Medieval Latin Epic (P. Orth)

The starting point of my paper will be a survey of the sources and definitions of Medieval Latin authors concerning epic poetry (e.g. in poetics, Accessus and commentaries in the 12. century, in proems and other paratexts) and a terminological and critical discussion of epic poetry in Medieval Latin Philology, which is usually treated in a broad and unspecific sense.

The second part will present characteristic examples from the 9., 12., 14. and 15. century to illustrate trends and formal, stylistic, metrical and even prosodical differences to ancient Latin epics. The focus will in particular be on techniques and strategies of imitating the classical models and transferring them to medieval topics as well as the versification or transformation of ancient and medieval prose texts into epic poetry.

Among the poems that will be closer examined are the fragment Karolus Magnus et Leo papa and the Waltharius from the Early Middle Ages and the Alexandreis by Walter of Châtillon together with some historical epics from the 12. and 13. century that imitate the Alexandreis. They will be contrasted with the Africa of Francesco Petrarca, an author who habitually claims his successful return to classical models, and the Carlias of Ugolino Verino, a text that will illustrate the transition from Medieval Latin to Neo-Latin epics.