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Abstract

This essay aims to improve our understanding of Dante’s construction of Geryon in Inferno 16-17. First, I address the vexed question concerning the truth-status of the monster vis-à-vis that of the poem. After rejecting alternative interpretations, I defend the exclusively allegorical reading of Geryon and suggest that it should be seen as a conscious corrective reaction to Virgil’s metapoetic construction of Fama in Aeneid 4. In the second part of the essay, I demonstrate an unappreciated wordplay between Gerion(e) and girone and argue that this serves as a key to appreciating his allegorical nature. The latent anagrammatic wordplay underscores his symbolic mirroring of the structure of Hell and instantiates both the motif of hybridity and that of deception.

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