Translation as conversion, or making the Phoenix "male": Christianity and gender in the Old English "Phoenix" and its source
Ausman, Deborah J.
Master of Arts
The Old English poem The Phoenix and its fourth century source, De Carmen de Ave Phoenice, have traditionally been read together as allegories on Christian resurrection. I read these poems against each other to show how they engage tantalizing debates about gender distinction, which raged in phoenix mythological commentaries and within the Christian church during the first millennium ACE. I consider the Old English poem not merely a translation of the Carmen, but a conversion. First, the Old English author "converts" a predominantly pagan poem, which, I posit, may be linked to the Egyptian cult goddess, Isis, into a resurrection allegory, placed squarely within the Germanic mythos. But more importantly, the Old English author makes the text "male," converting a text that offers the possibility of a world without gender categories into a text that not only preserves gender categories, but appropriates "female" reproductive power into a male, homosocial sphere.
Medieval literature; Classical literature; Religion