Religious view of the Middle Ages

The Religious view of the Middle Ages

Throughout the wane of the Roman Empire the resettlement of the Teutonic clans (German Barbarians) spanned Europe, on course with the empire. This amalgamation of dynamism and religious fortitude would persist about one thousand years, spanning from 500 CE to 1500 CE and would become known as the Middle Ages or, more so, the age of Faith. This ideology was predisposed by memoirs of the Roman Empire under Augustus and the accounts of the Carolingian Empire of the Franks under decree of Charlemagne.

The Middle Ages held as an model that there should be one collective state and one collective Church that would employ a God-centered worldview. Literary and religious devotees such as Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), an anonymous contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer and Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179) through emblematic language and allegory, symbolism and Iconography, ultimately reflected this divine philosophy in their relevant handiworks. Dante, by his use of emblematic language and allegory in Dante’s Divine Comedy (1307-1321), symbolism of the girdle and pentangle in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1370) and Iconography to describe spiritual revelations by Hildegard von Bingen in Scivias (1141- 1151) verified the widespread influence of a God-centered philosophy.

During the Middle Ages, illustrious works of literature use scores of techniques to convey their central theme. Dante did so with the use of emblematic language and allegory to exhibit his God-centered worldview. He united unembellished and pious senses to encompass and transmit the fundamental nature of a work of Scripture in Dante’s Divine Comedy. As a precursor of the times, his uses of metaphors are both realistic and vital because they conceal celestial truths that given in natural manuscript would be a burden to grasp.

Relatively, he abridged the subject material to a more palatable plane. By leaving the orator of the epic unspecified, Dante heartens the reader to associate with his ideas. Prior to the pilgrim materializing as the theme of the epic in the initial tercet (three-line stanza) of Canto I, which commences both Inferno and the Comedy in its entirety, Dante institutes his unity with the verse’s reader: "Midway along the journey of our life/

I woke to find myself in a dark wood,/ for I had wandered off from the straight path" (p. 67). Shifting away from the simplification of "one’s life" in the first procession advocates that the pilgrim's occurrence is preordained to be comprehended not only as that of the character that is tracked during the poem, but as that of each person. The path of the pilgrim's voyage, from sin to deliverance, is both literal, taking place in an afterlife given physical reality in the poem, and figurative, in lieu of the model route of Christian life during the Middle Ages. Also, In Canto I, of Inferno, Dante finds himself misplaced in the dark woods and attempts to reach a sun- drenched hill on the horizon when a triad of beasts (a Leopard, a Lion, and a She-Wolf ) obstruct his course. Virgil declares himself to facilitate Dante in attaining the radiance that he inquires about. As his escort Virgil explicates, "He must go by another way who would escape this wilderness, for that made beast [She-Wolf]... suffers no man to pass" (ll. 89-91). The beasts presage the three dissections of Hell. The Lion symbolizes the sins of Violence, the Leopard the sins of Fraud, and the She-Wolf the sins of Incontinence. In the God-centered logic, the text indicates that people are mislaid and perplexed in worldliness and fault, and like the beasts, sin deters one’s ascension to God. Virgil characterizes the supreme dignitary that directs an individual upward to reach the light (God). With the lack of this leader, it’s impossible to achieve that aspiration and, in result, eternal grandeur in Heaven. Charles Singleton (1909- 1985), a gold medal recipient (from the US Congress) for his studies on Dante’s works, concluded from his commemorative lecture dispensed on October 10, 1988, in Jefferson's Rotunda at the University of Virginia that, “Dante dramatizes, as it were, but never invents the doctrine. This, the doctrine, is wholly to be found minutely expounded, with minor variants, in the Christian theology elaborated by the Fathers of the Church...” The use of emblematic language and allegory in Dante’s writings in effect, correspond the authority and significance of a God-centered worldview.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is famous for the writer’s use of religious symbolism by means of the girdle, a depiction of Gawain's religious exploits. The girdle embodies Gawain's holy exodus from the Peregrinatio, disproportionate dependence in his own findings, failure to wholly construe the signs surrounding him, vulnerability to suggestion and his forged confession. The girdle's moralistic religious symbolism liberates Gawain from attempting to equal the celestial, enlightens him of his individual limitations, and teaches him meekness, permitting him to repent. Subsequent to repenting, Gawain decides to bear the girdle for the rest of his existence, considering it as a "syngne of [his] surfet" (page 80), which signifies an arrogance of intellect. As Gawain acquires the label of the knight of the girdle, this new emblem unshackles his mind from shadowing absolution. In its place, Gawain deems pluralism of interpretation necessary to advocate his humility. Sir Gawain's shield is another symbol with medieval religious fidelity. There is a pentangle on the exterior, with the Virgin Mary in the interior. The virgin is adjacent to his heart, symbolizing his conviction in God and faith in Him. This rapport with God is the foundation of his internal vigor. While his devotion is something he keeps to himself, he flaunts the pentangle and its chivalric convention to the world. He embodies this reflection by stating, "Therefore it suits this knight and his shining arms,/For always faithful in five ways, and five times in each case,/Gawain was reputed as virtuous, like refined gold..." (ll. 631-633). Each position represents his unblemished five senses, five fingers, the five wounds of Christ, the Five Joys, and the virtues of free-giving, kindliness, chastity, gallantry, and faithfulness. The pentangle is a star entwined, with no creation or conclusion, so that anywhere you start, the beginning gives way to the end and the end eventually develops into the creation once more. Demonstrating this delves into the writers exercise of the pentangle and girdle to symbolize how to operate “properly” inside the God-centered limitations of the human outlook during Middle Ages.

