Doctrine and Poetry: Augustine's Influence on Old English Poetry

Doctrine and Poetry: Augustine's Influence on Old English Poetry

Doctrine and Poetry: Augustine's Influence on Old English Poetry

Doctrine and Poetry: Augustine's Influence on Old English Poetry

Excerpt

Saint Augustine formulates a Christian theory of literature in the De doctrina Christiana, a work which provides, according to H.-I. Marrou, the basic program for a Christian culture. This program found widespread approval in early medieval theory--so this book will argue-- and had positive influence upon the early practice of poetry in the vernacular, specifically Old English.

This study begins with an exposition of the Augustinian literary theory as it is formulated in the De doctrina. The continuing influence of the theory will be shown by reference to the indispensable Isidore of Seville, as well as the obscure rhetorician, Vergil of Toulouse; by reference in particular to Bede and his continental successors, Alcuin and Rabanus, but also to Scotus Erigena. The study of the practice of Christian poetry in the Old English vernacular will be preceded by a glance at Christian poetry in Latin for what light it sheds on the vernacular practice. The influence of Augustinian theory on vernacular practice will be illustrated in detailed analysis of several brief poems and of one very long poem, Genesis A. Finally, some concluding remarks will be made . . .

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