teenth-century French critic, suggested that they were staged (Zeydel, “Were,” p. 443), but contemporary critics offer more conservative suggestions: the plays “were simply read, or read aloud, or recited with the accompaniment of mimicry” (Wilson, Plays, p. xxviii). The extent to which Hrotsvit imitated Terence is another area of critical interest. Hrotsvit wrote six plays, as did Terence. Coulter argues that there is little in Hrotsvit’s plays that “can justly be called Terentian” (p. 526), but Wilson has found a number of similarities. Wilson also expands on the idea, introduced by Peter Dronke, that the plays are interconnected. By means of an elaborate numerological study, Wilson argues that a circular structure binds the plays together as a symbol of Christian perfection. She suggests that Hrotsvit intended a kind of “analogical paralleling” inspired by “exegetical as well as iconographic inspiration” (Plays, p. xxi). Wilson’s recent criticism, more than any other, reveals the sophistication and complexity of Hrotsvit’s writing. During the last decades of the twentieth century, Hrotsvit has been given a great deal of attention by critics and translators. It is somewhat ironic that the genius of a tenth-century canoness was never fully realized until the dawning of the second millennium.
Works by Hrotsvit of Gandersheim
Strecker, Karl, ed. Hrotsvithae Opera. 1906. Second edition. Leipzig: Teubner, 1930.
Homeyer, Helena, ed. Hrotsvithae Opera. Munich: Schöningh, 1970.
Bonfante, L., trans. The Plays of Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim. New York: New York University Press, 1979.
Wilson, Katharina, trans. The Plays of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim. New York: Garland, 1989.
Works about Hrotsvit of Gandersheim
Butler, Marguerite. Hrotsvitha: The Theatricality of Her Plays. New York: Philosophical Library, 1976.
Chamberlain, David. “Musical Learning and Dramatic Action in Hrotsvit’s Pafnutius.” Studies in Philology 77.4 (1980): 319–43.
Coffman, George R. “A New Approach to Medieval Latin Drama.” Modern Philology 22 (1925): 239–71.
Coulter, Cornelia C. “The ‘Terentian’ Comedies of a Tenth-Century Nun.” Classical Journal 24 (1929): 515–29.
Dronke, Peter. Women Writers of the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Haight, Anne Lyon, ed. Hroswitha of Gandersheim: Her Life, Times, and Works, and a Comprehensive Bibliography. New York: The Hroswitha Club, 1965.
Petroff, Elizabeth. Body and Soul: Essays on Medieval Women and Mystics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Pollack, Rhoda-Gale. A Sampler of Plays by Women. New York: Peter Lang, 1990.