Joaquin Martinez Pizarro, Writing Ravenna: A Narrative Performance in the Ninth Century

The subject of Writing Ravenna is the Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, composedby Agnellus Andreas, a priest of Ravenna, between 830 and 945 C.E. The Liber Pontificalis has often been studied as a source for ecclesiastical and art history, but hardly ever as a literary creation in spite of its originality and importance. (The Latin text of the Liber Pontificalis is available in a nineteenth-century edition.)

Writing Ravenna is an attempt to deal with this work's literary significance and specifically with what it tells us about the creation and circulation of narrative in the early middle ages. The book's first chapter analyzes the ways in which the local and international interests of the Ravenna clergy are reflected in the design, genre, and narrative rhetoric of the Liber. The second chapter characterizes the specific textuality, given that the Liber was composed for oral delivery. The final chapter offers translations of the four most interesting narrative sequences in the Liber, followed by full analyses of sources, narrative technique, and ideological aims.

Writing Ravenna will be of interest to a broad spectrum of shcolars, including art historians, scholars of late antiquity and the early middle ages, religious historians, and literary critics.

Joaquin Martinez Pizarro is Associate Professor of English, State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is also the author of A Rhetoric of the Scene: Dramatic Narrative in the Early Middle Ages.
6x9, ca 230 pages, 1995
ISBN 0-472-10606-6
published: May 1995