Posted on 09/08/2021 at 10:40 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

The Guardian has news of two literary discoveries: one poetry, one prose.

The former is an ancient Greek text that scholars believe is an early example of stressed poetry, versus poetry that’s based on syllable length.

Twenty examples of the text — “They say / What they like / Let them say it / I don’t care / Go on, love me / It does you good” — have been found; it appears to have been popular throughout the eastern Roman empire in the second century.

When Cambridge professor Tim Whitmarsh finally compared all known versions of it, he realized that, unlike other works of its era, it uses a mix of stressed and unstressed syllables, versus relying on syllable length.

Whitmarsh told the newspaper that since stressed poetry was previously unknown before the fifth century, this work would represent a missing link between ancient Mediterranean oral poetry and what we now think of as poetry.

The prose discovery, meanwhile, comes from the Bristol (England) Central Library’s rare books collection.

Seven fragments from a medieval manuscript telling the story of Merlin had been found in the binding of another book back in 2019.

Now, scholars have analyzed the pieces to conclude that they originated in northern France around 1250-1275.

They also noted differences in its details versus other Merlin manuscripts — for instance, in the Bristol pieces, he no longer sleeps with the Lady of the Lake.

Read more about this version of the Merlin legend in the Guardian

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Categories: Today in Books

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