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Poetry In Motion:The Semantic Transformation Of Poetria In The Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

In medieval Latin the Greek loanword poetria changes meaning from 'woman poet' to 'art of poetry' or simply 'poetry'. A satisfactory explanation for this semantic change has not yet been given. This chapter argues that the redefinition of poetria occurred at the end of the ninth century, when the influential Latin grammarian and teacher Remigius of Auxerre commented on an apparently anomalous usage of the word in a key educational text, Martianus Capella's encyclopedic work on the seven liberal arts. Philologists of medieval Latin have addressed the question of what motivated the semantic change of poetria and suggested that the shift in the word's meaning occurred at the end of the ninth century through a misunderstanding of Martianus Capella's use of the word in his prosimetric encyclopedia on the seven liberal arts.

Keywords: Greek loanword; Martianus Capella; medieval Latin; redefinition of poetria ; Remigius of Auxerre



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