Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.767717
Title: Attitudes towards Paganism in Medieval Irish and Old Norse Texts of the Trojan War
Author: Stanciu, Radu Razvan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 752X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2016
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Abstract:
The thesis compares the depictions of paganism found in the Middle Irish Togail Troí ('The Destruction of Troy'; first half of the twelfth century) and the Old Norse Trójumanna saga ('The Story of the Trojans'; first half of the thirteenth century), which are both based on Dares Phrygius's Late Antique De excidio Troiae historia. The two vernacular adaptations are presented in the wider context of the medieval popularity of Dares's text. The in-depth analysis of the pagan references (most of which relate to mythology and ritual), reveals Togail Troí's and Trójumanna saga's general source-based approach and their shared reliance on Latin mythographic scholarship, but also a different approach concerning the literary presentation of paganism. The Irish text's 'Christian' approach to the issue (as seen through authorial comments and historical contextualisation) is shown to be in contrast to the Norse text's 'classicising' approach (i.e. paganism presented as in the classical sources themselves). The findings of this analysis are then compared with the literary attitudes towards paganism encountered in medieval Irish and Norse texts more widely (especially in those set in Ireland or Nordic countries). This comparison reveals a general sympathy for many pagan characters that finds some parallels in the Trojan texts as well, but also a different representation of pagan deities in the two traditions. Indeed, the Irish tendency to avoid depicting the gods as such and the opposite Norse tendency, to portray them in an explicit way (often from a pagan point of view), mirror the evidence furnished by Togail Troí and Trójumanna saga. The literary attitudes to paganism and particularly towards mythology, which are encountered in the two texts, are further explored from the point of view of authorship. It is shown that the Irish author is writing in a historiographical mould, while the Norse author is writing in what could be described as a mythographical mould. Two complementary lines of interpretation are sketched for this phenomenon. The first one emphasises the existence of two different cultures of dealing with paganism in Irish and Norse literature respectively. The second line of interpretation draws to the fore two different approaches to the author-text relationship, examined through the framework of medieval literary theory. The final chapters highlight the importance of the research both for our understanding of the unique and complex literary cultures of medieval Ireland and Iceland and for the light that can be shed on the multifaceted relationship between authors and texts in medieval literature through the prism of paganism.
Supervisor: Ní Mhaonaigh, Máire Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.767717  DOI:
Keywords: Trojan War ; paganism ; mythology ; Old Norse ; Medieval Irish
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