Antique Authorities? 'Classicizing' Poems of the 1180s
Alberto Burri, "Sacco L.A.," 1953: burlap and acrylic on canvas, 39 5/16 x 33 7/8 inches (101 x 87 cm), inv. 5337 - © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello – by SIAE 2016


twelfth-century Renaissance
Latin poetry
classical literature
northern France

How to Cite

Bridges, V. (2018). Antique Authorities? ’Classicizing’ Poems of the 1180s. Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, (3), 143–161.


The 'twelfth-century Renaissance' was based on the rediscovery of classical texts and traditions, and inspired new works based on these well-known materials. However, the nature of many of these new works, often described as 'classicizing poetry,' has not been closely studied. This article considers two connected Latin poems – the Alexandreis and the Anticlaudianus – composed in the 1180s in northern France, in terms of their relationships with the classics and also with each other. Taking as its starting point the idea that classical reception could be a debated phenomenon (Mora), the essay argues that this is indeed the case, and that for these poems this debate concerns hermeneutic traditions rather than the classics directly. It concludes that the wide variety of poetic and interpretative techniques in the poems is an implicit sign of passionate interest and disagreement in the poetics of translatio studii during this period.

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