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The Ars versificaria of Gervase of Melkley

Structure, Hierarchy, Borrowings

Alan M. Rosiene    Florida Institute of Technology, USA    



Gervase of Melkley, a younger contemporary of Geoffrey of Vinsauf, writes his De arte versificatoria et modo dictandi at the peak of a revisionary movement that places the discussions of figures and tropes inherited from classical and medieval grammatical and rhetorical traditions in new contexts, creating what we now call the Arts of Poetry and Prose. Gervase’s art draws upon the works of Matthew of Vendome, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, and Bernardus Silvestris for its doctrine and its examples. But how often does Gervase refer to these writers? How does he use their arts in his art? When does he borrow from them? What doctrine and which examples does he borrow? Does he cite his references and, if so, what are his citation practices? This chapter surveys Gervase’s borrowings from the works of Matthew, Geoffrey, and Bernardus by way of a review of the Index nominum and Index scriptorium of Hans Jurgen Graebener’s modern edition of the De arte versificatoria. The review locates Gervase’s borrowings of doctrine and examples with greater precision, and corrects errors in the indices as needed. Charting the precise citation practices of Gervase clarifies the meaning of his hierarchy of the three writers, places his long supposed use of the Poetria nova in serious doubt, and reopens the question of his art’s date.

March 16, 2018
Sept. 15, 2017

Keywords: Bernardus SilvestrisGeoffrey of VinsaufMatthew of VendomeGervase of MelkleyMedieval poetics

Copyright: © 2018 Alan M. Rosiene. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.