Learning in the Carolingian court and cloister: Compilation and innovation in the writings of Smaragdus of St. Mihiel.
Ponesse, Matthew.
295 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-10, Section: A, page: 3943.
dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2004.
general note
Adviser: Alexander C. Murray.
In this study I examine the reception of patristic learning in ninth-century Carolingian Europe. Scholars in this period were driven by the desire to hold fast to the authority of their predecessors and to transmit this wisdom to their audience. Yet they did much more than simply compile the existing inheritance of an earlier age into uninspired texts; they situated this tradition in a new context. It is the purpose of my thesis to demonstrate through the writings of one such scholar that learning in this period was directed not by the principles of an earlier age, but by the immediate concerns of the medieval community. Smaragdus of St Mihiel was an active participant in the political life of the Carolingian empire and wrote extensively during the period of cultural reform. In his effort to produce school-texts filled with the learning of the past, Smaragdus invested ancient knowledge with new vitality through the configuration and adaptation of his sources. I approach the works of Smaragdus thematically, in the first section considering the most rudimentary aspects of compilation against the backdrop of the Carolingian educational reform, and in subsequent sections dealing with compilation as an increasingly original and inventive literary activity. I assess not only which texts were available to the author at the time of compilation, but also the priorities that guided him in the ordering of these sources. I examine his use of abbreviation and emendation, tools used to communicate earlier writings in an easily digestible form. I explore how Smaragdus adapted his sources to different audiences, intent to make this tradition applicable to the realities of medieval life. I conclude with a discussion of compilation and its use to advance the teachings of an original author. In such instances, the works of earlier writers take on a supporting role, serving as a platform from which Smaragdus was able to develop his own thoughts and ideas.
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