What Hrotsvit Did to Virgil: Expanding the Boundaries of the Classical Epic in Tenth-Century Ottonian Saxony

  • Kate Olson
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In her choice of rhyme and diction… she shows much individuality. By adapting new themes to the leonine hexameter, she inaugurated an entirely new type of poetry which found many imitators in her own day. Beauty and vivacity are not wanting and her fondness for diminutives gives her work a distinctive feminine cast.1

In the introductory comments to her 1942 edition of the epics of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (ca. 940—ca. 1003), the earliest female author of an extant epic in the West, Sister Mary Bernardine Bergman describes the tenth-century Saxon canoness ’ style thus:


Woman Writer Subsequent Reference Religious Woman Classical Epic Founding Myth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Sister Mary Bernadine Bergman, trans., Hrosvithae Liber Tertius: A Text with Translation, Introduction and Commentary (Covington, KY: The Sisters of Saint Benedict, 1943), p. xix.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Barbara H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002), p. 99.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    John W. Bernhardt, Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 44.
    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 40–41.Google Scholar
  5. 46.
    Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 78.Google Scholar
  6. 49.
    Katharina M. Wilson, Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: The Ethics of Authorial Stance (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988), p. 114.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sara S. Poor and Jana K. Schulman 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Olson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations