Gender, Textuality, and the Medieval Aeneid
Publication Year: 1994
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Series: Medieval Cultures
Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication,
Reading Dido is a study of the reception and revision of the figure of Dido as she emerges from ancient texts and circulates in medieval textual cultures. This study also records my reception of cultural theory and my revision of my earlier work. Most notably, Reading Dido marks a revisionary departure from my dissertation on Virgil's Aeneid in medieval French and English literature (Berkeley, 1985). ...
Introduction: Gender and the Politics of Reading Virgil
Virgil's Aeneid has historically been read in circumstances that support social and cultural hierarchies, a fact characterized by Thomas Greene: "Virgil's earlier poetry was taught in Roman schools even before his death, and from then on, from the first century to the nineteenth, he was generally at the core of European education. ...
1. Dux Femina Facti: Virgil's Dido in the Historical Context
In this passage taken from his allegorical commentary on Virgil's Aeneid, Petrarch questions Virgil's choice of Dido as the female counterpart to the exemplary hero, Aeneas (vir fortis ac perfectus). As Petrarch carefully documents in his letter, Virgil's Dido is recognizably a poetic invention, a fact all too well known to be ignored, ...
2. Dido as Libido: From Augustine to Dante
A s part of his larger discussion of the aims and methods of education, John of Salisbury carefully delineates and then defines various modes of reading the Latin language in this passage. Reading (legere) may be either interactive or solitary, though solitary lectio was probably still a vocal and highly physical activity.2 ...
3. Dido in Courtly Romance and the Structures of History
In0 these two passages, Gayle Rubin and Georges Duby extend the kinship theories developed by Lévi-Strauss into their own disciplinary concerns—feminist theory and medieval history, respectively. Taken together, these two excerpts articulate the cultural implications of European feudalism as a social order based on the "traffic in women."1 ...
4. Sely Dido and the Chaucerian Gaze
Chaucer's narrators frequently exhibit an intense self-consciousness about their scribal roles; in this regard, they manifest some of the attributes evident in the scriptor-role adopted by the narrator of the Roman d'Eneas. ...
5. Dido's Double Wound in Caxton's Eneydos and Gavin Douglas's Eneados
As we saw in the last chapter, the narrator in Chaucer's House of Fame1 initiates his version of the Aeneid with the statement: "I wol now singen, yif I kan" (143). The addition of "yif I kan" to Virgil's stately opening lines—"arma virumque cano"—is a standard piece of Chaucerian irony, an irony that turns on questions of authorial authority in narrative. ...
6. Christine de Pizan's Feminist Self-Fashioning and the Invention of Dido
In this programmatic passage from the beginning of the Mutacion de Fortune, Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) represents her entry into literary activity as a change of gender, a formulation repeated later in her autobiographical text the Avision.1 ...
Epilogue: On Reading Dido
Like the entire section of Jacob's Room set in the British Library from which this passage is drawn, the scene depicted here ironizes in every direction: the complacency of Jacob and the predictable bitterness of Julia Hedge are soon enveloped in the larger ironies of museums, monuments, and culture. ...
About the Author
Marilynn Desmond is associate professor of English and comparative literature at the State University of New York-Binghamton. ...