Von Bingen’s macrocosmic iconography details commanding manifestations that echo the god-centered cosmology of the Middle Ages in her first work Scivias (Know the ways of the lord), a narrative of a sequence of revelations in relation to the liaison of humanity and nature with the divine. Von Bingen wanted her revelations to be endorsed, permitted by the Catholic Church, even if she herself never feared the celestial birth to her incandescent apparitions. Von Bingen wrote to St. Bernard, in search of his blessings. Though his response to her was mechanical, he spoke of the “sweetness of her holy love” and brought it to the interest of Pope Eugenius (1145-53), a liberal personality who urged Von Bingen to persist with her writings. After being granted papal imprimatur (Latin for “let it be printed”) by the pope, she was able to conclude her earliest farsighted work Scivias. The works contained in Scivias demonstrate a spiritual cosmos scorching with the godly power of original conception and replicating the principle rationale of subsistence of worship. The twenty-six visions dealing with associations and interdependence are separated into three parts, imitating the Holy Trinity. During visualization, Von Bingen initially described what she witnessed and then documented explanations she heard, which she understood to be the "voice of heaven." For example, Von Bingen states, O Holy Spirit, Fiery Comforter Spirit, Life of the life of all creatures" she writes. "Who is the Holy Spirit?" "The Holy Spirit is a Burning Spirit. It kindles the hearts of humankind. Like tympanum and lyre it plays them, gathering volumes in the temple of the soul...The Holy Spirit resurrects and awakens everything that is. (Von Bingen qtd.in Flannagan)

Von Bingen attains this stability through an iconic orientation of all construction, to its own impending source. This philosophy was an archetypal mark of the period. During the Middle ages, a progression of great minds reflected a central philosophy of the universe and the way it’s perceived, maintaining the views of religion from a universal church and state. Literary and religious devotees such as Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), an anonymous contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer and Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) through, emblematic language and allegory, symbolism and Iconography, ultimately reflected this divine philosophy in their relevant handiworks. Dante, by his use of emblematic language and allegory in Dante’s Divine Comedy (1307-1321), symbolism of the girdle and pentangle in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1370) and Iconography to describe spiritual revelations by Hildegard von Bingen in Scivias (1141-1151), verified the widespread influence of a God-centered philosophy.

Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy, translated by H.F. Cary, (J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1908)

Borroff, Marie. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, Pearl Verse Translations. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Print.

Flanagan, Sabrina. Hildegard of Bingen: A Visionary Life (2nd ed.). London: Routledge, 1998.

Hozeski, Bruce. Hildegard von Bingen's Mystical Visions. Santa Fe: Bear and Company, 1995.

Dabke, Roswitha. The Hidden Scheme of the Virtues in Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum Parergon - Volume 23, Number 1, 2006, pp. 11-46

Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.) journal

Hildegard of Bingen is considered to have selected the Virtues of her 'Play of the Virtues' without recourse to a traditional scheme. However, biblical allusions in their main scene align these Virtues with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Beatitudes, a traditional Virtues' framework. One Virtue, nameless through an erasure, completes the scheme as the exegetically derived Beatitude Virtue 'Heavenly Desire'. Hildegard's music and poetic-dramatic language give a distinct structure to this trajectory of a virtuous Christian life and, unlike Carolingian and twelfth-century authors, she accommodates both common and unusual Virtues in the scheme.

Project MUSE® - View Citation

* MLA

* APA

* Chicago

* Endnote

Dabke, Roswitha. "The Hidden Scheme of the Virtues in Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum." Parergon 23.1 (2006): 11-46. Project MUSE. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 14 Feb. 2010 <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Always review your references for accuracy and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates. Consult your library or click here for more information on citing sources.

Dabke, Roswitha. (2006). The hidden scheme of the virtues in hildegard of bingen's ordo virtutum. Parergon 23(1), 11-46. Retrieved February 14, 2010, from Project MUSE database.

Always review your references for accuracy and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates. Consult your library or click here for more information on citing sources.

Dabke, Roswitha. "The Hidden Scheme of the Virtues in Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum." Parergon 23, no. 1 (2006): 11-46. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed February 14, 2010).

Always review your references for accuracy and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates. Consult your library or click here for more information on citing sources.

TY - JOUR
T1 - The Hidden Scheme of the Virtues in Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum
A1 - Dabke, Roswitha.
JF - Parergon
VL - 23
IS - 1
SP - 11
EP - 46
Y1 - 2006
PB - Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
SN - 1832-8334
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/parergon/v023/23.1dabke.html
N1 - Volume 23, Number 1, 2006
ER -

Always review your references for accuracy and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates. Consult your library or click here for more information on citing sources.

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!