• Caring for the Body and Soul with Water: Guerric of Igny’s Fourth Sermon on the Epiphany, Godfrey of Saint-Victor’s Fons Philosophiae, and Peter of Celle’s Letters

    James Smith (see profile)
    History, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies
    Twelfth century, Thirteenth century, Fourteenth century, Europe, History, European literature, Social medicine, Middle Ages
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Cleanliness, Hygiene, Medieval monasticism, Moral allegory, 11th to 14th century, European history, Medical sociology, Medieval history
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    The use of water as an expressive trope of spiritual hygiene was widespread among monastic writers of the twelfth century, adapted for different uses in different genres. Aqueous imagery was particularly frequent within allegories or didactic figurae exploring the care of the soul as if it were a material body, with a constitution that could be promoted or damaged, and a set of behaviors for the encouragement of good health on all levels of Christian life. For monastics, the imagery of bodily cleanliness was an important tool that encouraged a holistic view of the monk as a physical and spiritual being shaped by a life of monastic vows. The moral topoi discussed in this essay, expressed in different registers by three very different monastic genres, mapped out multi-faceted guides to behavior and self-examination in which health was holistic—the body and the soul combined. This article is an expansion of an existing essay on the rhetorical topos of spiritual nutrition, and its argument that extremes such as hunger or satiety, cleanliness or dirt, exist as part of a multifaceted vocabulary.
    NB full essay (and full book) available on Google books: https://tinyurl.com/yazrg8qm.
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    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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