.
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