Sverris Saga and the classical martial influences
This thesis investigates the influences that classical Latin works had upon the martial depictions in Sverris saga. The works of the Latin authors; Sallust, Lucan and Julius Caesar are investigated and shown how these works affect the way that the characters of King Sverrir and his contemporise are depicted in the saga. These influences or topoi include pre and post-battle speeches, depictions of individual bravery and military tactics as constantly depicted in the saga. The investigation starts with a detailed look at the stated classical sources, seemingly available to the compiler/author of Sverris saga. The Icelandic translation of the works of Sallust and Lucan, the Rómverja saga is investigated closely. The provenance and date of the original Latin version of the manuscript used in the translation of the Rómverja saga is suggested. The hypothesis, which is based on that of Þorbörg Helgasdóttir, is that the original manuscript came from western Germany. The suggested provenance of the manuscript from a Benedictine monastery in western Germany suggests a closer connection to the Benedictine monasteries of northern Iceland. The eldest surviving manuscript of the Rómverja saga has also been linked to the hand of a scribe known by the survival of his works in the northern Icelandic Benedictine houses. The provenance of a Latin manuscript containing all five of Caesar s Commentaries that could have been copied and brought to Iceland is also shown. This manuscript is from the same period and location that Þorbörg Helgasdóttir maintained, that the Sallust manuscript originated from, Trier in western Germany. Caesar s Commentaries as a source for topoi on the martial aspects of Sverris saga is also briefly examined. The state of Sverris saga and the description of the surviving manuscripts are than detailed. The majority of the thesis is concentrated upon showing how the influences or topoi from Sallust, Lucan and Caesar affected the representation of the martial aspects of the warriors in Sverris saga. This influence is shown by extensive comparisons between passages from Sallust and Caesar Commentaries with those contained in Sverris saga. The many passages and topoi that seem to come originate from these classical sources that are present in Sverris saga, seem to suggest an extensive knowledge of these works by the compiler/author of the saga. The presentation of this extensive evidence on classical martial influences upon Sverris saga is displayed in a way that is clear and concise and hopefully this will provoke further discussion on the saga.