You are on page 1of 28


The Harvard Undergraduate Journal of Medieval Studies

Volume V*


Managing Editors
Zachary Fletcher
Rebecca Frankel

The Harvard Book Store

iv Editors Note

3JWLB)ZMBOE, Harvard University
Chase Padusniak, College of the Holy Cross

Acknowledgements: Sententiae would like to thank

Ivy Livingston, Sean Gilsdorf, and faculty advisors, as well as
the Harvard Medieval Studies Committee. The Coard extends
its gratitude to everyone who submitted work for consideration
to Vol. .
Copyright 201 Sententiae. All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced without express consent. The opinions
expressed are those of the contributors and are not necesscarily shared by
the editorial board. The Harvard name and/or Veritas shield are trademarks
of the President and Fellows of Harvard College and are used by permission
of Harvard University. The Harvard Undergraduate Journal of Medieval
Studies is proud to be a registered and official student group at Harvard.



A Note From the Managing Editors of Sententiae

This journal is an affirmation that medieval scholarship is very much alive
at the undergraduate level, including here at Harvard. The following
articles treat a wide variety of subjects, eras, and SFHJPOs within the
medieval spectrum. However, they are united by the knowledge that there
is always more to say and discover about UIF.JEEMF"HFT. We hope you
enjoy this issue of Sententiae, and want to offer our heartfelt thanks to all
those who have made this production possible.
Cambridge, april 201


Rivka Hyland, Harvard University

Remembering What Is Not Present: Images and Movement of the Mind

in St. Thomas Aquinas and Shahab ad-Din Suhrawardi
Of the theologies that surrounded the medieval Mediterranean, the strongest defense
of the image might be expected from Eastern Christians living in the Byzantine Empire.
Byzantine manuscripts present theological arguments from both texts and accompanying
miniatures; Eastern Christian religious practice was largely organized around devotion to
saints and to Christ through icons. The 8th-century political conflict between the Patriarch
Germanos and Emperor Leo III resulted in a violent destruction and removal of icons
from many Byzantine churches. Such destruction hints at the vast importance of images
of the divine in the culture, politics, and religion of the Empire. The 13th-century
Dominican monastery of St. Thomas Aquinas and the 12th-century Baghdad of Persian
mystic Shahab ad-Din Suhrawardi seem, by comparison, less likely to produce a
passionate apology for the image and the power of mimesis. Yet these two authors
organize the capstones of their theological thoughtThomass Summa Theologiae and
Suhrawardis Philosophy of Illuminationaround the image-prototype relationship.
Thomas, like other Christian theologians, sees the Incarnation as reversing the Old
Testament ban on images,1 but for Thomas, images are more than a newly legitimized
human creation. Images and likeness are at the very center of his theology. Not only is
Christ the corporeal image of God;2 God himself is the similitude of all things.3 The
relationship of images to their prototypes is just as omnipresent in Suhrawardis
Philosophy of Illumination. The very language of a theology of lights lends itself to
concepts of images and shadows, of which Suhrawardi makes frequent use. Every
particular existent, for Suhrawardi, is the image of a Platonic form (or dominating
light).4 The human soulthe managing lightis in constant interaction with a faculty
that judges and perceives images in the world of memory.5
Like many thinkers so preoccupied with images and their prototypes, Thomas and
Suhrawardi eventually face the problem of the mental processes behind the human
perception of and use of images. In De Memoria et Reminiscentia, which Thomas
acknowledges as a source in his argument about images, and which seems to inform
(though is not cited in) Suhrawardis argument, Aristotle asks, How then does [man]
remember what is not present?6 For Thomas, the question arises in the third part of the
Summa, in an article concerned with a certain kind of adoration of Christs image;
Suhrawardi deals with the problem in a more general discussion of the role of mental
images in the process of memory. In their efforts to explain why exactly images work


Jaroslav Pelikan, Imago Dei, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), 54.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Christian Classics, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican
Province, (New York: Ave Maria Press, 1948), III.25.3.
Thomas, I.15.1.
Shahab ad-Din Suhrawardi, The Philosophy of Illumination [Hikmat al-Ishraaq], trans. John Walbridge
and Hossein Ziai, (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1999), 109.
Suhrawardi, 139.
Aristotle, On Memory and Reminiscence, trans. John Isaac Beare, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908), i.


how it is possible that the image, which is not the prototype, can connect a person to the
prototypeThomas and Suhrawardi make use of Aristotles concept of movement of
the mind towards an image. Aristotle uses this term to describe the intent and thought
processes that the mind undergoes when confronted with an image. Both thinkers
incorporate the movement of the mind into their own theories of images, but they seem to
do so as much to obscure parts of their theories as to elucidate them. The sections in
which Suhrawardi and Thomas remainI argue intentionallyvague can be understood
in the context of the traditions that form the backdrop to their thought, and against which
they may be trying to delineate themselves.
Aristotles concept of the movement of the mind allows Thomas to locate the
difference between appropriate and inappropriate treatment of physical images in the
abstract. The difference between appropriate and inappropriate image is defined by the
believers internal experience rather than through the external composition of the image:
As the Philosopher says, there is a twofold movement of the mind towards an
image: one indeed towards the image itself as a certain thing; another, towards
the image in so far as it is the image of something else.7

Thomas goes on to explain that only the latter type of movement is appropriate in
veneratinged images of the divine. By introducing Aristotles movement of the mind,
Thomas avoids any critique or discussion of what the image itself should look like; the
propriety of the adoration depends entirely on the mind of the believer. As he explains in
his reply to the second objection, the Gentiles were wrong on both counts: not only did
they worship images as certain things, but they also worshipped images of things that
were not God. Thomas is consistent in emphasizing the internal aspect of worshipping
images by focusing on the first of these two mistakes:
First, because some of the Gentiles used to adore the images themselves, as
things, believing that there was something Divine therein, on account of the
answers which the demons used to give in them, and on account of other such
like wonderful effects. Secondly on account of the things of which they were
images; for they set up images to certain creatures, to whom in these images
they gave the veneration of "latria." Whereas we give the adoration of "latria" to
the image of Christ, Who is true God, not for the sake of the image, but for the
sake of the thing whose image it is, as stated above.8

Of these two mistakes, the first is concerned with the internal (what did the Gentiles
intend in their worship?), while the second deals with the external (what was the image
of?). He presents multiple motivations for worshipping the images as certain things
demons convinced the Gentiles that the images themselves were divine, and produced
wonderful effects from the imagesto allow his readers to imagine themselves in the
place of the Gentiles, and to strengthen his warning against falling into a similar practice.
He provides no such motivations, however, in describing the mistake of making images
of the wrong gods; rather, he follows the statement about the Gentiles making images of
the wrong things with the simple assertion that Christians adore the image of Christ,


Thomas, III.25.3.
Thomas, III.25.3.


Who is true God.9 Thomas does not deem it necessary to evoke the pressures that led the
Gentiles to this mistake, perhaps because the solutionmake images of the right God,
not the wrong oneseems much simpler than controlling the movement of ones mind.
This attention to the mind of the believer over the making of the image could be read as a
reaction to the production-oriented theology of icons that emerged from in the Byzantine
Empire. Images of the divine, in Byzantine theology, are not comparable to images of
anything else; icons were not meant to evoke a realistic likeness of the prototype.10
Rather, they were required to remain within a set tradition of depicting the prototype in
images that were judged on meeting a set of characteristics rather than on their
naturalistic appeal. Everything from the colors of the paint to the arrangement of icons in
a church is set out by Church doctrine.11 It may be that Thomas intends to separate
himself from Eastern Church doctrinea tradition that, through the voice of John of
Damascus, seems to breathe over Thomass shoulder throughout the Summas dealings
with imagesby using the example of the Gentiles to emphasize the importance of
movement of the mind as intention. Thomas is teaching his readers to be careful with
how they direct their minds in the process of reverence, rather than to concern themselves
with the physical imageits composition, origin, and subject,
Rather than providing a detailed explanation, as Aristotle does in the section Thomas
is quoting, of what exactly movement of the mind towards an image entails, Thomas
uses the two types of movement to contrast rather than to explain human devotion to
images of Christ. Aristotle spends the first chapter of his De Memoria et Reminiscentia in
an almost mechanical account of the processes involved in the movement of the mind.12
He provides ample information not only about the difference between the two modes of
considering an image, but also about the location, faculties, and conditions of each mode.
To begin with, any image must evoke some residual sensory process, and this process
must occur in the consciousness. The difference between the two modes has to do with
whether the soul deems the image to be absolute or relative. In the first case, the image
will simply be a thought for the soul; in the second, it will be a mnemonic token of the
prototype.13 Thomass description of the two types of movement of the mind, by
contrast, leaves the process of movement of the mind unexplained. Thomass answer
consists largely of sentences structured around opposition: unus of the modes is
contrasted with alio modo, primus with secundus, and nulla reverence of the
image as thing is compared to solum the reverence of the image as image. 14 It may be
that Thomas expects Aristotles comprehensive explanation to supplement Thomass
argument of contrasts; however, Aristotle is using the example of a painted image to
explain a larger argument about mental images and their role in memory,15 which would
not align with Thomass use of the concept in discussing physical images of the divine.
Aristotles conception of the movement of the mind towards an image requires that the
viewer know the prototype, and be able to use the image as a reminder of the prototype.


