Mapping a Global Narrative Cycle

‘Marques de Rome’, the First French Continuation of the Prose ‘Roman des Sept Sages’, and the Gendered Structure of Serial Writing

  • Yasmina Foehr-Janssens (Autor/in)


The French tradition of the ‘Sept Sages de Rome’ is at the heart of the European dissemination of this collection of frame tales. As a result of its appeal to an aristocratic audience, no fewer than six French prose continuations were added to the core collection. The cycle might have been gathered over the last quar­ter of the 13th century. Nowadays, this huge narrative cycle is little known, but it presents a vivid narrative inventiveness, recycling many aspects of the tradition of the ‘Sept Sages’ and integrating new ones. This paper focuses on the first sequel, ‘Marques de Rome’. My aim is to shed new light on the growth of the matière of the ‘Seven Sages’ by analysing how the main formal and ideological characteristics of the ‘Roman des Sept Sages de Rome’ reappear in the first sequel. The continuity with the source romance does not limit the continuation to a mere repetition of a well-worn plot. Quite the opposite: specific thematic and structural aspects renew the story matter. By investigating the gendered construction of the characters as well as the dynamics of the replacement of narrative patterns and the interplay of intertextuality, I will argue that ‘Marques de Rome’ is the very root of the cycle, as it creates a new model of wise rulers. By intro­ducing a romance tradition into literature of sapiential obedience, ‘Marques’ enables the emergence of a serial plot based on a complex genealogical logic.

Keywords Mediaeval French Literature; Seven Sages; Gender Studies; Serial Writing; Mediaeval Masculinities