Alexandri studia pia sint non uana

Die Vita S. Brendani rhythmica ohne Walter von Châtillon


  • Katja Weidner



Brendan, Saint, Walter of Châtillon, authorship, Vita S. Brendani rhythmica, Alexander the Great, Alexander III, pope


Katja Weidner: Alexandri studia pia sint non uana: The Vita S. Brendani rhythmica without Walter of Châtillon

Among the many medieval lives of Brendan the Seafaring Saint, there is one particular version that has not yet been examined in its own right: the Vita S. Brendani rhythmica. It presents itself as a Latin translation of Benedeit’s Anglo-Norman Voyage, all the while incorporating a prologue, an epilogue, and a series of changes that cannot be explained in relation to its original. Ironically, the particular framing of the Vita has only been studied more closely when its author was thought to be identified as Walter of Châtillon. Any allusions to the addressee ›Alexander‹ appeared to point to Pope Alexander III; any overall interpretation had to give way to biographical analysis.
As the article will show, these identifications have not been proven sufficiently. Instead, analysis will reveal the contemporary discourse of Alexander the Great, in the light of which the peculiarities of the Vita can be explained and its inherent argumentation becomes apparent. Alexander the Great’s vain aspirations to paradise are contextualized with Brendan’s paradisiacal journey, as attested also by the collocation in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS O. 1. 17. He becomes the implicit literary exemplar against which both the particularity of Brendan’s journey and the unknown addressee ›Alexander‹ can distinguish themselves.