Matter of Rome

The troubadour Perdigon playing his fiddle.

Literary cycle of Greek and Roman mythology, together with episodes from the history of classical antiquity, focusing on military heroes like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.

- Matter of Rome
The troubadour Perdigon playing his fiddle.

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Matter of France

Body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France, in particular involving Charlemagne and his associates.

Body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France, in particular involving Charlemagne and his associates.

Together with the Matter of Britain, which concerned King Arthur, and the Matter of Rome, comprising material derived from and inspired by classical mythology, it was one of the great European literary cycles that figured repeatedly in medieval literature.

Marble terminal bust of Homer. Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic original of the 2nd c. BC.

Dares Phrygius

Trojan priest of Hephaestus.

Trojan priest of Hephaestus.

Marble terminal bust of Homer. Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic original of the 2nd c. BC.

Together with the similar work of Dictys Cretensis (with which it is generally printed), the De excidio forms the chief source for the numerous medieval accounts of the Trojan legend, the so-called Matter of Troy.

Yvain fighting Gawain in order to regain the love of his lady Laudine. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion

Chivalric romance

Type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the noble courts of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe.

Type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the noble courts of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe.

Yvain fighting Gawain in order to regain the love of his lady Laudine. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion
Holger Danske, or Ogier the Dane, from the Matter of France
A knight rescues a lady from a dragon.

Overwhelmingly, these were linked in some way, perhaps only in an opening frame story, with three thematic cycles of tales: these were assembled in imagination at a late date as the "Matter of Rome" (actually centered on the life and deeds of Alexander the Great conflated with the Trojan War), the "Matter of France" (Charlemagne and Roland, his principal paladin) and the "Matter of Britain" (the lives and deeds of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, within which was incorporated the quest for the Holy Grail); medieval authors explicitly described these as comprising all romances.

The eight phases of The Song of Roland in one picture.

Chanson de geste

Medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature.

Medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature.

The eight phases of The Song of Roland in one picture.

This distinguished them from romances concerned with the Matter of Britain, that is, King Arthur and his knights; and with the so-called Matter of Rome, covering the Trojan War, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the life of Julius Cæsar and some of his Imperial successors, who were given medieval makeovers as exemplars of chivalry.

Louise-Victorine Ackermann

Benoît de Sainte-Maure

12th-century French poet, most probably from Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine near Tours, France.

12th-century French poet, most probably from Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine near Tours, France.

Louise-Victorine Ackermann

His 40,000 line poem Le Roman de Troie ("The Romance of Troy"), written between 1155 and 1160, was a medieval retelling on the epic theme of the Trojan War which inspired a body of literature in the genre called the roman antique, loosely assembled by the poet Jean Bodel as the Matter of Rome.

Statuta Mutine Reformata, 1420–1485; parchment codex bound in wood and leather with brass plaques worked the corners and in the center, with clasps.

Matter of Britain

Body of medieval literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain and Brittany and the legendary kings and heroes associated with it, particularly King Arthur.

Body of medieval literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain and Brittany and the legendary kings and heroes associated with it, particularly King Arthur.

Statuta Mutine Reformata, 1420–1485; parchment codex bound in wood and leather with brass plaques worked the corners and in the center, with clasps.

It was one of the three great Western story cycles recalled repeatedly in medieval literature, together with the Matter of France, which concerned the legends of Charlemagne, and the Matter of Rome, which included material derived from or inspired by classical mythology.

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system.
The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.

Jean Bodel

Jean Bodel (c.

Jean Bodel (c.

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system.
The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.

the "Matter of Rome", or retellings of stories from classical antiquity

Ballads of bravery (1877) part of Arthurian mythology

List of literary cycles

Group of stories focused on common figures, often based on mythical figures or loosely on historical ones.

Group of stories focused on common figures, often based on mythical figures or loosely on historical ones.

Ballads of bravery (1877) part of Arthurian mythology

The Matter of Rome (or the "cycle of Rome"), which centers on Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great

Chaucer reciting Troylus and Criseyde: early 15th-century manuscript of the work at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Troilus and Criseyde

Epic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war during the siege of Troy.

Epic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war during the siege of Troy.

Chaucer reciting Troylus and Criseyde: early 15th-century manuscript of the work at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

It is part of the Matter of Rome cycle, a fact which Chaucer emphasizes.

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system.
The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.

Old French

The language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries.

The language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries.

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system.
The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.
Distribution of the modern langue d'oïl (shades of green) and of Franco-Provençal dialects (shades of blue)

At the beginning of the 13th century, Jean Bodel, in his Chanson de Saisnes, divided medieval French narrative literature into three subject areas: the Matter of France or Matter of Charlemagne; the Matter of Rome (romances in an ancient setting); and the Matter of Britain (Arthurian romances and Breton lais).