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Structures From the Trivium in the Canta

Structures From the Trivium in the Canta

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 239
  • Book Info
    Structures From the Trivium in the Canta
    Book Description:

    The medieval poem Cantar de Mio Cid is one of the great works of Spanish literature. Its precise date is uncertain, and its author has never been identified. Some scholars believe that it was written by many authors who, over time, adapted earlier material. In this study James Burke considers the authorship of the poem as revealed in key structural components. Placing the Cantar de Mio Cid more in the emerging culture of writing than in the sphere of oral poetry, Burke maintains that the text was produced in a manner typical for the Middle Ages by a writer who followed procedures very specific to the period.

    Medieval writers were invariably educated in the basic subjects of the trivium: grammatica, rhetorica, and dialectica, taught in the 'middle schools' of the twelfth century. In the process they acquired techniques that enabled them to rewrite pre-existing materials of an authoritative character, emphasizing themes and ideas important for contemporaries.

    Burke argues that someone rewrote epic material having to do with the Cid in this way. Referring to a device described by the twelfth-century Spanish philosopher Dominicus Gundissalinus as 'the imaginative, poetic syllogism,' Burke identifies three instances of the device in the Cantar de Mio Cid. They support themes and motifs of awakening, manifestation, and revelation, and of the hero as exemplar.

    This volume sheds new light on a central work in Spanish literature and on medieval poetry in general.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8024-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    In this study of theCantar de Mio Cidmy aim is to discuss two major concerns of the poem: the ideas of revelation and awakening, and the manner in which the actions and behaviour of the hero can be taken as exemplary, particularly in regard to King Alfonso VI as monarch. Both these concerns are presented and articulated in terms of dialectical and rhetorical structures that were learned by anyone who underwent the basic schooling of the Middle Ages.

    The student in the middle schools of medieval times, when refashioning material, applied a number of techniques besides the dialectical...

  5. 1 Poetry and the Trivium
    (pp. 12-26)

    Dominicus Gundissalinus, the philosopher who produced hisDe divisione philosophiaein Toledo somewhere around the middle of the twelfth century, gave the traditional view of the subjects of the trivium, which formed the basis for education at the lower levels in the Middle Ages: ‘Grammatica est ars uel sciencia gnara recte loquendi, recte scribendi’(44) (Grammar is the art or practical knowledge of speaking and writing correctly). An important division of this first member of the trivium is poetry. ‘Poëtica est sciencia componendi carmina metrice’(54) (Poetics is the knowledge of composing poems metrically).

    Gundissalinus then proceeds to a discussion of rhetoric...

  6. 2 The Dialectical and Rhetorical Education of the Poet
    (pp. 27-34)

    A poem in the vernacular such as theCMCwith its ‘civic message’ (Smith 1983, 88), a poem with a hero who ‘by his own actions ... has changed the world’ (Hart 1977, 70), a poem that is ‘una ceremonia exaltadora de la armonía social’ (Montaner Frutos 161), a poem in which events are rewritten and rearranged in order to serve certain goals, must be seen as related in some manner to the process of creating rhetorical historiography that I have discussed.¹ Although an analysis of such a relationship is not my primary objective in this book (see Burke 1984–5),...

  7. 3 Refashioning the Material: The Art of the Poet
    (pp. 35-44)

    In analysing the structure of theCMCI have adopted an approach that parallels in many ways the one Charles Fraker has used in regard to theLibro de Alexandre,a work most likely composed only some twenty years after theCMC.The poet who produced theAlexandrerefashioned material largely in Latin having to do with the story of Alexander; Fraker has found that, in doing so, the poet took into account notions concerning composition and rewriting that prevailed during the period. In one article, for example, Fraker has shown how the poet who produced theAlexandreadds ‘bits...

  8. 4 Finding the Topics
    (pp. 45-59)

    The points that interested new writers as they perused their source material were literally locations in the text that they saw as appropriate for the insertion or development of an argument based upon one of the traditional dialectical or rhetorical structuringtopoi.Obviously the topic chosen for a particular spot had to be one that facilitated the elaboration of the meaning the new author hoped to convey (Kelly 1984; 1987).

    Already inherent in the structure of works from the classical period, Cicero’sDe inventionefor example, are elements that suggest Curtius’s interpretation oftopoias segments of content. In the...