Thomas, III.25.3.
Ouspensky, 144.
Ouspensky, 154; Margaret Kenna, Icons in Theory and Practice: An Orthodox Christian
Example, History of Religions 24, (1985), 161.
Aristotle, i.
Aristotle, i.
Thomas, III.25.3.
Aristotle, i.


Thomass readers, however, were born twelve centuries too late to have actually seen
Christs face. The mental process that connects an image of someone the believer has
never seen with the unknown prototype must be different from the process Aristotle
describes, in which the paintingis a likeness, [and] presents itself as a mnemonic
token [of the prototype].16 Thomas, then, may be intentionally leaving the process of the
movement of the mind vague, as neither he nor his source provides a satisfying
description of the movement of the mind.
If the process of memory is clearer in Suhrawardis account, his explanation of the
trigger of memory is as vague as Thomass description of the process. Like Aristotle,
Suhrawardi is primarily concerned with the role of mental images in memory. He begins
his description of memory with the example of a man who has forgotten Zayd.17 If
someone has forgotten Zayd, and no mental image of Zayd is present, then the man
cannot perceive Zayd. However, the soul can recall Zayds form from the world of
memory if the soul is triggered to do so.18 For Suhrawardi, this trigger is the movement of
the mind. Although Suhrawardi lays out in great detail the process that ensues, the
movement of the mind itself seems to originate from vague sea of possibilities.
Suhrawardi uses two constructions of generality to present the movement of the mind as
emerging from nothing: he writes that if a man senses something corresponding to Zayd
or thinks of him for some reason, his thought moves to him and he acquires the capacity
to summon the form of Zayd from the world of memory.19 The something that
corresponds to Zayd is expressed as shay maa, in which the maa is part of a grammatical
construction used to emphasize the any-ness of some thing. If, for instance, the word
manrajulwere followed by maa, the expression rajul maa would mean any random
man. Similarly, the reason for thinking of Zayd is described as sabab min al-asbaab,
meaning a reason from among reasons. Perhaps Suhrawardi adds this vague phrasefor
some reasonand uses the maa-construction to conjure the movement of the mind out
of imprecise generalities. This vagueness stands in contrast with the point-by-point
refutation of Ibn Sina that follows, in which Suhrawardi engages in the practice common
to Islamic thinkers of this periodmost notably Ghazaliof constructing his opponents
argument and refuting it in an apparent dialogue. To argue that the faculty that separates
and combines images and the faculty that judges them are in fact the same, Suhrawardi
calls on proofs concerning the locations of these faculties, the multiplicity of their effects,
and the nature of perception.20 The Suhrawardi who emerges from this refutation seems a
different stylist from the one who, a few sentences earlier, is careful not to provide any
detail about how this faculty is initiated in the action of recalling, combining, or judging
an image.
Perhaps it is possible to read the passage on the mental image of Zayd as part of
Suhrawardis response to Ibn Sina. One of Suhrawardis principal contentions with Ibn
Sina is Ibn Sinas proof of the Necessary Existent, in which Ibn Sina uses causality to
prove that God exists. Suhrawardi attacks this proof on the grounds that it relies on


Aristotle, i.
I have come across Zayd as the typical example in other medieval Arabic translations, as in Ibn
Hunayn Ishaaqs translation of De Interpretatione, in which Aristotle predicates his examples of Socrates,
but the examples are translated as concerning Zayd.
Suhrawardi, 136.
Suhrawardi, 136.
Suhrawardi, 137.


categories that exist only in the human mind and not in realityincluding, for instance,
categories like necessary and contingent existents, which are at the center of Ibn
Sinas proof.21 Existence, according to Suhrawardi, cannot be categorized as necessary,
possible, or otherwise; existence is simply a universal.22 This premise undermines Ibn
Sinas proof, which is based on the idea that existents either exist because of their own
essence or because of the essence of another existent. In effect, when Suhrawardi
questions the idea of different types of existents that cause each others existence, he is
attacking the origin aspect of Ibn Sinas proof. Suhrawardis vagueness about the origin
of a movement of the mind could be understood as a similar hesitancy to make claims
about original cause. Suhrawardi may not be hesitant to ascribe origins and causes in the
rest of this theology, but it seems unfitting to do it so near a criticism of Ibn Sina.
Read in this context, it may be possible to also understand the vagueness in Thomass
account of the movement of the mind as an intentional authorial device meant to separate
Thomas from a tradition that is not exactly his own, but nonetheless forms the intellectual
backdrop of his discussion of images: the Byzantine theology of icons. Eastern Christian
thought is as detailed in its description of the interaction between the viewer and the icon
as Thomas is vague. To adore an icon, for Eastern Christian theologians, was to adore the
prototype. Saints and Christ, therefore, are depicted facing the viewer, as a profile view
was thought to interrupt the direct contact between the viewer and the prototype.23 In
his Thologie de licne, Lonide Ouspensky argues that the icon was meant to allow
Eastern Christians to close the doors of their senses, that they might better see the
opportunities for grace open up between them and the icon.24 Faced with such a detailed
understanding of the process of mimesis in divine images, and of what happens between
the viewer and the prototype during adoration, it is possible that Thomas sought to
separate himself from this tradition by shrouding the actual process of engaging with a
mimetic work in mystery.


Suhrawardi, 45.
Suhrawardi, 46.
Ouspensky, 169.
Ouspensky, 162.


Aquinas, St Thomas. Summa Theologica. Christian Classics. . Translated by Fathers of
the English Dominican Province. New York: Ave Maria Press, 1948.
Aristotle. On Memory and Reminiscence. Translated by John Isaac Beare. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1908.
Kenna, Margaret. Icons in Theory and Practice: An Orthodox Christian
Example. History of Religions 24, (1985).
Ouspensky, Lonide. Thologie De l'Icne. Paris: Les ditions du Cerf, 1980.
Pelikan, Jaroslav. Imago Dei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.
Suhrawardi, Shahab ad-Din. The Philosophy of Illumination [Hikmat al-Ishraaq].
Translated by John Walbridge and Hossein Ziai. Provo, UT: Brigham Young
University Press, 1999.

Chase Padusniak, College of the Holy Cross

Ah utu u we geornor to Gode cleopigan: The Fates of the Apostles as

Participatory Poetry
Often dismissed as one of the more obscure and ineffective of Cynewulfs poems, The
Fates of the Apostles1 actually emphasizes the participation of its audience through its probable
source material, a complex structural coherence, and its emphasis on prayerful reflection on
exemplars. It is less a tedious martyrology and more a penitential poem interested in the
relationship between mans sin and Gods judgment.
This works likely sources, being passions and not martyrologies, suggest that The Fates
of the Apostles was not drawn from a purely informative tradition, but from a literary tradition
directed at inspiring pathos and reflection. Due to its list-like presentation of material, it was
originally thought that a martyrology, most likely that of Bede, was the basis for this work: in
an earlier edition G.P. Krapp had chosen Bedes Martyrology as a source for Fates.2 And even
though this text provided much of the information found in Cynewulfs poem, this consensus
was shaken by the publication of Henri Quentins path-breaking investigation of the medieval
martyrological tradition.3 Quentin determined that what have been termed Bedes
Martyrologies, which exist in two separate versions, are actually later compilations. He
demonstrated conclusively that the authentic martyrology of the Venerable Bede was a relatively
short text, differing from both published versions.4 The later versions could not fit the time
period to which Cynewulfs work has been dated nor could the now-lost original of Bede have
provided all the necessary information.5 With the traditional sources discarded, scholars began
searching for new possibilities; it was only in this new atmosphere that more literary sources for
the poem were proposed.
Due to the pseudo-Bede texts no longer qualifying as direct sources, scholars began to
look to fuller accounts as primary sources for Cynewulfs poem, casting its literary merit in an
entirely new light. In a detailed investigation of the possible sources, J.E. Cross compared four
different texts that were written or compiled early enough to have been consulted by
Cynewulf6 with the text of The Fates of the Apostles. He determined that none of them
individually nor all of them collectively could have provided Cynewulf with all his factual
details.7 None of them mention that Philipus ws / mid Asseum8 or that Thomas raised a man
from the dead ond him ws Gad nama9 among other details. As Cynewulfs order differs from
each of theirs, none of the sources give an adequate listing. Cross believed that full accounts of
the Apostles lives had to have been used as the basis for the poem: Cynewulf gained all his


