tree_and_leaf: Spire of St Pauls Lower Manhattan surrounded by taller buildings (church in the city)
Feast of S. Thomas Aquinas. Which makes me very happy, because Thomas is possibly my favourite theologian ever (it's him or Eckhart, but I have to admit that Thomas is probably more of an all-rounder).

Quae caeli pandis ostium.
Bella premunt hostilia;
Da robur, fer auxilium.
Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria:
Qui vitam sine termino,
Nobis donet in patria.


O SAVING Victim opening wide
The gate of heaven to all below.
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.
To Thy great name be endless praise
Immortal Godhead, One in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee.

Amen. (tr. E Caswall)

ETA Mgr Knox suggested that Aquinas invented the limerick - at least in terms of form (and allowing for the fact that you can't scan Latin quite like English):

Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio
Concupiscentae et libidinis exterminatio,
Caritatis et patientiae,
Humilitatis et obedientiae,
Omniumque virtutum augmentatio (used as the priestly post-communion thanksgiving in the old Breviary).

Which RJ Winkler suggested translating:

Extinguish concupiscent fires,
Eliminate lustful desires;
Give patience and love,
A plenitude of
What humble obeying requires.

I admit it's not very funny, but I've always felt Edward Lear was a bit over-rated, too....

(h/t, the blog of the English Dominican Studentate. And yes, I see what they did there).
tree_and_leaf: Burne Jones Psyche, caption "till we have faces?" (CS Lewis - till we have faces)
Apparently a group of beghards†, tried for heresy at Vienne in the mid fourteenth century, asserted that while sex was morally innocent, because required by nature for the continuation of the species, kissing, being merely frivolous and pleasurable, was a sin.

This has no relevance to anything I'm doing, but I found it in my notes and felt compelled to share the bogglement.

† Male semi-religious, living in communities in apostolic poverty, the male version of beguines (who are normally defined as living under a vow of poverty and chastity, though not obedience, but these chaps clearly had a somewhat eccentric definition of chastity...)
tree_and_leaf: Francis Urquhart facing viewer, edge of face trimmed off, caption "I couldn't possibly comment" (couldn't possibly comment)
Very often I read stuff about the 'feminising' of the body of Christ in mediaeval religion† and suspect that while, yes, there is important stuff going on about wounding, and yes, there are certainly strong parallels between Christ's side wound and its blood and breast-feeding (unsurprising given that med. theory held that milk was a processed form of blood), it's possibly not terribly helpful to read the side wound of Christ as a sort of vagina, and everyone has read too much Freud. Apart from anything else, it doesn't really explain the imagery of hiding in the wound, which isn't obviously or primarily about sex* (it's not as if anyone had particular hang-ups about using erotic metaphors for God and the soul if they wanted to, anyway).

On the other hand, sometimes you see pictures like the one below the cut, from the 14th C Hours of Bonne of Luxemburg, and.... whatever the artist's intention, you can't not see it. (Though actually, I suppose if I put my mind to it, I could see it as the Eye of Sauron. This is, however, not exactly an improvement.

Technically this image isn't NSFW, but it might be mistaken as such )

ETA: of course, really, the problem is that moderns, if you describe imagery in those terms, are inclined to think it's about sex, when in fact the significance of the wound imagery is really wound-as-womb, and it comes back to the motherhood of God. It's about redemption as being reborn in the wounds of Christ, and links the passion as the central act of the atonement with baptism as our participation in the death and rising of Christ for our redemption. In a way, it's the same paradigm as you find in "Rock of Ages, cleft for me", except without the physical bits, because in some crucial ways we're more prudish than they were in the fourteenth century.

† Not to be confused with Heinrich Seuse's Crossdressing - or possibly Genderqueer - Jesus, which is quite definitely there in the text and not an invention of scholarship.

