Getting Grammatical – University of Copenhagen

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Getting Grammatical

The Reception of the Gesta Danorum in 16th- and 17th-century Iceland

Lecture by Philip Lavender, Postdoc at the Department of Nordic Research, University of Copenhagen.

Bring your lunch and we will provide coffee and tea. All interested are welcome.


Saxo Grammaticus is counted among the towering colossi of medieval Scandinavian literature, but after the publication of the Gesta Danorum in Paris in 1514 and the appearance of a Danish translation by Anders Sørensen Vedel in 1575 his impact on the cultural scene really exploded. It is in the 16th and 17th centuries that Europe really finally "got grammatical"!

A great deal of work has been done in the previous decades on the hybrid cultural scene of Iceland in the post-Reformation period. In this presentation I will discuss how by using Saxo Grammaticus' work as a lens, we can achieve a sharper focus on these unique cultural dynamics. A brief discussion of the interplay of humanist historiography and saga-writing will be followed by some case studies of lesser known works such as Ambáles saga and Vermundar þáttur ok Upsa.