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Anatomy of Hell: this is the term that, in a statistical lexical combinations such as those now in fashion, we would find more exclusively associated with the name of Liutprand of Cremona, Latin historian of the tenth century, which came out in recent months the complete works with translation Comment and French by François Bougard (Liudprand de Crémone, Oeuvres, CNRS Editions, pp. 650, € 69.00) and the Antapodosis, chronicle in prose with poetic interludes on Europe between the end of the ninth and mid-tenth century, brilliantly edited by Paul Church for the series’ writers Greek and Latin “Foundation Valla (Mondadori, pp. 568, € 30.00).


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Pornocracy means’ government of prostitutes “and alludes to the enormous influence that women fickle heart but would have had clear ambitions of dukes, kings and popes of the tenth century as the Roman Marozia, mistress of Pope Sergius III, instigator of the murder John X (lover in turn the mother Theodora, who was also “a shameless whore”) and mother of his successor John XI, finally suspected concubine of Leo VI. Or Ermengarde of Ivrea, the “reason of the power of which was (…) who entertained carnal intercourse with everybody.” Or Willa (here translated “Guilla” to avoid barbarism), wife of Higgs Tuscany, in the episode ‘most famous work, the most famous – writes Church – because basely pornographic “hiding in his genital cavity of a belt ‘jeweled gold to save her from the looting of King Hugh (of Provence, then in Italy from 926), but is stripped and ransacked until the tick of a purple wire not exposed to the unveiling of subterfuge and a series of jokes on new type of obstetrics by the servo-detective, then punished with a beating.

Liutprando remains at this stage a moral attitude of reserve, wondering if it was the most criticized the woman or the servant who does not show respect for his body and that while all look away out of shame, does not hesitate to investigate it directo obtutu, at a glance direct almost obscene the searches that followed. In fact, the episode, beyond the prudery, has a central role in the understanding of these pyrotechnic six books, written to “repay” Berengar and Willa second (daughter of the unfortunate above) for the wrongs inflicted on Liutprando, her ex Ambassador, but that the misdeeds of Berenger not speak except to briefly mention. The centrality of the scene of Willa is primarily in the type of sexual content that is emerging as recurring feature of the tales of Liutprando: when should explain why the blind live longer resorts to Ovid’s fable of Jupiter and Juno disputing whether the man or woman to enjoy more; when Tybalt Spoleto defeated the Greeks makes them castrate all, except one whose wife is to beg him to gouge out the eyes but also to spare the testicles, to avoid losing “the refreshment of his body and the hope of future offspring,” arousing with laughter and goodwill of Tybalt. Above all, what can be considered the true conclusion of the work, which is the end of Book V (the sixth is a later addition, even if true), tells another company inexhaustible Willa, who cheats on her husband with Berenger a chaplain, tutor of the two daughters. The affair is discovered because dell’abbaiare two dogs, but the Marquise prevents the investigation accusing the cleric to attend his serves. As punishment, the priest is neutered, but according to the executors of the punishment, “the lady was good to love a well, seen carrying weapons of Priapus.”

According to Paul Church the story, which uses references from Terence and Juvenal, would represent “a spectacular conclusion”, a sign of the intention to close with a precise fact emblematic. The belt Willa would therefore, in terms of choice issue, the culmination of what Gustavo Vinay – to date (with Auerbach) the interpreter sharper than this writer – in 1979 called “priapism” Liutprando, “in unstable orchitico balance “between pathos and rice impatient of obscenity.
But the episode of the belt is also emblematic of the widespread grotesque register, which does not avoid direct descriptions of delicate and very private matter, but transforms it into sketch comedy from ancient, using classical fragments reassembled into a dough that’s sarcastic tone and makes a fun ‘triumphant weapon in the service of what was called the “experimentation” of Latin Ottonian, conspicuous in multilingualism greek-Latin Liutprando certificate but with different techniques in many authors of this century “iron.”
Pornocracy and sexual obsession are dell’Antapodosis a stage of female characters who pose a more serious problem of interpretation. Some, like Levine, this scurrilous wanted to suggest a reading bachtininana where rice and generally obscene expression and servile detectors are from low viewpoint routinely censored.

