While the museum and garden at our Washington, D.C. campus remain closed, Dumbarton Oaks has moved online in its support of students and scholars, and the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library is proud to be part of those efforts. This year the series is host to three virtual internships. Read more about this program and all of Dumbarton Oaks’s online summer initiatives.
The twelfth-century author and grammarian John Tzetzes, a fixture in the scholarly circles of imperial Byzantium, did not want to write another book “like some of those guys, who are deceptive big-talkers, or produce only shadows.” He and his literary rivals faced a serious problem: the epic poems of Homer, the Iliad and Odyssey, are some of the most important jewels of Greek literature and were widely read in the Byzantine empire (as they are today). Yet Homer’s stories of battles, sea voyages, strange monsters, heroic adventures, and the dramatic rivalries between pagan gods and goddesses would have been a challenge to readers firmly ensconced in a Christian worldview. How can these important poems be read and understood if the stories they tell are antithetical to unembellished history or Christian orthodoxy? Allegories of the Odyssey is Tzetzes’s answer to that challenge, and a new book in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series by Adam J. Goldwyn of North Dakota State University and Dimitra Kokkini of Birkbeck, University of London, is the first translation of this poem ever published.
Eminently readable and remarkably fluid, Godden’s work makes this “Alfredian” translation truly accessible to early twenty-first century students of Old English for the first time. Godden’s introduction serves as a reliable and clear outline of the cultural situations of both the Old English text and its source, Paulus Orosius’s Seven Books of the History Against the Pagans (written after the sack of Rome in 410 CE). It will no doubt help many students as they struggle to make sense of the divergent cultural inheritances of source and translation. Given his long history with the work in question, it is no surprise that the elegantly spare notes are, though obviously not comprehensive, extremely useful for the student of The Old English History of the World who might not be familiar with its Latin predecessor. However, most apparent to this reviewer was the sympathetic warmth, even humor, which Godden brings to this part of the edition.
This beautifully written and gorgeously made new edition and facing-page translation will help make the full text of The Old English History of the World accessible to students earlier in their careers and hopefully spur a new generation of scholars to explore this fascinating work. If discussions of the History have long been dominated by arguments about the segments that are “original” to the Old English translation, Godden’s text will allow us to see again how much there is to be gained by exploring it as a full work—and as much more than merely the sum of its parts.
Mary Kate Hurley
Journal of English and Germanic Philology
The Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library is proud to join the virtual exhibitors for the canceled 55th annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, hosted by Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute. The year 2020 is a particularly exciting one for DOML, as it marks our ten-year anniversary. Although we cannot attend the conference in person, we are offering a 20% discount on all titles through the end of May 2020 when you order through this special discount website. Also discounted are selected titles from Dumbarton Oaks Publications. See our online flyer for more information, and we look forward to attending the conference in person next year!
Los textos reunidos en este volumen, que abarcan un periodo de cinco siglos y una variedad espacial que lleva al lector desde la Península Ibérica a Bizancio, pasando por Alemania y Francia, representan una valiosa fuente de información acerca de las preocupaciones e ideas surgidas en los medios intelectuales occidentales sobre el islam y su profeta Muḥammad.
La reproducción de los textos latinos ha sido realizada de forma cuidadosa, como rigurosas son las traducciones llevadas a cabo por los autores, labor que estos complementan de modo acertado con una detallada anotación. Se trata, por lo tanto, de una obra interesante, tanto por los textos que reúne como por el tratamiento analítico que le dedican los autores.
Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala
Collectanea Christiana Orientalia
The volume is a prudent selection because it combines prose, verse, and epistolary sources. The verse texts directly reflect how the nontheological and nonhistorical literature deals with the life of Muhammad. It is particularly commendable that the editors included the Book of Nicholas and the Qualiter in the volume because these texts have received very little scholarly attention. In general, Yolles and Weiss have published a consistent range of texts that give a holistic impression of the medieval literature about Muhammad.
I hope that further volumes containing similar selections of texts about the Prophet’s life will be published.
Medievalia et Humanistica