Representations of women in Sidonius Apollinaris and Gregory of Tours: Coniuges et reginae.

Title: Representations of women in Sidonius Apollinaris and Gregory of Tours: Coniuges et reginae.
Authors: MacDonald, Eve.
Date: 2000
Abstract: The modern scholarship of women has relied on anecdotal evidence from the literature of Sidonius Apollinaris and Gregory of Tours to describe women's lives in fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Rarely has it been noted that the anecdotes demonstrate behaviours that are part of formulaic descriptions employed by the authors. Sidonius represented life in late fifth-century sub-Roman Gaul as still very Roman. This illustrates Sidonius' conservatism and his attempt to hold onto Roman ideals in the face of a new Germanic reality in Gaul. Sidonius references women in terms of traditional Roman virtues and images of a dutiful wife. By the late sixth century, with the descendents of Clovis established as rulers of the Frankish kingdoms, Roman Gaul was a distant memory. Gregory of Tours wrote a narrative history about the world as he saw it, from his episcopal see in Tours. This was a Germanic and Christian world and the women he wrote about exemplify these realities. In spite of the differences there is much that is comparable between the two authors. Sidonius and Gregory had similar motivations for writing guided by a common set of rules and regulations. Their similar purpose reflects their status and role as leading men in a changing and unstable society. The validation of their own lives, choices, and traditions in the face of cultural change marks out their literature. There is a continuity between the authors that demonstrates universality in the portrayal of women found in both classical and Christian traditions. This is the belief that behind every good man is a good woman and that domestic harmony is a sign of a man's authority to rule, preach, or govern. My purpose is to analyse the representations of women in the context of the author's literary aims and personal goals. The accounts of women are construed to fit the themes of Gregory's history or Sidonius' letter or poem, not to represent the women. It then follows that if, and when, the author's anecdotal information on women is used as evidence for social history, the author's context and his connections to each woman must first be understood. This will permit a reinterpretation and re-evaluation of the evidence on women's lives from the literature of Sidonius Apollinaris and Gregory of Tours.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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