Darkness of Hell giving way o the Morning Mists of new life:
|Dante and Virgil Ascemding the Mountain of Purgatory|
William Blake's Illustrations of Dante
The seven terraces of Purgatory
From the gate of Purgatory, Virgil guides the pilgrim Dante through its seven terraces. These correspond to the seven deadly sins or "seven roots of sinfulness." The classification of sin here is more psychological than that of the Inferno, being based on motives, rather than actions. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources. The core of the classification is based on love: the first three terraces of Purgatory relate to perverted love directed towards actual harm of others, the fourth terrace relates to deficient love (i.e. sloth or acedia), and the last three terraces relate to excessive or disordered love of good things.
Each terrace purges a particular sin in an appropriate manner. Those in Purgatory can leave their circle voluntarily, but will only do so when they have corrected the flaw within themselves that led to committing that sin.