Light Reflection, Mirror Metaphors, and Optical Framing in Dante's : Precedents and TransformationsComedy: Precedents and Transformations

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Abstract

This article examines Dante's use of mirror imagery in the Comedy by investigating precedents in literary, scientific, philosophical and theological writings for his own mirror comparisons and metaphors in Purgatorio and Paradiso. It shows that Dante draws on several specific traditions for his imagery and considers how he transforms these borrowings in order to fulfill his own imaginative and structural designs in his poetry. After an examination of the precedents for Dante's poetic treatment of mirrors with reference to planets, eyes, angels, and God, the article concludes with an analysis of his reworking, in the Paradiso, of St Paul's celebrated mirror metaphor in I Corinthians 13:12. It is argued that this Pauline text provides a structuring principle for Dante-personaggio's own visual experiences in the final cantica before his more direct perceptions of the deity in the final canto of the poem.

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