Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Agathe M. Hahn - Scandinavian Reception of Prosper

As generally known, Prosper’s »Epigrammata« count among the core didactical texts of the Middle Ages, used as much for catechetical teaching as for the acquisition of Latin language and style skills throughout Europe. But in contrast to other widespread didactical works, they have to my knowledge never been translated to any vernacular language – with the notable exception of Old Norse in the 12th century. 
As the Old Norse Epigrammata are among the oldest Scandinavian texts preserved, they have been subject to some linguistic research. However, their cultural and theological implications have so far been underexposed.
Although sparsely transmitted, this relatively free rendering gives us an insight into a very interesting period of Scandinavian history of mentality. At this time, Scandinavia had just begun to catch up to Christian-European thinking since the Christianisation of Scandinavia and thus the introduction of writing just had happened about 150 years before.
So this adapted translation probably was part of the education of the first generation of autochthonously trained clergy.
It is in the divergence from the source text that the intention of the translator becomes visible. This also gives us an idea of the intended target audience and their background.
In my paper I will present this little known witness to Prosper’s Scandinavian reception and discuss the information on the early Nordic church history, which the analysis of the translation can reveal.

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