Skip to Main Content
Bridling of Desire

Bridling of Desire

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 285
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Bridling of Desire
    Book Description:

    Payer has assembled a vast number of textual sources from the late medieval period, presenting to the reader a variety of opinions, their development, and underlying presuppositions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7157-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    Theologians of the later Middle Ages discussed the nature, purpose, and morality of sexual behaviour in the course of their treatment of a wide range of topics. Few major areas of theological and moral discourse failed to address some facet of sex. Treatments of the virtues, vices, and commandments have subdivisions that consider sex: treatises on thecardinal virtue of temperancediscuss the need to control lust and unruly sexual desires through the acquisition and exercise of continence and chastity; treatises on thecapital vice of lecherydeal with a whole range of sexual delicts, from the sexual relations of...

  6. 1 Paradise
    (pp. 18-41)

    The scholastic view of the place of sex in human existence comprises several fundamental beliefs: that sexual intercourse was permissible only within a legitimate marriage; that procreation was the primary purpose of marital intercourse; that intercourse was to be regulated according to certain times, places, and conditions of the husband and wife; that virginity was superior to all other states of life. There was considerable hesitation about the moral assessment of sexual pleasure. It was thought that the vice of lechery(luxuria)was particularly dangerous, and the difficulties involved in keeping oneself free of its attractions were enormous.

    These are...

  7. 2 The Fall, Original Sin, and Concupiscence
    (pp. 42-60)

    The cover of an edition of Michel FoucaultʹsThe History of Sexualityis adorned with a reproduction of Albrecht Dürerʹs depiction of the temptation of Adam and Eve by the serpent. If the scene is meant to suggest that sex was causally influential on the sin of Adam and Eve, the picture is inappropriate from the perspective of medieval theology. If, however, the picture is meant to suggest that the Fall of Adam and Eve had some influence on the status of post-lapsarian sex, then it faithfully represents the views of medieval schoolmen.

    Peter Lombard describes the temptation of Adam...

  8. 3 Marriage and Sex
    (pp. 61-83)

    In Paradise, Adam and Eve would have carried out the divine command to increase and multiply (Genesis 1:28) undisturbed by passion, lust, or concupiscence. Nature, biology, physiology, and psychology would have been marshalled at the right time for sexual union in order to ensure generation and only to ensure generation.

    After the sin of Adam and Eve and their ejection from Paradise, sex took on a new dimension as a consequence of original sin. It was seen to have become one of the most rebellious and recalcitrant elements in the human psycho-physical constitution. It no longer functioned within the integral...

  9. 4 Legitimate Reasons for Marital Relations
    (pp. 84-110)

    Discussions of the morality of marital relations invariably deal with the different types of reason or intention of the husband and wife for engaging in intercourse. Such reasons are usually signified by the termcausa(ʹby reason of,ʹ ʹfor the sake ofʹ). While both Gratian and Peter Lombard mention different kinds of intention, neither proposes a systematic account of intentions. The tendency of their commentators, however, was to provide just such accounts, which were meant to be all-inclusive. Two sets were current up to about the mid-thirteenth century.

    One division of intercourse subsumed the reasons under terms that primarily connoted...

  10. 5 Problematic Reasons for Marital Relations
    (pp. 111-131)

    In contrast with the reasons just examined, the third and fourth reasons for having marital sexual relations posed problems. It was a matter of the correct interpretation of the need to avoid incontinence (the third reason), and the proper moral assessment of coitus for pleasure (the fourth reason). That the motive of pleasure should be problematic is not surprising given the Christian-Stoic suspicion of pleasure. That motive would always be a stumbling block. The interpretation of the third reason, however, is puzzling since it seems to fly in the face of the conception of marriage as a remedy for concupiscence....

  11. 6 The Virtue of Temperance
    (pp. 132-153)

    There is a radical dislocation in the human constitution resulting from original sin, a tendency for desires to rebel against reason in the pursuit of their own independent ends. This lack of harmony is particularly true of sexual desire, symbolized in the absence of rational and voluntary control over the genitals. The challenge and imperative for everyone born after Adam is to attempt to re-establish and maintain rational control over the lower appetites, under God. Although this would seem to call for general treatises on proper human sexual behaviour, none is to be found, probably because the linguistic and conceptual...

  12. 7 Continence, Chastity, and Virginity
    (pp. 154-178)

    In spite of efforts to sort out the vocabulary of the virtues that were particularly concerned with sexual matters, the termscontinentia(continence) andcastitas(chastity) continued to lack determined and settled definitions. Philip the Chancellor, for instance, raises the question of the proper usage of these terms as well as of the term,pudicitia(purity). It is clear from his analysis that the words were sometimes used interchangeably and resisted mutually exclusive definitions. The meanings reported by Papias are characteristic of thirteenth-century usage:continentiaconnotes self-restraint in general, but is often used with a marked sexual reference;castitasconnotes...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 179-184)

    For the first time since Augustine a comprehensive view of what we call sex was provided in the Latin West in the two hundred years surveyed in this book. The treatment of sex was comprehensive in its coverage and was integrated into an overall theological synthesis. Important discussions of different facets of sex are encountered in accounts as diverse as those of creation and the Fall and of heaven and its rewards. A systematic theology was created that included within its range of interests accounts of the nature, purpose, and morality of sex in all its dimensions. It was these...

  14. APPENDIX 1 The Twofold Institution of Marriage
    (pp. 185-189)
  15. APPENDIX 2 William Peraldus on Temperance
    (pp. 190-194)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 195-258)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-280)
  18. Index
    (pp. 281-285)