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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2008.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 69-06, Section: A, page: .
This thesis explores the function and expression of sacrificial violence in a group of texts on heroic themes that were composed in the ninth and tenth centuries in England and France. The introduction offers a preliminary survey of theories of sacrifice, specifically those that have proven most useful in analyzing literary texts. It also presents an overview of how the metaphors of the 'sacrificial' and the 'traumatic' have been used by both classical and medieval scholars. It is one of the assertions of the thesis that medieval authors actively looked (and called) for signs of heroic sacrifice in their own times, and this is reflected in certain poems on contemporary events. Chapter one traces the development of heroic poetry from Vergil's Aeneid and Lucan's Bellum civile through the adaptation of the form by Christian poets, and the 'rediscovery' of secular and historical subjects in the early medieval period. Chapter two looks briefly at sacrifice in Classical literature before turning to its re-interpretation by Christian writers, including St Paul and St Augustine; Christian sacrifice was influenced by the language of military service and heroic action, resulting in poems that blended the language of martyrdom and militancy, such as Prudentius' Liber Peristephanon, Fortunatus' hymns on the Cross, and the Old English Dream of the Rood. Chapter three analyzes the development of heroic sacrifice and its concomitant violence in the Paderborn Epic, the Old English Judith, the Bella Parisiacae urbis of Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, and The Battle of Maldon. The chapter closes with an analysis of how heroic sacrifice is appealed to in one major event in the life of Otto I. Chapter four looks at the need to interpret the times experienced by some observers of ninth- and tenth-century warfare, and at the elements of horror and trauma that occur in literature when sacrificial violence fails, including readings of Lucan, Beowulf, the Bella Parisiacae urbis, and the Latin rhythmical poem 'The Battle of Fontenoy'. A conclusion provides a glance ahead into the later period through the Middle English Havelok, and some remarks on sacrificial violence and modes of literature.