* Nobody mention Prince Charles and the tampons, plz.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
... at least if you are interested in John Buchan (and if you aren't, I am pretty certain that he is more interesting than you realise)

I'm reading a book about traditions relating to Elijah and Enoch in the middle ages* (among other things, there is a tradition of E & E as two witnesses who will come back before the end of the world and by martyred by the forces of Anti-Christ. Bizarrely, this persists into the wild shores of pre-millenial dispensational eschatology, so "Left Behind" have the 'two prophets', though I cannot, off hand, remember if they are explicitly identified with E & E; I rather think not).

However, that wasn't what I wanted to observe, rather that there is a page on Muslim traditions, on which I have just made the following note:

31 Muslim trad. of Ghiser/ Khidr/ Khizrillias – ‘holiness’; can be Jesus, Mohammed or all prophets; or the companions of Elijah; or Elijah himself (cf Turkish name Khizrillias); always connection with prophecy; the word is related to the Arabic form of the name Elijah, Khidr. In one Turkish tradition (eg in 16th C poet Lamil) the Ghiser are green-clad guardians of the water of life.
32 And a few lines later Ghiser is Elijah himself.


* Witte, Maria Magdalena. 1987. Elias und Henoch als Exempel, typologische Figuren und apokalytische Zeugen: zu Verbindungen von Literatur u Theologie im Mittelalter. Frankfurt am Main/ Bern/ New York: Peter Lang.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
The Jena university library have digitised and made fully available the Jena Liederhandschrift, and important and rather fine collection of poetry, written in the 1330s. It does not, alas, contain any sensational pictures, but it's a high status manuscript nonetheless and nice to look at. There are also photos of the restoration process, which will interest anyone who's curious about how mediaeval books were put together or looked after, and a little video showing the restorers at work. Unfortunately the site is only in German, but the pictures at least are fairly self-explanatory.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
On a manuscript of conventual rules from Pfullingen (the Pfullineger Statutenbuch". Württembergischen LB Cod.hist.4º177):

"Als Ursache für die Anfertigung der Handschrift wurde immer wieder das Fortwirken der Reform postuliert. Dies ist sicherlich eine berechtige Annahme. Kaum haltbar erscheint jedoch der Hypothese, das die Herstellung der Handschrift von dem Verfasser der Statuten, Johannes de Lare selbst, ausgegangen sei, da dieser bereits 1481 verstarb und somit kaum für eine etwa 35 Jahre später stattfindende Schreibarbeit verantwortlich gemacht werden kann."

(The enduring consequences of the Reform [i.e. the Observance Movement] has been repeatedly postulated as the grounds for the production of the manuscript. This is undoubtedly a justifiable assumption. However, the hypothesis that the production of the manuscript was initiated by the author of the statutes, Johannes de Lare, himself is barely supportable, as he died in 1481, and thus can scarcely be held responsible for work carried out thirty-five years later.)

Bacher, Rahel. 2009. Klarissenkonvent Pfullingen. Fromme Frauen zwischen Ideal und Wirklichkeit. Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, p 105.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
[ profile] angevin2 suggests that we post poetry in his honour. So I shall. This is from the end of Troilus and Cressyde. You can tell that it's a tragedy written by a Christian if it ends up with the (dead) protagonist laughing...\

And whan that he was slayn in this manere,
His lighte goost ful blisfully is went
Up to the holownesse of the seventh spere,
In convers letinge every element;
And ther he saugh, with ful avysement,
The erratik sterres, herkeninge armonye
With sownes fulle of hevenish melodye.

And doun from thennes faste he gan avyse
This litel spot of erthe, that with the see
Embraced is, and fully gan despyse
This wrecched world, and held al vanitee
To respect of the pleyn felicitee
That is in hevene above; and at the laste,
Ther he was slayn, his loking doun he caste;

And in him-self he lough right at the wo
Of hem that wepten for his deeth so faste;
And dampned al our werk that folweth so
The blinde lust, the which that may not laste,
And sholden al our herte on hevene caste.
And forth he wente, shortly for to telle,
Ther as Mercurie sorted him to dwelle. --

Meme sheep

Sep. 30th, 2008 01:11 pm
tree_and_leaf: Autumnal sycamore leaf, text reads: "In heaven, it is always autumn - Donne" (autumn)
Why not - this is a deserving classic. Courtesy, this time round, of [ profile] dolorous_ett

Name a character from one of my fandoms, and I'll give you either:

(a) three facts about them from my personal canon/fanon,
(b) a reason he/she sucks,
(c) a reason he/she is awesomecakes,
(d) five things that never happened to that character, or
(e) five people that character never fell in love with and why.

