IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 620: Sea, Air, Land: Literary Animals

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:David Angus Traill, Department of Classics, University of California, Davis
Paper 620-aProfane and Christian Nightingales in Medieval Latin Lyrics
(Language: English)
Kurt Smolak, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- & Neulatein, Universität Wien / Kirchenväterkommission, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Latin, Lay Piety, Monasticism
Paper 620-bHwæl is ealra fixa mæst: The Anglo-Saxon Whale in Fact and Fiction
(Language: English)
Todd Preston, Department of English, Lycoming College, Williamsport
Index terms: Economics - Trade, Language and Literature - Old English, Maritime and Naval Studies
Paper 620-cFrom Hunter to Hero: The Role of the Dog in the Old French Romance Partonopeu de Blois
(Language: English)
Lorna Bleach, Department of French, University of Sheffield
Index terms: Daily Life, Folk Studies, Language and Literature - French or Occitan

Paper -a:
This paper will deal with a particular development of reflecting on the fascinating song and the pious character of the nightingale as documented in poems written between the 7th and the 13th centuries, starting from the pure admiration of the bird’s harmonious singing and love of its breed down to the interpretations of the nightingale’s mourning melodies as an expression of compassion with Christ’s passion and death. It is amazing, however, that although the elaborate mythology focussing on the Philomela and her relatives was often stressed in Roman literature, e.g. in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, medieval Latin writers, in spite of being indebted to antiquity, seem to ignore the pagan myth totally.
Paper -b:
About twenty species of whale currently ply the waters surrounding the British Isles. The Anglo-Saxons appeared to be familiar with the actual animal, as evidenced by such texts as the Orosius and the Old English glossaries. However, there is a surprising lack of practical information about the whale in Old English texts, given the Anglo-Saxons’ situation as an island people. A survey of the appearance of the Old English words hron and hwæl shows that the whale most often appears in Anglo-Saxon literature not as the animal itself, but as a more generic symbol of size, strength, and power.
Paper -c:
From domestic animal to saviour, the dog is a consistent referent in the moving, cyclic narrative of the Old French Romance, Partonopeu de Blois. This paper will examine its various functions and symbolic attributes throughout the text. It is hunting dogs that initiate Partonopeu’s adventure, others act as his companion and guide, whilst later an extraordinary greyhound, Noon, proves himself capable of killing a lion thus saving his master, a double of Partonopeu, from certain death. However, these animals do not simply function as narrative markers but furnish the text with a rich symbolism whose roots can, amongst others, be found in Celtic myth and folktale.