Saxo and his younger cousin - a study in the principles used to make Gesta Danorum into Compendium Saxonis

University essay from Lunds universitet/Latin; Lunds universitet/Masterprogram: Språk och språkvetenskap

Abstract: The aim of this study is to offer as detailed analysis as possible of the Compendium Saxonis, a late medieval abridgement of the famous historical work Gesta Danorum, written towards the end of the XII century by Saxo Grammaticus. Books I–IV and XVI have been used for this purpose. The study contains an introduction, two chapters and a conclusion. In the introduction, scarce information known about life of Saxo Grammaticus, author of the original work, is summarized and briefly discussed. Further on, general information about Compendium and its dating are referred to. Second part of the introduction deals with the theoretical background concerning ancient and medieval abridged version. In this discussion, we rely on Paul Grice’s Theory of Communication and its reinterpretation by Markus Dubischar. In the First chapter, called Treatment of the content of Gesta Danorum in the Compendium Saxonis we analyse the way the author of the shorter version dealt with the content of the original. Particular attention is payed to the abridgment’s treatment of four distinct episode types frequent in the original. These are episodes pertaining to the supernatural, episodes pertaining to the moral and didactical issues, episodes pertaining to the upbringing, legal activity and death of a Danish king and episodes pertaining to war and destruction. In the Second Chapter, called Treatment of style and language of Gesta Danorum in the Compendium Saxonis we analyse the way the author of the shorter version dealt with the style of the original. This chapter is divided into three parts. In the first part, we meticulously analyse the account of the kingship of Frotho (book II) in both works and compare stylistic features to be found in each. In the second part, we compare concordances of the vocabulary concerned with death and killing made for both the original and the abridged version in order to establish whether the shorter version lacks variety of the longer one. In the third part, we turn towards grammar and analyse the absolute ablatives in both works. In the conclusion, summary of all the conclusions reached throughout the paper is offered. Additionally, the contents of the shorter version are compared to the schema (compiled by Ilona Opelt) of typical contents to be found in medieval abbreviations.

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