Paganism in the Middle Ages

Paganism in the Middle Ages: Threat and Fascination

Carlos STEEL
John MARENBON
Werner VERBEKE
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 250
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qf0hm
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  • Book Info
    Paganism in the Middle Ages
    Book Description:

    In this volume the persistence, resurgence, threat, fascination, and repression of various forms of pagan culture are studied in an interdisciplinary perspective from late antiquity to the emergent Renaissance. Contributions deal with the survival of pagan beliefs and practices, as well as with the Christianization of pagan rural populations or with the different strategies of oppression of pagan beliefs. The authors examine problems raised by the encounter with pagan cultures outside the Muslim world and show how philosophers contrived to ‘save' the great philosophers and poets from ancient culture notwithstanding their paganism. The contributors also study the fascination of classic ‘pagan' culture among friars during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the imitation of pagan models of virtue and mythology in Renaissance poetry.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-117-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Carlos Steel, John Marenbon and Werner Verbeke

    On the cover of this book there is an illustration from a fifteenth century manuscript which contains Books I-X of Augustine’sCity of Godin the French translation of Raoul de Presles.¹ Augustine’s text is illuminated with numerous magnificent miniatures by ‘maître François’, who was working in Paris around 1480. InThe City of GodAugustine launches an extensive attack on paganism and on the philosophers who attempted to give a rational justification of its practices. As is well known, the occasion for writing this monumental work was the capture of Rome by the Visigoths under Alaric in 410. Some...

  5. THE SPOOKY HERITAGE OF ANCIENT PAGANISMS
    (pp. 1-18)
    Ludo MILIS

    Snorri Sturluson’s early thirteenth-centuryHeimskringlareports the deeds of King Olaf Haraldsson of Norway who lived in the eleventh century. The king appears in the Thing, the people’s assembly, and hopes to convince its members to join Christianity. Gudbrand, the main opponent of conversion, says they already have a God, a ‘terrible and very grand’ statue. The king orders one of his fellows to destroy the idol when it is carried into the assembly.

    ‘[He] gave their god a stroke, so that the idol burst asunder; and there ran out of it mice as big almost as cats, and reptiles,...

  6. DE-PAGANIZING PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 19-38)
    Carlos STEEL

    Christian faith has originally nothing to do with philosophy. It offers no rational explanation of the world, no autonomous ethical way of life. It is a religious movement centred on the belief that God has offered through Jesus Christ a way of salvation to all human beings. As Saint Paul says, ‘the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach the foolishness of the cross.’(1. Cor. 1,22-25). However, as soon as Christians started to defend and explain the Christian way of life, they wanted to show that precisely this ‘foolishness’ was ‘true wisdom’ and a gracious fulfilment rather than a negation...

  7. A PROBLEM OF PAGANISM
    (pp. 39-54)
    John MARENBON

    No figure epitomizes what I once called ‘The Problem of Paganism’ so well as Virgil. Not, of course, the real Virgil, but Dante’s Virgil, his guide through Hell and part of Purgatory. Dante’s admiration for Virgil is almost unlimited, as his first greeting of him makes evident:

    ‘Or se’ tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte

    che spandi di parlar sì largo fiume?’,

    rispuos’io lui con vergognosa fronte.

    ‘O de li altri poeti onore e lume,

    vagliami ‘l lungo studio e ‘l grande amore

    che m’ ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.

    Tu se’ lo mio maestro e ‘l mio autore,...

  8. ALBERTUS MAGNUS ÜBER DIE PHILOSOPHI THEOLOGIZANTES UND DIE NATÜRLICHEN VORAUSSETZUNGEN POSTMORTALER GLÜCKSELIGKEIT: VERSUCH EINER BESTANDSAUFNAHME
    (pp. 55-84)
    Henryk ANZULEWICZ

    Bevor die Frage nach der Präsenz und Wertstellung der natürlichen Theologie der Vorläufer und Väter der griechischen Philosophie, Platon und einiger anderen Denker, im Werk des Albertus Magnus angegangen wird, soll in einem ersten Schritt sein Verhältnis zu den Heiden (gentiles) und insbesondere zu densapientes gentiliumermittelt werden. Es geht primär darum, einen Begriff zu bilden, wie Albert diegentilesim Allgemeinen und in Bezug auf deren Wissen und Weisheit charakterisiert und was die Quelle und Grundlage seiner diesbezüglichen Kenntnisse und seiner Meinung ist. Die Erhebung dieser Auskünfte will zum Hauptanliegen dieses Beitrags hinführen und uns ermöglichen, zumindest ansatzweise...

  9. LE CHEVAL DANS LES CROYANCES GERMANIQUES ENTRE PAGANISME ET CHRISTIANISME
    (pp. 85-108)
    Marc-André WAGNER

    Le ‘paganisme’ étant une notion de la culture chrétienne définissant un ensemble d’attitudes (croyances et pratiques) hétérogènes, il est intéressant d’étudier le cas particulier des croyances entourant un animal dans une religion ‘païenne’ donnée: la religion germanique ancienne, parce que dans cette conception du monde, la nature et spécialement la faune jouent un rôle important, et parce qu’à l’inverse du christianisme, elle ne connaît pas de distinction marquée entre une sphère sacréee et une sphère profane de la vie humaine.

