Dr. Gwenyth Hood, professor of English, has compiled the first English translation of a late 12th century Latin poem, Book in Honor of Augustus, which will be published this spring by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
Hood translated Pietro da Eboli’s epic poem, Liber ad honorem Augusti, which celebrates the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, who was known as Augustus. Henry VI was noted for planning to conquer the kingdom of Sicily, of which his consort Constance was the hereditary heir, taking back the kingdom from Tancred of Hauteville, who had seized it.
More importantly, Henry planned a great crusade to liberate Jerusalem, but died in 1197 before he could set out. A distinctive aspect of Pietro’s work, Hood points out, is that Augustus, unlike his contemporaries, wrote a good deal about the origins and actions of the Empress Constance and could have been an eyewitness to some of the incidents he described.
Descriptive illustrations accompanying every page of script are a distinctive feature of Pietro’s manuscript, adding insight to that era, according to Hood. Each page of script is faced by a page of miniatures.
“The miniatures add fascination to the work,” she says. “Though they do not conform to standards of modern realism, they show many things as the 12th century eye would have seen them. Where they are symbolic, they provide fresh insight into the thinking of the times.”
Although Liber ad honorem has already been translated into Italian and German, Hood’s version will be the first English translation. The original Latin text is included in the book, with black-and-white reproductions of the miniatures. A historical introduction, a commentary and biographical sketches of all the personalities mentioned in the poem are available to help readers enter that historical period.
For more information about the book, contact Hood at firstname.lastname@example.org
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