Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Sabine Heidi Walther

Romancing Troy in Iceland?

On the Ormsbók Version of Trójumanna saga

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Sabine Heidi Walther

Translated texts play an important role at the beginning of literacy in the vernaculars in the European Middle Ages. The process towards literacy is initiated by the arrival and then propagation of Christianity. Translation, however, did not only serve as a means to promote the new religion, it kept being an important tool for the import of cultural goods. In my talk, I will present some of the results of my Marie Skłodowska-Curie project that was hosted by the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen (2015-2017). The project focuses on the Old Norse Trójumanna saga, a historiographical text on the fall of Troy translated from Latin into Old Norse.

While it seems plausible to assume that translations might have had a function as literary models, one might also ask about the socio-cultural motivations and functions: Were the Icelanders only interested in importing the common matters which were in fashion everywhere in Europe? Or did they also import new concepts that came with the texts? And if so, how were they translated and transformed for the audience? Is it possible that some people even used certain texts to promote their political agenda? Who were those people? Where and who were their contacts?

The Ormsbók version of Trójumanna saga will serve as an example in my talk. This version can be considered the ‘romance version’ of the saga. How was this chivalric text achieved? Are secondary French sources responsible for it? Is it possible to place this text in Iceland? Who would be interested in it? Whose political agenda would it serve?

Sabine Heidi Walther is teaching and researching as “wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin” at the University of Bonn. She earned an MA in Medieval Latin and Classics from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Bonn. She recently finished a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen. She is interested in the cultural and literary transfer to Scandinavia, in historiography and mythology, in cultural memory and narratology.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.