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Abstract

In his epic journey, Dante experiences entrapments, digressions, and ultimately new apertures, leading him forward on his journey to Paradise. The hag-siren of Purgatorio 19 is one of the primary figures, whose song sways the poet in a moment of reverie, embodying a de-mobilizing entrapment most unique and perilous within the poem. While the patristic and medieval traditions have traditionally portrayed the siren as a figure for the deleterious effects of music on the soul, Dante scholarship has glossed the dolce serena as a coordinate for the Medusa of Inferno 9. The siren's association with the Medusa implicitly harkens the reader back to the highly sensual, fugue-like subtext of the rime petrose of an earlier Dantean repertoire. This essay explores the highly sexualized voice of the hag-siren, a voice and music which Dante must reckon with and purge from his poem in his journey toward the sublime musicality of the Paradiso.

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