IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1610: Texts and Identities, VI: Barbarians, Arians, and Other Monsters

Thursday 4 July 2013, 11.15-12.45

Sponsor:Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht / Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
Organisers:E. T. Dailey, School of History, University of Leeds
Gerda Heydemann, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien
Moderator/Chair:Yitzhak Hen, Department of History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva
Paper 1610-a'Barbara ferocitas et haeresis Arriana': Barbarians and Arians in Vandal Africa
(Language: English)
Robin Whelan, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Historiography - Medieval, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Mentalities
Paper 1610-bMonstrous Geography: How Monsters Were Used to Define gentes in the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Jason Berg, School of History, University of Leeds
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities, Pagan Religions
Paper 1610-cGods, Vixens, and Kings: Paul the Deacon and the Lombard Past
(Language: English)
Francesco Borri, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities, Pagan Religions
Abstract

This session investigates the use and function of the monstrous, the barbarous, and the hideous in early medieval historical narratives. Robin Whelan examines the conflation of barbarian identity and homoian (Arian) belief in texts written by Catholic authors such as Victor of Vita in Vandal North Africa. By examining their literary strategies, he seeks to establish a more complex understanding of the relationship between the two. Jason Berg examines the issue of ‘monstrous rhetoric’ as a literary tool used to vilify the ‘other’ in two important Early Medieval historical narratives: Jordanes’s description of the Huns in his Getica, and Bede’s claim that the Picti originated in Scythia in his Historia ecclesiastica. Francesco Borri focuses on Paul the Deacon’s long and wondrous account of the Lombards migrating from Scandinavia, arguing that Paul utilised the tropes of ancient ethnography in order to present the Lombards as ‘true barbarians’ from a ‘truly barbarian’ past – an interpretation that was taken up, for particular reasons, in Frankish discourse to reinforce the Carolingian ‘narrative of triumph’.