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 The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love

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Lyssa
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PostSubject: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:37 pm

Howard Bloch's 'Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love' , Aldo Scaglione's ''Courtliness, Chivalry and Courtesy', and Colin Bird's 'The Myth of Liberal Individualism' read back-to-back are an outstanding record of the ugly disease that Christianity was.

This has bearings on not only modern feminism that cropped from the disgust with the extreme nonsense of Xt. patriarchal misogyny, but also on stirnerite libertarianism and right upto the ideology of terrorism.

Its copious material, that I intend to excerpt slowly, but an important one if you understand what Hannibal and the Blond Beast was about.


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:05 pm

Quote :
"For the woman ofthe Yahwist version, conceived from the be- ginning as secondary, derivative, supervenient, and supplemental, assumes, within the founding articulation of gender of the first centuries of Chris- tianity, the burden of all that is inferior, debased, scandalous, and perverse.

If Adam exists fully and Eve only partially, it is because he participates in what is imaged to be an original unity of being, while she is the offshoot of division and difference.

The oneness that Adam once enjoyed, the uniqueness of singularity, is indistinguishable from the oneness that is the founding principle and guarantor of grammar, geometry, philosophy, and implicitly of theology, since God is defined as the nature of one, that which is universal and eternal.

Here we behold one ofthe great topoi ofgender in the West at least since Augustine, according to which man is undivided, asexual, pure spirit, while woman remains a divided being whose body does not reflect the reality ofthe soul. With this consequence: that if man remains fully human because he is the image of God while woman is human only in part, the specifically human comes to signify, is elided to, the side ofthe masculine. Woman is conceived to be human only in that part of her which is the soul, makes her a man.

The Yahwist version of the Creation story serves, of course, as the basis of what is known as the "household code" of early Christianity... Let it suffice for the present to insist simply on how deeply this distinction between the genders, by which man is conceived as unity and woman as difference, is ingrained in the medieval West

"All existing things would cease to be if form were taken from them, the un- changeable form by which all unstable things exist and fulfill their functions in the realm of number," asserts Augustine in a formula that appears almost everywhere. That is, man is form or mind, and woman, degraded image of his second nature, is relegated to the realm of matter.

Thus in the misogynistic thinking of the Middle Ages there can be no distinction between the theological and the sexual. Woman is a limit case of man, and as in Platonic thought, she remains bound by the material, by flesh and lust. "For the groundwork of this corporeal beauty," Chrysostom writes, "is nothing else but phlegm, and blood, and humor, and bile, and the fluid of masticated food." "Man was formed ofdust, slime, and ashes; what is even more vile, of the filthiest seed," Innocent III echoes in what is a cliche ofthe age. "He was conceived from the itch ofthe flesh, in the heat of passion and the stench of lust, and worse yet, with the stain ofsin."

Though mankind in general is from such a perspective condemned, woman comes to embody the material corruption associated with the flesh and in which the theological and the gynecological blend. If all humans participate by definition and from the beginning in the sinfulness ofthe corporeal, woman is the efficient cause of such iniquity even before birth.

The status ofwoman is analogous to that of the senses within the cognitive realm. Man as mind and woman as sensory perception are mutually exclusive: "it is when the mind (Adam) has gone to sleep that perception begins, for conversely when the mind wakes up perception is quenched." Woman, formed of flesh from the rib, remains bound by the corporeal. "'He built it to be a woman, (Gen. ii, 22)'," Philo continues, "proving by this that the most proper and exact name for sense-perception is 'woman'."

The male-female dualism becomes assimilated into a distinction between the mind and the senses according to which woman, in the phrase of Rosemary Ruether, assumes the burden of "carnality in the disorder of sin."

The mind/senses distinction is, of course, the foundation of a conjugal typology, according to which woman, the "body" of man, is necessarily subordinate to him as the passions are subject to the intellect. Hence the repeated invocation-the basis of the "household code"-for the man to rule the woman as reason controls the bodily appetites.

Already in Ephesians 5:21 Paul enjoins wives to "submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the saviour ofthe body." Augustine too maintains in the De Genesi contra Manichaeos that "the subjugation of woman is in the order of things; she must be dominated and governed by man just as the soul should regulate the body and virile reason should dominate the animal part of the being. If a woman dominates man, and the animal part dominates reason, the house is turned upside down."

And Aquinas, discussing two kinds of subjection, distinguishes between slavery, "in which the ruler manages the subject for his own advantage," and "domestic or civil" subjection, "in which the ruler manages his subjects for their advantage and benefit. . . . Such is the subjection in which woman is by nature subordinate to man because the power of rational discernment is by nature stronger in man."

