By Judson Boyce Allen
This examine of the definition of literature within the overdue medieval interval is predicated on manuals of writing and on literary statement and glosses. It defines a style of examining which can now profitably clarify medieval texts, and identifies new basic medieval proof that may flooring and consultant new reading.
Allen chooses texts whose remark culture offers the best chance for completeness. crucial of those is Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Medieval readings of Ovid convey into concentration a few significant literary questions—the difficulties of fantasy and fiction, of cohesion imposed through miscellany poetry, of allegorical remark, and of Christian use of pagan culture—all in reference to textual content which offered medieval authors with extra tales than the other unmarried resource other than potentially the Bible.
Allen additionally stories commentaries on the comfort of Philosophy of Boethius, the Thebaid of Statius, the De nuptiis of Martianus Capella, the medieval Christian hymn-book, and the Poetria nova of Geoffrey of Vinsauf.
jointly those texts characterize the variety of medieval literature—a literature which, Allen concludes, was once taken as direct moral discourse, logically carried out and artfully prepared inside of a process of language that still assimilated the wildlife and sought to take in its audience.
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Additional info for The Ethical Poetic of the Later Middle Ages: A Decorum of Convenient Distinction
Obviously the art of poetry, and especially tragedy, is not something which consists of arguments nor of reflective speculation, and so poems of praise do not use the tricks of gesture or facial expression as rhetoric does, (pp 19-23) The first thing which must be emphasized in this extraordinary piece of literary criticism is that the six parts of tragedy are specified not just once, but four different times and in four slightly different ways. ' Then we have the three things which 'representant,' and the three means by which 'fit representation Finally, we have a numbered list of six 'partes tragedie,' in which each is more extensively explained.
Ethicus est in assignatione mutationum que faciunt ad mores. We must see what is the genre of the book. Generically, it is in the heroic metre; it is a collection of diverse changes from the first creation of the world up to his own time. 15 What is true of the Metamorphoses seems to be true generally. 17 Ovid's Heroides are ethics;18 so is the Facia et dicta of Valerius Maximus,19 so is Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy ™ so, by clear implication, are at least some of the various genres of Languedoc lyric,21 so, by virtue of Dante's own accessus, is the Divina commedia,22so, to descend into medieval trivia, are the pseudo-Virgilian Copa23 and John Garland's Cornutus24 Only the medieval hymn-book, whose liturgical associations make it naturally theological,25 and the Anticlaudianus of Alanus,26 whose commentary tradition was substantially defined very early, are not related to ethics explicitly, but they are not exceptions which permit one to make anything essential of poetry as such.
It represents the general and the normative. It has fundamentally practical and ethical use - that we might understand our ladies and girl friends and love them chastely. Otherwise, the distinction between the two modes of general usefulness reflects precisely the distinction which Averroes makes among his six parts of tragedy - on the one hand, there are the techniques by which likening is done (here simply 'pulcritudo vocabulorum') and on the other that which is likened. Conditio is a reasonable equivalent of the sum of consuetude and 29 Ethical poetry, poetic ethics, and the sentence of poetry credulitas.