For the purposes of this exercise, my fandoms can be defined as Doctor Who (including SJA but not including Torchwood), Harry Potter, Narnia, the Wimseyverse, "Master and Commander", Arthur Ransome, Star Trek: TOS and DS9, John Buchan, Dalziel and Pascoe (bookverse only, unless you count my belief that the TV characters have been gradually replaced by pod people) and Wolfram von Eschenbach (just to be pretentious). I also tentatively append the Vorkosiverse, as I haven't read all of canon yet. I would like to add Hermann Kant's "Die Aula", but I think I am in a fandom of one on that count (though one day I might crack and reveal my theory as to why canon as it stands doesn't stack up, and what conclusions we might draw from this - other than that our viewpoint character is charming, but ultimately a self-centred idiot, if not something worse).
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
Really must write up a post about our seminar trip to St Gallen and the wonderful things we saw there, but am still slightly giddy from actually getting my hands on the 'St Gallener Niblungenhanschrift' - which really ought to be called the St Gallener Epenhandschrift, as as well as the textually very important Niblungenlied B, it also contains good texts of Parsifal and my beloved Willehalm. Was unable to resist reading the prologue aloud. I know when you go and look and manuscripts, you're generally supposed to be looking at the binding, mis-en-page, the codex as a whole... but I'm afraid that the text, when it's of a great (or even merely good) work that excites me more - or rather, the text in an original context. Am probably too romantic to be a modern mediaevalist - but never mind. (Actually, it was all I could do not to break out into squeeing!)

St Gallen have digitized some of their manuscripts, btw, and the site is open to all: Unfortunately, though, they haven't put up the Niblungenlied B ms; I suspect this may be connected to the fact that they sell DVDs of it. Couldn't quite justify the expense, which was round about sixty pounds, if I've worked out the conversion corectly, as I'm not a Wolfram scholar (or a Nibelungenite, for that matter), and am now being predictably gnawed by regret. However, there are some interesting things on the site.
tree_and_leaf: Alan Rickman in role of Slope, wearing rochet, scarf, swept back hair, and hostile but smug expression (slope)
From sermon 71 in the St Georgener Predigten in the Rieder edition (1908, MTU 10), on the joys of heaven, translation mine.

"(God) shares Himself so fully with the souls that they do not desire anything other that what they have, that is God, the highest (or: excessive) good. Now you should know that Our Lord has two breasts from which the souls in heaven suck both delight and joy: that is, His pure humanity and His lovely divinity. He moves the soul from one breast to the other: if she want milk, He gives her the breast of his humanity; if she want wine and honey, He gives her the breast of His sweet divinity. Of which the prophet has said, 'Open your mouth that you may suck your fill'."

Um, yeah. (Also, what on earth is kipper win?)
tree_and_leaf: Photo of opening of Beowulf manuscript (Hwaet Beowulf)
The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.


As I remember Michael Alexander pointing out, there's something slightly Anglo-Saxon about that, not merely that the first line is a perfect example of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse, but also that its most obvious literary ancestry is directly from the riddles of the Exeter Book and similar. I actually translated this into Old English when I was revising for finals, which goes to show what finals does to you.


Slept very badly, and also forgot that if you're going to use your computer as an alarm, you need to de-mute it. For some reason was obsessing over the thought that I'd rather stay in Freiburg than go back to Oxford, though this is not realistic, and I've still got over four months left here (though that's not really all that long, when you get down to it).
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
Why have I only just found out about the Mittelhochdeutschbegriffsdatenbank, which allows you to search an astonishingly wide corpus of MHG texts by word?

