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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents

1. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Todd Preston Fact and Fish Tales in Ælfric’s Colloquy
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Ælfric’s Colloquy has often been read as a window into the life of the working class in the Anglo-Saxon period. A close reading of Ælfric’s portrayal of the fisherman further shows the Colloquy to be a text that provides an equally revealing picture of its ecological context. Reading the fisherman’s section of Ælfric’s Colloquy in light of archaeological, historical, and ecological evidence illuminates where the author accurately represents the Anglo-Saxon fishery and where he wanders into uncertain waters. Specifically, by comparing the Colloquy’s lists of fish species to the evidence for what archaeologists call the “fish event horizon” of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, the Colloquy provides a surprisingly accurate depiction of the ecological context of the Anglo-Saxon fishery as it begins to shift from an inland, freshwater fishery to a marine one.
2. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Anne L. Clark When Pictures Tell the Story: Imagination and Cognition in an Illustrated Prayer Book
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Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München Clm 935 (the so-called Prayer Book of Hildegard of Bingen, produced in the 1170s in the Rhineland) offered an innovative program for women’s prayer. Coupling full-page paintings of sequential biblical scenes with prayers linking the biblical episode to the personal life of the reader, the manuscript offered its user not only an abridged visual Bible, but a new type of support for a complex devotional practice. With complementary but by no means homogeneous possibilities of meaning suggested by the words and images, the reader/viewer was enabled to craft a way of prayer not explicitly guided by rubrics or directions. Focusing on scenes from the Creation series and the Passion narrative, this essay uses some recent insights of neuroscience and cognitive theory to provide a reading of the kind of mental experience likely to be engaged by the reader/viewer of this prayer book.
3. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Christopher Davis “Lo Sen e·l Saber e la Conoissensa”: Reevaluating the Razos for Bertran de Born
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This essay reexamines the uniquely extensive corpus of prose commentaries (razos) for the twelfth-century troubadour Bertran de Born that accompany his poems in several extant Italian manuscripts from the thirteenth century. It argues that commentaries testify to a debate among Italian readers about how to interpret this poet’s distinctive political and moral messages. The essay shows Bertran’s razos to have been key texts in the reception of troubadour literary culture in Italy at a crucial moment in its development, and sheds light on the role of Occitan lyric in the politics of patronage at Italian courts.
4. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Bianca Facchini “As Lucan Says”: Dante’s Reuse of the Bellum Civile in the Monarchia and the Political Epistles
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This article examines Dante’s redeployment of Lucan’s Bellum civile in the Monarchia and Epistles 5–7, and shows how Dante appropriates Lucan’s poem in order to support his philo-imperial agenda. In anchoring his Christian imperial ideal in the historical precedent of ancient Rome, Dante applies Lucan’s text to the task of extolling the Roman political past, considered as a continuous historical reality throughout its monarchic, Republican, and Imperial phases. In so doing, Dante both emphasizes philo-Roman elements already implicit in the Bellum civile and quotes Lucanian passages out of context, thus altering or notably twisting their original meaning. Dante glosses over Lucan’s denunciation of inter-Roman civil wars and focuses, rather, on the conflicts that ancient Rome fought and won against its external enemies. Moreover, Dante rereads ancient Roman history as governed by Divine Providence and transforms Lucan’s pessimistic historical account into a Christian teleological narrative. In the Epistles, Dante claims that true freedom is only possible under a single ruler and implicitly equates the evils of the Roman civil war with the chaos and anarchy of anti-imperial Florence.
5. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Rachel Dressler Alabaster and Agency: The Tomb of Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral
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The Tomb of Edward II is an imposing monument with a striking tiered, gabled superstructure and an alabaster effigy of the king. The elaborate nature of this memorial is unexpected when one contemplates the difficult course of Edward’s reign and, especially, its termination in his deposition and death. Equally surprising is the use of alabaster for his figure, as this material had never previously been used for an effigy and was not at the time a particularly valued stone. This essay considers what might have been the response to this tomb and to the alabaster figure of the king within the context of his grim end. Alabaster had a longstanding lapidary tradition that associated it with preserving the dead, and was mentioned in the Bible in relation to the life of Christ. These associations, when coupled with alabaster’s whiteness and luminosity, may have worked to sanctify the former ruler, thus camouflaging the turbulence at the end of his life and legitimating the succession of his son Edward III to the throne.
6. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Ethan K. Smilie Simon Magus and his Miseri Seguaci: Dante’s Simonists and Chaucer’s Summoner’s Tale
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In Canto 19 of the Inferno and in the Summoner’s Tale, Dante and Chaucer show a remarkable congruity of thought in regard to simony. The two poets portray the nature and effects of the sin by means of a number of specific correspondent depictions: that of the simonists’ ostensible desire to build up the Church, which is in both cases portrayed physically and in reference to the past work of Peter and the Apostles (as well as to the contemporary thought of the Spiritual Franciscans); that of simony in terms of sexual perversion; that of the “goods” acquired by the simonists as destructive; and, finally, the parodic depiction of sacramental confession alongside the laity’s usurpation of its administration. Ultimately, both authors utilize parodic allusions to demonstrate how the authority of the Church is weakened by simoniacal clergy. Within these congruities, however, there is one significant divergence, which is the poets’ portrayals of friars. Although for both poets the depictions of friars serve largely the same end, the manner in which they are employed differs vastly, a divergence that may be accounted for by the poets’ disparate political and ecclesiastical environments.
7. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Sarah B. Rude Eye Beams and Boethian Sufficiency in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
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This essay explores the relationship between vision, reason, and tragedy in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Boece, his translation of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. In Boece, Chaucer defines the sense of sight as an important first step toward gaining knowledge and differentiating earthly, temporal pleasures from true, eternal goods. Following an examination of how vision and reason appear in Boece, this essay shows how Chaucer dramatizes these principles in Troilus and Criseyde, focusing especially on the lines of sight between Troilus and Criseyde as they experience “love at first sight” and develop an earthly, romantic relationship. Criseyde in particular reasons her way through falling in love, and her progress through the mental faculties of sense, imagination, reason, and intellect closely parallels these faculties as they appear in Boece. At the climax of the narrative, when Troilus and Criseyde consummate their love, Criseyde demonstrates faulty reasoning in labeling Troilus her suffisaunce, the term that Chaucer uses repeatedly in Boece to indicate a good that is true and eternal. With Troilus and Criseyde’s errant application of vision and reason, it comes as no surprise that their love is doomed to fail and that their narrative is doomed to be a tragedy.
8. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Danielle Bradley “By communynge is the beste assay”: Gossip and the Speech of Reason in Hoccleve’s Series
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Thomas Hoccleve—if one believes his autobiographical poetry—was a bureaucrat who met trouble at every turn. At the heart of his frustrations was language, namely his own supposedly mad ramblings and the cruel gossip of former colleagues who refused to believe he had recovered from a previous period of mental illness. This paper argues that Hoccleve undoes malicious gossip by countering it with good gossip about himself, which he encourages readers to spread by using a rhetorical strategy that deploys both reported and direct speech. By highlighting Hoccleve’s victimization, the autobiographical poems effect a poetic authorization that ensures his name is on everyone’s tongue. Hoccleve reclaims his own trustworthiness in “Dialogue with a Friend,” not by convincing the friend of his reasoning, as many critics argue, but instead by undermining the rationality of this friend, who—alongside all other malicious gossips—is shown to be illogical. Such judges do not offer Hoccleve a fair “assay,” but instead judge based on assumption and faulty logic. Through the theme of madness, Hoccleve comments on the fragility of reputation and of a poet-administrator’s solvency in a late-medieval world in which administrators, as professional communicators, are stronger as a group united, not divided, by talk.
9. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Douglas P. Lackey The Jurisprudence Fresco in the Stanza della Segnatura: Correcting a Prevalent Error
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Information cards in the Vatican Museum and many guidebooks and scholarly works identify the small putti in Raphael’s Jurisprudence fresco as the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The identification is demonstrably incorrect, and the error can be traced to a short article by Edgar Wind published in the 1930s. Wind’s arguments are considered and rejected. The putti are decorative, not allegorical.