Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In the Commedia of Dante, a poem 14,233 lines in length, some 7,500 words occur only once. These are the hapax. Fewer than 2% of these constitute a minute but distinct subset—the hapax for which there are one or more words in the poem whose spelling is identical but whose meaning is different. These are what I call same-spelling hapax. I identify four categories: partof- speech, homograph, locus, and name. Examination of the same-spelling hapax illuminates a poetic strategy continuously in use throughout the poem. This is to use the one-word coinciding of Rhyme’s rhyme number and terzina’s line number. Not only is it highly probable that a samespelling hapax will be a rhyme-word, but it is also probable that it will occupy a rhyme-word’s most significant position—the one place—the single word—where the two intertwined formal entities that shape each canto coincide. Every three lines, their tension-resolving this-word-only union intensifies the reader’s attention and understanding alike.
Soules, Terrill S., "The Same-Spelling Hapax of the Commedia of Dante" (2010). English Theses. Paper 96.