HAL will be down for maintenance from Friday, June 10 at 4pm through Monday, June 13 at 9am. More information
Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Vinul, grâul si ardelenii lui Faramund. O primă utopie transilvăneană în literatura occidentală: 'Roman de Thèbes', sec. XII

Abstract : The fictional geography of the Roman de Thèbes, an Old French revision of Statius’ Thebaid dating back to the middle of the 12th century, blends ancient place-names and early Crusader references into a fictional universe where one may stumble upon odd alliances between anachronistic peoples, such as Argians and Bulgarians, but also Thebans and Petchenegs. On one such occasion, Ipomedon, one of the leaders in the Argian army, is looking for provisions, and the allied Bulgarians advise him to invade a country in the north. This land entirely surrounded by mountains, impenetrable but for those who cross the threshold of a steep mountain pass, constitutes a land of Cockaigne, rich in wine, grain, fruit, livestock, and game. In a nomen est omen manner, the mountainous country bears the name of Valfeconde, and it has been identified with eastern Rumelia. The present study doubts the pertinence of this working hypothesis, advancing a different interpretation. It identifies the land of Valfeconde with Transylvania, following the intrinsic proof of the Old French epic which locates it to the north, in the neighbourhood of Russia, and not to the south of the Balkan mountain range. Furthermore, it brings into question three more proofs supporting the same interpretation. The first is drawn from the manuscript tradition of the Old French text. It concerns the association of this mountainous country with the river Danub(l)e (in three of the manuscripts of the Roman de Thèbes) or with a made-up city of Damile (present only in the C manuscript). All other Danube occurrences in the same epic derive from its Germanic form (Dunoe / Dymoe), and constitute a proof that Damile is a lectio difficilior, thus eliminating the possibility that Valfeconde is a country south of the Danube. Next comes the name of the country’s leader, count Faramund, whose name echoes that of the legendary first king of the Franks, from a time when old Frankish chronicles frequently place their Trojan ancestors in Pannonia. If the Frankish Faramund were already connected with the medieval Hungarian kingdom, it would seem reasonable to locate his mountainous Valfeconde in Transylvania. The third proof is of a collateral nature: it deals with the only apparently unstable location of the Petchenegs. These nomads, allies of the Thebans in the Roman de Thèbes, are nevertheless located north of the Danube, between the river and another made-up city (Lusarche). This and several other details suggest that the anonymous French writer had a correct understanding of the spatial and political relationships in the 12th century Balkans. It is thus probable that he may have included a hidden reference to the mountainous land of Transylvania, the very first literary reference of its Utopian kind.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata

Contributor : Vanessa Ernst-Maillet Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 2:13:51 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 4:09:50 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02057592, version 1



Vladimir Agrigoroaei. Vinul, grâul si ardelenii lui Faramund. O primă utopie transilvăneană în literatura occidentală: 'Roman de Thèbes', sec. XII. Studii si materiale de istorie medie, ISSN : 1222-4766, 2016, pp.363-385. ⟨halshs-02057592⟩



Record views