Pre-modern seminar No 48: Sabine Walther
On Tuesday December 5th PhD Sabine Walther from the University of Bonn will give a talk called:
“A Happy Ending for Jason and Medea? The Quest for the Golden Fleece in Old Norse Trójumanna saga”
The seminar will take place in Jakobi 2-114 at 18.15
Sabine has sent us a short presentation of her lecture:
The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts belongs to the prehistory of the Trojan War. The main source for the Troy story in the Middle Ages is not the Iliad of course but the Latin text De excidio Troiae historia by the fictitious author Dares Phrygius. Since this text starts with the Voyage of the Argonauts, it does not surprise that also the medieval Troy texts often start with it. Dares Phrygius tells only a few things about Jason and his journey: the evil-minded invitation to the impossible task by his uncle Pelias, the building of the Argo and the assembling of a crew of famous heroes. But Dares does neither want to go into the details of the journey nor even name its participants, instead he refers interested readers to special literature: sed qui volunt eos cognoscere, Argonautas legant (but those who want to learn about them, shall read the Argonautae).
In comparison to that, all versions of Trójumanna saga contain an excursus on the Voyage of the Argonauts focusing mostly on the quest for the Golden Fleece and the encounter of Jason with sorceress Medea, the daughter of the local king who helped him attaining the fleece. These excursus are not the same in all versions though. One of the versions even seems to tell a happy ending for Jason and Medea. Did the medieval Icelandic translator not know that Medea is primarily known for murdering her own children after being abandoned by Jason? How did he come up with this idea? What can we conclude from the result of a character analysis for the historical, geographical, and social circumstances of this literary transfer?
Medieval writers were therefore – to some extent – free to compile, invent, and fabricate new narratives about the pagan gods. The paper discusses some of the many textual transformations of Óðinn in the Middle Ages.”
Everybody is welcome!
The Pre-modern seminar is an interdisciplinary and informal seminar at Tartu University organized by the Department of Scandinavian Studies and led by Professor Daniel Sävborg. It was founded in 2010 and has so far arranged 47 meetings with talks by scholars on different levels, both from Estonia and from abroad. The focus is on pre-1800 issues of all kinds.
Professor of Scandinavian Studies