Medieval Debates of Body and Soul Author(s): Michel-André Bossy Source: Comparative Literature, Vol. 28, No.

2, (Spring, 1976), pp. 144-163 Published by: University of Oregon Stable URL: Accessed: 01/07/2008 15:04
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Debates and


ATIN AND VERNACULAR medieval literature abounds in verse debates. The variety of these works is as striking as their multitude: they interweave a large number of topics, oratorical techniques, dialogue patterns, verse forms, and narrative frames. It is customary to classify them into thematic groups: for instance, knight and cleric, wine and water, winter and summer, and body and soul. Such a classification provides useful reference categories, but it does not yield a rigorous taxonomy. When looked at in detail, a given group of debates will seem more a flexible configuration of works than a fixed literary genus. Besides, many interconnections can be found between works ostensibly belonging to separate groups and often these interconnections illuminate a particular debate more vividly than do the common denominators of its specific group. This study deals with the rich scale of the largest of these thematic groups, that of body and soul debates. My purpose is twofold. First, I wish to show that these debates must be read as contrasting individual works. Second, I wish to illustrate how other works, not normally included in this group of medieval debates, have interesting and unexpected affinities with the group. What criticism there is has mostly overlooked both these points. Even the scholar who has surveyed body and soul debates most thoroughly, T. Batiouchkof, has slighted the dramatic suppleness and individuality of the works in order to pigeonhole them in a rigid stemma.1 The one heartening escape from such critical
1 "Le Debat de l'ame et du corps,"Romania, 20 (1891), 1-55 and 513-78. For information about Latin debates see Hans Walther, Das Streitgedicht in der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, Quellen und Untersuchungenzur lateinischen Philologie des Mittelalters, V, 2 (Munich, 1920), 63-68 and F. J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), II, 229-303. A useful precis of romance body and soul debates has been put together by Cesare Segre in Grundriss 144

pp. Hans Robert Jauss and Erich K6hler (Heidelberg: Winter. 1843). It is framed by a dream that comes to the narrator after an exhausting vigil.MEDIEVAL DEBATES narrowness is Robert Ackerman's sensitive and very informative study of the Middle English Desputisoun bitwen the Bodi and the Soule. the Dialogus inter corpus et anitnam. The second version has a longer narrative introduction and a somewhat different conclusion. 74-78. 1968 onward). ed. Foremost among debates between a guilty Soul and Body is a work in Goliardic verse. 95-106. The other major version of the Visio begins "Vir quidatnexstiterat dudumheremita"and has been edited by Edelstand du Meril in Poesies populaires anterieures au XIIe sitcle (Paris. which is generally referred to as the Visio Philiberti. This recalls the Ghost's predicament in Hamlet. his rather negative evaluationof the Visio Philiberti. 1956). I shall discuss in detail one example from each category before widening my survey. VI/1.3 It had a very wide diffusion: 132 manuscripts are extant.Dos versiones castellanas de la disputa del alma y el cuerpodel siglo XIV. notably The Desputisoun bitwen the Bodi and the Soule. Ole Widding and Hans Bekker-Nielsen. 37 (1962). 3 There are two major versions of the Visio. although Shakespeare turns the weekly cycle into a daily one. 4Walther. 119-21. (The texts with the incipit "Vir quidam exstiterat dudum heremita" preface the dream itself by identifying der romanischenLiteraturendes Mittelalters.v. 33 (1973). 541-65. and Mariantonia Liborio. Memoires de la Societe Neophilologique.4 It also influenced many vernacular debates. Body and soul debates can be thematically divided into two categories: either the Soul argues with the Body from a position of moral superiority or it shares guilt with the Body (and often deserves more blame). The dialogue in the Visio takes place on one of the Soul's furloughs away from hell. XVIII (Helsinki. 1939) .The dialogue is also slightly different and generallyless clear and consistentthan the first version's. 272-89. however. The one with the incipit "Noctis sub silentio temporebrumali"has the larger numberof manuscriptsand is the one I shall examine here. and VI/2. "Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night. 10-11). MS. I do not share.' My point of departure will be a simple general distinction. 69 and 211-14. Das Streitgedicht. "A Debate of the Body and the Soul in Old Norse Literature. pp. "JUnaversione picarda inedita della 'Visio Philiberti. 145 . The Visio's underpinning is a folk belief that the souls of deceased sinners are released from their torments in hell on Saturday night and haunt their place of death until cockcrow. / And for the day confin'd to fast in fires" (I. 217-30. Wis. using Thomas Wright's edition in The Latin Poems Commonly Attributed to Walter Mapes (London. 2 "The Debate of the Body and the Soul and Parochial Christianity. pp.. 1841). unconvincingly attributed to Robert Grosseteste. 105-45. Erik von Kraemer." Speculum. 21 (1959)."' CN. An Early Latin Debate of Body and Soul (Menasha.Ackerman'streatmentof the literary and religious background of body and soul debates is excellent. See also Eleanor Kellogg Heningham. The examples I have chosen are not the most typical or representative (no such models exist) but seem to me the most interesting in regard to forensic dialogue.

) In the introduction the narrator establishes the situation in simple and direct terms. In the first round the Soul launches a long declamation. The debate.. which finally takes a surprising turn and calls itself into question. such as this one: Ego quae tam nobilis fueram creata.torques. Philibertus. et ab omni crimine baptismomundata.anuli. as we shall see.13-22).Truly I can say: Alas that I was bornI If only I had been taken straight from the womb to the grave and thus freed from the infernal punishment now preparedfor me!) The Soul has an excellent like the Ghost in Hamlet calls the "inexpressibility without actually painting repertory of rhetorical devices. the rings you used to wear on your fingers? And the multitudeof coins you loved so much? Where are the bedclothesof enormous worth? Those often changed attires of different colors?) The Soul alternately stirs up regrets (in set pieces like the ubi sunt passage above) and hurls blustering complaints.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE the narrator as a princely hermit. ad similitudinemDomini formata. shaped in the Lord's likeness. sumquereprobata. wretched Flesh. (Lines 25-33) (I who was created so noble. caro misera. assaults. heu quod fui nata! utinam ex utero fuissem translata protinus ad tumulum! et sic liberata a poena tartarea mihi jam parata. the necklaces. turres quas fundasti? gemmae. quos digitos portasti? et nummorumcopia quam nimis amasti? Quo sunt lectisterniamaximi decoris? vestes mutatoriaevarii coloris? (Lines 42-47) (Where now are the estates that you gathered? the lofty palaces and towers you built? The gems. Ironical questions generate rambling (though vivid) comparisons of the Body's former honors and joys with its present misery: Ubi nunc sunt praediaquae tu congregasti? celsaquepalatia. however.v. For instance. I am a reprobate. Vere possum dicere. it avails itself of what Curtius topos" so as to inspire awe about its torments their "eternal blazon": In poenis miserrimasum et semperero I omnes linguae saeculi non dicerent pro vero unam poenamminimamquam infelix fero. (Lines 38-40) 146 . The struggle is an artful minuet of feints.. stocked with homiletic motifs. iterum criminibussic sum denigrata per te. and withdrawals. and cleansed of all guilt by thus again blackenedby guilt and thanks to you. consists of ample and elaborate verbal displays. (I.

.prancing. The comparison of the Soul to an ox is a deft taunt. (Lines 97-100) (Is that you. (Lines 105-109) (The world and the devil ordaineda mutual law. and with their blandishmentsthe Flesh seducedthe Soul. and the Soul promptlyfollowed the Flesh like an ox that is led to sacrifice.MEDIEVAL DEBATES (Most wretchedly in pains I must be. let me fully prove with clear argumentshow they are partly true and partly nonsense. I made you go astray and often avoid good deeds. drawing the foolish Flesh into a partnershipof deceit. a willingness to look at both sides of the question. jam probabopleniusargumentisclaris quod in parte vera sunt. in parte nugaris. quama virtutumculminetrahit ad parteminfimam. eorumqueblanditiiscaro seducitanimam. Rhetorically.) In other words..Listen. I'11tell you why. ) In answer to the Soul's eighty lines of epideictic. the Body lays out a judicious argument.) The demonstration rests on a shrewdly described causal chain: Munduset daemoniumlegem sanxire mutuam.) As can be guessed from this exordium. It can also signal an enigma and whet the listener's curiosity. fraudis ad consortiumcarnem trahentes fatuam. errare. it's not surprising. a bonis operibussaepe declinare. quandoque. dicam quare. speakingin this way? All the things you're saying are not completelytrue. the Body alleges that it served as a mere intermediary between an overwhelming evil alliance and an all too compliant Soul. I admit. sed si caro faciat animampeccare non mirum est. for a protest against it would only accentuate the Body's next remark. (Lines 101-104) (Many times. The exordium is a logical statement of purpose which affords strong contrast to the Soul's disorderly bluster: ? Esne meus spiritus. now and always! All the tongues in the world could not truly relate the least of the pains my unfortunateself endures.qui sic loquebaris non sunt vera penitusomniaquae faris. an initial concession can betoken reasonableness. But if the Flesh caused the Soul to sin now and then. The Body makes the most of both effects: Feci te multociens. quae statim carnemsequiturut bos ductusad victimam. audi. which it dragged from the summit of virtues down to the lowest depth. my Spirit.fateor. Now. the one in which it will play its trump card: 147 . the first step of the argument will be concessive.

Moreover. credo quod deliquerasculpa magis gravi.. the second half of the sentence takes back everything the first half conceded. quia me deceperasfraude tam suavi. in a seemingly conciliatory frame of mind... quod .. the Body adopts a humble tone.) The Body lets the Soul briefly fancy that it has victory in its grasp. I believe you've committeda greater fault. but since you've tricked me with such honeyed deceit. The Body smugly devotes the remainder of its speech to amplifying this point with sarcastic questioning (which gives the Soul a taste of its own medicine) and loud claims of innocence. with its scathing irony: one of God's favors to the Soul was authority over the Body. and He endowedyou with sense. It acknowledges its former folly and rejoices that its eyes have been opened.te non refrenavi. ) pretends to articulate a reasonable compromise. it proposes a compromise: 148 . ) Like the Body the Soul carefully hones the concession into an offensive weapon: Sed scio me culpabilem. it meets the Body's wily concession with one of its own: Attamen in pluribus recte respondisti. cum essem domina. I know: I should have opposedyour will . et bonamet nobilem.. sed. quod. thereby opening the way for a dozen lines of stiff but even-tempered denunciation. obesse debueramtuae voluntati .nam in hoc erravi.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Sed.. for I made the mistake of not restraining you while I was your mistress. / sed . et ad suam speciempariterformavit.) The maneuver is delightfully sly: three lines parodying the Soul's lamentation (lines 25-26). The Body's attack forces the Soul to adopt a cooler forensic approach. et ut ancilla fieremtibi me donavit. Deus te creavit. quod . you both good and noble.. Illud esse consonumscio veritati. (Lines 145-147) (But still you answeredcorrectly in several respects. you've already said..sensuquedotavit. (The Soul has learned its lesson: caustic detachment tends to be more devastating than billingsgate. How- ever. Bursting into tears. Replacing some epideictic bluster with deliberative prudence.) The symmetrical construction of the antithesis (sed . sicut jam dixeras. (Lines 110-113) as created God (But. ..This observationagrees with truth. (Lines 159-162) (But I know I'm guilty. then in slips the trump. and He gave me to you as maidservant.. and besides shapedyou in His likeness. .

MEDIEVAL DEBATES Ambo.. echoing the Soul's words (line 162) and repaying its loaded antithesis-with interest. The entire debate takes on a contrived appearance. The narrator's intervention in the Body's monologue just before it denied that it could speak of its own accord now appears very pointed. in the following speech. (Lines 227-228) ((O fortunate is the condition of wild beasts! Their spirits perish with their bodies. Here is a paradox that shifts the perspective of the entire debate. it becomes carried away by paradox. ) 149 . multis rationibuspotest hoc probari. So does. With paradoxical wit the Body thus buttresses its case by eulogizing the Soul's attributes. anyway.sed non culpa pari: tibi culpa gravior debet imputari. the verbal drama now makes both postulates seem tenuous. dico. By spelling out that it is absurd to imagine that a corpse can speak at all. Then. possumusadeo culpari: et debemusutique. (2) a narrator's discourse (the dreamer's tale) can transmit objectively-that is.. exeunte spiritu a carne quid sit caro? movetne se postea cito.. declaring that it can perform nothing unless the Soul hlasprompted the act: Dic mihi. si noveris. come the probing reasons: a list of the God-given mental faculties that the Soul has misused. The Body could let matters rest here. as promised. Instead.. But not for equal faults: yours must be censured as the heavier one-that can be proved by many reasons. (Lines 187-190) (Both of us..) The impudent reversal of attitude settles the score nicely. in a clear argument: What does the Flesh amountto when the Spirit leaves it? Does it move soon afterwards? Or does it seldom move? Does it see? Or does it speak . (Lines 204-207) (Tell me.. One becomes aware that two narrative postulates were established in the narrative introduction: (1) souls can converse with their corpses on Saturday nights. sive raro? videtne? vel loquitur? . can be blamedand are boundto be. the Soul's wish to be annihilated (which far surpasses the despair of its earlier wish never to have been born): I O felix conditiopecorumbrutorum Caduntcum corporibusspirituseorum . argumentoclaro. ) Although this last remark ("vel loquitur?") slips out casually. if you know. . transparently-two autonomous discourses. I say. . its effect is startling.

Having gained the upper hand in the debate. In fact. sacrificial violence flares up: devils drag the Soul off and subject it to a long. it suddenly throws its advantage away by asking the Soul preposterous questions. the Body's foolish questions set up the Soul's final homily concerning the extra punishment awaiting those of high estate in meansof money. the ecphrasis calls the narrative postulates once again into question. in thronis? illisquidumvixerant sedebant si sit illis aliquaspesredemptionis. The epilogue sets them permanently aside. Deliberately. the torture scene is only intended as a metaphorical approximation of hell's torments. the debate finally presents itself less as a disputation between separate speakers than as a dialogue-in-monologue. keenly depicted series of torments. caeterisque pronummis (Lines235-238) (Tell me. somewhat [in hell]? Is thereany hopeof ransom estates. The gesture. Yet as the verbal battle fades away. the less a disjunction between Soul and Body can be narratively maintained. donis? et praediis. The fright that startles the narrator out of his sleep emblemizes the power retained by the discourse even after its components (the debate and the torture scene) have disclosed their fictitiousness. are noble persons-those who sat on thronesduring life-spared for them. The finale pretends to exhibit ecphrastically the "eternal blazon" which. they become signs pointing to matters exceeding the compass of human discourse. the Body discredits itself as an independent speaker. is not consistent with the Body's earlier wit: inferos]quidnobilibus parcatur Dic.) Thus. all the tongues in the world could not put into words (lines 38-40). according to the Soul. so here the Soul requires an ersatz body for experiencing torments. si [apud personis. because they are fictitious. I think. Indeed. (To be precise. which brings notice to the paradox that the more the devils tear apart the Soul. a foolish grasping at straws which grotesquely counterpoints the Soul's despair. The games 150 . The entire vision is bracketed as fiction by the narrator's awakening-a familiar topos put to effective use. The catalog of tortures has a comical undertone. it will need this manikin only for an interim: on doomsday the real Body will join it in hell. The warring verbal constructs become joined by one underlying discourse.andvarious gifts?) Like the lines that a ventriloquist "feeds" his puppet.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE How could such total despair be reconciled with its earlier forensic playfulness? More surprisingly yet. Just as the Body depended on the Soul for speaking.

Even he. If the opponents are less equally matched than in the Visio.. therefore. and to disdain carnal things in favor of spiritualones.) Even a reader who deemed the general drift of the Spirit's homily admirable would not be much stimulated by its cliche figurative style. trita currunturlibere. so as to be one of the Lord's sheep.5 Here the final outcome is evident almost from the start. locking two distinct discourses in conflict. where the Spirit's case (though not its forensic ability) dwarfs that of the Flesh. So. linque post tergum lubrica. Its speech proceeds slowly through puns and alliteration.) 5 Das Streitgedicht. The Spirit instigates the debate with hortatory epideixis.pp. 151 . steer your listless steps to the paths of justice. 215-16. cara vilitas"). The thematic converse of the Visio Philiberti can be found in the Al tercacio carnis et spiritus ("O Caro. ad semitas gressus torpentesapplica. over those untroddendangerously..Therefore I'll embrace the world that we see. leave the slipperyways behind you.Over trodden ways one runs freely. yet the dialogue develops into a suspenseful contest. and to give up what is customary. even though their dialogue is restricted to nine short speeches (each a nine-line stanza). the Altercacio renders concisely a battle between essential components of human nature. (Lines 10-18) (It is foolish to prefer things never seen to visible ones. quod cernitur ad oculum. ergo complectarseculum. non trita in periculum. would have to be convertly beguiled by the Flesh's vigorously plainspoken retort: Stultum est visibilibus nondumuisa preponere et pro spiritualibus carnalia contempnere et solita relinquere.MEDIEVAL DEBATES of wit and verbal skill having dissolved. the narrator falls to his prayers: seria per-as well as post-ludos. arriving finally at a metaphoriccommonplace: iusticie . Whereas the Visio renders expansively the inner scrimmage of a divided self. vt sis ouis dominica (Lines 6-9) ( . they are also less intertwined. No complicity binds them: they defend clearly distinct moral outlooks... the struggle has sharpness and scope.

sed quamlonga miseria sequatur. si mecumhec deliberas. For rhetorical effectiveness the order should be reversed. non uiuent in celestibus.those who favor your way of living. (It is amusing to think that the effect of the trita is much less trite than that of the senmitaeiusticie. of course. The fit between tenor and vehicle in its metaphor is tighter and smoother than in the Spirit's. They don't live in heaven. (Lines 28-36) 152 .COMPARATIVE LITERATURE The Flesh answers the Spirit's harangue with simple deliberative argumentation. lines 23-34). a tormentiste liberas. que seruanturcarnalibus. pisces et aues gigneret nutu creantis domini. Now it is the Flesh's turn to elaborate an ornate periodic speech.) The Flesh's rejoinder shakes up the Spirit. the speech seems haltingly improvised. The aphoristic turn it gives to a small piece of common sense has limpid appeal. you can free yourself from the torments that are in store for carnal sinners." On the face of it. It shifts from a spare deliberative style to an ampler evocative one: In antiquacongerie dum deus mundumconderet et ex rudi materie ordinatussubsisteret. the Spirit is trying either to strike a deliberative pose matching the Flesh's or to arouse the Flesh's curiosity by implying that there is more to this than meets the eye. flores et fructus pareret. What deliberation can such a simple point possibly require? In short. If you deliberatethis thing with me. hoc dubitandusnemini totum subegit homini. qui fauent tuis moribus. that you don't think of. then tries to catch the Flesh's attention (you had better listen to this!). (Lines 19-27) (How earnestly you desire joy that lasts a single speck of time! But what long misery will follow. But all the interpolation accomplishes is to draw attention to the simplicity of the argument that precedes it.non consideras. Gone are the affected flourishes (except for a pun. Particularly clumsy is the interpolation "si mecum deliberas. as it speaks a second time: Vnius puncti gaudia tantopere desideras.) One notes that the Spirit first states its argument (fleeting pleasure isn't worth eternal pain).

One must also notice the pivotal function of the penultimate line: "hoc dubitandus nemini. only driving the argument home with the very last word.. allowing the Flesh to deflect the shot with ease. The antithesis implicit in domini-nemini is aptly bridged by homini. The tactic is forensically shrewd. The annominatio intimates that although God has created a multitude of things (evoked by the preceding synecdoches). subordinating all the clauses of the first seven lines. The skillfulness of the construction shows up in many details. but the Spirit fails to use it effectively.) Like the Spirit's first speech this stanza assembles many clauses into a single period." This sets a syntactic perspective that recapitulates Creation: it starts in chaos (congerie). Once again the Spirit's discourse falls short of the goal. vague allusions to the Flesh's greed and disobedience. follows the transformation of crude matter into order ("ex rudi materie . The dum introducing deus mediates between the locative in and the transformative ex. coming as it does after a long series of subordinate clauses.when fishes and birds came into being at a nod of the Lord-let no one doubt it !-He subordinatedall of Creationto man." lines 53-54). in fact. and synecdochically sums up the beginning of life (plants. Comically enough. focuses on God's intervention ("dum deus . . At the same time it defers that clause syntactically by opening a parenthetical remark."). Its tone becomes flippantly colloquial: "Quid loqueris de licito? / Consilium das temere" ("What are you talking about lawfulness for? You hand your advice out rashly." The neuter demonstrative pronoun hoc. The Spirit immediately questions the sincerity of this oratory.).MEDIEVAL DEBATES (When God built the world in the midst of old chaos and it stood forth all ordered out of rough matter. but unlike that first speech it generates suspense out of the periodic structure.12 and 21). the colloquial style of litigation introduced by the 153 . the speech does not begin with the conjunction dum (when) but with the modifier word group "in antiqua congerie. The objection is only followed up by unfocused rebukes. Moreover. For instance. fruits.. dum orders the structure of the sentence. The gerundive dubitandus counters the motif of God's assenting nod and induces a tension which the negative indirect object nemini allays." lines 51-52). fish. the word that completes the entire argument. The stanza is thus a masterly demonstration of epideictic oratory-the high point of the poem. He is still alone. But nemini creates a new tension by echoing domini.. and birds-as in Genesis 1. signals rhetorically the appearance of the main clause. It brazens the accusation of greed by claiming that it cannot refuse God's gifts: "nam munera repellere / est largitorem spernere" ("since to refuse the gifts means spurning the donor. when flowers and fruits appeared.

we wonder expectantly how the Spirit. in return buteternal torture for carnal joy!) The harangue is not elegant (especially in syntax). the Flesh is finally forced to defend its weakest side. will manage to get its opponent. it endeavors to show that God by creating the two sexes sanctioned free sexual commerce. sed procarnali gaudio eternacruciacio. Although virtuous Soul debates are less numerous than guilty Soul debates. the Spirit only has to establish a distinction between legitimate coition (free of concupiscence) and lustful fornication. stylistically flawed though it may be. Some of the clumsiness even sharpens the sally. To make the comic peripeteia even more telling. their spectrum is more varied. rhetorically it designates the fate awaiting the Flesh. The final cruciacio (torment). but it has the vigor and zest that the Spirit's previous speeches sadly lacked. Because the Spirit has at long last focused on the Flesh's lustfulness. The best part of the comedy is that it accomplishes the trick of losing its temper and forgetting the forensic techniques it had self-consciously tried to use. and the indirection accentuates the threat. into a hammerlock. strangely enough. Knowing that. nonindulgendum luxui et ludofedeUeneris. ubinullaredempcio. for example: grammatically it applies to Venus.whom-if you hadn'tdevotedyourselfto her-you'd curseto hell. floundering as it does. A few examples must be cited. a rhetorical Proteus. The certainty of the outcome. Losing its confident tone. The verbal comedy thus lets us perceive a familiar couple of farce figures behind the psychomachian personifications: the quick-witted rogue and the bumbling but finally triumphant worthy. To gain victory (a victory confirmed in the tenth and final stanza by Reason's verdict). nisitu deuoueris quam in inferno dampnaberis.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Flesh has a salutary effect on the Spirit. A long dialogue in 154 . is what fosters suspense in this debate. Outrage strips it of its sententious stiffness and imbues it with verve: Ad sustentandum tribui creatatibinoueris. has the backing of religious doctrine. (Lines 55-63) so that you couldsusthingswere created (If onlyyou hadlearntthatmaterial tainthe human raceandnot so thatyou couldrevelin luxuryandin the gamesof foul Venus. the Flesh begins losing the gift of eloquence once the Spirit gives it a bit of homely tongue-lashing. We know from the start that the Spirit's discourse. wherethereis no redemption. particularly with respect to dramatic situations.

Luigi F. Poeti del Duecento. for the sake of brevity. in the process. 92-94. which is the voice of conscience.pp.MEDIEVAL DEBATES elegiacs. 216-18. Longnon and L. really).7 The early Italian dialogue known as the Ritro cassinese stages a similar debate between a worldly western man and a saintly eastern visitant. Let us."PMLA. pp. lines 55-63. the debaters are specifically human figures: a carnal and a spiritual man.8 The comedy centers on the worldly man's naive disbelief that the visitant can do without food and drink. 4th ed. 9 Francois Villon. "Cogis me litem describere spiritualem." Studi Medievali.6Although the debatersare comparedto Adam (Spirit) and Eve (Flesh).Nuova Serie 12 (1939). in which he systematically tried out different kinds of addresses between souls and bodies. In "Mundi dum florem magnum mihi dantis honorem. 1959). Serie II. (The visitant's outburst against his interlocutor's doubts recalls the Spirit's decisive outburst in the Altercacio carnis et spiritus. making ample and often entertaining use of biblicalexempla. At the end of the thirteenth century Bonvesin da la Riva composed a series of dialogues and monologues in Italian (seven poems in one. (Paris. 8 GianfrancoContini. "Un Grand Debat de l'ame et du corps en vers elegiaques. 7 Das Streitgedicht. For an original (but perhaps overstated) reading of the Ritmo cassinese as a debate see Leo Spitzer. 1960). Villon's briskly compressed and colorful dialogue-inmonologue combines the structure of a virtuous Soul debate with elements of a romance character's ratiocinatio."The Emergence of Psychological Allegory in Old French Romance. 425-63. restrict our attention to those poets who experimented with both categories of debates (and sometimes with other types of memento ori poems)." on the contrary." RomanischeLiteraturstudien. Foulet. Wilmart. ed. 10 See Charles Muscatine.10 To comprehend body and soul debates one must read them as cohesive forensic comedies.9 This ballade pits the speaker's reprobate Self (not precisely designated as his body) against the Heart. 68 (1953). Villon's so-called Debat du cuer et du corps is in this vein. in some debates the struggle is completely internalized (like the struggle between sinful Soul and Body in the Visio). 7-13. elements furnished by a tradition of inner monologue derived from Ovid. (Milan.. 1936-1956 (Tiibingen. (Euvres. "II dialogo di Villon col suo cuore. 1160-82. pp. reaching into other literary preserves. I. "The Text and Artistic Value of the Ritmo cassinese. Benedetto edits the text very differently. A. To appreciate them fully one must see how they interplay-often. 2 vols."l The first part is a dialogue between God 6 A. 192-209. they remain highly abstract personifications and the Spirit is unassailably right throughout the debate. 11De anima curm corpore ("Quiloga incontra l'anima si parla'l Creator") in 155 ." Atti della Accademia delle Scienze di Torino.) Finally." develops the debate along theological lines. 87 (1952-53). ed. 267-314. 1932).

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE and the Soul. for example. Blume. XXI (Leipzig. Franca Ageno (Florence. eo so l'alma dolente" (Lauda 15). Another use of the two categories of body and soul debates was devised by Philip the Chancellor (d. 13 Compare. 1941). e lo vinonoceme lassa lo vino e l'acquaper la nostra santate . p. who is taught how to discipline the Body. 1953). 7 A III: "Feruetut intrinsecus/ quilibetydropicus. In the fourth part a sinful Soul berates its Body after death but before doomsday (as it does in the Visio Philiberti). M. M. with the result that the Soul acts both as mentor and reprobate. eds.. Jacopone composed a dialogue between a live man and his corpse which abounds in memento mori motifs ("Quando t'aliegre.12"Audite una 'ntenzone ch'e 'nfra l'anema e'l corpo" (Lauda 3) is a lively quarrel between a stringent Soul and an indolent Body that balks at any suggestion of austerity. The debate interestingly snares and adapts the theme of wine and water debates. 55. Then a virtuous Soul praises its Body for having enabled it to obtain salvation. omo de altura." Lauda 25). 115-16. ed. pp. 156 .. Finally. (This pretext is in itself comical because it borrows a topos traditionally belonging to the Soul: the likening of the Body's 13 cupidity to dropsy. a virtuous Soul and Body express gratitude to each other. Trattato e Detti. claiming to suffer from dropsy. The sleight of hand illustrates the tenzone's zestful versatility: the Soul orders the Body to drink water instead of wine.. 14 G. 1886-1922). ) Another dialogue. put them both aside for the sake of our health . Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi.An Early Latin Debate. 1236). The final two parts occur on doomsday: a sinful Soul and Body exchange reproaches. the Soul's derisive comment in the debate of the Royal MS. GianfrancoContini (Rome. 54-76.) Slyly taking the body at its word. C. Le opere volgari di Bonvesin da la Riva. 12Laudi. His Altercatio animnae et corporis conflates them. "0 corpo enfracedato. Dreves. Jacopone da Todi wrote three different body and soul debates in Italian. lines 105-106. ed.14 The Soul and the Body each have a single two-stanza speech. Next. Bannister.. the Soul offers this mock compromise: nocetea la tuaenfermetate Puoiechel'acqua a la miacastitate. and H. In the second part the Soul debates with the Body. subduing it with the promise of eternal life. (Lines 75-77) (Since water is harmful to your infirmity and wine is harmful to my purity."Eleanor Kellogg Heningham. takes place on doomsday and shows a sinful Soul and Body discussing their imminent fate in hell.. the Heart debates with the other parts of the body (chiefly represented by the Eye) and is declared guilty of misleading the Body. but the Body refuses.

Curbyour gains. with five rhymes and two rhythmical endings (ascending and descending). Do not reproach the Soul for what you have wretchedlydone and uncovered. the Soul clearly declares its despondency and guilt. Corrupitlutea. Ge. Although the tone does not change (can one even detect a tone in speech this shackled by prosody?). Nothing becomes free in the prison of the Flesh. for bodily bulk spawns contagionand vice.) In the second stanza the Soul twists its sound admonishment into fool- ish incrimination. Parit enim contagium Et vitium Moles corporea. Ne animae. and even vas) helps to suggest a bond between them. which means that the Soul confesses having abandoned God. For if it emulated a virtuous Soul--like the one Bonvesin presents-it could find a Promethean benefactor precisely in the Body. Me parcius Querelis aspera. 157 . lutea. Quaestusergo reprime.MEDIEVAL DEBATES The Soul's speech is tortuous and strangely worded because of the daunting versification: lines of four different lengths (from four to eight syllables). so he and the Body both derive (in different senses) from clay. Prometheus is grandson of the Earth. Since the earth imagery (faex. Clay corrupted me. While God made me pure. Irritate me less often with complaints. Nil in carnis carcere Fit libere. Prometheus is obviously a pagan analogue to Christ (he created man and suffered for his sake). Me dum fecit Deus mundam. my vessel-that dirt-stained me impure. Desipio Nec sapio Meum Promethea. Quod misere commiseris. Quod pateris. tuae morem Sortis considera Propensius. Miser impropera. I lose my wits and ignore my Prometheus. Furthermore. born for hardship. (O man. Vas infecit faex immundam. the speech reveals a marked shift of expressive stance: Homo natus ad laborem Tui status. But once puzzled out. the Soul seems unwittingly to expose its foolish attitude toward the Body.think deliberatelyabout the nature of your estate and your fate.

You deprive yourself of benefits you've The Body's apparent disclaimer of responsibility for the senses is especially problematic.15 The Heart's sarcastic questioning recalls (on a reduced scale) the Soul's first speech in the Visio. as does the paradox elicited by a similar chastisement of the Soul in the Visio Philiberti (lines 190-207). Qua mors intrat ad animam? Nonne. XXI. quas ingeris. the Altercatio cordis et oculi. Here is a sample: Nonne fenestra diceris. (Lines34-39) beenfreelygiven. sequeris Ut bos ductus ad victimam? Cur non saltem. One of them. Dumsensibus Assensibus Faves illicitis.favoring unlawful of the senses. Here the paradox (if there is one) remains buried. Sordes lavas per lacrimam? (Lines 17-22) (Aren't you called a window that lets death into the soul? Don't you follow what you see like an ox led to sacrifice? Why don't you at least wash with tears the filthyoudrawin?) The Heart's criticism of the Eye's docility (like the Soul's criticism of the Body's in the Visio) is evidently a case of the pot calling the 5 Analecta Hymnica.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Taking notice only of the Soul's second (guilty) stance. In a less formally constrained debate this might solidify into a touchstone that brings about a resolution.) thingswiththe consent (The use of reason you turn to abuse. for example. with the same metaphor of the paths of righteousness that the Spirit used in the Altercacio carnis et spiritus. 114-15. lacking any contextual markers. One cannot even know whether the Body's chastisement of the Soul for misusing reason constitutes a paradox: In abusum rationis Vertis usumtequebonis Privasgratuitis. Philip the Chancellor wrote several other two-speech debates. its discourse is too constricted to develop into full verbal drama. It appropriatesthe role of a virtuous Soul-concluding its speech. 158 . has much affinity with body and soul debates. the Heart lording it over the Eye like a sinful Soul over its Body. quod vides. Although this miniaturized debate is a tour de force. But does this Body have the right to play such a virtuous role? One cannot discover the answer in the text.. the Body depicts itself as completely blameless..

so as to emphasize how much blame lies with its higher-up.MEDIEVAL DEBATES kettle black. "LeDebatde l'ameet du corps. its subordinate. Thus. The Heart's deceitful maneuver fails because the other parts of the body are only too happy to pillory their exposed leader. They distinctly repudiate one 16The literaryparadigm for the disputatio membrorumn is an anecdialogues doteaboutMenenius in Livy (II. in desiring the appealing object. the Body. love (of the concupiscent variety) is traditionally ascribed to the Heart's following the Eye.A Provencal also incorporates a disputatio membrorum bodyandsouldebate (T. Bonvesin and Philip both contravene the Heart as it figures in Latin and especially vernacular love-lyric. 30). 539). pretending (falsely. one asks. Ironically. dialogue 159 Corporinecessaria." p. 17AnalectaHymnica. Philip the Chancellor composed just such a Disputatio."l7 In it the Heart plays the significant role of heroic peacemaker: its deliberative eloquence brings the rebels to reason and convinces them that the Stomach promotes general welfare.XXI. 116-17. There too the Heart. Batiouchkof.i. that is supposed to control weeping ? In this poem.16 Now. whose theme is the rebellion of assorted parts of the body against the Stomach's gastronomic monopoly. is used in the Visio to mock the Soul for having blindly followed its subordinate. disregarding its hierarchical status. Like the cunning Eye in the Altercatio cordis et oculi it pleads for the harmony of bodily officia (functions). the Disputcatioor Dialogus membrorum. Isn't it the Heart.99-109). "Inter membra singula. the Eye easily defends itself.Agrippa told Agrippa the fableof the Stomach and the partsof the bodyto halt a plebeian rebellion dramatized the incidentin Coriolanus. tries to shift the blame for misleading the entire body onto the Eye.22. After all. (Shakespeare I. the formula "sequeris / ut bos ductus ad victimam" which comes from Proverbs vii. . The Heart's criticism of the Eye's lack of tears also boomerangs.Philip inserts Livy's narratorin the itself: the Heartplaysthe roleof Agrippa. as Reason's verdict will eventually point out) to be merely an innocent messenger: Curdamnatur apertio Sinecujusobsequio Cuncta officia? languent (Lines33-36) so necessary to the bodyand withoutwhoseobedience (Why damnthe opening all functions of the bodylanguish ?) It will be remembered that the third part of Bonvesin's body and soul series focuses on a similar debate between Heart and Eye. but unlike the Eye it does so in purely disinterested fashion. According to Livy. as in the Altercatio animae et corporis. Philip manages to give the hierarchical underling an edge. Bonvesin parodies a fable-like type of dialogue.

I. 242-55.Interesting observationson the many facets of Marvell's debate can be found in Kitty Scoular Datta. Margoliouth. 2 vols.. see Rosalie Colie.3rd ed. Legouis. J. such as the Soul's self-pitying complaints concerning the tyranny of the Body or the paradox about the Body that is both master and slave-a relationship stated with perfect ambiguity: A Body that could never rest. 21-23. 210-12. and E. Press. Philip wittily makes his second Heart play the part of a virtuous Soul (and. "A Dialogue between the Soul and Body" is the subtlest of all debates between sinful Soul and Body. in fact."' Renaissance Quarterly. "New Light on Marvell's 'A Dialogue between the Soul and Body. Thus. To close this survey of contrasting body and soul debates. (Lines 19-20) But his virtuosity also alters the tradition.l8 Marvell retains important features of the medieval tradition. 1970). as if to stress this point. the first two stanzas of the Altercacio carnis et spiritus) : The Art of Marvell's Poetry (New York. These intertwining literary experiments illustrate the kaleidoscopic richness of medieval moral debates and adumbrate two works by a seventeenth-century master of poetical experiments. the Body accuses the Soul of having been an incompetent helmsman that caused its shipwreck. 160 . "My Ecchoing Song:" Andrew Marvell's Poetry of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton Univ. B. pp. In other words. pp. performs a double trick in having the Heart counterpoint both the noble Heart of love lyric and its satirical antithesis. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Here is an Old French example: Quant en la haute mer Me deus gouerner Et moi mener al port Por moi garir de mort 18 The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell. Press. the concupiscent reprobate of the Altercatio cordis (or of Bonvesin's poem). 27-29.P. In many of the medieval debates. For general but enlighteningcommentson Marvell's use of debate forms." In his Dispttatio membrorum Philip. 1968). Duncan-Jones. moreover. for example. Since this ill Spirit it possest. H. 1971).22 (1969). just as he has given us two versions of the Soul (mentor and fool) in the Altercatio animae et corporis. E. at least cursory attention must be paid to Andrew Marvell's accomplishment in both categories of these debates. so in the Altercatio cordis and the Disputatio membrorum he gives us two contrasting Hearts. for example-as in Friedrich von Hausen's renowned "Mmn herze und min lip diu wellent scheiden. ed. he gives it a single ally: Reason).COMPARATIVE LITERATURE topos: praising the Heart for being so attached to the beloved that it will remain with her when the lovers are apart because of a crusade. Leishmanbriefly discusses the poem's connectionto medieval body and soul debates (quoting.

but it expresses it in vigorous conceits that subvert the Spirit's figurative stock-in-trade. "Le Debat de l'ame et du corps. Am Shipwracktinto Health again. In most debates of this kind the role of instigator belongs to the 19 Un Sanedi par nuit.20 Though he substitutes Pleasure for the Body. MS. (Lines 31-36) This Body may have the same languid hypochondria as the Body in Jacopone's Lauda 3. 73-74. pp. the iconography of the Soul's suffering requires that it still possess (metaphorically) a body after death. pp. but whats worse. how the Anchor of Hope becomes the Cramp of Hope by means of etymology: both Greek ankyra and Germanic krampe mean hook. 1 (1889). the subject of Pleasure's final speech.19 (On the high seas. and glory (eulogized in three more speeches).) The dialogue continually inverts conventions and refracts the debate tradition with a literary signature characteristic of Marvell.For another good example see the Royal MS debate: Eleanor Kellogg Heningham. 170. 113-96. (Lines 27-30) As we saw in the Visio Philiberti.) Marvell twists the topos around and inserts it in the Soul's diatribe against the Body's endurance: Constrain'dnot only to indure Diseases. this new personification is clearly associated with the bodily senses (eulogized in its first five speeches) and the Body's traditional compulsions-desire for beauty. when you should have steeredme and taken me into the harbor to keep me from death in the deep waves.MEDIEVAL DEBATES En la wage parfonde Me trebuchasen l'onde. expressing the Body's suffering in terms of spiritual ills: But Physick yet could never reach The Maladies Thou me dost teach. wealth. (Note. Marvell brilliantly also puts things the other way around. The Pestilence of Love does heat: Or hatred's hiddenUlcer eat. Batiouchkofcommentson this topos. T. In "A Dialogue between the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure" Marvell offers his version of a virtuous Soul debate.An Early Latin Debate. Hermann Varnhagen. lines 1849-1871. The only addition to the medieval Body's traits is thirst for knowledge. P. for example. 537-38n. ed."pp. 20 The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell. 9-12. Erianger Beitrdge zur englischenPhilologie. 161 . Whom first the Crampof Hope does Tear: And then the Palsie Shakes of Fear. lines 803-808. you capsizedme in the billows.p. the Cure: And ready oft the Port to gain.

while Pleasure misjudging its interlocutor. even though the Soul has clearly shown itself too fitful for such determined craftsmanship.""TheCoronet. which requires a two-couplet retort). it will become Created Pleasure" also counterpoints severalotherpoems. Consequently. The couplets-virtually mottos for an emblem book-strip the images and motifs tendered by Pleasure of their sensual connotations and restructure them into stern aphorisms: Restis on a Thought My gentler of doingwhatI ought. 162 29). The counterpoint with the "Dialogue between the Soul and Body" is unmistakable. This. Pleasure and the Resolved Soul. She argues that Marvell'slyrics can be arranged"in various relevant groups" and that they "continuallyand quite properly insist on being shifted from one . seems to address the sinful Soul. the Body finally seems to point to the virtuous Resolved Soul. Only the reader's assessment of the stalemate gives the debate a resolution in the form of a tertium quid. Conscious (Lines23-24) The struggle with connotations develops into an uneven. yet dramatic. on the other hand.g. Engrossed in self-pity.. "Ona Drop of and"Clorinda andDamon" Dew.2721 Rosalie Colie explains how the "Dialogue between the Resolved Soul and to another" to the onesI amtryingto makeabout category (p. 15). Green Treesthatin the Forestgrew. far from winning the rounds it instigates. is laden with images and motifs that diffuse sensual connotations. Its discourse. engage in a fruitful dialectic. pointssimilar medieval debates. the sinful Soul and Body argue past each other. Whosesoft Plumeswill thitherfly: On theseRosesstrow'd so plain Lest one Leafthy Side shouldstrain.COMPARATIVE LITERATURE Soul.e. although Pleasure does so unwittingly (hardly anticipating that. (Lines19-22) Single couplets suffice the Soul for crushing each of Pleasure's speeches (except the one tempting the ear." ("MyEcchoing Song. for example. In this couplet the Body means to describe how its sinful Soul builds it up for sin. Marvell gives it to Pleasure. The counterpoint culminates in an antithesis of structure."pp.21 The Resolved Soul's finely executed triumph fits the definition of spiritual discipline that the Body gives: So Architects do square and hew. totaling almost twice as many lines as the Soul's. battle of discourses: the Soul's speech craft shatters Pleasure's sybaritic epideixis and recasts it into moral deliberation. is the enticement to the sense of touch: On thesedownyPillowslye.

Marvell may have seen the struggle of body and soul in a newer light (influenced. . The Soul's spiritual resolve reveals itself in the aesthetic power of its discourse. Brown University 163 . shewthatNaturewantsan Art To conquer one resolved Heart. (Lines9-10) In Philip the Chancellor's Disputatio membrorun the Heart ends the rebellion by oratorical means: In Marvell's dialogues the Soul as "one resolved Heart" ends the disorder of inner as well as outer nature by the agency of art. The poem's prologue had directed it to . each enriching the other. Their relationship to the medieval corpus of body and soul debates is similar: in exploiting the medieval resources they make the earlier poems appear richer than one might have suspected. by the humanists' interpretations of Aristotle's De anima and Plutarch's Moralia). Marvell's dialogues are mutually serviceable. for example.MEDIEVAL DEBATES Created into moral metaphors). yet for him as for his medieval predecessors the struggle was a harrowing drama best viewed with comic fortitude. They endow a medieval literary game with superb Renaissance variations that help us sense its poignancy and wit.

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