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From: Nigel Price <NigelPrice1@compuserve.com>
Subject: (urth) Macrobius
Date: Mon, 8 May 2000 19:36:32 

Alga wrote...

>>I dug out Chaucer. "The Parliament of Fowls" is a charming Valentine's
>>Day poem. The poet has been reading Scipio Africanus...

<Click!! >

(What was that?  Oh no, it was the sound of Nigel switching into Mindless
Pedantry Mode...)

Nothing to do with Crowley, and even less to do with Wolfe, but when
Chaucer writes in "The Parlement of Foules" that he has been reading
"Tullyus of the Drem of Scipioun", he almost certainly means that he's been
reading Macrobius' commentary on Cicero's "Somnium Scipionis" ("the Dream
of Scipio").  "Tullyus" refers to Cicero's full name: Marcus Tullius
Cicero.  The "Somnium Scipionis" originally formed part of book VI of
Cicero's "De Re Publica", but was always accompanied in mediaeval times by
Macrobius' lengthy commentary (c 400 A.D.).  I've read Macrobius, and he's
terminally dull, but the commentary was enormously influential in mediaeval
thought, at a time when the interpretation of dreams was a popular
obsession.  Chaucer quotes or refers to Macrobius in several works,
including "The Book of the Duchess" and "The House of Fame", and in "The
Nun's Priest's Tale", where he sends up the whole debate about the
interpretation of dreams, and brings in Boethius as well so that he can
have a go at the scholarly predestination debate while he's at it.

Not sure I'd completely agree with the notion that the narrative tour of
heaven and hell had completely died out by the mid-14th century... Depends
quite what you mean.  It long persisted as a literary trope in various
forms, particularly in the various mutations of Renaissance epic, up to and
including Milton, of course, in the 17th century.

But maybe you meant something more specific.


(Phew! He's switched off.  I think we're safe again now!)


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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