All translations of the poem are adapted from Boenig, Robert, trans. Fates of the Apostles, Anglo-Saxon
Spirituality: Selected Writings. Ed. Bernard McGinn, et al. New York: Paulist Press, 2000. 190-193.
Cross, J.E., Cynewulfs Traditions about the Apostles in The Fates of the Apostles, The Cynewulf Reader,
(London: Routledge, 2001), 79.
McCulloh, John M., Did Cynewulf Use a Martyrology? Reconsidering the Sources of The Fates of the Apostles,
Anglo-Saxon England 29 (Jan. 2000), 67.
McCulloh, Martyrology, 69.
Cross, Traditions about the Apostles, 70.
Ibid., 79.
Brooks, Kenneth R., Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1961), 57, 37b-38a.
Ibid., l. 57b.

distinctive information from full accounts of the Apostles. This information alsooffers a
possible explanation for the order in which the Apostles are treated.10 In other words, none of
the known sources could have served as the sole source for Cynewulf. At the same time, it would
seem he required fuller accounts of the Apostles lives to account for details such as James
death mid Iudeum.11 Such more extensive versions of saints lives could have involved more
embellishment and mostly likely provided Cynewulf with more background information with
which to work. As opposed to calendar-based martyrologies, such sources provide a more
imaginative basis for a poem long disregarded as a simple list.
With Quentins and Crosss studies paving the way, it became more apparent that actual
passions may have been used as the basis for the poem, bolstering its claim to literary credit. In
his later study of the possible sources for The Fates of the Apostles, John M. McCulloh provides
a comparative analysis of the information in the possible sources and the information found in
the poem: we will review the martyrological entries and the corresponding notices in the
Breviarium apostolorum in the order in which the Apostles appear in Cynewulf's poem.12 He
notes many areas in which the work in question does not match the information provided in the
plausible source material; his comparison yields mostly negative results.13 Bartholomew, for
example, is described in great depth in Cynewulfs account, occupying seven lines.14 His fate is
decently detailed: hen ond hygeblind, heafde beneotan, / foran he a hengild hyran ne
wolde, / wig weorian.15 The Breviarum apostolorum, which shows the most similarity to
Cynewulfs account, is not as detailed, has a different name for Bartholomews persecutor, and
makes no mention of the antagonists paganism.16 This information with regard to paganism is,
however, available in some of the longer passions.17 And so, yet again, a collection of multiple
passions provides the best explanation for the texts descriptions.
Although it is possible that the poet gathered sources from many different places,
justifying his claim to seocum sefan, samnode wide,18 such an option seems unlikely. Such
words are often regarded as a trope of poetic language. Brooks calls these declarations merely
conventional expressions.19 It is possible that multiple sources were, in fact, used, but a singular
collection of passions seems the most likely option: such a collection could, in short, account
for nearly all of the characteristic features of The Fates of the Apostles.20 It would explain the
descriptive deficiencies in the available sources, cast light on why Cynewulfs order differs from
those of other texts, and provide an explanation for why the Apostles were chosen as their own
hagiographical group.21 Although such a solution must remain hypothetical until such a
manuscript is found, it remains the hypothesis that best accounts for the differences between the
surviving possible sources and Cynewulfs poem.22


Cross, Traditions about the Apostles, 90.

Brooks, Andreas and Fates of the Apostles, 57, l. 35a.
McCulloh, Martyrology, 75.
Ibid., 82.
Ibid., 77.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 57, ll. 46-48a. Translation: a heathen blind in spirit, commanded
his head / be severed because he would not submit to paganism, / worship an idol.
McCulloh, Martyrology, 78.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 56, ll. 2. Translation: sick in spirit, gathered it far and wide.
Ibid., xxx.
McCulloh, Martyrology, 83.


Given that the poet used a whole work, most likely a collection of passions of the
Apostles, as his source, The Fates of the Apostles is a work capable of great literary and
imaginative merit. When viewed solely as a martyrology or a list, the poem becomes boring.
James L. Boren quotes an early scholar of the work as saying the Fata Apostolorum would
hardly have attracted attention if Cynewulfs acrostic had not been attached to it23 and another
as stating that the poem has no literary merit.24 Seen in this new light, however, the words of
G.P. Krapp become prophetic: it is not improbable that Cynewulf attached a higher value to the
poem than the modern reader is inclined to do.25 When the source is viewed as an imaginative
passion of the saints as opposed to just a calendar-based list of the martyrs, it becomes clear that
poetic liberty can be taken. If the purpose of Cynewulfs source was not simply to inform about
feast days but to present a story about an exemplary holy person, then it is not improbable that
The Fates of the Apostles attempts something similar. While litanies of the saints and
martyrologies may have impacted its composition, this poem is cast in an entirely new light
when viewed through the lens of longer passion literature. It becomes less a stale list and
something imaginative that the poet is presenting to a readership, validating the speakers
eventual exhortation to ah utu we e geornor / to Gode cleopigan, / sendan use bene on a
beorhtan gesceaft.26 In this view, this work is more akin to Cynewulfs Juliana, also the passion
of a saint, than Bedes Martyrology.
In a similar vein, an examination of the works structural coherence suggests that it is far
too consciously crafted and cohesive to be a simple listing, thereby emphasizing its imaginative
merit. Starting from the point that poets rarely publish signed works of which they are
ashamed,27 D.R. Howlett detects a series of structural parallels in The Fates of the Apostles. He
notes that the saints themselves are broken down into two groups: western and eastern, the
former beginning with a pair of saints and the latter ending with a pair of saints: Sume on
Romebyrig, frame fyrdhwate / Petrus ond Paulus.28 The first saints mentioned are Petrus on
Paulus, a grouping who died in the West at Romebyrig. The following death is Swylce
Andreas in Achagia,29 followed by saints who meet death in the west at Effesia,30 and in
Gearapolim.31 The last saints mentioned are a pair: Simon ond Thaddeus, beornas
beadurofe.32 They are preceded by several Apostles who die in in Albano,33 on Indea,34 and
in other occidental places. The penultimate site is the Holy Land35 in both sections: mid


Boren, James L., Form and Meaning in Cynewulfs Fates of the Apostles, The Cynewulf Reader, (London:
Routledge, 2001), 57.
Hieatt, Constance B., The Fates of the Apostles: Imagery, Structure, and Meaning, The Cynewulf Reader,
(London: Routledge, 2001), 67.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 59, ll.115-116. Translation: But let us be keen to call out to God,
/ send our prayers into that bright place.
Howlett, D.R., Se giddes begang of The Fates of the Apostles, English Studies 56.5 (1975), 385.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 56, ll. 11b-12a, 14a. Translation: Some in Rome in Rome / bold,
brave / Peter and Paul.
Ibid., l. 16. Translation: Likewise Andreas in Achaia.
Ibid., 57, l. 30a. Translation: Ephesus.
Ibid., l. 40b. Translation: in Hieropolis.
Ibid., 58, ll. 76b-77a. Translation: Simon and Thaddeus, battle-bold men.
Ibid., 57, l. 45b. Translation: in Albania.
Ibid., l. 51a. Translation: of India.
Howlett, Se giddes begang, 386.



Iudeum Iacob sceolde / fore Herode36 and hyrde we t Iacob in Ierusalem / fore sacerdum
swilt rowode.37 Not only is there rhyme in the first death, drawing attention to its significance,
but the phrases fore Herode and fore sacerdum provide a parallel between these events.
Other deaths are offered in similar phrasings as well: swylce Andreas in Achagia / for Egias
alder genede38 and swylce Thomas riste genede.39 Swylce and genede occur in both.
Although they may be poetic formulae, Howlett rejects this view, considering them intended
parallels between the second saintly deaths in each half of the poem.40 And so, the structuring is
too intentional to be haphazard, lending credence to the idea that this poem is carefully and
coherently structured while being based on imaginative and literary sources.
Along with the parallelism found in the deaths of the saints, there exists a basic pattern
of elements41 in each individual martyrdom, betraying a deeply and consciously structured
poem. Each death involves an obvious verbal embodiment of a paradox.42 These can be seen
as either self-contained or as being united by an overall pattern of paradox based uponhe that
loseth his life for my sake shall find it and Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54) as
well as by the pervasive light-dark imagery and the journey symbolism.43 In this way, we can
see that St. Bartholomews fate becomes undyrne44 because of the hygeblind45 nature of his
persecutor. Similarly, all of the Apostles gave up their lives and won eternal glory:46 us a
elingas ende gesealdon, / twelfe tilmodigel tir unbrcne / wegan on gewitte wuldres
egnas.47 The paradoxes of blindness bringing light and of death bringing glory and new life are
structurally part of the poem. Constance B. Hieatt goes on to see examples of paradox in each of
the Apostles deaths. She concludes that the poem is obviously far more meaningful and rich
than it has ever been given credit for being.48 It is a poem that effectively uses structural
paradox in order to highlight the glory brought by the Christian journey. Read in conjunction
with the speakers exhortation to pray for him at the end, such paradoxes provide a way of
calling attention to these saints as exemplars of holiness.
Besides structural paradoxes used to unite the narrative and draw attention to the
sacrifices made by the Apostles, the poem exhibits parallelism of structure between each of the
individual martyrdoms. James L. Boren detects a nominative, or A, element, an instrumental, or
B, element, and a locative, or C, element49 in the account of each death. These patterns vary from
part to part.50 Consider sume on Romebyrig / urg Nerones near<r>we searwe, / Petrus ond


Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 57, ll. 35-36a. Translation: James had to / [lose his life] before
Ibid., 58, ll. 70-71. Translation: We have heard that James in Jerusalem / was done to death before the priests.
Ibid., 56, ll. 16-17. Translation: Likewise Andrew in Achaia / laid his life at risk before Aegius.
Ibid. 57, l. 50. Translation: Likewise Thomas valiantly ventured.
Howlet, Se giddes begang, 387.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 58.
Hieatt, Imagery, Structure, and Meaning, 74.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 57, l. 42b. Translation: unhidden.
Ibid., l. 46a. Translation: spirit-blind.
Hieatt, Imagery, Structure, and Meaning, 75.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 58, ll. 85-87. Translation: thus those princes, twelve proud ones,
met their ends. / Unending glory they bore in their hearts, honors thanes.
Hieatt, Imagery, Structure, and Meaning, 76.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 58.



Paulus51 and swylce Andreas in Achagia / for Egias alder gende.52 In the former, the order of
elements is CBA or Romebyrig, Nerones, then Petrus ond Paulus. In the latter, it is ABC
or Andreas, Egias, and Achagia. This pattern repeats and changes throughout the text, but
is used not only for structuring but also for poetic effect.53 Iohanne,54 for instance, is in
Effesia,55 but the instrumental element this time is Criste.56 The pattern returns to a basic
ABC formation, but the dramatic impact of the poets variation is considerable, heightened by
what one should read as a narrative pause at Hwt of line 23.57 Christ occupies the position
usually given to the persecutor. The impact is dramatic as an established pattern is used to
emphasize the martyrs closeness to God as well as the Lords salvific power. In this light, the
poem becomes a more cohesive whole and not simply a list of martyrdoms.
Via a similar structure, the fates of the apostolic martyrs are also tied to the fate of the
speaker. His mentioning of his own fate displays an ABABACCA order,58 which is an elaborate
version of the structure found throughout the work.59 He is the A element, the ic60 while
beorn61 and freonda62 form the B portion. The C part is composed of langne ham63 and
eardwic uncu.64 As the speaker is not an original follower of Christ, his future is uncu
unlike that of the Apostles, but much like that of the reader.65 Because his fate is unknown, he
needs the prayers of his freonda. And so, his experience and future are very different from that
of the Apostles: for if the apostles deaths are brutal, these are nevertheless compensated for by
the promise of salvation, which is an uncertainty in the case of[this]man.66 Yet he is
identified with them through a parallelism of structure, by his own prayer being given a complex
order of elements akin to that given to the apostolic martyrs. This structural pattern becomes a
means for the sigeomor67 speaker to identify himself with the suffering Apostles and thereby
to ask for prayers. What seems a purely structural component is actually used to link the persona
to his subject matter and to ask for the prayers he will need to find salvation akin to that of the
Apostles whose deaths he recounts.
In a similar light, this prayer for salvation acts as a penitential call, asking the audience to
participate in the salvific work of the poem. We have already seen how the poems sources and
structure betray that it is a coherent piece rife with imaginative possibility. The poet exploits
such possibility by pairing the sorrowful tone at the beginning of the piece with the paradoxes
present throughout the work. It opens on a sad note: <H>wt, ic ysne sang sigeomor fand /


Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 56, ll. 11b, 13a-14b. Translation: some in Rome / Through
Neros narrow snares / Peter and Paul.
Ibid., ll. 16-17. Translation: Likewise Andreas in Achaia / laid his life at risk before Aegius.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 59.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 56, l. 23b. Translation: John.
Ibid., 57, l. 30a. Translation: Ephesus.
Ibid., 56, 26b. Translation: Christ.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 59.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 58, ll. 88a-93a.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 61.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 58, l. 87a. Translation: I.
Ibid., l. 87b. Translation: man.
Ibid., 59, l. 91b. Translation: friends.
Ibid., l. 92b. Translation: long home, meaning the afterlife.
Ibid., l. 93a. Translation: unknown dwelling.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 61.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 56, l. 1b. Translation: sick-sorrowful, but, as mentioned below,
perhaps best translated as weary of travel or weary of life.



on seocum sefan.68 The speaker is sigeomor, variously glossed as weary of travel69 and
weary of life70 among other definitions. Others have even seen a possible physical dimension
to the word due to its proximity to on seocum sefan, meaning sick in spirit71 or sick at
heart.72 Either way, the term is not a positive one. The speaker also exhorts the reader to pray
for his soul if the poem has been pleasing: sie s gemyndig mann se e lufige / isses galdres
begang, t he geoce me/ ond frofre fricle.73 The opening with the personal and elegiac ic,
however, points to a purpose profoundly associated with the poet's own spiritual condition which
has led him to a meditation on the journeys of the Apostles from this life to their heavenly
reward.74 He has contemplated the Apostles and their demises and rewards because he is
sigeomor. And so, the aforementioned structural ties between the Apostles and the speaker
become a part of his reflection. His sadness reflects upon the paradoxes found in the deaths of
the saints.
Yet, he seems unsure of his fate. The Apostles were guaranteed salvation because of
their closeness to the Son of Man. The author will not be so lucky. So the poem itself becomes a
form of penance, of asking for the prayers of his fellow men, especially if he ends up in
Purgatory. Cynewulfs poetry is known for its calls to prayer and penance75 and an Anglo-Saxon
belief in Purgatory is attested to in Bede.76 Such a fear of judgment is also consistent with the
tone found in The Dream of the Rood. And so, the speakers fears are entirely possible for a man
of his era. This desire for prayers may even explain the inclusion of Cynewulfs signature,
though this requires a conflation of speaker and poet that is, at best, tentative.77 Seen this way,
the imaginative possibility inherent in the sources is exploited by the poet through structural
paradoxes in order to reflect upon the human condition and, ultimately, to repent.
The poem is, however, not just a penitential call, but a participatory exercise, in which
the speaker invites the audience to take part. After his own request for prayers,78 the persona
gives a more general exhortation, calling his brothers and sisters to similar penitential exercises:
Ah utu we e geornor to Gode cleopigan, / sendan use bene on a beorhtan gesceaft, / t we
s bottles brucan motan.79 The shift here is from the ic,80 which is used twice in the
previous ten lines, to the we81 of this portion of the work. The sigeomor82 speaker with his


Ibid., ll. 1-2a.

Ibid., 119.
Marafioti, Nicole, The Sigeomor Speaker and his Sources, in Cynewulfs The Fates of the Apostles, Notes and
Queries (June 2008), 120.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 59, ll. 107-109a. Translation: Be mindful of this, the man who
loves the whole of this song, that he help me to find comfort.
Rice, Robert C., The Penitential Motif in Cynewulfs Fates of the Apostles and His Epilogues, Anglo-Saxon
England 6 (1977), 107.
Elliott, Ralph W.V., Cynewulfs Runes in Juliana and The Fates of the Apostles, English Studies 34: 1-6
(1953), 204.
Rice, Penitential Motif, 108.
Ibid., 110.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 59, ll. 107-114.
Ibid., ll. 115-117. Translation: But let us be keen to call out to God, / send our prayers into that bright place, /
that we may have that hall.
Ibid., ll. 109b, 111.
Ibid., 115a.
Ibid., 56, l. 1b.



