Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Variorum vitae : Theseus and the arts of mythography in Medieval and early modern Europe
Author: Smith-Laing, Tim
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 2129
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
This thesis offers an approach to the history of mythographical discourse through the figure of Theseus and his appearances in texts from England, Italy and France. Analysing a range of poetic, historical, and allegorical works that feature Theseus alongside their classical and contemporary intertexts, it is a study of the conceptions of Greco-Roman mythology prevalent in European literature from 1300-1600. Focusing on mythology’s pervasive presence as a background to medieval and early modern literary and intellectual culture, it draws attention to the fragmentary, fluid and polymorphous nature of mythology in relation to its use for different purposes in a wide range of texts. The first impact of this study is to draw attention to the distinction between mythology and mythography, as a means of focusing on the full range of interpretative processes associated with the ancient myths in their textual forms. Returning attention to the processes by which writers and readers came to know the Greco-Roman myths, it widens the commonly accepted critical definition of ‘mythography’ to include any writing of or on mythology, while restricting ‘mythology’ to its abstract sense, meaning a traditional collection of tales that exceeds any one text. This distinction allows the analyses of the study’s primary texts to display the full range of interpretative processes and possibilities involved in rewriting mythology, and to outline a spectrum of linked but distinctive mythographical genres that define those possibilities. Breaking down into two parts of three chapters each, the thesis examines Theseus’ appearances across these mythographical genres, first in the period from 1300 to the birth of print, and then from the birth of print up to 1600. Taking as its primary texts works by Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate and William Shakespeare along with their classical intertexts, it situates each of them in regard to their multiple defining contexts. Paying close attention to the European traditions of commentary, translation and response to classical sources, it shows mythographical discourse as a vibrant aspect of medieval and early modern literary culture, equally embedded in classical traditions and contemporary traditions that transcended national and linguistic boundaries.
Supervisor: Lewis, Rhodri Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early modern English literature (1550 ? 1780) ; Shakespeare ; History of the book ; English Language and Literature ; English and Old English literature ; Intellectual History ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; Italian ; Latin ; Italic literatures,i.e.,Latin ; Literatures of Romance languages ; French ; Reception of Classical antiquity ; Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Italian,Romanian,Rhaeto-Romanic literature ; Mythology ; Mythography