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Wisdom, Authority and Grammar in the Seventh Century

Wisdom, Authority and Grammar in the Seventh Century
Decoding Virgilius Maro Grammaticus


  • Date Published: March 1995
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521471138

£ 67.00

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About the Authors
  • The works of the seventh-century writer Virgilius Maro Grammaticus are among the most puzzling medieval texts to survive. Ostensibly a pair of grammars, they swarm with hymns, riddles, invented words and imaginary writers. Conventionally interpreted either as a benighted barbarian's unfortunate attempt to write a 'proper' grammar, or as a parody of the pedantic excesses of the ancient grammatical tradition, these texts have long been in need of an alternative reading. Why should a grammarian attack the very notion of authority, thereby destabilizing his own position? The search for an answer leads us via patristic exegesis and medieval wisdom literature to the tantalizingly ill-documented reaches of heterodox initiatory traditions. Vivien Law's book opens important new perspectives on the intellectual life of the early Middle Ages and on the decoding of medieval literature in general.

    • A radical reading of two of the most mysterious surviving medieval texts
    • Previous writing on Virgilius can be difficult to get hold of
    • Of interest to a wide range of readers interested in medieval culture
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521471138
    • length: 182 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The outer layers: parody and word-play
    2. The wisdom tradition
    3. Avarice and the four keys to wisdom
    4. The multifarious nature of wisdom
    5. Heretical knowledge? The constitution of man
    6. The Epistolae: Virgilius' Retractatio?
    7. Concealment of mysteries: the techniques of secrecy
    8. Virgilius and the seventh century
    9. Conclusion
    Works cited

  • Author

    Vivien Law, University of Cambridge

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