contributor.author: Dr. Josefina Rodrí 8 guez Arribas

title.none: Martos and Soldevila, eds., Rosvita de Gandersheim (Dr. Josefina Rodrí 8 guez Arribas)

identifier.other: baj9928.0804.011 08.04.11

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Dr. Josefina Rodrí 8 guez Arribas, josefine@tiscali.es

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Rosvita de Gandersheim. Transalted by Juan Martos and Rosaria Moreno Soldevila. Rosvita de Gandersheim: Obras Completas. Huelva: Universidad de Huelva, 2005. Pp. xlvi, 260. ISBN: 84-96373-76-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.04.11

Rosvita de Gandersheim. Transalted by Juan Martos and Rosaria Moreno Soldevila. Rosvita de Gandersheim: Obras Completas. Huelva: Universidad de Huelva, 2005. Pp. xlvi, 260. ISBN: 84-96373-76-2.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Josefina Rodrí 8 guez Arribas
josefine@tiscali.es

The authors of this edition are keen to point out that the Benedictine canoness Rosvita of Gandersheim (c. 930/40-c. 968) was the first Christian female dramaturge, the first Saxon female poet, and the first German female historian. This edition is therefore particularly relevant for anyone interested in gender studies and in the recovery of female writers and artists from the past. This is the first translation into Castilian of Rosvita's complete works, from which only the dramatic chapter had been translated in Castilian. The translators have borne in mind the mandatory respect for the original in Latin and the necessity of a fluent and correct translation into Castilian. They have followed the critical edition of the Latin text made by W. Berschin (Monachii, 2001) for their translation. Preceding the translation is an introduction by the authors that places Rosvita in the cultural renaissance of the tenth century (Ottonian renaissance). Some elements in Rosvita's texts hint at her access to Byzantine sources through the Byzantine princess Teophano (Otto II's wife) and at her likely contact with Abderrahman's embassies to Otto I, which would explain her knowledge of the life and passion of Pelayo.

The translation keeps the order and division that Rosvita herself established for her complete works: three separate sections (books) with their respective prefaces. It is evident in the three parts that she had a very structured program of her writings in mind. Each of the first two books consists of a story in two parts, the account of a martyrdom in a burlesque tone, a story exalting martyrdom and chastity, two stories with a common subject, and a conclusion. We review the different parts of the book in the order in which the authors analyze them. The legends in the first book of Rosvita's Opera omnia refer to several Christian historical characters, with whom Rosvita was acquainted through apocrypha texts. The metric form of the poems in this book is elegiac distiches for the prefaces and leonine hexameters in the rest of the book, with some exceptions. The first legend recounts the life of the Virgin according to the apocrypha gospel of Pseudo-Mathew. Here Rosvita emphasizes the virginal maternity of Mary. Chastity is a recurrent subject in all the writings of Rosvita. The second legend, Christ's ascension, is apparently based on a homily attributed to John Crysostom. The main subject of this poem is the value of martyrdom. The third legend is the life of saint Gangulph, a gentleman in the court of Pippin the Short. This poem, in contrast to the rest, presents the form of elegiac distiches and is based on a Vita Gangulfi of the ninth century. The main subject is forgiveness. The legend of Pelayo is the only one based on oral sources, according to the testimony of the writer, and shows influences of the poet Prudentius. Rosvita's version of Pelayo's life is very different from other extant versions. Teophilus' life is based on a Byzantine legend translated into Latin in the ninth century and explores the subject of the agreement with the devil, repentance, and the role of mediator of the Virgin Mary. The life of Basilius is also based on a Greek source translated into Latin by Ursus in the ninth century. It is also a story of fall and conversion, where Rosvita pinpoints the role of woman as motive of sin but also of conversion. In the legend of Dionysius, Rosvita takes this martyr for Dionysius Areopagite, as Hilduinus, the Latin source of this legend did. Rosvita's version is in any case very different from her source. Finally, the first book of her Opera omnia finishes with the life of Saint Ines.

The second book is devoted to her dramatic works, the most interesting of her writings. They are written in rhythmic prose and clearly manifest the influence of Publius Terentius Afer, whose model Rosvita imitates as she explicitly states, more in the structure of the works than in the language. The authors of the introduction suggest that these dramatic works were never played but read (dramatized reading). All the dramatic works originally had a title that was a female name (that of the main female character) but the translators have decided to keep the title with the male name that they received during the Renaissance, when the works of Rosvita were re-discovered. These titles refer to the main male character. Galicanus, a general of Constantine; Dulcidius, a play that refers to the martyrdom of three virgins (Agape, Quionia and Irene); Calimacus, dealing with a case of necrophilia; Abraham, a narration of the temptation of an eremite and representing the zenith of Rosvita's dramatic writings; and Pafnucius and Sabiduria, both works where Rosvita shows her scientific and philosophical knowledge (music in Pafnucius and arithmetic in Sabiduria).

The third book of her Opera omnia constitutes the historical part of Rosvita's works. Otto's feats, incomplete and dedicated to Gerberta, Otto I's niece, narrates the life and deeds of Otto the Great. The Origins of the monastery of Gandersheim refers the foundation and the first times of the abbey where Rosvita was professed. In this work, Rosvita indicates how the monastery and its history are linked to Otto's dynasty.

Martos and Moreno Soldevila's introduction ends with a bibliography classified in editions, translations (Italian, English, French, Castilian, and German), and studies on the complete works of Rosvita, or parts of it. The translation is completed with an index of the names in all the works. This book is a valuable contribution to Latin and medieval literature studies in Spanish, for this is the first time that Rosvita's complete works are available in Castilian, with comments and annotations. Latinists may have preferred the inclusion of the Latin text, to compare with the translation. Personally, I would have liked more notes clarifying certain questions throughout the translation. For instance, in the legend of Mary, a note explaining "a thousand lustra in the world, the sixth age, and their relation to certain prophecies" of the Bible, would have been helpful. All in all, the translation is well-annotated in general and very well-adapted to modern Castilian.