The Ysengrimus may be seen as the beginning of the medieval Western European animal epic. It is the first text in which the animal protagonists have proper names, a realm in which they all have their proper place and a shared history. The Ysengrimus had a major influence on the branches of the French Roman de Renart and, via those vernacular texts, the tradition of animal epics spread over large parts of northwestern Europe. Thus there is every reason to include an edition of the Ysengrimus in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, a facing-page translation series designed to make written achievements of medieval and Byzantine culture available to both scholars and general readers in the English-speaking world. The series intends to include classics of the medieval canon as well as lesser known works. The Ysengrimus could be said to belong to both categories. It is written in very sophisticated Latin, contains many examples of brilliant (although misused) rhetoric and shows an impressive grasp of the Latin classics, especially Ovid. It also has had a European-wide impact so it must be seen as a classic. However, nowadays it is only read and studied by a handful of specialists. It deserves to be known better.
The Medieval Review