In this Book

University of Minnesota Press
summary
If we view the Aeneid—the poem of empire, conquest, and male hierarchy-as the West's quintessential canonical text and Latin primer, then the history of Virgil readership should tell us much about the concept of education in the West. In this book, Marilynn Desmond reveals how a constructed and mediated tradition of reading Virgil has conditioned various interpretations among readers responding to medieval cultural and literary texts. In particular, she shows how the story of Dido has been marginalized within canonical readings of the Aeneid. Reaching back to the Middle Ages and vernacular poetic readings of Dido, Desmond recovers an alternative Virgil from historical tradition and provides another paradigm for reading the Aeneid. Desmond follows the figure of Dido as she emerges from ancient historical and literary texts (from Timaeus and Justin to Virgil and Ovid) and circulates in medieval textual cultures. Her study ranges from the pedagogical discourses of Latin textual traditions (including Servius, Augustine, Bernard Silvestris, and John of Salisbury) to the French and English vernacular cultures inscribed in the Roman d'Eneas, the Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César, and the work of Dante, Chaucer, Gavin Douglas, Caxton, and Christine de Pizan. The positions of all these readers point to the cultural specificity and historical contingency of all traditions of reading; thus, this book demonstrates how medieval traditions of reading Dido offer the modern reader a series of countertraditions that support feminist, antihomophobic, and postcolonial interpretive gestures.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Frontispiece
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Introduction: Gender and the Politics of Reading Virgil
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. 1. Dux Femina Facti: Virgil's Dido in the Historical Context
  2. pp. 23-73
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  1. 2. Dido as Libido: From Augustine to Dante
  2. pp. 74-98
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  1. 3. Dido in Courtly Romance and the Structures of History
  2. pp. 99-127
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  1. 4. Sely Dido and the Chaucerian Gaze
  2. pp. 128-162
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  1. 5. Dido's Double Wound in Caxton's Eneydos and Gavin Douglas's Eneados
  2. pp. 163-194
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  1. 6. Christine de Pizan's Feminist Self-Fashioning and the Invention of Dido
  2. pp. 195-224
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  1. Epilogue: On Reading Dido
  2. pp. 225-228
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 229-280
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  1. Select Bibliography
  2. pp. 281-288
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 289-296
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  1. About the Author
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