, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 163–176 | Cite as

Trojan Elements in the Old French Roman de Thèbes

  • Dominique Battles


The OF Roman de Thèbes and the OF Roman de Troie emerge virtually simultaneously and in the same place during the twelfth century. The two poems more often than not appear in the same manuscripts together, and, as manuscript evidence suggests, twelfth-century readers perceived a causal relationship between the events at Thebes and the later disaster at Troy. Troy and its outcome provided a vital framework for understanding the siege of Thebes. This accounts for the numerous echoes of the Trojan war in the Roman de Thèbes, including the appearance of personnel from the Trojan conflict among the ranks at Thebes, the enlistment of those personnel into the opposing sides that we later encounter at Troy, the re-configuration of the armies of Eteocles and Polynices into "Greeks" and Thebans (anticipating the future conflict between Greeks and Trojans), and the alteration of the terrain and aspect of the final battle so that it resembles the siege of Troy. Most interesting, however, is the outcome of this conflict, for in the Roman de Thèbes, the "Greeks" are the victors over the Thebans whose ranks include Trojans. I argue that, among other things, the Thèbes poet attempts to re-fight the Trojan war, inverting the winners and losers, and that we can account for this inversion by looking to poem's historical and political milieu within the Angevin empire.


Causal Relationship Comparative Literature Historical Linguistic Twelfth Century Opposing Side 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominique Battles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of VirginiaUSA

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