This thesis concerns the role that women play as inspirers and interpreters for male heroes in poetry. The classical poet Virgil uniquely and deliberately highlights the presence and words of two women, Cyrene and Deiphobe, and their necessity as interpreters for the male heroes in Book IV of the Georgics and Book VI of the Aeneid. This elevation of the role of the female did not escape the notice of Virgil's medieval devotee, Dante. The Florentine stands on the shoulders of his Mantuan predecessor by also portraying the male hero's success as dependent upon the interpretive presence of female guides in the Divina Commedia. Unlike Virgil's, however, Dante's female guides do not merely desire completion of the quest for the male protagonist--they desire transcendence of the quest itself in a new, Christian cosmology.
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