The story of Carmen 5, 6 appears to be this: ‘One day in the 6th century AD, a father in distress turned to Venantius Fortunatus and asked him for help to free his imprisoned son; the compassionate poet wrote a complicated picture-poem combined with a dedicatory letter to Bishop Syagrius, who in turn freed the prisoner’. Yet the occasional nature of the poem is not its only raison d’être. Fortunatus is parading his poetics: Poetry is (not) a gift. Starting from Dorothea Walz I am analyzing the poetics of Carmen 5, 6 anew and will contextualize them in Fortunatus’ carmina-anthology.
The Liber vaccae is the translation of the controversial Kitāb al-nawāmīs. Its use of real, identifiable ingredients in the service of crossbreeding, shape shifting, and sacrifice has resulted in its condemnation by medieval and modern readers alike. My paper will challenge the text’s perceived sense of functionality by examining a collection of mythical materials – including a luminescent stone, a disappearing tree, and a bird born from fire – and by contextualizing them within a range of ancient and medieval traditions. I will negotiate and navigate how the text, its ingredients, and, ultimately, its goals straddle the line between reality and legend.
In his Meum Secretum, Petrarch imagines a dialogue between himself and St Augustine. His writing is informed by a medieval pedagogy in which the materiality of the body and the threat of corporeal punishment shape the relationship between teacher and pupil. This paper argues that Petrarch purposefully represents himself as the antitype of the subservient pupil found in the medieval school dialogue, subjecting his body to the threat of violence in order to explore his identity as a writer. Yet this ordeal of introspection can also be viewed as an attempt to escape the painful materiality of the body, to argue that writing could be a vehicle to immortality and transcendence.