This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German modules, focuses on a poem that combines fairy tales, crusader epics, heroic poetry, and farces into a single masterpiece representative of the so-called Spielmannsdichtung (pseudo-minstrel tales) genre: König Rother. In this epic, the eponymous hero King Rother is in desperate need of a wife in order to secure political stability for his empire. Calling together his warriors and some violent, yet very endearing giants, he sets off for the Byzantine Empire, ready to kidnap (or free?) the princess from her overprotective (and maybe a bit incestuous) father Constantine.
The poem is a fun adventure and, for all the silliness inherent to the plot, a good window into Western Europe’s perceptions of the Byzantine Empire, its own political systems, and the idea of the miles Christianus.
In this module, we will follow the pattern of other MHG reading modules and look at König Rother both as literature and as an opportunity for language practice. We will read selections of the text in the original language and translate them into English. Questions discussed in the module will include (but are not limited to) questions of genre, the bridal-quest, and the interplay between heroic and crusader poetry.
The language König Rother is a bit more advanced than that of most MHG poetry, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.
This module uses the dual-language MHG/Modern Reclam German edition (ISBN: 978-3-15-018047-1). We will primarily rely on those editions for our Middle High German readings.