personal request for prayer[s]83 for his soul is no longer the issue. Now the goal is for all of the
audience to possess hames in heho.84 The audience must join his prayer and to Gode
cleopigan for each of their salvations; they must all do penance and look at the Apostles as
exemplars of holy virtue. The paradoxes inherent in these saints lives--light in darkness, sight in
blindness, and life in death--become central points of contemplation for both the persona and the
audience in their penitential prayers. Nicole Marafioti has even suggested that Cynewulf gained
source material by listening to litanies and hagiographies while sick in a monastery.85 While this
claim may be extreme and require a conflation of poet and persona, its verification would only
add more of a participatory aspect to the poem, as there would have originally been a listener
hearing and reacting to the source material as a kind of medicine.86 Regardless, this poem is one
in which the speaker calls out to the audience and asks them to join him in prayer, to participate,
and to Gode cleopigan.
In terms of source material, structure, and invitation for audience participation, The Fates
of the Apostles is a complex and coherent work, not a simple list of martyrs deaths. It is most
likely based on a compiled group of passions, which would have given the poet a greater degree
of imaginative material with which to work, and not on martyrologies. Critics have identified
complex structural patterns throughout the text, which tie the speaker to his subject matter and
set the stage for his penitential prayer and eventual exhortation to audience participation. And
while there is always the danger of the critic working harder than the author, the number of
parallels detected at least preclude viewing the poem as having no literary merit87 or as being
only memorial verse.88 It is a work in which the speaker dramatically says that wic sindon
uncu, / eard and eel. Swa bi lcum menn, / neme he godcundes gastes bruce.89 Such
uncertainty leads him to call out to his fellow human beings, to his audience, to pray not only for
him but with him. They are to participate in penance, to look to the Apostles as exemplars, and
ultimately and most importantly to Gode cleopigan.90


Bammesberger, Alfred, Old English Ende Gesealdon (Fates of the Apostles, Line 85b), Notes and Queries
(June 2009), 170.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 59, l. 118a.
Marafioti, Sigeomor Speaker, 121-122.
Ibid., 121.
Boren, Form and Meaning, 57.
Brooks, Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, 59, ll. 112b-114. Translation: Unknown are the dwellings, / house
and homeland, just as it is for everyone, / unless he possess a sacred spirit.
Ibid, l. 115b.



Bammesberger, Alfred, Old English Ende Gesealdon (Fates of the Apostles, Line 85b). Notes
and Queries (June 2009): 170-171.
Boenig, Robert, trans. The Fates of the Apostles, Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings.
Ed. Bernard McGinn, et al. New York: Paulist Press, 2000. 190-193.
Boren, James L., Form and Meaning in Cynewulfs Fates of the Apostles. The Cynewulf
Reader. London: Routledge, 2001. 57-65.
Brooks, Kenneth R., ed., Andres and the Fates of the Apostles. Oxford: The Clarendon Press,
Cross, J.E., Cynewulfs Traditions about the Apostles in The Fates of the Apostles. The
Cynewulf Reader. London: Routledge, 2001. 79-93.
Elliott, Ralph W.V., Cynewulfs Runes in Juliana and The Fates of the Apostles. English
Studies 34. 1-6 (1953): 193-204.
Hieatt, Constance B., The Fates of the Apostles: Imagery, Structure, and Meaning. The
Cynewulf Reader. London: Routledge, 2001. 67-77.
Howlett, D.R., Se giddes begang of The Fates of the Apostles. English Studies 56.5 (1975):
Marafioti, Nicole, The Sigeomor Speaker and his Sources, in Cynewulfs The Fates of the
Apostles. Notes and Queries (June 2008): 119-122.
McCulloh, John M., Did Cynewulf Use a Martyrology? Reconsidering the Sources of The Fates
of the Apostles. Anglo-Saxon England 29 (Jan. 2000): 67-83.
Rice, Robert C., The Penitential Motif in Cynewulfs Fates of the Apostles and His Epilogues.
Anglo-Saxon England 6 (1977): 105-119.


Taylor Ladd, Harvard University

Language and Enlightenment in the 8th-Century Platform Sutra

In the 8th century AD, a record of the teachings of Hui-neng, a founder of Zen
Buddhism, was compiled into what is now known as The Platform Sutra. The work contains
references to Chan/Zen in many different contexts. The idea is one that is hard to define,
even for those who are said to be 'awakened'. Yet Zen is a central tenet of Chinese Buddhism,
and one that supports many of its principles. Throughout the text, Chan appears in
descriptions that do not necessarily and fully agree with each other. These contradictions help
to describe the character of Chinese Buddhism in its complexity and dislike towards the
reliance on words and language. Further, they help to illustrate a tension between Northern
and Southern sects of the religion.
In The Platform Sutra, The Master Hui-neng refers to the idea of sitting in
meditation,1 or tso-chan. He states that If you activate your mind to view purity without
realizing that your own nature is originally pure, delusions of purity will be produced.2 He
goes on to say that some people try to postulate the form of purity and consider this to be
Chan practice3 and that People who hold this view obstruct their own original natures and
end up being bound by purity.4 In this way, he asserts that chan cannot be upheld by
viewing the mind5 or viewing purity,6 in that trying to define these concepts restricts the
development of a persons mind and creates boundaries to their enlightenment. He advocates
a lack of active thought and obstruction while sitting in meditation.7
Later on in the text, The Master Hui-neng considers the role of Chan meditation,8
or chan-ting, in Chinese Buddhism. Some of the ideas associated with this concept
contradict the principles of tso-chan. While Chan meditation adheres to some of the same
ideas as tso-chan in that we want to revert to the original mind,9 when we consider the
concept of viewing and using the mind, there is a division between tso-ch'an and Ch'an. In
tso-chan (sitting in meditation), the act of thinking too much about purity and trying to
quantify it leads to the obstruction of original nature by being bound by purity. In this way,
people can be confused and misled by overthinking a concept. However, in Chan meditation,
one can become deluded simply by circumstances10 and must work to maintain a state of
un-confusion. Therefore, in contrast to the former idea, they should make a conscious mental
effort to limit the effect of random life factors on their psyche. The contradiction lies in
whether the follower of The Master Hui-nengs words should constantly be thinking and
maintaining their psyche, or whether this actually causes more harm than good.


Philip B. Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of the Tun-Huang Manuscript with
Translation Introduction, and Notes. Trans. Philip B. Yampolsky. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.
Pg. 139.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 139-140.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 140.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 139.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 140.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 141.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 140.


This is a very small inconsistency in the text, but it alludes to a larger issue within the
Chinese Buddhist tradition, and this is the problem of language. There is a distrust of
language, as many Buddhists throughout the ages felt that it was not an efficient way to
express the bounty within the brain. It is ironic, however, because language itself is needed to
express distrust in language. So this inconsistency in The Platform Sutra shows the difficulty
with which the Buddhas had to cope when explaining the complex ideas surrounding
enlightenment. This becomes especially apparent with respect to the description of
meditation, in which one sits in a state both of a lack of thought and an intense focus of
thought. This is not something easy to explain and express, and this is what accounts for
much of the circular and unclear language used within The Platform Sutra.
Another parallel that can be drawn from this contradiction has to do with the two
differing sects of Chinese Buddhism: the Northern school or the gradual and the Southern
school or the sudden. An analysis of the principle of Chan mediation can be equated to the
Northern school in that constant maintenance of a state of un-confusion is required to prevent
delusion by the circumstances of life. This is similar to the gradual idea of the Northern
school, which is the idea that enlightenment can only be attained gradually and through
constant and slow work. On the other hand, tso-chan or sitting in meditation, can be
equated to the Southern school in that it warns against overthinking purity and the mind, and
assumes a natural understanding and possession of purity that does not need to be maintained,
just cultivated with the help of the right teachers. In this way, it relates to the Southern
school, whose main principle is the sudden, in that it assumes that the potential for
enlightenment is within each person, and that they just need the right practices to bring it out.
In this way, the aforementioned textual inconsistency also draws attention to and illustrates
the differences between the two schools of Chinese Buddhism.
Throughout The Platform Sutra, The Master Hui-neng is depicted as a saintly figure
and is canonized by the thousands of monks, nuns, officials, and laymen that gathered to hear
his sermon. They beg him to preach on the Dharma, and they record his words for the benefit
of future students. Once he is done, they exclaim that his words were boundless11 and that
they had never heard something of the sort. They also remark on how Ling-nan [was] so
fortunate as to have had a Buddha born there.12 This saintly depiction of Hui-neng relates
back to Mencius idea of the moral sprouts, the concept that humans are innately good and
moral, and that they remain good and moral as long as they are in the right environments.
Though The Master Hui-neng was born into poverty and misfortune and lived in a barbaric
region, he was able to leave and come under the guidance of the Fifth Patriarch. In this
environment, he was able to cultivate his understanding of The Way and the other
philosophies of Chinese Buddhism. Though he had within him all along the potential to
become a Buddha, it wasnt until he was in the right environment that he received the
Dharma and the transformation was complete.
The Platform Sutra's depiction of Hui-neng also relates to the concept in the Daode
Jing of the Uncarved Block. The Uncarved Block refers to the ideal state of humans as
existing in their natural state and avoiding human constraints and materialistic values. When
The Master Hui-neng first arrived to the temple of the Fifth Patriarch, he was called a
barbarian for where he came from, to which he responded: Although my barbarians body
and your body are not the same, what difference is there in our Buddha nature?13 In this
way, he is rejecting a human constraint and attempting to return to the essence of human
nature. He is saying that it does not matter where he was born, due to the fact that
enlightenment is within the reach of all that put themselves in an environment to receive it.


