Placing heroes from a wide range of medieval traditions shoulder to shoulder, this title provides the opportunity to examine what is common across medieval mythic, legendary, and folkloric traditions, as well as what seems unique. Myths of gods, legends of battles, and folktales of magic abound in the heroic narratives of the Middle Ages. Mythology in the Middle Ages: Heroic Tales of Monsters, Magic, and Might describes how Medieval heroes were developed from a variety of source materials: Early pagan gods become euhemerized through a Christian lens, and an older epic heroic sensibility was exchanged for a Christian typological and figural representation of saints. Most startlingly, the faces of Christian martyrs were refracted through a heroic lens in the battles between Christian standard-bearers and their opponents, who were at times explicitly described in demonic terms. The book treats readers to a fantastic adventure as author Christopher R. Fee guides them on the trail of some of the greatest heroes of medieval literature. Discussing the meanings of medieval mythology, legend, and folklore through a wide variety of fantastic episodes, themes, and motifs, the journey takes readers across centuries and through the mythic, legendary, and folkloric imaginations of different peoples. Coverage ranges from the Atlantic and Baltic coasts of Europe, south into the Holy Roman Empire, west through the Iberian peninsula, and into North Africa. From there, it is east to Byzantium, Russia, and even the far reaches of Persia. * Each chapter begins with historical context, includes examination of key terms, and ends with suggestions for further reading * A chronology and bibliography are also included
“Each exciting and moving hero tale comes through effectively and pointedly without excess or skimping. . . . [I]f you teach or just enjoy hero tales, get a copy of Professor Fee’s book for your library and perhaps one for yourself as well: you will be glad to have it, and you will go back to it for ideas for teaching, additional readings, and class discussions.” – Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (SMART) “This work will be a useful entree to this genre, particularly for the lesser-known tales from the Islamic (e.g., Persian, Turkish, and Arabian) world. Summing up: recommended.” – Choice “”Christopher Fee intends the multicultural juxtaposition of medieval heroes to convey a sense of narrative continuity across civilizations and common cultural ancestry. Explicitly claiming its intended audience to be ‘ nonspecialists ‘ , the book advances trends towards globalization and internationalism by broadening the popular understanding of ‘ medieval’ to include non-Western European societies. As a reference book, it might be compared to a modernized Bullfinch’s Mythology-one with twenty-first-century values and an updated bibliography. Fee’s enthusiasm for the material is contagious, and the summaries of medieval tales make for entertaining reading. This book will most likely inspire readers who are new to medieval studies to seek out the primary-source material and read it more closely. ” – Speculum, A Journal of Medieval Studies
About the Author
Christopher R. Fee is Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA.