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Medieval Literature

Medieval Literature

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Medieval Literature

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  1. Medieval Literature

  2. Themes of Medieval Literature fall into several major categories which seem to reflect the concerns/focus of life for people in that time period. • The Seven Deadly Sins (what to avoid) • The Seven Heavenly Virtues (what to do) • Physiognomy and “The Humours” • Values of “courtly love” • The Code of Chivalry

  3. The Seven Deadly Sins • Lust • Gluttony • Avarice (greed) • Sloth • Wrath • Envy • Pride

  4. The Seven Heavenly Virtues • Chastity • Temperance • Charity • Diligence • Forgiveness • Kindness • Humility

  5. Physiognomy • Popular "science" in the Middle Ages • Based on the idea that the mental and emotional characteristics could be determined from physical characteristics like physique, hair, and voice quality

  6. “The 4 Humours” • A traditional theory that said state of health--and by extension the state of mind or character--depended upon a balance among the four elemental fluids: blood, yellow bile, phlegm, and black bile. • Closely allied with the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth)

  7. The 4 Humours, cont. • BLOOD • Element: Air • Description: Hot and Moist • Word used: “Sanguine” • Characteristic: Amorous, happy, generous

  8. The 4 Humours, cont. • YELLOW BILE • Element: Fire • Description: hot and dry • Word used: “Choleric” • Characteristic: violent and vengeful

  9. The 4 Humours, cont. • PHLEGM • Element: Water • Description: cold and moist • Word used: “Phlegmatic” • Characteristic: dull, pale, cowardly

  10. The 4 Humours, cont. • BLACK BILE • Element: Earth • Description: cold and dry • Word used: “Melancholic” • Characteristic: gluttonous, lazy, sentimental

  11. Courtly Love* • What Love is: • Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish for, above all things, the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of love‘s precepts in the other‘s embrace. • from The Art of Courtly Love, by Andreas Capellanus

  12. Chivalry • System of discipline and social interaction that is derived from the warrior class of medieval times, primarily the class of trained warriors who participated in the Crusades (12th – 14th centuries). • The ideals and behavior codes governed both knight and gentlewoman • adhere to the oath of loyalty to one’s overlord • acceptance of certain rules of warfare • adoration of a particular lady for purposes of self-improvement

  13. Ideals of Knighthood were often violated by the Knight warriors themselves. • Ideals survived as Knighthood came to be thought of as an honor to be bestowed upon those who had proven themselves worthy. • Rank and status of Knight began to take on aspects of a minor Nobility that one could achieve (rather than having to be born into). (Example: People like Sir Paul McCartney)

  14. Prowess Justice Loyalty Defense Courage Faith Humility Largesse Nobility Franchise A Knight should be known for:

  15. The Chivalric code has never died. It is still the basis for what are today considered “good manners” or “proper behavior” (such as women and children first).

  16. Characteristics of the Medieval Romance • Romance – from the French romanz – means “in the Roman language” (i.e., not Latin, but the “vernacular” – the language spoken by the people)

  17. Romance, cont. • Often contains supernatural or magical events • Set in a world where ordinary laws or nature are often suspended. • Idealized heroes fight the forces of evil • Usually centers on a quest. (The hero goes on a perilous journey in search of something of great value.)

  18. Romance, cont. • Story is old in origin and simple in structure • Writers in later times set stories in an earlier time (such as Ivanhoe or modern fantasy stories) • Events and characters come in sets of 3 • When the hero dies, he takes on the features of a god or is remembered as someone more than human • The questions raised in the stories are simplistic and have obvious answers • Similar to children’s stories

  19. Characteristics of the Romantic Hero • Is very similar to the epic hero • Goes on a quest, often with companions. (Quest is a perilous journey.) • Demonstrates bravery • Is Faithful/loyal • Is Intelligent/wise • Often shows a need to impress others with his heroic deeds • Represents the ideals of heroism and leadership in his society

  20. Romantic Hero, cont. • Always follows the Code of Chivalry: • Honor is extremely important (prefers death to dishonor) • Shows respect for women • Is a skilled warrior • Follows the rules of combat • Always pays debts/fulfills obligations • Is concerned about the welfare of his opponent. (You must take care of a man you just injured in combat.) • Has a sense of fairness. (He won’t participate in a fight that’s heavily weighted on one side.)