IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 1538: Ongoing Classics?: Literary Canons between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Thursday 6 July 2017, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Department of Classics, University of Reading
Organiser:Lorenzo Livorsi, Department of Classics, University of Reading
Moderator/Chair:Danuta Shanzer, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- und Neulatein, Universität Wien
Paper 1538-aIn Classical Spheres: Prudentius's Reformulation of Cicero's Dream of Scipio
(Language: English)
Nikolaus Klassen, Department of Classics, University of Reading
Index terms: Hagiography, Language and Literature - Latin, Philosophy
Paper 1538-bFortunatus's Classics: The Christian Canon of the Vita S. Martini
(Language: English)
Lorenzo Livorsi, Department of Classics, University of Reading
Index terms: Education, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Latin

How are literary canons formed? In Antiquity, selections of great authors set the framework for a poetics ruled by imitation and emulation. Christian literature presented itself as re-interpretation of classical culture infused with innovations in both form and content. At the same time, classical authors remained central to education for a long time. As a result, the idea of a canon as a group of works that define any literary pursuit was as much accepted as the actual composition of a canon was contested. This session analyses three areas in Late Antique and Early Medieval culture in which the traditional canon of ‘Classics’ was used, re-interpreted, and substituted by something new. Paper a) analyses Prudentius’s reinterpretation of Cicero’s Dream of Scipio in Peristephanon 14, with special reference to asceticism as the path across the universe to the final destination of heaven. Prudentius’s interpretation is pivotal in detaching Cicero’s cosmology from its republican political philosophy and making it a foundation for the anthropology of the Middle Ages. Paper b) provides an analysis of the canon of Christian Latin Poets at the beginning of Venantius Fortunatus’s Vita S. Martini. A comparison with other testimonies of this canon reveals how aesthetic values and attitudes towards classical learning changed in Merovingian Gaul.