Shades and Shadows: Terrace 7, Purgatorio 25
The Italian word ombra in Dante's lexicon means both "shadow" (as in the shadow cast by a body) and "shade" (a term for the form of the soul in the afterlife). On the terrace of lust, as Dante's very real body prepares for its most challenging test, the poet shows--via a lecture by Statius--how the two meanings of ombra combine to encapsulate the fundamental relationship between life and afterlife. When the soul leaves the body, Statius explains, it "impresses" the body's form on the surrounding air (as saturated air is adorned with colors of a rainbow), and the resulting "virtual" body follows the spirit just as a flame follows fire. This new form therefore goes by the name of "shade" / "shadow" (ombra): as a "shadow" follows--and repeats the form of--a real body, so the "shade" takes on all bodily parts and functions (25.85-108).