Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César

The Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César ("Ancient history until Caesar") is the first medieval French prose compilation[1] of stories of antiquity, mostly consisting of the so-called Matter of Troy and of Rome, besides text from the Bible and other histories. Composed in the early 13th century in northern France, it told the history of the world from the creation to the time of Julius Caesar.[2] Often copied, it underwent an important redaction in Italy in the 14th century; its influence extended into the Renaissance.[3] In manuscripts from the 14th and 15th centuries it was frequently found together with the Faits des Romains, which continued the history of the Roman Empire.[4]

Jean Fouquet, Coronation of Alexander the Great, 15th-century MS of Histoire Ancienne jusqu'à César and Faits des Romains in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

History edit

The text was written for Roger IV, the châtelain of Lille;[2] the earlier suggestion that Wauchier de Denain was its author[5] is no longer held. There is some debate about the dating of the text; the range of possible dates is 1208 to 1230.[6]

The Histoire ancienne is usually illuminated; the cycles of illustrations are described by Oltrogge, Die Illustrationszyklen zur 'Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César'. The author had included moralizing passages in verse, left out in subsequent versions[4] in which they were "progressively suppress[ed]".[6] The so-called second redaction came into being in Naples c. 1340, in which the version of the legend of Troy based on Daretis Phrygii de excidio Trojae historia was replaced by a prose adaptation of the Roman de Troie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure.[4] The Faits des Romains may have been "composed with the intent of seeing a contemporary Caesar in the person of the French king", Philip II of France.[2]

Jean Fouquet, "Caesar Crossing the Rubicon", 15th-century MS of Histoire Ancienne jusqu'á César and Faits des Romains in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The function of such anachronistic accounts of the past, according to scholars such as Étienne Gilson, was to create an "eternal present" in which the classical past and the medieval present were joined. One of the consequences of elevating "past and present ... into a kind of atemporal equivalence" is that historical accuracy or even faithfulness of translation is not an objective; texts are freely translated and adapted to allow a "wholesale recreation of the past in the image of the medieval world". The removal of the prologue, the moralizing passages, and of appeals to the audience (all of which help establish an authorial presence and an individual voice) in later revisions has been argued to make the Histoire Ancienne a more general version of classical history, whose applicability exceeds that of the context of Roger de Lille. A general account of antiquity in the vernacular also served (according to historians such as Jacques Le Goff) to allow the nobility (generally untrained in Latin) to read of a glorious past in which it could inscribe itself without clerical intervention.[6] One notable author who used it extensively, particularly for its account of the Trojan War, was Christine de Pizan.[3]

Contents edit

The Histoire ancienne contains seven books drawn from historical, mythological, and sacred writing.[4][6]

  • book 1: From Genesis to the death of Joseph
  • book 2: Assyria and Greece
  • book 3: Thebes
  • book 4: Minotaur, Amazons, Hercules
  • book 5: Troy
  • book 6: Aeneas
  • book 7: History of Rome until Pompey; Medes and Persians; Judith and Esther; Alexander the Great

Manuscripts edit

Sixty-eight manuscripts containing the text are known.

Bibliography edit

  • Oltrogge, D. (1989). Die Illustrationszyklen zur 'Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César' (1250-1400). Europäische Hochschulschriften (in German). Vol. 94. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3631406045.
  • Visser-van Terwisga, Marijke de (1995). Histoire Ancienne jusqu'a César (Estoires Rogier) (in French). Orléans.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

References edit

  1. ^ Pizan, Christine De; Hult, David F. (2010). Debate of the Romance of the Rose. U of Chicago P. pp. 171 n.211. ISBN 9780226670133. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Morrison, Elizabeth; Hedeman, Anne Dawson; Antoine, Elisabeth (2010-12-07). Imagining the Past in France: History in Manuscript Painting, 1250-1500. Getty Publications. pp. 169–73. ISBN 9781606060285. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b Abray, Lorna Jane (2004). "Imagining the Masculine: Christine de Pizan's Hector, Prince of Troy". In Alan Shepard (ed.). Fantasies of Troy: Classical Tales and the Social Imaginary in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Stephen David Powell. Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies. pp. 133–48. ISBN 9780772720252. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Jung, M.R. (1999). "Histoire Ancienne". Lexikon des Mittelalters (in German). Vol. 3. pp. 39–40. ISBN 3476017427.
  5. ^ Malicote, Sandra (2009). Image and Imagination: Picturing the Old French Epic. UP of America. p. 58. ISBN 9780761848325. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Spiegel, Gabrielle M. (1995). Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-Century France. U of California P. pp. 104–10, 354–55. ISBN 9780520089358. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts". National library of the Netherlands. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  8. ^ Berriot-Salvadore, Evelyne (1995). Le mythe de Jérusalem: Du Moyen Age à la Renaissance. Université de Saint-Etienne. p. 151. ISBN 9782862720760. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  9. ^ Kren, Thomas (2007). French Illuminated Manuscripts in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Getty Publications. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9780892368587. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Histoire ancienne jusqu' a cesar". Bodleian Library. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  11. ^ Porter, Pamela (2000). Medieval Warfare in Manuscripts. London: British Library. p. 42. ISBN 9780712346627.