This study is concerned with the contribution of Jan de Vries (1890–1964), a controversial Dutch scholar of Germanic and Old Norse philology, folklore, and comparative religion, to the discipline of Celtic studies. First, therefore, his work is located within the context of De Vries’ biography and of his scholarly network of the post-war era, notably his correspondence with likeminded colleagues such as Dumézil, Höfler, Wikander, and Eliade. Subsequently, his theories of Celtic and Germanic ethnogenesis are examined, as well as his ideas about the connections between the Celtic and Germanic pre-Christian religions and traditions of heroic saga. Finally, the relatively limited impact of De Vries’s Celtic studies is elaborated on.
This article establishes a connection between the decisions of the Fourth Lateran Council and Der Pfaffe Amis, a work by the Knitter. Doing so results in totally new perspectives on the work, which is therefore connected to anticlerical literature. Der Pfaffe Amis is not just a comedy, as researchers thought, but it stands in continuity with Latin poems like, e.g., the Hierapigra ad purgandos praelatos by Aegidius of Corbeil or the work Speculum prelatorum by an unknown author. The single episodes have a class-based structure in their composition, in which the last two mercurial episodes abandon the legal purview of the church, besides being highly criminal under the laws at the time, but because of the Council’s decisions, they would still lead to the eternal salvation of the priest’s soul.
Although it proves to be a difficult task, we still can identify more literary texts from the Middle Ages addressing homoerotic love than we might have expected. Even when poets voiced severe criticism and radically condemned homosexuality, their comments serve us well to identify more specifically the actual discourse behind the official scene. Although legal and Church authorities consistently characterized ‘sodomy’ as one of the worst sins a Christian could commit, since late antiquity, and certainly throughout the Middle Ages, the phenomenon, a biological fact, existed, of course, and was also addressed in veiled or open language. This article examines a selection of relevant literary and didactic works that shed more light on this issue.
This contribution tries to revitalize the mercantile class perspective in its socioliterary function for the interpretation of Rudolf’s presumed literary debut. In doing so, it is assumed to be a courtly poem, which is directed at an aristocratic audience with the pretension not only to follow literary traditions, but to bring these up to date with motives from a changing present. This shows Rudolf von Ems as a poetic witness to an overall social change, which is personified in the political ambitions of the young Staufer family member Heinrich (VII.). Just as spectacularly, the Good Gerhart succesfully completes a „subtle narrative experiment“, which centers around a merchant, which never proved worthy of the name, in such a way that it had to draw the attention of the entire cultural life at the arch duke’s court. In the figure of the merchant as a representative of urban patricians, a perspective of class emancipation is uncovered, and whose potential for conflict is made problematic in an epic elaboration, which contrasts with the aristocratic projection of discipline implicit in the voluntary subordination of the inferior classes. The verse epic is therefore interpreted as further proof of politicization in the courtly literary scene.
The name of the Old Norse poetic meter kviðuháttr, as employed in historical poems such as Ynglingatal, is generally understood as meaning ‘song’ or ‘poem meter’. Rather than accepting this designation at face value, the article hypothesizes an original *kviðsháttr or ‘verdict meter’ (< kviðr ‘verdict, judicial judgment’), which was subsequently the object of folk etymologizing. This revised explanation illuminates the nature and objectives of not only Ynglingatal but also commemorative poems by Egill Skallagrímsson such as Sonatorrek and Arinbjarnarkviða.
The usual meaning of folcscare in Beowulf l. 73 is “nation”, while feorum gumena refers to human lives. It seems impermissible for Hrothgar to either give away or divide his nation or to sacrifice a human life as a reward for his retinues. In the story of Herod and John the Baptist in the Gospel, the “bad” king Herod seems to promise or give what should be taboo for the “good” king Hrothgar. This story possibly resounds in l. 73.
The form <spenchil> in Gl. 2,355,11 is normally emended in either sprenkil or swenkil ‘slingshot (belt)’. As there is a later parallel for spenkil these emendations are refuted. Old High German spenkil m. ‘slingshot (belt)’ and Middle High German or Early Modern German spenkel m. ‘casting net’ are connected with words in the Germanic languages that have as their basic meaning ‘to move swiftly’. As these words are isolated in Germanic (and Indo-European) it is assumed that they belong with sporadic loss of ‑r‑ in the sequence spr- to the root Proto-Germanic *sprenǥe/a‑ ‘to jump’.
In its endeavour to entertain the audience, the anonymous Middle High German epic poem King Rother shows traits also to be found in more recent paraliterature: such as the black-and-white depiction of adversaries Rother and Konstantin, the obvious brutality of the giants, etc. There are however also rather skillful parts: the convincingly presented Christian orientation, or the moderation in humour regarding the giants, which can be found several times.