The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 155.

The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 162.
The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Pg. 127-128.


It is because of these reasons and the fundamental principles of Buddhism that The
Platform Sutra represents that Hui-neng was canonized by those that surrounded him to hear
his preaching. As an enlightened Buddha, he represented the ideals that Chinese Buddhists
valued and found relatable. Though he struggled a bit with clarity and consistency in his
rhetoric, he still had a way of reaching the people in a powerful way that, despite language
barriers, could help bring them to enlightenment.


Penelope Day, University of Exeter

Contrasting Attitudes of Pleasure and Moderation:

A Comparative Study of Rabelais Le Quart Livre and Montaignes Sur des
Vers de Virgile and De lexperience
In the sixteenth century, both Rabelais and Montaigne use pleasure as a central theme
within their texts, advocating it to an extent that could be deemed hedonistic. They explicitly
praise it as necessary and, to a degree, virtuous. To prove this, each argues that a balanced,
moderate life requires some indulgence. It is precisely this, however, that leads one to
question the extent to which pleasure is advocated above all else in their texts. The
mediocrity they promote is neither one of complete self-denial nor one of excess, and seems
to encourage the inclusion but not the idolization of pleasure. My proposal, then, is that
pleasure is valued as secondary to moderation. In exploring this, I will place my attention
primarily on Rabelais Le quart livre and Montaignes Sur des vers de Virgile and De
lexperience from his Essais.
Le quart livre considers the theme of pleasure through the characters of
Quaresmeprenant and the Andouilles. Rabelais uses these as representations of Lent (the
forty day Christian period of reflection and fasting) and Carnival (analogous to the Christian
festival of Shrove Tuesday traditionally marked by feasting and celebration). With this he
contrasts periods of self-restraint and pleasure-seeking. He portrays the characters as
enemies, placing them in opposition to one another, and his depictions of them are indicative
of his approach towards the extremes of limitation and luxury. He describes
Quaresmeprenant, and implicitly Lent and its concepts of restraint, as dictateur de
Moustardois: fouetteur de petitz enfansfoisonnant en pardons, indulgences, et stations1
(dictator of Mustardland, a whipper of small children all over pardons, indulgences and
solemn masses).2 This clear satire of Roman Catholicism indicates Rabelais disapproval of
the extreme prohibition on physical pleasure implemented by the Church, and the strength of
the imagery he uses here paints a repugnant and dishonorable picture of Quaresmeprenant
and, therefore, of the total self-denial signified by Lent. Rabelais seems far more in favor of a
life that includes pleasure than one which expels it so harshly. In fact, he explicitly argues in
favor of physical delights: the enjoyment of alcohol, for example: Vous avez eu bonne
vine? ce que lon ma dict. Je nen serois en piece marry (p. 47).3 He synonymizes health
and living from the very beginning, as though health is essential to a fulfilling life but also as
though a fulfilling life is crucial to health: Ainsi donques vous estans de sant privez, cest-dire mors, saisissez vous du vif: saisissez vous de vie, cest sant (p. 51).4 Here then, in the
prologue, Rabelais places value on indulging oneself and implores his reader to embrace
lifes pleasures. This view of pleasure as a necessary and healthy part of human existence is
emphasized by Pantagruel, who demonstrates a humanistic view towards self-expectation,
particularly in his reaction towards Panurge after the scene of the storm: Si paour il a eu
durant ce Colle horrible et perilleux Fortunal je ne len estime un pelet moins (p. 255).5
1 Franois Rabelais, Le Quart Livre, ed. by Mireille Huchon, Folio Classique (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), p. 297.
2 Franois Rabelais, The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel, trans. by J.M. Cohen (Middlesex: Penguin
Books Ltd, 1955), p. 512.
3 Youve had a good vintage, so I have been told, and I should be the last person to be sorry Rabelais, ibid., p.
4 So, when you are deprived of health that is to say dead seize the quick, seize health, which is life
Rabelais, ibid., p. 440.
5 If he was afraid during that awful turmoil and in the perils of the storm I dont think a jot the less of him


Rabelais uses Pantagruel as a mouthpiece for the idea that no one is perfect, illustrating an
understanding and realistic position on human conduct. From this perspective, frivolous
pleasures would not warrant condemnation, but rather would be considered justifiable as part
of human existence. It is therefore with confidence that one can interpret Rabelais as propleasure.
This is not to say that his accolade of pleasure goes so far as to prioritize it above all
else. Though he may not have presented Quaresmeprenant positively, his counterpart, the
Andouilles, are not spoken of admirably either. In fact, by naming the unpleasant
representative of Lent Quaresmeprenant, meaning Carnival, a word associated with
pleasure, and by giving the scene including the Andouilles a fun yet threatening edge, with
sausages climbing trees but battle ensuing, Rabelais creates a confused image of both and
indicates neither party as wholly perfect nor imperfect. Secondly, while he writes
disapprovingly of Quaresmeprenant, he does not suggest his annihilation (or the abolition of
Lent), but rather a compromise between him and the Andouilles (Lent and Carnival): Je me
y emploiray de bien bon cur : et ny espargneray du mien pour contemporer et amodier les
conditions controverses entre les deux parties (p. 343).6 This suggests that Rabelais does
recognize value in limits regarding pleasure. His discussion of the Papimanes perhaps deals
most directly with this topic. Pantagruel notes two things at their feast: "Lune, que viande ne
feut apporte, quelle que feust en laquelle ny eust abondance de farce magistrale. Laultre,
que tout le sert et dessert feut port par les filles pucelles mariables du lieu, belles" (pp. 451453).7 It is evident that the Papimanes enjoy unmitigated extravagance and given the manner
in which they are portrayed, we cannot help but interpret their revelling in luxuries as an
indication that this might not be an honorable habit. Having just read about the Papefigues,
paouvres, mal heureux, et subjectz aux Papimanes (p. 407).8 We are struck by the bad taste
and vulgar excess of the feast of Homenaz. In addition to this, Homenaz is portrayed as a
hypocritical man. While he presents himself as a man of religion, he reveals a cruel nature
when discussing punishment of the heretics: non seulement leurs corps, et de leurs enfans et
parens aultres occire, mais aussi leurs ames damner au parfond de la plus ardente chauldiere
qui soit en Enfer (p. 449).9 His punishments, like his feast, lack any temperance whatsoever.
The Papimanes are depicted as an unpleasant people and are a clear symbol of the papal court
of the time with its extortionate wealth and misplaced focus on the institutional power of the
Church rather than on the message of faith. Hence, they are used to illustrate that pleasureseeking in its excesses can be dishonorable.
It is thus with moderation that Rabelais supports indulgence. He directly refers to the
virtuous nature of moderation: Mediocrit a est par les saiges anciens dicte aure, cest
dire precieuse, de tous loue, en tous endroictz agreable" (p. 53).10 It takes center stage as the
theme of the prologue, specifically in the fable of Couillatris. Rabelais uses this fable to
persuade his audience that a life of moderation is most honorable and rewarding, and this
must be remembered when considering his portrayal of pleasure as the ultimate goal. When
asked how good weather might be raised, or implicitly how the crew might have a good time
Rabelais, ibid., p. 500.
6 Ill put everything I have into arranging their differences and settling the dispute between these two parties
Rabelais, The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel, p. 525.
7 First, that no dish was brought in that had not a great deal of canonical stuffing Secondly, that the whole of
the first and second courses was served by the young marriageable maidens of the place Rabelais, ibid., p. 557.
8 poor and miserable, and subject to the Papimaniacs Rabelais, ibid., p. 544.
9 He must not only kill their bodies and those of their children and other relatives, but also damn their souls
to the bottom of the hottest cauldron in all Hell Rabelais, The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel, p. 556.
10 The wise men of old have called moderation golden, that is to say precious, universally praiseworthy, and
pleasing in all places Rabelais, ibid., p. 440.