Some, like Christina Rocca, has given a political reading seeing in women and in men as effeminate Liutprando despises the polarization of the negative to the point that the political neo-imperial, led by Otto I of Saxony in whose service Liutprando spends the latter part of life, is opposed to chaos late Carolingian characterized by instability and anarchy in the management of female power. Others, like Paul Church, spilling the topic emphasizing instead Liutprando the woman, although casual, is always clever and intelligent, “a notch higher up her male partner”, able to dominate the males with which we measure. And in this model terenziano it intervenes to filter the inherent misogyny of the author: it is certain that Liutprando deformed female characters that other contemporary sources show attitudes far more chaste.

The Middle Ages Liutprando is the Middle Ages who likes to imagine who does not know the immense variety of this era: despicable misogynist, feudal, ruthless, vulgar, familist, inconclusive, without being a Christian clergyman. But the way is not clear if this is serious or ironic, conviction or opportunism, aggressiveness performed or controlled, misogyny on principle or out of fear. Liutprando, as recalled in the Arnaldi masterful biographical introduction, it is a deacon when he writes the Antapodosis and bishop (appointed by the political power, as was the custom at the time) when he wrote his other works: the phantasmagorical account of the embassy at the court of Byzantium ( the Legatio), a eulogy and sermon imperial newly discovered, all translated and richly annotated in the French edition. But rarely the Christian God, which remains mainly an instance of expression, becomes the star of his theater. Indeed, the monks are nominated only once as people lost behind contemplations abstruse, so that when the Byzantine emperor Roman Lecapeno is forced into exile in a monastery who feel isolated in an incomprehensible.

The history of Liutprando is senseless agitation of famous men and mediocre, is – writes Vinay – ‘proclivities to the difference, the extravagant, the bully, “is journalistic and indiscreet – says Auerbach – second trend already rooted in the late imperial Roman historiography, not more interested in reconstructing the causal connections of events but fascinated by gossip, from anecdote itchy and secret court. For this, as Suetonius and his followers, but with more breadth geopolitical Liutprando is incapable of building a novel because it prevents the identification of the player with a character in the cold cynicism that reigns supreme over human affairs. Eros and heros are Liutprando keys novelistic, and his genius is nell’esserne puppeteer aware because the mind engaged in intellectual paths, as he writes in the prologue, “is refreshed with beneficial rice or comedies with pleasant stories of warriors.”

Sovereign ludus, Liutprando expresses his restlessness even in this language, full of words, sentences and little speeches in greek which represented the cross (and delight) of philologists, on opposite sides that have played this greek culture now as now written as oral surface, as a structural element or paint false, with the result that, to follow the oldest manuscript and partly autograph, in the original printed inserts Greeks are left in ungrammatical forms and inconsistent, which does not help the task of editors and readers, more difficult in this and in other volumes of Valla.

The reflections of the positions philological become an intriguing puzzle for translators and translatologists: Bougard admits in the text of the author glosses Latin explaining inserts Greek and translating reports before the greek then the French translation of the gloss Latin Church does not accept in ‘original glosses Latin, deeming them not intended for text, and in the Italian translation before playing the greek then adds its Italian translation. This lively but tiring mix bilingual, opening gashes on the otherwise nebulous story of the relationship between the Western world and the Byzantine world, is dedicated, in the prologue, the bishop Recemondo of Elvira (Granada then), which for its part was the Christian minority in a space dominated by the Islamic caliphate of Spain. Even today it is not clear why Recemondo had asked Liutprando met allla Ottonian court, comporgli of this web of military adventures and sexual, this report – with poetic interludes and dialogues theater – a world where the political balance and where women were and reconnect and men servants and warriors stirred sprawled looking useless and short of an impossible stability.

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