Il motivo della ‘barca senza vele’ e varianti nelle letterature romanze medievali
The first known ship without sails is the Ark, and the absence of the sails makes it clear that it can float only because of divine intervention: Noah’s family trusted God’s commands and boarded the Ark without questioning its capacity of floating over the waters during the deluge. The second reference to this image in the Bible, albeit as an allegory, is in the tale of Moses: he was abandoned in a basket floating on the river’s waters until he was found. The basket could be seen as a little ‘sail-less boat’ and Moses’s rescue is clearly due to divine intervention. During the Middle Ages the iconography of the ‘sail-less ship’ was very popular, and it was used in prayer books and church paintings as a sign of supernatural situations. People were frequently forced to board one of such vessels as a punishment or as a death sentence. In some tales there were corpses abandoned in ‘sail-less vessels’ for various reasons. In Medieval literature, several cases of the ‘sail-less’ or ‘captain-less ship’ can be found. Various characters and ‘special’ objects (obviously with very different fates) board on such a ship: Mary Magdalene, James the Great, the Holy Face of Lucca, knights and dames from England and Catalonia, even the Holy Grail. Examples of these journeys are presented and discussed.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Marco Piccat, “Il motivo della ‘barca senza vele’ e varianti nelle letterature romanze medievali", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, XIV (2007), pp. 23-44