aboard the ship, Pantagruel replies: Nous haulsans et vuidans les tasses sest pareillement le
temps hauls par occulte sympathie de Nature (p. 567).11 This refers to the rewards of
leisure in reasonable quantities and suggests that it is through this reasonable participation in
leisure that we might best satisfy ourselves and fulfil natures intentions for us. Based on this,
one can infer that not only does Rabelais advocate pleasure in terms of moderation but that
he, in fact, sees moderation as the necessary method through which pleasure can be achieved.
This perspective would render moderation the quality to which we should strive first and
foremost rather than pleasure.
Analysis of Rabelais language is also useful in our consideration of his attitude
towards moderation. His language can actually be deemed anything but moderate with its
bizarre flourishes and disproportionately long lists: Les ongles, comme une vrille. / Les
pieds, comme une guinterne. / Les talons, comme une massue. / La plante, comme un
creziou (p. 311).12 The immoderation of Rabelais' writing is perfectly in-keeping with his
views of immoderation. As we find ourselves confused and distracted by his wildly excessive
descriptions, we realize that we are lamenting the very excess that Rabelais himself criticizes.
It is at least arguable, then, that Rabelais mockingly employs such decadent language to
prove rather than just describe the flaws of overindulgence. Thus, in both content and
language, Rabelais sets up a plea, not only for pleasure but also and in fact primarily for
Similarly, Montaigne spends much of his Essais explicitly celebrating pleasure: Le
plaisir est des principals especes du profit13 (Pleasure is one of the principal kinds of
profit).14 He writes persuasively of the value of pleasure and portrays abstinence in the face
of gratification as nonsensical: Quel monstreux animal qui se fait horreur soy mesme, qui
ses plaisirs poisent; qui se tient mal-heur!15 (What a monstrous animal to be a horror to
himself, to be burdened by his pleasures, to regard himself as a misfortune!).16 He makes the
point that pleasure is natures mode of approval and that, therefore, to deny pleasure is to
deny nature: les actions que [Nature] nous a enjoinctes pour nostre besoing nous fussent
aussi voluptueuses, et nous y convie non seulement par la raison, mais aussi par lappetit:
cest injustice de corrompre ses regles (III.13, p. 319).17 In presenting pleasure as natures
intent, Montaigne renders the denial of pleasure both farcical and, to an extent, sinful. In one
sense he mocks men of self-restraint: que ne renoncent ils encores au respirer? (III.13, p.
319). 18 Having depicted pleasure as something that comes so naturally, Montaigne
humorously implies that there is no more logic behind refraining from pleasure than from
breathing. Here then, he taunts the figure of self-restraint, portraying him as a fool. In a rather
more grave sense, however, he implies aningratitude and even a transgression in these
characters. On fait tort ce grand et tout puissant donneur de refuser son don, lannuller et
11 As we raised and emptied our glasses, good weather has been raised likewise, by an occult sympathy of
Nature Rabelais, ibid., p. 591.
12 His nails like a gimlet. / His feet like guitars. / His heels like clubs ./ His soles like hanging-lamps
Rabelais, ibid., p. 516.
13 Michel de Montaigne, De Lexperience, (III.13) Les Essais, ed. by Alexandre Micha (Paris: GarnierFlammarion, 1969-1979), p. 299.
14 Michel de Montaigne, Of experience, (III.13) The Complete Works trans. by Donald M. Frame (London:
Everymans Library, 2003), p. 1017.
15 Michel de Montaigne, Sur Des Vers De Virgile, (III.5) Les Essais, ed. by Pierre Viley and V.-L. Saulnier
(Paris: PUF, 1965), p. 879.
16 Michel de Montaigne, On some verses of Virgil, (III.5) The Complete Works trans. by Donald M. Frame
(London: Everymans Library, 2003), p. 813.
17 the actions [Nature] has enjoined on us for our need should also give us pleasure; and she invites us to them
not only through reason, but also through appetite. Of experience (III.13), The Complete Works, p. 1036.
18 Why do they not also give up breathing? ibid., p. 1036


disfigurer. Tout bon, il a faict tout bon" (III.13, p. 325).19 Montaigne therefore, advocates
pleasure here by depicting its denial as sinful.
Building on this idea of wastefulness within the refusal of pleasure, Montaigne points
out that by aspiring to live a good life through constant self-restriction, one denies himself the
opportunity to experience life at all: Puisque on est au hazard de se mesconter, hazardons
nous plustost la suitte du plaisir" (III.13, p. 297).20 He raises the point that fear of living a
bad life will prevent you from living any life. He urges his reader towards a life of pleasure
rather than one of restraint, even if it may lead to error: Platon veut plus de mal lexcs du
dormir qu lexcs du boire (III.13, p. 307).21 Moreover, he argues that pleasure is not only
vital to really experiencing life, but that it is vital to leading a good life. As Cave puts it, he
offers a vision of how the good life may also be an enjoyable life, taking up in his own way
the ancient problem of reconciling virtue with pleasure.22 Montaigne writes: Il nest rien si
beau et legitime que de faire bien lhomme et deument, ny science si ardue que de bien et
naturellement savoir vivre cette vie (III.13, p. 322)23 He contemplates what a good life is
and what our ultimate goal ought to be and implies here that it should involve the
appreciation of pleasures made available to us. In "Que Philosopher, c'est apprendre
mourir," he writes: "Toutes les opinions du monde en sont l, que le plaisir est nostre but
en la vertu mesme, le dernier but de nostre visee, c'est la volupt"24 (All the opinions in the
world agree on this that pleasure is our goal in virtue itself the ultimate goal we aim at is
voluptuousness).25 Elsewhere, he points out that virtue itself is a pleasant quality: La vertu
est qualit plaisante et gaye (III.5, p. 845).26 He therefore portrays pleasure as inseparable
from virtue and suggests that a virtuous life must necessarily involve pleasure. This
undermines the virtue of self-denial and serves as a convincing argument for the enjoyment
of pleasure.
This plea for the appreciation of our natural inclinations is supported with several
current concepts of living: pauvre homme, tu as assez dincommoditez necessaires, sans les
augmenter par ton invention (III.5, p. 879).27 Here, the present-day idea of life being hard
enough without us making it harder for ourselves is put forth. Secondly, the contemporary
notion of living for the moment and enjoying pleasures while we can is promoted: mesure
que la possession du vivre est plus courte il me la faut rendre plus profonde et plus pleine
(III.13, p. 323).28 His third idea widely echoed in todays culture reminds us of Pantagruels
empathy for Panurge, stemming from the precept that we are not perfect: Nec divis homines
componier aequum est (III.5, p. 864).29 Montaigne refuses to be ashamed of himself just
19 We wrong that great and all-powerful Giver by refusing his gift, nullifying it, and disfiguring it. Himself all
good, he has made all things good. ibid., p. 1042
20 Since there is a risk of making a mistake, let us risk it rather in pursuit of pleasure, ibid., p. 1014
21 Plato is more set against excess in sleep than excess in drinking ibid., p. 1024.
22 Terence Cave, How to read Montaigne (London: Granta Books, 2007), p. 68.
23 There is nothing so beautiful and legitimate as to play the man well and properly, no knowledge so hard to
acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well and naturally, On experience (III.13), The Complete
Works, p. 1039.
24 Michel de Montaigne, Que Philosopher, c'est apprendre mourir, (I. 19), Les Essais, ed. by Pierre Viley and
V.-L. Saulnier (Paris: PUF, 1965), pp. 81-82.
25 Michel de Montaigne, That to philosophize is to learn to die, (I.20), The Complete Works trans. by Donald
M. Frame (London: Everymans Library, 2003), p. 67.
26 Virtue is a pleasant and gay quality (III.5) The Complete Works, p. 778.
27 poor man! You have enough necessary ills without increasing them by your invention, Sur Des Vers De
Virgile (III.5), The Complete Works, p. 814.
28 The shorter my possession of life, the deeper and fuller I must make it, On experience (III.13), The
Complete Works, p. 1040.
29 Nor is it fair to equal men with Gods, Sur Des Vers De Virgile (III.5), The Complete Works, p. 798.