    Une histoire des mentalités, plus précisément des croyances religieuses, est toujours difficile. Dans son livre sur la religion germanique ancienne,...

  10. MARTYRS, RELICS AND HOLY PLACES: THE CHRISTIANIZATION OF THE COUNTRYSIDE IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF RHEIMS DURING THE MEROVINGIAN PERIOD
    (pp. 109-138)
    Brigitte MEIJNS

    At a pioneering conference dedicated to ‘Agriculture and the Rural World in the Early Medieval West’ in the Italian town of Spoleto in 1965, Jean-François Lemarignier presented a highly powerful hypothesis, which has been influential ever since.² While tackling the origins of places of worship, their geographical location and their organization during the Merovingian period, he determined that there were, so to speak, two Gauls: a conciliar Gaul (‘la Gaule conciliaire’) and a monastic Gaul (‘la Gaule monastique’). According to Lemarignier, both existed side by side, rather than influencing one another.

    With ‘conciliar Gaul’, Lemarignier meant the South of Gaul,...

  11. PAGANISME ET CULTE DES RELIQUES: LE TOPOS DU SANG VIVIFIANT LA VÉGÉTATION
    (pp. 139-156)
    Edina BOZOKY

    Le pouvoir thaumaturgique des reliques était attribué à une force vivante qui y résidait et restait active. Au témoignage des mentions des Pères de l’Église et des récits hagiographiques, cette force miraculeuse se manifestait le plus souvent par la guérison des malades et des possédés. En dehors de ces effets principaux, directement bénéfiques aux individus et à la société, lavirtusse révélait également par d’autres signes, preuves sensibles (visibles, tangibles, odorantes) de la présence divine et de la continuité de la vie dans les restes. Parmi ceux-ci figuraient les miracles concernant la revitalisation de la végétation par le sang...

  12. THUNDER OVER LYON: AGOBARD, THE TEMPESTARII AND CHRISTIANITY
    (pp. 157-166)
    Rob MEENS

    When in the early years of the seventeenth-century Archbishop Jean Papire Masson entered a bindery in Lyon on the lookout for interesting books, he observed the binder just starting to cut a medieval manuscript to pieces. Masson immediately recognized that this was an exceptional manuscript and stopped the binder destroying the book in question. Thanks to this fortunate event, we still possess the literary legacy of Masson’s early ninth-century predecessor in Lyon, Agobard, for that is what the manuscript, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, contained. Masson then published the collected works of Agobard from this manuscript in 1605....

  13. THE ‘PAGAN’ DIRC VAN DELF
    (pp. 167-194)
    Robrecht LIEVENS

    Dirc van Delf, a learned Dominican, magister and regens of the universities of Erfurt and Cologne, was recruited on December 17, 1391 by letter of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, to ‘teach and preach’ at the court of The Hague. His protector died on December 12, 1404 and his successor, Wilhelm VI, appears to have withdrawn the stipend, as after July 1404 no item in favour of Dirc is to be found in the ducal accounts. For a year and a half before he had already been working at the university of Cologne. On the further course of his life history...

  14. CALLIMACO ESPERIENTE E IL PAGANESIMO
    (pp. 195-206)
    Stefano PITTALUGA

    Rinchiuso nel carcere di Castel Sant’Angelo insieme con i sodali dell’Accademia Romana accusati di aver ordito una congiura per assassinare il papa Paolo II,¹ Bartolomeo Platina giocava una carta disperata: rigettava tutta la responsabilità di aver organizzato l’attentato sul collega accademico Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimaco Esperiente), che era riuscito a evitare l’arresto e a fuggire: l’unica colpa del Platina sarebbe perciò stata la mancata denuncia di quelle che aveva considerato le farneticazioni di un ubriaco.² Denunciava ora l’amico fuggiasco per salvare se stesso, ma in un’epistola indirizzata al Papa lo definiva ‘stolto e ubriacone’, quasi a limitarne le capacità di intendere...

  15. PAGANISM AND ISLAM: MEDIEVAL ARABIC LITERATURE ON RELIGIONS IN WEST AFRICA
    (pp. 207-238)
    Anna AKASOY

    ‘Paganism and Islam’ is a subject which can be approached from a great variety of perspectives. Before dealing in more detail with one specific case, I would like to illustrate the breadth of the question with two examples, a linguistic and a historical one. The earliest preserved Arabic text on falconry, compiled in eighth-century Baghdad, claims that among four stages in the life of a bird of prey, the nestling, the young bird which is still in the nest, should be preferred by falconers. The second best age is when the bird has already left the nest but is not...

  16. INDEX
    (pp. 239-250)