Von und durch Neid erzählen. Rhetoriken des Neids in Konrads Engelhard

Eva Lieberich


In academic debates of the 12th and 13th centuries, accusing one’s opponent of envy became a widespread feature. In the tradition of Roman literature, which connected virtus and invidia, the envy-reproach device was used to discredit critics as well as to strengthen one’s own position in intellectual discussions. This ‘rhetoric of envy’ was soon taken up in vernacular literature. Existing research has shown that envy was invoked in prologues and epilogues as a means for an author to secure a favorable reception of his work. This essay argues that envy was also used to direct the reader’s understanding of the histoire. By examining how and when the narrator talks about envy in Konrad’s Engelhard, I aim to show that envy reshapes the ethics of the narrative: In the trial scene, truthful accusations are transformed into envious speech acts. Envy shifts attention from the transgression of the protagonist to the moral failure of the antagonist. To conclude, I suggest the wider relevance of this special form of strategic narration by comparing Engelhard with other texts that involve the trial of a protagonist.