because he is human.30 His admiration of basic human faculty can be extended to his
musings on pleasure to argue that human nature itself renders pleasure justifiable, if not
fundamental. To him, a neglect of pleasure seems an attempted rejection of human identity
and one which he reduces to laughable stupidity in his comedic yet astute line: Et au plus
eslev throne du monde, si ne sommes assis que sus nostre cul (III.13, p. 327)31 His radical
ideas, therefore, many of which resonate today, set out a deliberate encomium of general
This said, Sur des vers de Virgile applies many of these justifications of general
pleasure to the specific example of sexual pleasure. He portrays sex as natural: laction
genitale aux hommes, si naturelle, si necessaire et si juste (III.5, p. 847).32 This again
highlights the irrationality in shying away from what is instinctive to us. He also reinforces
the idea of ungratefulness in criticising the pleasures granted to us: Sommes nous pas bien
bruttes de nommer brutale loperation qui nous faict? (III.5, p. 878).33 Here, he questions our
disapproval of that which creates life in comparison with our less harsh judgement of that
which destroys it. In this quote, he also draws a parallel between what we are being and
precisely what we are trying not to be, arguing that it is more our disapproval of sex that
renders us brutish than the act of sex itself. This presents two reoccurring themes of the
chapter, the first being the idea that it is our attempt to limit sexual desire that makes us
beastly, not the sexual desire itself: Les Dieuxnous ont fourni dun membre inobedient et
tyrannique comme un animal furieux De mesme aux femmes, un animal glouton et
avide, auquel si on refuse aliments en sa saison, il forcene (III.5, p. 859).34 Aside from his
point that our sin lies in the neglect of Gods gifts, Montaigne also suggests here that
attempting to neglect sexual desire really only fuels it. The second theme to which I refer is
humans' portrayal as animalistic. Schneewind writes that in Apologie de Raymond Sebond,
Montaigne seems to be suggesting that we are as much a part of the natural world as the
animals are.35 We can build on this concept with further evidence found within Sur des vers
de Virgile where it reads: Ce bon homme, qui chastra tant de belles et antiques statues
pour ne corrompre la veue se devoit adviser que ce nestoit rien avancer, sil ne faisoit
encore chastrer et chevaux et asnes, et nature en fin (III.5, p. 859).36 By illustrating pleasure
and, in this case, sex as an inherent part of the natural world and by including us in that
world, he presents a sound argument for indulging in lifes pleasures.
At first glance, Montaigne could almost be considered Epicurean in his praise of
pleasure. Conversely, he shares Rabelais inclination towards moderation. Having praised the
passion of sex, he does also mention an occasion for pragmatism: Je ne vois point de
mariages qui faillent plustot et se troublent que ceux qui sacheminent par la beaut et desirs
amoreux cette bouillante allegresse ny vaut rien (III.5, p. 850). 37 In the context of
30 J.B. Schneewind, Montaigne on moral philosophy and the good life, The Cambridge Companion to
Montaigne, ed. by Ullrich Langer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 223.
31 And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting only on our own rump, On experience (III.13),
The Complete Works, p. 1044.
32 the sexual act, so natural, so necessary, and so just, Sur Des Vers De Virgile (III.5), The Complete Works,
p. 781.
33 Are we not brutes to call brutish the operation that makes us? ibid.p. 812.
34 The Gods have furnished us with a disobedient and tyrannical member like a furious animal To
women likewise they have given a gluttonous and voracious animal which, if denied its food in due season, goes
mad ibid., p. 793.
35 J.B. Schneewind, p. 213.
36 That good man who castrated so many beautiful ancient statues so that the eye might not be
corrupted should have called to mind that nothing was gained unless he also had horses and asses castrated,
and finally all nature, Sur Des Vers De Virgile (III.5), The Complete Works, p. 793.
37 I see no marriages that sooner are troubled and fail than those that progress by means of beauty and


marriage then, Montaigne diminishes the value of the pursuit of pleasure, supporting
rationality instead. He also considers ones obligation of duty within marriage: dpuis quon
sest submis lobligation, il sy faut tenir soubs les loix du debvoir commun (III.5, p.
852). 38 This counteracts his argument for pleasure to some extent, perhaps promoting
responsible behaviour. He, like Rabelais, openly accolades the virtue of moderation: Moy,
qui ay tant ador, et si universellement, cet ariston metron [golden mean] du temps pass et
ay pris pour la plus parfaicte la moyenne mesure (III.13, p. 313).39 Thus, to a degree,
Montaigne supports the exertion of self-restraint. There is, however, something of crucial
importance to note in Montaignes portrayal of moderation. While temperance is commonly
associated with limiting ones involvement in pleasure, Montaigne publicizes the life of
mediocrity as one which involves neither too liberal nor too restricted an attitude towards
pleasure. As Goyet writes: Pleasure and the flourishing of the individual are on the
programme for this brand of Catholicism, from Montaigne.40 He proposes that la voye du
milieu (III.13, p. 322)41 offers us the best formula for life, without excess or deprivation,
sins to which he attributes equal weighting: Jestime pareille injustice prendre contre cur
les voluptez naturelles que de les prendre trop cur (III.13, p. 318)42 In this light, pleasureseeking can be considered an appropriate and even admirable concept on the condition that it
is moderated: La philosophie nestrive point contre les voluptez naturelles, pourveu que la
mesure y soit joincte: et en presche la moderation, non la fuite (III.5, p. 892).43 Moderation,
in Montaignes view as in Rabelais then, is not only required as an addition to pleasure, but
as the requisite channel through which pleasure can be virtuously enjoyed. Also comparable
to Rabelais approach, is Montaignes paradoxically immoderate language in his praise of
moderation: Je veus qu'on m'y voye en ma faon simple, naturelle et ordinaire, sans
contention et artifice44 (I want to be seen here in my simple, natural, ordinary fashion,
without straining or artifice). 45 As Rabelais intentionally frustrates his reader with
overindulgent language, Montaigne writes of himself and his views in an arguably offputtingly immodest fashion. Goyet notes this oxymoron: Montaigne portrays himself as the
rule and the measure Did you say: modesty?46 He fails, however, to comment on its
purpose, and I offer the explanation that Montaigne deliberately awakens us to the errors of
excess by exposing us to them directly. Seemingly then, Montaigne seeks most of all to
illustrate to us the importance of moderation. Bakewell explains the relevance of the French
civil wars in which transcendental extremism brought about subhuman cruelties on an
overwhelming scale.47 This gives credibility to the viewpoint that while Montaigne argues
amorous desires this ebullient ardour is no good for it, ibid.pp. 783-784.
38 once he has submitted to an obligation, he must keep to it under the laws of common duty, ibid., p. 786.
39 I, who in all matters have so worshipped that golden mean of the past, and have taken the moderate measure
as the most perfect, On experience (III.13), The Complete Works, p. 1030.
40 Francis Goyet, Montaigne and the notion of prudence, in The Cambridge Companion to Montaigne, ed. by
Ullrich Langer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 137.
41 the middle way, On experience (III.13), The Complete Works, p. 1039
42 I consider it equal injustice to set our heart against natural pleasures and to set our heart too much on them
ibid., p. 1035.
43 Philosophy does not strive against natural pleasures, provided that measure goes with them; she preaches
moderation in them, not flight, Sur Des Vers de Virgile (III.5), The Complete Works, p. 826
44 Michel de Montaigne, Au Lecteur, Les Essais, ed. by Pierre Viley and V.-L. Saulnier (Paris: PUF, 1965), p.
45 Michel de Montaigne, To the Reader, The Complete Works trans. by Donald M. Frame (London: Everymans
Library, 2003), p. 2.
46 Goyet, p. 132.
47 Sarah Bakewell, How to Live: a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
(London: Vintage, 2010), p. 201.


with conviction for the enjoyment of pleasure, it is moderation that he would have wanted to
encourage above all else.
While both Rabelais and Montaigne unquestionably advocate pleasure and its values,
they depict moderation as not only complementary but necessary to such pleasure and as the
only framework in which life can be lived rewardingly. One final quote from Montaigne
leaves us certain of the importance of balance in the search for enjoyment: Lintemperance
est peste de la volupt, et la temperance nest pas son fleau: cest son assaisonnement
(III.13, p. 322)48 For this reason, I propose that pleasure, though explicitly acclaimed, is in
fact advocated second to temperance and mediocrity within the works of Le Quart Livre
and Essais.

48 Intemperance is the plague of sexual pleasure; and temperance is not its scourage, it is its seasoning, On
experience (III.13), The Complete Works, p. 1039.


Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live: a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at
an Answer (London: Vintage, 2010).
Cave, Terence. How to Read Montaigne (London: Granta, 2007).
Goyet, Francis. Montaigne and the notion of prudence, in The Cambridge Companion to
Montaigne, ed. by Ullrich Langer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 118141.
Montaigne, Michel de. Au Lecteur, Sur des vers de Virgile (III. 5) and Que Philosopher,
cest apprendre mourir (I.20). In Les Essais, ed. by Pierre Viley and V.-L. Saulnier (Paris:
PUF, 1965) and De lexperience (III. 13), ed. by Alexandre Micha (Paris: GarnierFlammarion, 1969-1979).
Montaigne, Michel de. To the Reader, That to philosophize is to learn to die (I.20), On
some verses of Virgil (III.5) and Of experience (III.13). In The Complete Works, trans. by
Donald M. Frame (London: Everymans Library, 2003).
Rabelais, Franois, Le Quart livre, ed. by Mireille Huchon, Folio Classique (Paris: Gallimard,
Rabelais, Franois. The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel, trans. by J.M. Cohen
(Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1955).
Schneewind, J.B., Montaigne on moral philosophy and the good life. In The Cambridge
Companion to Montaigne, ed. by Ullrich Langer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2005), pp. 207-208.