ONLINE CLASS: Dante's Purgatorio (2070)

 Six Tuesdays: June 9, 16, 23, 30, and July 7, 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

$150.00 (10% off for members)

While Hell is “black, confined, stinking, noisy, and suffocating, the great Mountain of Purgatory rises in pure sunlit solitude out of the windswept southern sea.” (Sayers, Purgatorio; Introduction)  In the course of his descent  through the Inferno, Dante has undergone a conversion which has, literally, turned his world upside down.

Sadly, the majority of Dante’s readers do not accompany him beyond his escape from the Inferno, in part, perhaps, because of an instinctive anticipation that when the excitement of adventure is over, then the hard work of maturation must begin. Indeed, there is work aplenty on Mount Purgatorio, but there is also so much more. There is day and night, labor and rest, waking and dreaming, all the rhythms of diurnal living; but above all, there is the delight of hope. All that the penitent souls suffer here, they undergo in the eagerness of passionate yearning to be healed of the wounds of sin inflicted on them as part of the universal heritage of humanity. Purgatory is a “school of contemplation,” where the healing of wounds coincides with learning to suffer the weight of responsibility for one’s own identity as a person. For those willing to undertake the steep ascent of Dante’s seven-story Mountain, nowhere in the legacy of human culture is the process of becoming a “whole person” more closely observed or rendered with deeper psychological and social insight than in the cantos of Dante’s Purgatorio.

It is certainly possible to read, understand and enjoy Purgatorio without having read the Inferno, but it is also true that familiarity with the first part of the journey will increase both your understanding and your enjoyment of the second. You might wish either to read the Inferno itself, or read something about it in anticipation of the start of the this course in May. One helpful way to do that in to read R.W.B. Lewis’ short book Dante: a Life. Six Tuesdays: June 9, 16, 23, 30, and July 7, 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Online Class.

Purgatorio (9780385497008), trans. HOLLENDER, Robert and Jean


  • Dante: Poet of the Secular World; Erich Auerbach
  • Introductory Papers on Dante : The Poet Alive in His Writings; Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Dante: A Life; R.W.B Lewis (Penguin)

Frank Ambrosio is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. After studies in Italian language and literature in Florence, Italy, he completed his doctoral degree at Fordham University with a specialization in contemporary European Philosophy.

He is the founding Director, with Edward Maloney, of the Georgetown University “My Dante Project” a web based platform for personal and collaborative study of Dante’s Commedia. In 2014, he acted as lead instructor for the launch of an ongoing web-based course (MOOC) on Dante offered by EDX ( which currently has been utilized by over 20,000 students.

His most recent book is Dante and Derrida: Face to Face, (State University of New York Press) (Link)

He has received five separate awards from Georgetown University for excellence in teaching. He is the former Director of the Doctor of Liberal Studies Program, and in 2015, he received the Award for Faculty Achievement from the American Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs.

In October 2009, The Teaching Company released his course, "Philosophy, Religion and the Meaning of Life," ( a series of 36 half-hour video lectures which he created for the "Great Courses" series. At Georgetown, he teaches courses on Existentialism, Postmodernism, Hermeneutics, and Dante.

In addition to his work at Georgetown, he co-directs The Renaissance Company with Deborah R. Warin, leading adult study programs focusing on Italian Renaissance culture and its contemporary heritage.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

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Purgatorio Cover Image
By Dante, Jean Hollander (Translated by), Robert Hollander (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780385497008
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Anchor - January 6th, 2004

Dante: A Life (Penguin Lives) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143116417
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - November 24th, 2009

Dante: Poet of the Secular World Cover Image
By Erich Auerbach, Ralph Manheim (Translated by), Michael Dirda (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590172193
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: NYRB Classics - January 16th, 2007

Introductory Papers on Dante Cover Image
ISBN: 9781597524919
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Wipf & Stock Publishers - January 1st, 2006