The “Transtextual Networks” project is primarily concerned with the manuscripts that contain three late antique accounts of the Trojan War:
- the Ephemeridos belli Troiani [‘The Diary of the Trojan War’] attributed to Dictys of Crete,1
- the De excidio Troiae historia [‘The History of the Destruction of Troy’] attributed to Dares of Phrygia,2
- the anonymous Excidium Troie [‘The Destruction of Troy’].3
All three works are exclusively devoted to the matter of Troy albeit with different scopes. Little is known with any certainty about any of them; they were composed in unknown locations by unknown authors at some point between the fourth and sixth centuries.4 In their telling of the story of the Trojan War, they not only deviate from the classical, Homeric tradition but also differ from each other in terms of their style and contents. The majority of modern scholars who have studied these three narratives have been involved in searching for the ‘original versions’ of these works and were more interested in linguistic analysis in order to determine their sources and to pinpoint their time and place of production. Their so-called “vulgar Latin style” caused a general underestimation and neglect of these works by modern scholars, especially with regard to their significance throughout the Middle Ages. The De excidio Troiae historia was clearly the most influential and popular work among the three; however, the contribution of the other two, the Ephemeridos belli Troiani and the Excidium Troie, to the development of the Trojan narrative should not be underestimated.5
The Ephemeridos belli Troiani and the De excidio Troiae historia, both of which claim to be eyewitness accounts of the Trojan War, were considered genuine historical accounts for over a millennium following their composition. After being declared late antique forgeries in the eighteenth century, they lost their authoritative status and historical standing. On the other hand, even though it is now clear that medieval authors and readers knew and used the work, the Excidium Troie was completely forgotten in modern times, only to be rediscovered in the 1930s.
For more information about the earliest manuscripts of the works, read: N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, “Late Antique Accounts of the Trojan War: A Comparative Look at the Manuscript Evidence,” Pecia. Le livre et l’écrit: Special issue on Le manuscrit, entre écriture et texte. 17 (2016): 149–70. DOI: 10.1484/J.PECIA.5.111766 [green open access]
For editions and translations of the works, see: Late Antique Accounts of the Trojan War: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Editions and Translations.
- The first critical edition, based on six manuscripts, was Ephemeridos belli Troiani. Libri sex, edited by Ferdinand Meister, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1872). Following the discovery of two papyri fragments in Greek in 1899 and 1966 respectively, there have been two more editions by Werner Eisenhut in 1958 and 1973 respectively, again by Teubner. However, the principles of the 1872 edition remained unchanged.
- The most recent edition is still Daretis Phrygii de excidio Troiae historia, edited by Ferdinand Meister, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1873).
- The first edition of the work was Excidium Troiae, edited by E. Bagby Atwood and Virgil K. Whitaker (Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1944) based on three manuscripts. A newer edition was undertaken about three decades ago: Excidium Troie, edited by Alan Keith Bate (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1986).
- For an analysis and early transmission and reception of the works, see N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, “Transmission and Adaptation of the Trojan Narrative in Frankish History between the Sixth and Tenth Centuries” (Doctoral thesis, University of Leeds, 2015), especially pp. 44-66, available open access on <http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/12687>.
- Some of the prominent works of the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, from Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Le roman de Troie to Guido delle Colonne’s Historia destructionis Troiae, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Il filostrato, John Lydgate’s The Troy Book and William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, are all—in part or in full—based on these three works. Furthermore, Raoul Lefèvre’s poem based on Guido delle Colonne’s work under the title of Le Recueil des histoires de Troye is the first book printed in the French language. Interestingly enough, within a decade, William Caxton’s translation of this work into English, the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, would be the first book to be printed in the English language.