  9. 5 Dominicus Gundissalinus and the Imaginative, Poetic Syllogism
    (pp. 60-69)

    O.B. Hardison (1962) has discussed the adaptation that Dominicus Gundissalinus made of Al-Farabi’s theories on poetry in hisDe divisione philosophiaeand the statements concerning the construction of the literary piece found in this work.¹ Gundissalinus, who was archdeacon of Segovia in the cathedral of Toledo, produced theDe divisionein an attempt to classify the scientific knowledge of his day.² He knew Latin and surely some Arabic,³ for he was able to deal effectively with difficulties of vocabulary encountered when translating the sophisticated works of medieval philosophers who wrote in Arabic.⁴

    Although we have no certain information concerning his...

  10. 6 Defining and Dividing the Adventures of the Hero
    (pp. 70-89)

    María Eugenia Lacarra has observed, as have other critics, that division of theCMCinto threecantaresis artificial and that a separation of the poem into two parts more likely reflects the meaning inherent in the structure of the work. In the first section the protagoníst is largely the Cid alone, while in the second the role of the ignoble Infantes de Carrión also receives emphasis: ‘El autor nos presenta el proceso progresivo del “menos valer” de los Infantes contrastándolo punto por punto con el “más valer” del Cid’ (edition 1982, 31). López Estrada also sees two distinct ‘orientaciones’...

  11. 7 ‘Tan buen día es hoy’: The Positive Frame of the Poem
    (pp. 90-100)

    At the very end of the text of theCMCthere has been added by someone, whom Smith takes to be a presenter of the work in the fourteenth century (1983, 207), an explicit that is very difficult to read. The traditional rendering of these lines suggests that this person is asking to be rewarded with a bit of wine and some money for having pleasingly performed the work. I might add to those conjectures that the reward may also have been sought for emending the poem: ‘El rromanz / es leído, datnos del vino; si non tenedes dineros, echad...

  12. 8 Themes of Awakening and Manifestation
    (pp. 101-114)

    Juri Lotman has proposed that a configuration of ideas having to do with awakening can be understood as a kind of protoplot in primitive works conceived in the matrix of myth. Donald Maddox has applied Lotman’s findings to the poetry of Chrétien de Troyes and believes they provide one explanation as to how these works are structured: ‘There was no need, then, to discuss matters of plot configuration in poetic treatises of the Middle Ages, for, as the works of Chrétien attest, there was but one Christian mythic configuration, eschatological in its synoptic form ...’ (1983, 47). The conclusions of...

  13. 9 The Lion as Symbol
    (pp. 115-132)

    The contrast in behaviour between vassal and lord, the Cid and King Alfonso, in the first part of theCMC,and between the Cid and the Infantes in the second part is an example of another major topic from the dialectic tradition, which is presented in Boethius as ‘comparison of the lesser thing.’ The instance that Boethius cites for this topic is the following: ‘If Scipio, a private person, killed Gaius Gracchus, who was an unremarkable troubler of the state of the republic, why should the consuls not take vengeance on Catiline, who is eager to ravage the world with...

  14. 10 Rhetoric and the Cortes Episode
    (pp. 133-150)

    As we have seen in an earlier chapter, the philosophical procedure that from the time of Aristotle governed the systematic treatment of discourse, both structuring and analysing it, had two parts. The first of these, invention, was the art of discovering new arguments so that new themes and modes of procedure could be drawn from previously existing material. The second, judgment, was the method for proving and demonstrating the soundness of those arguments and for showing that what they suggested was true (McKeon 1966, 367–8).

    Judgment in the sense of determination or of deciding was of great importance in...

  15. 11 Economics and Poetry: The False Sign
    (pp. 151-166)

    The Middle Ages knew that a sign is established by an arbitraryimpositio ad placitumand that, therefore, anyone could change the meaning of a sign from what was proclaimed for it by accepted modes of discourse. St Augustine’s placing of an intermediary between thesignansand thesignatumhad the effect in Christian culture of increasing anxiety among the orthodox concerning the veracity implicit in the former, because the intermediary could obviously affect or alter what was to be implied in thesignans.¹ The problem inherent in the combination – sign, mediatrix, signified – is, of course, extended when a series...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 167-196)
  17. Abbreviations
    (pp. 197-198)
  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 199-220)
  19. Index
    (pp. 221-239)