The purpose of this chapter is threefold: to (a) document the history of encomia of dogs in Greek and Latin rhetoric from the fourth century BCE to the fifteenth century CE; (b) analyze the three extant medieval and Renaissance encomia of dogs—those by Nikephoros Basilakes (twelfth century, Greek), Theodorus Gaza (fifteenth century, Greek), and Leon Battista Alberti (fifteenth century, Latin)—in the light of the rhetorical tradition; and (c) highlight the physical, mental, and moral attributes of dogs that these medieval and Renaissance writers found most worthy of praise. Although no encomium of a dog is extant from Graeco-Roman antiquity, the theme is implicit in Aristotle, Lucian, and Basil. Three rhetoricians (Quintilian, Menander Rhetor, and Aphthonius) briefly discuss animals as possible subjects for encomia, but only Ps.-Hermogenes in his textbook on rhetorical composition provides instructions on how to praise them.
It is not until the middle ages that we find an extant encomium of the dog. Nikephoros Basilakes (twelfth century) praises dogs for their service to their human masters as hunters, seeing-eye dogs, rescuers, protectors, companions, and faithful friends, illustrating his essay with references to famous ancient dogs. The emigrant Byzantine humanist Theodorus Gaza (fifteenth century) does not closely follow ancient prescriptions for encomia, but instead illustrates a few key benefits of dogs with numerous examples drawn from a wide range of ancient authors. For Gaza, dogs are loving, kind, loyal, obedient, and brave in battle. He gives special emphasis to their usefulness in hunting and warfare. The Italian humanist Leon Battista Alberti (fifteenth century) was written as a funeral oration in honor of a favorite dog that had been poisoned. Born of illustrious ancestors, Alberti’s dog rejected military glory and instead pursued learning. Drawing on Gaza’s earlier encomium, Alberti praises the furry humanist for his prodigious memory, devotion to learning, philosophical lifestyle, and ability to distinguish good men from bad.
‘Intermediality’ has become a fashionable centre of
interest in today’s cultural and literary criticism. While
‘interart studies’ – the traditional domain of
intermedial research – have tended, as a branch of
‘Comparative Arts’ or ‘Comparative
Literature’ separate from the national philologies, to deal with
all sorts of contacts between literature and such ‘high’
arts as music or painting, this essay argues in favour of a
literature-centred investigation of contacts between verbal art and
works of other media regardless of their status as high art and above
all for a (re-)integration of such investigations into traditional
national philologies. Presenting a short survey of some intermedial
contacts occurring in the history of English fiction and taking Virginia
Woolf’s “The String Quartet” as a main example of
how another medium can shape fiction, the essay also shows that the
concept of intermediality does not necessarily divert attention from the
genuine concerns of ‘Literaturwissenschaft’, as
conservative scholars might fear, but on the contrary is a valid tool
for the elucidation of important theoretical and historical aspects of
These audio files present selections from a live performance of Nūbat Ramal al-Māya by the Jawq Brihi orchestra of Fez, under the direction of the late ʿAbd al-Krīm ar-Rāyis. The original recording is of unknown provenance, and was recorded in the early 1980s.