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Exemplary Comparison from Homer to Petrarch

Exemplary Comparison from Homer to Petrarch

Olive Sayce
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    Exemplary Comparison from Homer to Petrarch
    Book Description:

    The book is a study of comparison and identification with exemplary figures drawn from myth, history and historical legend, the Bible, the authorial canon, and literary tradition, from Homer to the interrelated branches of the medieval European vernacular lyric up to the end of the fourteenth century. The first half treats Homer, Virgil, Latin poets from Catullus to Ovid, and late and medieval Latin poets. The second half discusses the troubadour lyric, including Italian and Catalan poets who wrote in the language of the troubadours, the trouvère lyric, the German lyric, and the Sicilian and Italian lyric up to Petrarch. The languages covered are thus classical Greek, classical, post-classical and medieval Latin, Occitan/Old Provençal, Old French, and medieval German and Italian.Representative examples of comparison and identification are given in the original language, followed by translation and textual and literary analysis. OLIVE SAYCE is Emeritus Fellow and Tutor in Modern Languages, Somerville College, Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-636-6
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Olive Sayce
  4. The Texts
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Abbreviated References
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. Abbreviations of Poets’ Names
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The book is an attempt to examine the significance, function, and placing of comparisons and identifications with an exemplary figure, primarily in the main branches of the Western European vernacular lyric up to the end of the fourteenth century, i.e. the troubadour lyric of Southern France (including also Catalan and Italian poets who write in the langue d’oc), the trouvère lyric of Northern France, the German lyric, and the Sicilian and Italian lyric. These branches are all interrelated, in that the trouvère lyric, the German lyric, and the Sicilian and Italian lyric are all to a greater or lesser extent...

  8. 1 Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey
    (pp. 9-28)

    Similes of all kinds may be used in Homer to embellish the narrative and lend weight to the characters, to emphasize a particular stage in the action or a key theme, and to introduce an element of comment and interpretation which permits events and characters to be viewed from a different angle. The fact that the dominant part of complex similes, that which contains the actual comparison (the comparatio), is usually expressed verbally by the timeless present or aorist, in contrast to the subject of the comparison, i.e. that to which the comparison is applied (the comparandum), which as part...

  9. 2 Virgil: The Aeneid
    (pp. 29-37)

    There is in the Aeneid of Virgil,¹ as in Homer, more particularly in the Iliad, a very great abundance of similes, and many of them are indeed based on Homeric models. The general range of their subject-matter is very similar to that in Homer, with images derived from the natural and animal world, the heavens, elemental phenomena, and human pursuits.As in Homer, the similes are mostly extended, active and dynamic in nature, and bipartite in structure.

    There is one instance of a general comparison with attributes of a god: I. 588 restitit Aeneas claraque in luce refulsit, | os umerosque deo...

  10. 3 Latin Poets from Catullus to Ovid
    (pp. 38-83)

    In contradistinction to Homer and Virgil, the Latin poets examined in this chapter,Catullus,Tibullus,Propertius,Horace and Ovid,¹ utilize a much wider range of voice and person, frequently adopting a first-person stance, so that the exemplary comparisons and identifications in their work may be presented from a perspective differing from that in epic narrative. In order to assess the significance of specific comparison or identification with an exemplar, it is necessary also to examine the extent to which each poet makes general reference to the characters and stories of myth in his work.

    Catullus, the earliest of this group of poets, makes considerable use...

  11. 4 Latin Poets from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
    (pp. 84-140)

    From Antiquity onwards the Latin language remained in use as a supranational medium in Western, and later also in parts of Eastern, Europe as the language of education and all higher learning, of the Church, of law and administration, and as the vehicle of written texts of all kinds, including poetic texts. The tradition of exemplary comparisons and identifications attested in the classical Latin authors is transmitted to later Latin poets in the period stretching from Antiquity to the Middle Ages and beyond. The repertory of exemplars no longer consists solely of mythological characters, though these are still frequent, but...

  12. 5 The Troubadour Poets
    (pp. 141-198)

    Most of the poets’ dates are uncertain, and therefore only an approximate chronological arrangement can be attempted, with the following rough groupings of poets who make use of exemplary comparisons:¹ poets of the twelfth century; those writing at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; those whose poetic activity extends into the first decades of the thirteenth century; those falling entirely within the thirteenth century. Those poets writing in the twelfth century begin (in approximate chronological order) with Marcabru and include Rigaut de Berbezilh, Raimbaut d’Orange, Bernart de Ventadorn, Raimon Jordan, Arnaut de Mareuil, Arnaut Daniel, Bertran de Born,...

  13. 6 The Trouvère Poets
    (pp. 199-237)

    In Northern France, the troubadour lyric became known and imitated from about 1160, and among the features taken over was the use of exemplary comparisons.¹ Many of the examples from troubadour poets cited in the previous chapter belong to the second half of the twelfth century, whereas among the trouvère poets who employ exemplary comparisons, only Chrétien (fl. c. 1160–1185), and Guillaume de Ferrières (d. 1204) can be assigned to this period. There are a few poets from the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Le Chastelain de Couci, Guiot de Provins, Blondel de Nesle and Eustache le...

  14. 7 The German Poets
    (pp. 238-287)

    This chapter spans the period from the second half of the twelfth century to the beginning of the fourteenth century. The earliest recorded instances of exemplary comparisons in the German lyric, in Herger, Friedrich von Hausen, Heinrich von Veldeke and Bernger, belong to the second half of the twelfth century. Heinrich von Morungen (probably attested 1217 and 1218), and Walther von der Vogelweide, who is directly attested only in 1203, but who refers to events at the end of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth, were writing at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Wolfram...

  15. 8 The Sicilian and Italian Poets
    (pp. 288-342)

    The beginnings of the Italian vernacular lyric can be traced to the so-called Sicilian school of poets gathered at the court of the emperor Frederick II at Palermo, approximately during the period 1230–1250. There is thus a considerable time-lag between the initial development of the Italian lyric in the vernacular and the troubadour lyric, on which it is based. This is in part a parallel to the chronological gap between the troubadour and trouvère lyric, but it is here much greater in extent. From about the end of the twelfth century, the troubadour lyric had become very widely known...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 343-355)

    The instances of exemplary comparison and, later,of identification with an exemplar discussed in the book cover a wide chronological spread from Homer to Petrarch, a range of languages and types of poem, yet there are many basic similarities which persist throughout, combined with developments characteristic of a particular stage in the tradition. The choice and portrayal of particular exemplars reflects the literary, historical, legendary, religious, and cultural traditions prevailing in a particular society at a particular time. These are usually mainly transmitted through the medium of writing, but they are no doubt also influenced by oral tradition. The epics of...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 356-374)
  18. Glossary of Technical Terms
    (pp. 375-377)
  19. Index of Poets and Works
    (pp. 378-379)
  20. Index of Proper Names
    (pp. 380-407)
  21. General Index
    (pp. 408-408)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. None)