Classical Literature and Learning in Medieval Irish Narrative

November 2014
1 black and white illustrations
254 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Celtic History
ISBN: 9781843843849
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004120

Classical Literature and Learning in Medieval Irish Narrative

Edited by Ralph O'Connor

Examinations of the use of classical Latin texts, themes and techniques in medieval Irish narrative.
"This edited volume will make a major contribution to our appreciation of the importance of classical literature and learning in medieval Ireland, and particularly to our understanding of its role in shaping the content, structure and transmission of medieval Irish narrative." Dr Kevin Murray, Department of Early and Medieval Irish, University College Cork.

From the tenth century onwards, Irish scholars adapted Latin epics and legendary histories into the Irish language, including the Imtheachta Aeniasa, the earliest known adaptation of Virgil's Aeneid into any European vernacular; Togail Troí, a grand epic reworking of the decidedly prosaic history of the fall of Troy attributed to Dares Phrygius; and, at the other extreme, the remarkable Merugud Uilixis meic Leirtis, a fable-like retelling of Ulysses's homecoming boiled down to a few hundred lines of lapidary prose. Both the Latin originals and their Irish adaptations had a profound impact on the ways in which Irish authors wrote narratives about their own legendary past, notably the great saga Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle-Raid of Cooley). The essays in this book explore the ways in which these Latin texts and techniques were used. They are unified by a conviction that classical learning and literature were central to the culture of medieval Irish storytelling, but precisely how this relationship played out is a matter of ongoing debate. As a result, they engage in dialogue with each other, using methods drawn from a wide range of disciplines (philology, classical studies, comparative literature, translation studies, and folkloristics).

Ralph O'Connor is Professor in the Literature and Culture of Britain, Ireland and Iceland at the University of Aberdeen.

Contributors: Abigail Burnyeat, Michael Clarke, Robert Crampton, Helen Fulton, Barbara Hillers, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, Ralph O'Connor, Erich Poppe.

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Table of Contents

Irish narrative literature and the Classical tradition, 900-1300 - Ralph O'Connor
Imtheachta Aeniasa and its place in medieval Irish textual history - Erich Poppe
History and historia: uses of the Troy story in medieval Ireland and Wales - Helen Fulton
The uses of exaggeration in Merugud Uilixis Meic Leirtis and in Fingal Chlainne Tanntail - Robert Crampton
The medieval Irish Wandering of Ulysses between literacy and orality - Barbara Hillers
Demonology, allegory and translation: the Furies and the Morrígan - Michael Clarke
Reconstructing the medieval Irish bookshelf: a case study of Fingal Rónáin and the horse-eared kings - Michael Clarke
'The metaphorical Hector': the literary portrayal of Murchad mac Bríain - Maire Ni Mhaonaigh
Was Classical imitation necessary for the writing of large-scale Irish sagas? Reflections on Táin Bó Cúailnge and the 'watchman device' - Ralph O'Connor
'Wrenching the club from the hand of Hercules': Classical models for medieval Irish compilatio - Abigail Burnyeat


Adds greatly to current discussions about Latin source-material for vernacular Irish texts.... The studies are informative and interesting, and also provide an excellent introduction to those new to the field. CAMBRIAN MEDIEVAL CELTIC STUDIES

[A]nyone interested in epic, or the textualization of oral traditions, should read this straight through. It is especially relevant to reception studies and translation theory. Instead of simply giving the Classicizing camp its day, the volume helps us imagine how a blended, bilingual scribal culture of scholar-authors, consciously preserving their age-old culture while discovering the Classical world, created some of the world's most compelling literature. BRYN MAWR CLASSICAL REVIEW

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