It's brilliant! And a double edged sword: enables you to find semantic comparisons much faster, but also to waste an awful lot of time saying "Ooh, nice words..."

In other words, I'm going to have a really fun morning.
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in Edwardian suit, Oxford MA gown and mortar board. (academic doctor)
Have, after some rummaging about, discovered a Latin text of the Summa online, via the wonders of Vikipaedia rather than directly from Google. This was after discovering that the bookmark I thought led to it led to an English translation, which means I needn't have spent ages looking for one in the libraries here after all (though a facing page translation is much more useful, so it's all to the good).

Obvs. Latin is still the language of scholarship for certain things!

And now, more proof-reading...

ETA: Word's German spellchecker refuses to accept 'abbildbar' as a word; bizarrely, it suggests 'habbildbar' instead. I cannot find this word in Duden, and suspect it doesn't exist - but any of you native speakers out there have any thoughts?
tree_and_leaf: Photo of opening of Beowulf manuscript (Hwaet Beowulf)
Happy Thinking Day/ Founder's Day to any Guides and Scouts out there.

Secondly, I have to link - even though those of you who are interested have probably seen it already - to a newly discovered Chaucer lyric lamenting that brave knight Will Thatcher/ Ulrich v. Lichtenstein (and how on earth did I contrive to forget the Ulrich von Lichtenstein reference in A Knight's Tale? Very embarrassing).

Looking at the blog somehow led me to look at the memorabilia. I'm so tempted to get this to wear to give my saints paper (no, Mechthild wasn't a recluse, but still). If I was a Julian scholar I'd definitely do it!

Although I'm also tempted by the academic peasants' revolt one, even if it is in American terms, or, as a a very obscure tribute to Joseph Wright and Tolkien, this one
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
Yesterday I went to an extremely good talk about depictions of the apostles in Freiburg Minster (which is exceptionally interesting architecturally), and learned a myriad of interesting facts, such as that apostles are very rarely depicted without shoes - except St Bartholomew, because he was patron saint of the tanners†, and James, because of the pilgrims to Santiago all requiring shoes. The reason for this seems to be the sending out of the apostles without bags or shoes or a second shirt, thought the lecturer noted that in Luke's Gospel Jesus also specifies that they should wear sandals. The lecturer attributed this to Luke being a doctor and therefore concerned about the medical aspect; I think he was joking. At any rate, he knew a stunning amount about mediaeval art in general and the Minster in particular, which is impressive given that he's a retired Germanist rather than an art historian.

I can't find any decent pictures of the Freiburger apostles online, so for sheer comedy value, have a link to an image from the Minster of an ox trying to eat the swaddling bands. (Clearly, a very stupid ox, given that there was hay lying about. If it had been a goat, I could have understood it - and it would have explained Our Lord's otherwise somewhat inexplicable prejudice against goats, which I've never understood, given that they were his idea in the first place!)

† For the unedifying reason that according to the Legenda Aurea, he was flayed alive. For some reason this seems even more tactless than making Sebastian the patron saint of fletchers.

Help plz?

Jun. 2nd, 2007 04:01 pm
tree_and_leaf: Photo of opening of Beowulf manuscript (Hwaet Beowulf)
Can anyone recommend some good websites on life in the middle ages, aimed at re-enactors or the generally interested rather than academics, and ideally including patterns for mediaeval costumes - preferably high to late middle ages?
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: sarcastic interpretations of commonly used phrases in scholarship. (terms commonly used in academia)
I'm trying to condense the draft of an article for presentation at a colloquium in a couple of weeks. It also has to be translated into German, which is increasing the time/ work rather greatly.

