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Goliard

The Goliards were a group of students and clergy who wrote bibulous, satirical Latin poetry in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They were chiefly active in the universities of France, Germany, Italy, and England.

The word comes from a mediæval Latin[?] form of the name Goliath, the giant who fought King David in the Bible. It was meant to suggest their pose as heavy drinking yet learned students who lampooned the ecclesiastical and political establishment. The Goliards used sacred sources like texts from the Roman Catholic Mass and Latin hymns and warped them to secular and satirical purposes in their poems.

Much of the Carmina Burana collection of Latin poetry belongs to this school. One Goliardic author, otherwise anonymous, has been given the name of the Archpoet. Other Goliards whose names are known include Peter of Blois and Walter of Châtillon.

The Goliards are significant in that they wrote Latin verse in a more natural stress-based prosody and helped free Latin from the Procustean bed of Greek prosody. This movement ultimately made possible new sacred Latin verse, such as Thomas of Celæno's Dies Iræ or St Thomas Aquinas's Pange Lingua, sequences written in Latin poetic forms the Goliards helped to develop.



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