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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 1141: Otherworlds, Afterlifes, and Their Denizens

Wednesday 8 July 2020, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Ruth Salter, Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Reading
Paper 1141-aTranscending the Boundaries between Life and Death in Byzantine Mythography
(Language: English)
Katherine Anna New, Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Greek, Language and Literature - Latin
Paper 1141-bHealing from Beyond: The Otherworldly Healer in Arthurian Romance and Folk Belief
(Language: English)
Helga Ruppe, Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, University of Western Ontario
Index terms: Folk Studies, Gender Studies, Medicine, Pagan Religions
Paper 1141-cIs Faerie Land Closer to Heaven or Hell?
(Language: English)
Stephen Bull, Department of English University of Bristol
Index terms: Folk Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety

Paper -a:
The paper explores the boundaries between life and death in the account of the 12th-century Byzantine mythographer Ioannis Tzetzes (Chiliades), which describes the return of a hero from the world of the dead to his living wife. The mythographer underlines the role of the deity of the Underworld (Pluto), who lets the Greek hero flee Hades and dwell again among the living. The paper traces the medieval representation back to its donor traditions, Classical literary sources (The Iliad 2.695-704; Cypria fr. 1.10; Pausanias IV.2.74; Euripides' fragmentary tragedy, recorded by mythographers Aristides, Lucian, Pseudo-Apollodorus, Eustathius, Hyginus; Ovid's Heroides XIII; Catullus Elegy 68) and extant archaeological and numismatic evidence (two Roman sarcophagi; a Greek drachm and tetradrachm coin). The paper argues that Tzetzes' version of the legend reflects mythological views on the fluidity of the borders between the worlds of the living and the dead and the potential for reanimation. In contrast to the donor tradition, Byzantine mythography explores the divine capacity for blurring boundaries between life and death, ascribing a new motivation to the agency capable of transcending death. The paper thus suggests a new interpretation of the Byzantine mythographic account of the reanimation of the dead.

Paper -b:
In Arthurian romances injury and illness are common. Most of these cases respond to rough-and-ready treatments. But when these methods fail, what next? Professional physicians are summoned and fail. When a miracle cure is required, the Fair Folk come on the scene, not only in the world of Arthurian romance, but also in the real world of folk practice and belief. Morgan le Faye is imaginary, but the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach is alleged to have been a real person, ancestress of a real line of physicians. This paper examines the interplay between fictitious healers and folk belief.

Paper -c:
This paper will consider the moral and spatial positioning of faerie land through an examination of the religious imagery associated with faeries in Middle English literature. Using examples such as The Romance and Prophecies of Thomas of Erceldoune, Sir Gowther, and Pearl (and examining the way that each text integrates elements of Christian iconography into its presentation of the otherworld/otherworldly beings), this paper will attempt to determine how closely faerie land bordered on the realms of Heaven and Hell in the minds of authors and audiences, and thus how faeries featured as part of a lay religious discourse on the nature of morality.