The Cleansing Power of Love: How Augustine's Confessions and Dante's Inferno Exemplify the Extent of What Love Can Accomplish
Augustine’s Confessions and Dante’s The Divine Comedy both narrate conversion stories that parallel each other in that both characters begin in a state where no love is present and progress toward a state where love is the center of their being. Love can accomplish the great feat of freeing people from sin. Love is powerful, but humans are not. Because of this, humans can only be cleansed from love when they are open to love and in a physical place where they can receive love. In Confessions, Augustine lived a life of sin, reveling in the intoxication of women and partying. However, he felt a call from God and converted to Catholicism in order to love Him more fully and completely, at which point he was freed from his past. In The Divine Comedy, Dante begins in the Inferno, also known as hell, experiencing the existence of the tragic souls lost in this place that was created by love in order to maintain its purity. Throughout his journey, he progresses onto Purgatorio, in which enough love exists that souls have the opportunity to ascend upward, and then onto Paradiso, which is also known as Heaven. In Paradiso, only love exists, and the grand power of love is revealed that all who open their hearts have access to. Augustine’s Confessions and Dante’s The Divine Comedy both illuminate what love can accomplish by exemplifying how love frees all who are open to it from sin.