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Guido's Historia and Lydgate's Troy Book

In the European Middle Ages the destruction of Troy was seen as a pre‑Christian analogue to the Fall of Man. As such, it provided a non‑theological model for analyzing why bad things happen to rather decent men and women.

graphic of a paint Different versions of the Troy story focus blame on various causative factors, including the gods, demons, stars, fate, Fortune, and Amors, as well as human folly, more or less freely exercised. The Historia Destructionis Troiae, completed in 1287 by Guido de Columnis, is particularly interesting because of its complex, undigested mixture of fate and free will. Guido was a judge and poet associated with the Sicilian Court of Frederick II, a place where newly translated Greco‑Arab theories of scientific determinism coexisted with Christian free will. A man of his time, Guido struggled with the conflicts between the fates that destroy men and the free will which ought to be able to protect them, but he reached no satisfactory resolution.

John Lydgate translated Guido's text into an influential Middle English version, the Troy Book, so his work is relevant to the study of Guido's Historia.

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ETEXTS

  • "The Book of Troy and the Genealogical Construction of History: The Case of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae." Francis Ingledew. Speculum, Vol. 69, No. 3 (Jul., 1994) , pp. 665-704. Accessible online through the JSTOR database at many libraries. (NVCC subscribes to JSTOR)
  • Dares and Dictys : An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Versions of the Story of Troy by N. E. Griffin (1907).
  • "Guido's Historia Destructionis Troiae: Free Will, Fate and Demons at Troy"  by Diane Thompson
  • Nolan, Maura ""Now Wo, Now Gladnesse": Ovidianism in the Fall of Princes" [Excerpt] ELH - Volume 71, Number 3, Fall 2004, pp. 531-558 [full text available online through  libraries that subscribe to Project Muse]
  • "The Other Book of Troy: Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century England." James Simpson. Speculum, Vol. 73, No. 2  pp. 397-423. This is a major article; the url goes to British Library Direct, where one can purchase the article online. However, by using remote access to a college library that subscribes to the JSTOR database, the article is available online for free. (NOVA subscribes to JSTOR)
  • Poetics of the Past, Politics of the Present:: Chaucer, Gower and Old Books. Diss., Malte Urban. University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2005. Loads very slowly and then scroll down to see the start of the text.

HISTORY


SCIENCE/MAGIC IN 13th C. SICILY

LYDGATE

  • "Boccaccio’s Teseida and The Destruction of Troy." A draft of Chapter II of The medieval tradition of Thebes: history and narrative in the OF Roman de Thèbes, Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Lydgate, by Dominique Battles. New York : Routledge, 2004.  
  • The Canon of John Lydgate Project: an ebook offering links to corpus of work by Lydgate and related papers.
  • Critic and Poet: What Lydgate and Henryson did to Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde." Benson, C. David. Modern Language Quarterly, March 1992 v53 n1 p23 (18)
  • Fewer, Colin "John Lydgate's Troy Book and the Ideology of Prudence" The Chaucer Review - Volume 38, Number 3, 2004, pp. 229-245 [full text available online through libraries that subscribe to Project Muse]
  • TROY BOOK: INTRODUCTION; edited by Robert R. Edwards. Originally published in John Lydgate Troy Book: Selections. "Lydgate's poem is one of several translations of Guido's Historia into Middle English."

FREDERICK II


MAP


ART

  • Art in Sicily
  • Judgment of Paris: a 16th century painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472-1553), based on Guido's Historia; some interesting background comments
© Diane Thompson: 8/25/1998; updated: 8/29/2013