Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Nibelungenlied and Saga of Burnt Njal (c 1250)
Except for the Carolingian dynasty, early middle ages rulers did not concern themselves with any cultural interest. This was partly because the majority of non-religious people could not read or write. It was left up to the monks, particularly the Benedictines, and the Church to preserve history. Of particular note are St. Benedict (c. 480-c. 550) who was considered one of the best scholars of this era and St. Jerome who, with assistance, translated the Old and New Testament into Latin. Because the official language of church and state activities was Latin, much of the literature of the period consisted of commentaries on the lives of the saints or were essays on points of faith.
Stories began to appear in the vernacular along with the Latin works after 1200. Much of this literature is mythological in content, telling stories of great heroes, real or imagined, whose deeds are models for children and adults to admire. Much of the vernacular literature is bound with the music of the day. Traveling poet/musicians called troubadours went from court to court telling stories they heard on their trips. Coming from the Minnesanger and Trouveres, The Song of Roland recreates the final battle between Charlemagne and the Saracens of which Roland and all of his men are killed. Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied (Song of the People of the Dead) are epic stories of such heroes from England and Germany, respectively. - Malaspina Biography
Books from Alibris: The Nibelungenlied