Virgil displays all of the noble virtues attributed to the perfect Roman.
He represents reason and wisdom, making him the perfect guide. As the journey progresses, his treatment of Dante changes, depending on the situation. Often and most importantly, Virgil is very protective of Dante. At times, he reprimands Dante for his sympathy, reminding Dante that these dammed souls are here for punishment, and that their punishment is the design of a larger plan dictated by God.
Virgil is very careful to explain patiently all of the functions of Hell and its various structures. Virgil is constantly solicitous of Dante's welfare, and he knows that Dante is dependent on him. At times, when Virgil himself is having difficulty with some of the shades, he tells Dante to wait behind, because he does not want to frighten Dante, who is completely dependent upon him, as both a guide through the geography of Hell and as a spiritual guide.
Finally, even in the bottom parts of Hell, Virgil has to scold Dante for pitying those who deserve the punishment that they are receiving. Virgil's great task is to get Dante to harden his heart against the most horribly damned shades in Hell. He succeeds, and he shows Dante how to climb Lucifer's leg and then turn upright to see the stars of Purgatory ahead of him.