chapter  3
13 Pages

Turnus in Veldeke’s Eneide: The Effects of Violence

Heinrich von Veldeke (ca. 1150-1200), epic and lyric poet, occupies a peculiar place in the history of German literature. Although he is recognized, in Frank Tobin’s words, “by his contemporaries as the father of courtly literature,”1 the work on which Heinrich’s pride of place rests, the lengthy verse-romance Eneide, a version of Virgil’s story of classical antiquity, is comparatively little studied in our time, having brought forth research very narrow in scope. Kristine K.Sneeringer sums up scholarship on the poem: “The most widelydiscussed critical topics concerning the Eneasroman include the romances of Eneas with Dido and Lavinia, and the comparison of these to the Old French versions [esp. the Roman d’Eneas] and to Virgil [Aeneid]…. The love theme… blends with the notion of governing (Herrschaft und Liebe), and finally modulates until notions of peace and of rulership prevail.”2 Without denying that the dominant areas of research are important (i.e., Heinrich’s literary sources, his intellectual influences, as well as his treatment of the classical nexus of love and proper governance), one must register surprise that a promising area of scholarly inquiry, violence-or to put it in the words of the religious scholar Gene Outka, “harming others”3-is a lacuna in scholarship on Eneide. In a word, Eneide is a study in violence, at the center of which stands the legendary Aeneas, whose fervid, murderous rage has become proverbial: “furiis accensus et ira terribilis.”4