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This essay analyzes descriptions of royal and imperial Carolingian women on hunts in both the Paderborn Epic and Ermold’s Carmen in honorem Hludowici Caesaris. It compares these early ninth-century verses to their main classical model, Virgil’s Aeneid, and considers how the latter’s ambiguous depictions of Dido and Venus might have inflected the Carolingian’s poems’ depictions of women. Recognizing that the poets’ panegyrical intentions appear at odds with these ambiguous Virgilian exempla, the article investigates the royal hunt as a poetic stage, considering how the chase offered a public space in which to present positive depictions of women. The essay ultimately argues that these poems, rather than straightforward praise of women or of female leadership, confine their acclaim to particular women leading in specified ways and in specified spaces and construct the hunt as an ideal space for such exercise of power.
Research for this paper was supported by the Write Now, Right Now (WNRN) program and the Office of the Provost, both at Wheaton College (Norton, MA). I am grateful to the advice, feedback, and support of Jan Adie, David Bachrach, John Bezís-Selfa, Shane Bobrycki, Geoff Collins, Jonathan Conant, Barbara Curtis, Eben Diskin, Michael Drout, Betsey Dyer, Nancy Evans, Eric J. Goldberg, Jola Komornicka, Felice Liftshitz, Maya Maskarinec, John Partridge, Christine Sobieck, J.R. Webb, Aubrey Westfall, and the editors and anonymous reviewers at MFF.
Carolingian women poem public private Virgil Aeneid Paderborn Epic hunt chase
Copyright © 2021 Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship
Polanichka, Dana M. "The Erotic Hunt: Gender and Space in Early-Ninth-Century Carolingian Verse." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 56, No. 2 (2021) : 5-47.