Here we touch upon one ofthe key internalized anxieties underlying the projection of the faculty of appetite upon the woman and the corresponding injunction to containment-the fear attached to the uncontrollability ofthe body, ofits members and its drives. The distrust ofwoman in the writings of the early church fathers is at least partially attributable to a refusal of, a barrier against, the contumacious presence ofthe body. Page Du Bois maintains that "much of the misogynist's discourse centers on women's bodies" and that this "fear of women's corporeality, this intense misogyny and the witch-hunting contemporaneous with it, lie behind the presence of Renaissance Eves, Circes, and Didos in epic poetry." I would differ with Du Bois, however, to the extent of diminishing, at least for the medieval period, the distinction between the notion ofwoman and of woman's body, since for the fathers they were practically synonymous. The fear of femininity, identified with the faculties of cognition and expression that could bring such a fear to consciousness, is not only a generalized, abstract fear ofsensuality, but a mistrust ofthe senses - a fear ofthe woman as body, the body as woman. In other words, it is the fear of the woman in every man's body. For if woman as sensitive soul is allied with sensuality, that is, with the possibility of engendering concupiscence, then even to perceive her, as Chrysostom claims, menaces to deprive the soul ofreason:

Hence ho'" often do we, from beholding a woman, suffer a thousand evils; returning home, and entertaining an inordinate desire, and experiencing anguish for many days; yet nevertheless, we are not made discreet; but when we have scarcely cured one wound, we again fall into the same mischief, and are caught by the same means; and for the sake of the briefpleasure ofa glance, we sustain a kind oflengthened and continual torment. . . . The beauty of woman is the greatest snare. Or rather, not the beauty of woman, but unchastened gazing!

The contrast between the letter-on the side of the body, the senses, the temporal, and the worldly-as opposed to the spirit, which is on the side ofmind, form, and divinity, is in the early centuries of Christianity a means of understanding the world and of constituting community. It functions to create an opposition between female and male that relegates the feminine, and ultimately woman, to the inferior side, and it also works as the ideological sign ofidentity of the Christian: to be on the side ofthe spirit is to understand without the aid of the senses, to know without perceiving, that is, without the participation of the body, to always already have known. To seek to know through the senses, however, is to remain on the side of the letter, the law, and ultimately the non-Christians, the pagans and Jews. This explains, I think, the association throughout the Middle Ages as well as much later between the repression of heresy and antifeminism. hose who don't believe, who remain on the side of the letter, the body, and the senses, are perceived to be women, and women, those who do not give up the feminized principle of the body, tied to the letter ofthe law, are, finally, heretics.

What this means is:

1. It is impossible to separate the discrediting ofthe material world and especially the disparagement of signs from the deep medieval distrust of the senses.

2. Such a mistrust of the senses can only be construed as a mistrust ofthe feminine. Thus Jerome warns that "if anyone delights in the sports of the circus, or the struggles of athletes, the versatility of actors, the figure of women, in splendid jewels, dress, silver and gold, and other things of the kind, the liberty ofthe soul is lost through the windows ofthe eyes, and the prophet's words are fulfilled: 'Death is come up into our windows' [Jer. xi. 21]. Again, our sense of hearing is flattered by the tones of various instruments and the modulations of the voice; and whatever enters the ear by the songs of poets and comedians, by the pleasantries and verses of pantomimic actors, weakens the manly fibre ofthe mind."

3. Timothy may be the first, in fact, to make such a move explicit: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2: 11).


We cannot separate the concept ofwoman as it was formed in the early centuries of Christianity from a metaphysics that abhorred embodiment; and that woman's supervenient nature is, according to such a mode ofthought, indistinguishable from the acute suspicion of embodied signs-of representations.

As Philo Judaeus maintains, woman's coming into being is synonymous not only with the naming of things, but with a loss-within language-ofthe literal: "'And God brought a trance upon Adam, and he fell asleep; and He took one of his sides' and what follows (Gen. ii, 21). These words in their literal sense are ofthe nature ofa myth. For how could anyone admit that a woman, or a human being at all, came into existence out ofa man's side?" So too does John Chrysostom locate the necessity of interpretation precisely in the creation of woman from Adam's rib:

Notice the considerateness of Sacred Scriptures in the words employed with our limitations in mind: "God took one ofhis ribs," the text says. Don't take the words in human fashion; rather interpret the concreteness ofthe expressions from the viewpoint ofhuman limitations. You see, ifhe had not used these words, how would we have been able to gain knowledge ofthese mysteries which defy description? Let us therefore not remain at the level ofthe words alone, but let us understand everything in a manner proper to God because applied to God. That phrase, "he took," after all, and other such are spoken with our limitations in mind.

