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Abstract

At the end of the First Day of Boccaccio’s Decameron, Queen Pampinea urges the brigata to make music. Emilia promptly sings “In mine own beauty take I such delight That to no other love could I my fond affections plight,”1a ditty about finding pleasure in one’s own ref-lection. She continues, “why seek out past delights, or new ones try When all content within my glass I find?”2Scholars have interpreted Emilia’s mirror in myriad ways: as a symbol of truth, of God’s presence, or of Grammar, one of the Liberal Arts.3 In this essay, I will examine the mirror in relation to music, first investigating its significance in the Decameron, followed by a study of parallel examples in the Divine Comedy, visual im-ages of the period, including those by Lorenzetti, Cimabue and Giotto, and Trecento compositions by Lorenzo Masini. In so doing, I will establish that the mirror thoroughly enriched the primary texts in which it was imbedded, serving as a symbol of balance, judgment and transcendence.

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