Parrots and Poets in Late Medieval Literature
Author: McMunn, Meradith T.
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 June 1999, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 68-75(8)
Abstract:Parrots have been kept as pets in the West since Classical antiquity, and they appear frequently in art. However, they are rarely represented in European literature until the end of the Middle Ages. "Le Chevalier du Papegau" (late fourteenth century, anonymous), "Les Epîtres de l'Amant Vert" (1505) by Jean Lemaire de Belges, and "The Testament and Complaynt of Our Soverane Lordis Papyngo" (1529) by Sir David Lindsay all employ speaking parrot protagonists. Analysis and comparison of the parrot characters in these three works demonstrates some of the ways in which the parrot species' ability to mimic human speech provides a vehicle which medieval and Renaissance authors used for entertainment, social commentary, and moral instruction.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 1999