The fathers thus identify a loss of literalness, and the consequent necessity of interpretation, with the creation of Eve, or with the appearance of gender difference. The origin of commentary is assimilated to the origin of woman.

Since the creation of woman is synonymous with the creation of metaphor, the relation between Adam and Eve is the relation ofthe proper to the figural, which implies a derivation, deflection, denaturing, a tropological turning away. The perversity of Eve, as it is imagined in the early centuries of the Christian era, is that ofthe lateral: as the outgrowth ofAdam's flank, his latus) she retains the status of translatio) of translation, transfer, metaphor, trope. She is side-issue." [Bloch]


contd.


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:51 am

Quote :
"Marcia Colish has written a brilliant article on the topic of "cosmetic theology," in which she suggests that the early fathers' appropriation of the Stoic (and before that, Cynic) attempt to ally ethics, nature, and reason involved a shift from concern with masculine modes of self-presentation, such as dress and hairstyle, to an obsession with an esthetics of femininity. This move involved the appearance of an entirely "new genre of Christian hortatory literature addressed to women." Thus, one finds among the Stoics, who criticized men and women alike for overconcern with personal appearance, the belief that the true sage remains unshaven. He should not pluck his eye- brows or pubic hair, or do anything that alters the nature ofthe body for the sake of drawing the attention of women or of other men; on the contrary, the more uninterested he is in appearance, the more detached he is from the world, and therefore the wiser he is - or appears. Then too, gnostic, Platonic, and Manichaean traditions carry a certain dis- paragement of the physical that implies a distrust of the cosmetic. The pseudepigraphical myths contain here and there an association of woman with decoration. Yet nothing comes close to matching Tertullian's campaign against the relative moral equality of the sexes among the Stoics, or against the belief according to which men and women were equally dangerous agents of seduction. Nothing before this first of the Latin Christian authors (A.D. 155-220) matches the virulence with which he shifts the ethical burden of sexuality toward woman, making her the passive agent - and this by natural condition and not by conscious moral choice - of the seduction of males.

The writers of the first centuries of Christianity - Paul, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Cyprian, Novatian, Ambrose, Philo, Jerome - were obsessed by the relation of women to decoration. They were fascinated by veils, jewels, makeup, hairstyle, and hair color-in short, by anything having to do with the cosmetic. Their fascination is of a piece with the patristic devaluation of the material world, which comes to be seen as a mask,a mere cosmetic reproduction. For the second-century apologist, as for no one before him, woman is a creature who above all else and by nature covets ornamentation:

"You are the devil's gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert - that is, death - Even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunic of skins? Come, now; if from the beginning ofthe world the Milesians sheared sheep, and the Serians spun trees, and the Tyrians dyed, and the Phrygians embroidered with the needle, and the Babylonians with the loom, and pearls gleamed, and onyx stones flashed; if gold itself also had already issued, with the cupidity (which accompanies it), from the ground; if the mirror too, already had licence to lie so largely, Eve, expelled from paradise, (Eve) already dead, would also have coveted these things, I imagine! No more, then, ought she now to crave, or be acquainted with (if she desire to live again), what, when she was living, she had neither had nor known. Accordingly, these things are all the baggage of woman in her condemned and dead state, instituted as if to swell the pomp ofher funeral."

According to Tertullian, woman naturally decorates herself and is by nature decoration: "Female habit carries with it a twofold idea-dress and ornament. By 'dress' we mean what they call 'womanly gracing'; by 'ornament,' what it is suitable should be called 'womanly disgracing.' The former is accounted (to consist) in gold, and silver, and gems, and garments; the latter in care of the hair, and of the skin, and of those parts ofthe body which attract the eye. Against the one we lay the charge of ambition, against the other of prostitution."

It is tempting to equate such hostility towards women with a more generalized horror of the flesh. And this is certainly not lacking here. "And so we are trained by God for the purpose of chastising, and (so to say) emasculating, the world," Tertullian attests. "We are the circumcision - spiritual and carnal - ofall things." Yet it is not the flesh that Tertullian denounces. On the contrary, there seems to be little difference between the materialism of the body and of its clothes; moreover, the draping of the flesh with "dress and ornament" is the equivalent of seduction.

