A Cosmos of Desire: The Medieval Latin Erotic Lyric in English Manuscripts (Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Civilization)

A Cosmos of Desire: The Medieval Latin Erotic Lyric in English Manuscripts (Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Civilization)

Language: English

Pages: 502

ISBN: 0472113798

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A Cosmos of Desire: The Medieval Latin Erotic Lyric in English Manuscripts (Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Civilization)

Language: English

Pages: 502

ISBN: 0472113798

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Thomas C. Moser, Jr. explores the fascinating body of medieval Latin erotic poetry found in English manuscripts. His study describes the intellectual and social context from which the great erotic songs of the twelfth century emerged, and examines a variety of erotic poems, from school exercises to the magnificent lyrics found in Arundel 384. He also illuminates the influence of neoplatonic philosophy on this poetry, explicating key neoplatonic texts and applying that analysis in close readings of erotic lyrics from the same period and milieu.
A Cosmos of Desire will interest scholars of medieval literature as well as specialists in Latin poetry and philosophy. Students of Middle English literature will find that it fills an important gap in our understanding of English intellectual life between the twelfth and the fourteenth century. All Latin prose and poetry is translated, some works for the first time, and the book is generously illustrated with photographs of the manuscripts discussed.
Thomas C. Moser, Jr. is Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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us go together"] and the mouth "os lactet, ... corda per oscula mactet" [might allure (another) mouth, might overthrow the heart through kisses].31 Whatever she is, Bathsheba came about through Nature's mediation: Vt breuiter noscas totum qui noscere poscas: Hac nihil in forma natura dedit sine norma. Nil minimum, nichil est nimium per corpus. Ad imum, Cum magis attendas, in ea magis omnia pendas. Quod latet archanum corpus laudabile laudat. 28 A COSMOS OF DESIRE [So that you might

Acknowledgments xi bert, ed., A Thirteenth-Century Anthology of Rhetorical Poems, Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 4 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1975), 11-12, 54-68, by permission of the publisher. © 1975 by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. Excerpts reprinted from Alan of Lille, The Plaint of Nature, trans. James J. Sheridan, Mediaeval Sources in Translation 26 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980), 98-2 16, are by

a tenth-century German collection (with neumes) and in an eleventh-century French troparium and prosarium (also with neumes) from the library of the abbey of Saint-Martial in Limoges.7' It is built of simple stanzas of four lines, rhyming monosyllabically aabb, and varying in length from eight to ten syllables; overall the poem appears to be a variation on the Ambrosian hymn-form of four-line stanzas with individual lines of four iambic feet.72 The poem's ambivalent language, dependent on

novetur Mundus, et in partu turgeat omnis humus,... In silvis volucres, pisces generentur in undis, Floreat omnis ager, frondeat omne nemus. [when Jove descends into the lap of his spouse, the world is renewed, and all the earth swells with new life; . . . that birds may be engendered in the forest, fish in the seas, that all the fields may flower, and all the groves put forth new leaves.]s8 The final creation of man himself takes place in "Gramision,"59 an Edenic gar- den of perpetual

nomen/omen word game and reacts to a classical source. "Quic- quid amor" begins with one and a half lines of quotation from early in Heroides 4, an epistle from Phaedra to her stepson Hippolytus in which she attempts to justify her erotic attachment to him: qua licet et sequitur, pudor est miscendus amori; dicere quae puduit, scribere iussit amor. quidquid Amor iussit, non est contemnere tutum; regnat et in dominos ius habet ille deos. [Wherever modesty may attend on love, love should not

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