«Totus poema eius ubique mirabiliter figuratus». Identifying, classifying and describing Dante’s metaphors

Gaia Tomazzoli

Abstract


This paper explores how metaphors in Dante’s Commedia can be identified, classified and organized in a database so as to provide thorough and solid data to aid their understanding. All metaphors in the poem are first identified through a linguistic procedure called MIP (i.e. Metaphor Identification Process), based on the comparison between the contextual and the basic meaning of each word-unit. The metaphors thus identified are later classified based on syntactic, semantic and rhetorical structure criteria, taking into account both medieval explanations of figurative language and the features of Dante’s metaphors that have always struck the readers of his poem. The findings from this combined linguistic and stylistic analysis provide evidence to support tenets put forward by some literary scholars (e.g. that metaphors increase in number and complexity throughout the poem) and show that metaphors converge in sections of political and religious invective, where one of the main purposes of the author is to elevate his style. The study suggests that a systematic multi-dimensional analysis of metaphor can shed light on its conceptual importance in a text and raise awareness of all its stylistic traits.


Keywords


Dante; Metaphor; Stylistics; Corpus linguistic; Italian Philology

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2532-8816/8630

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