It's sadly predictable, then, that having looked up a paper I gave two years ago, to remind myself how many pages equal twenty minutes, that I got distracted by fic. You see, the paper was on Der Saelden Hort (the treasure of salvation, more or less), which among other things is a life of Mary Magdalen. It posits, in line with many other mediaeval commemntators (though oddly enough, the idea doesn't appear in the Legenda Aurea), that Mary Magdalen was supposed to marry John the Evangelist, until he left her to go off and follow Jesus, at which point Mary, understandably fed up at being dumped, went thoroughly off the rails, until she heard Christ preach and repented. Apart from the detail that the dumping was supposed to have taken place at the marriage at Cana, which on this theory never actually took place - which I think is absurd - I find this story strangely brilliant, and I would like to write about it myself (well; aparently I did, as the paper is followed by a scene of dialogue, which fortunately I didn't read out at the colloquium!). So as well as the distraction of the internet, I'm also spending far too much time thinking about Mary Magdalen.

At any rate, it's a more interesting take on her character than the 'Jesus/MaryOMGTHEIRLOVEISSOGNOSTIC!!!1!!!!11' school of thought, which I have to admit I find terribly boring, quite apart from my theological views (although it might have been OK in 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' which also focused on the 'vocation versus ordinary happiness' aspect, if they'd actually given their interpretation of Christ a personality and a backbone. Conflict is good dramatically, constant indecisive angsting less so.)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Hm. I've just been reading an article about Marian visions, which turned out to be by a Freudian, who advanced the (not very interesting) theory that it was All A Bit Oedipal.

This is reasonably straightforward to apply to male visionaries (so simple, in fact, that it makes me suspicious), but I can't help feeling that the argument that women who have visions of Mary are therefore vicariously identifying with her as someone who got to fulfil an Oedipal fantasy is straining things a bit. The more so as the accounts of Marian visions which I have read which most obviously seem to have an element of wishfulfilment are invariably motherhood fantasies. And, it should be added, often seem to be stimulated by the devotional practice of the convents where they occur - so it's not just a matter of the subconscious, either. Even if one grants the premise that all religious experiences (or paramystical phenomena, as I'm afraid we sometimes call them in the trade) are all a matter of hallucination,† I don't think it helpful to assume that all desires are about sex.

† Which, as a matter of fact, I don't; at least in the mediaeval period, there was an awareness that people did hallucinate, and in many cases the 'vision' seems to have been something different, and I think is more likely to be a sort of internal visualisation process. Actually, the minute someone claimed to have really, physically seen Christ or Mary or whoever, the authorities tended to get extremely worried and start talking about delusions or deceptions. This isn't, of course, to say that it isn't possible to have religiously-tinged halluciations, as it obviously is; equally, I don't think the 'internal visualisation process' theory isn't incompatible with the visions or revalations having some sort of truth-value.
tree_and_leaf: Walter von der Vogelweide's birdcage helmet-topper. (mediaevalism)
Sometimes I really hate the Bodleian's e-journals platform. When for instance, they tell you that there's full text access to a journal, you then painstakingly hunt down the issue and article you want, click to download, and then the journal's publishers tell you you can't access it because you're not a subscriber.


Oh well, off to do it the old fahioned way. But I do wish they'd subscribe to more arts journals, online, when we seem to have unproblematic e-access to any number of trade publications, some of them on mindbogglingly obscure topics. I don't know what 'swot analysis' is, but every other journal on (the e-journal interface) seems to be one of these, for an astonishing range of companies.
tree_and_leaf: Harriet Vane writing, caption edit edit panic edit research edite WRITE. (writing)
I just want to say that I love Joachim Bumke's Höfische Kultur (translated under the imaginative title of 'Courtly Culture'). It's such a fantastic resource for all aspects of, well courtly culture, and how it is manifested and sometimes transformed in literature. It brings such a fabulous range of sources together, and the analysis is good too.

On a religious lit note, I just bought Caroline Bynum's "Holy Feast and Holy Fast" (well, it is Lent.) It's quite old now (pub 1984), but it really is a very stimulating book - and it makes one aware of a mass of interesting material which is off the undergraduate's radar. I've read it before, but it gave me a new perspective on mediaeval attitudes to the body and its role in religion, and it's still providing food for thought. Very convincingly argued.

So there we are, two excellent books, one from the old school, one from the new. Saying that these are great books isn't saying anything new, of course, but no matter....


tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

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