Academic journal article Medium Aevum

From the 'De Excidio Troiae Historia' to the 'Togail Troí': Literary-Cultural Synthesis in a Medieval Irish Adaptation of Dares' Troy Tale

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

From the 'De Excidio Troiae Historia' to the 'Togail Troí': Literary-Cultural Synthesis in a Medieval Irish Adaptation of Dares' Troy Tale

Article excerpt

Leslie Diane Myrick, From the 'De excidio Troiae historia,' to the 'Togail Troi Literaiy-Cultural Synthesis in a Medieval Irish Adaptation of Dares' Troy Tale, Anglistische Forschungen 223 (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1993). viii + 213 pp. ISBN 3-8253-0165-6. DM 85.

De excidio Troiae historia, the allegedly eye-witness report of the siege and destruction of Troy attributed to Dares Phrygius, enjoyed great popularity and authority in the Middle Ages. Its adaptation into Middle Irish predates Benoît de Sainte-Maure's Roman de Troie (f. 1165), the first adaptation into a continental vernacular, by perhaps one century; it is, however, hardly known among medievalists. L. D. Myrick's study now seeks to redress the balance. Togail Trot , 'The Destruction of Troy', belongs to a group of Irish adaptations of classical texts which also includes versions of Virgil's Aeneid, Statius' Thebaid, and Lucan's Bellum civile. It was loosely translated into Irish in the tenth or eleventh century and enjoyed considerable popularity; at least three recensions are now known from seven manuscript texts dating from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. Myrick focuses on the process of crosscultural adaptation in two of these texts (both published, with convenient translations, by Whitley Stokes). I concur with her view that the medieval Irish literati were interested in this work primarily as an historical tract, in which they were 'fleshing out an event of Greek history in much the same way as the early native sagas expanded upon mytho-historical events' (p. 106); I would furthermore suggest that the juxtaposition in some manuscripts of Togail Troi with other texts about events in classical history points to an imminent cyclic treatment, similar to the treatment of the Roman d'Eneas in a number of medieval French manuscripts. …

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