to a literary type, particularly such a well-defined type as the boasting soldier. It was the definition of that type by the Greeks and its later modifications by the Roman comedy and mime which provided subsequent literary tradition with the material with which it had to work. The matter ceases to be social and becomes typological. It becomes established in the popular and literary mind and can be relied upon to produce certain reactions in an audience merely by association. As such the type becomes timeless, one of the aspects of the human comedy which are ever present. But for effective use in literature it must be brought into relationship with the vital themes of its time. And this is why we must speak of Pyrgopolinices converted. For it is as the miles antichristianus that he appears. His characteristics suited so perfectly the picture of the soldier lost to all Christian virtues causing by his wickedness grief to the martyrs and anguish to the faithful. Brought into the drama to act as a foil to Christian virtue, he grows and flourishes until he monopolizes the attention whenever he is on the stage. For the boasting soldier in medieval literature represented then as he does now that desire to see the collapse of "those sanguine cowards and abominable misleaders of youth," as the most famous of them all was called. For Falstaff, Shakespeare created sympathy, but for the medieval braggart soldier there was little but mockery and contempt. He paid the penalty of his opposition to the church by earning the hatred of all good Christians and the penalty of his character in the laughter which accompanied his inevitable collapse.
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Publication information: Book title: The Challenge of the Medieval Text:Studies in Genre and Interpretation. Contributors: W. T. H. Jackson - Author, Joan M. Ferrante - Editor, Robert W. Hanning - Editor. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1985. Page number: 153.
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