chapter  XIII
33 Pages

AFTER ROME: MEDIEVAL EPIC

In the one thousand years that separate Claudian’s poetry from the Africa of Petrarch,1 the epic enjoyed what can only be described, given its ancient pedigree and the considerable length of a typical poem, as an extraordinary vogue. W hether we eite the Viking sagas, or the French epic articulation of ‘two great themes, feudal relations (be­ tween the king and his vassals) and the them e of defence and extension of Christianity against the Saracens’ (Keller 1987: x, citing M arguerite Rossi), or the apotheosis of tragic destruction in the Germanic Nibelun­ genlied, or the frontier adventures of the Cid, or the Latin poetry dealt with in the present chapter, we can only conclude that the epic form, surprising as it may seem, continued to appeal to medieval writers and their audiences.