Herren, Michael W., “Comedy, irony, and philosophy in late antique prosimetra: Menippean satire from the fifth to the eighth century”, The Journal of Medieval Latin 27 (2017): 241–275.

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Citation details
“Comedy, irony, and philosophy in late antique prosimetra: Menippean satire from the fifth to the eighth century”
Abstract (cited)
The author examines in chronological order the main examples of Latin works generally claimed to be Menippean satires from Roman times (by Varro, Seneca, Petronius) to the Cosmography of Aethicus Ister, written just before the middle of the eighth century C.E. He argues that the satires composed from the end of the fifth century to the middle of the eighth (by Martianus Capella, Ennodius, Boethius, Fulgentius, Virgilius Maro Grammaticus, and ps. Jerome) constitute a separate branch of the tradition. These works cohere in their attachment to an encyclopedic, or generally didactic, intent, the use of fabula or allegory, and a commitment to the anagogic or ennobling function of literature, all the while maintaining many of the classical features of the genre - the prosimetrical form, dialogic structure, comedy, irony, and engagement with philosophy. The author also debates with modern critics such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Northrop Frye and their endeavour to establish a definition of Menippean that is valid for all periods. It is argued that Latin (both Roman and late late antique) examples alone preserve the original form derived from Menippus that requires the mixture of prose and poetry, i.e. the prosimetrum. The prosimetrum is not merely formal, but operates in service to the dialectic inherent in the genre. The author argues that with the sundering of form from mode (the topoi and literary techniques identified in the genre) that Menippean satire essentially died and had to be reinvented.
Subjects and topics
History, society and culture
Virgilius Maro GrammaticusVirgilius Maro Grammaticus
(fl. c.7th century)
Scholar and author of two Latin grammatical treatises; often identified as an Irishman
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Dennis Groenewegen
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December 2018