To decorate oneself is to be guilty of "meretricious allurement," since embellishment of the body, or the attempt "to show to advantage," re-creates and is the sign of an original act of pride that is the source of potential concupiscence. This is why Tertullian is able to move so quickly and naturally from the idea of dress to a whole range ofother associations- between transvestism and the monstrous, or between the toga and lust, adultery, cannibalism, intemperance, and greed. It is as if each and every act of clothing an original nakedness ofthe body, and not the weakness ofthe flesh, were a corrupting recapitulation of the Fall entailing all other perversions. "Just as the serpent deceived Eve," writes Clement ofAlexandria, "so, too, the enticing golden ornament in the shape of a serpent enkindles a mad frenzy in the hearts of the rest of womankind, leading them to have images made of lampreys and snakes as decorations."

That which is secondary, artificial, and thus assimilated to woman is considered to participate in a supervenient and extraneous rival Creation that in the thought of the fathers can only distract man's attention from God's original "plastic skill": "Whatever is born is the work of God," Tertullian maintains. "Whatever, then, is plastered on (that), is the devil's work. . . . To superinduce on a divine work Satan's ingenuities, how criminal it is!"

Women who make up, Clement of Alexandria maintains, insult the Creator "who, in their opinion, has not made them beautiful enough"; their made-up bodies are not more beautiful, but bear the outward signs ofinner disease- the marks of adultery comparable to the tattoos that betray the fugitive.

As a re-creation, the artificial implies, Tertullian maintains, a pleasurable surplus that is simply inessential.

The seductiveness of the feminine is for the medieval Christian West virtually synonymous with delusiveness of language embodied in rhetoric, whose seduction, that of "mere words, worse than that of empty noises" (Augustine), recapitulates the original sin-that "she," in the words of John Chrysostom, "believed in the one who professed mere words, and nothing else.

Together grammar and logic constitute within the medieval language arts (the trivium) the sciences of the true, respectively of rectitude of expression and of correct propositions. Woman, however, here signifies the opposite of the truth: "Femme de verite n'a cure" ("Woman does not care about truth" [1, v. 966]). More precisely, she becomes, in the antifeminist thinking of the High Middle Ages, associated with the third element ofthe trivium-rhetoric, the art ofpersuasion, which by the thirteenth century was synonymous with poetics. Woman is figured as the sophist, the dissimulator (1, v. 1027), the seducer with false arguments or subtlety. Here we have come full circle, since the alliance of woman with rhetoric against grammar and logic places her on the side of the poet, the imitator whose creation, because it rivals the Creation, is but simulation, the one who dissimulates through the clever use of language.

The ultimate ex- pression of this idea is to be found in Baudelaire, for whom the woman represents a force of antinature: "Idole, elle doit se dorer pour etre adoree" ("Idol, she must make herself up to be adored"). Woman, like the male dandy, is naturally drawn to ornamentation and the arts, and she incarnates the artificial since her body, through makeup, "borrows from all the arts in order to rise above nature." For Baudelaire, the feminine body is a work of art, woman an artistic invention:

"All that a woman wears, all that enhances her beauty, is part of her; and artists who have set out intentionally to capture this enigmatic being become as passionate about the mundus muliebris as about the woman herself Woman is without doubt a light, a look, an invitation to happiness, sometimes a word; but she is above all a general harmony, not only in her bearing and in the movement of her limbs, but also in the chiffons, the silks, the vast and undulating clouds ofcloth in which she envelops herself, and which are like the attributes and the pedestal of her divinity; in the metal and mineral which snake around her arms and her neck, which add their sparkle to the fire of her glances, or which chatter softly around her ears. What poet would dare, in the portrayal of pleasure caused by the apparition of a beauty, separate the woman from her clothes?"

The woman, who disappears into the evanescent mundus muliebris that surrounds her, loses all specificity: her body, her beauty, her clothes, and her jewels are subtilized into sensation or the representation of sensation, which replaces the woman in herself ("la femme elle-meme").

Woman is, through the style to which she is imagined to be naturally drawn and which she embodies, on the side of antitruth, excessive loquacity, and the poetic, which, according to Proudhon, replaced the masculine idea and can only represent a decline: "All advanced literature, or, if one prefers, developing literature, can be characterized by the movement of the idea) its masculine element; all literature in a state of decadence is recognizable by the obscuring of the idea, replaced by an excessive loquacity, which only emphasizes the falseness of the thought, the poverty of moral sense, and, in spite of the artifice of diction, the nullity of style." How close the nineteenth-century misogynists are in spirit to Jerome, for whom, it will be remembered, "whatever enters the ear by the songs of poets and comedians, by the pleasantries and verses of pantomimic actors, weakens the manly fibre ofthe mind.

According to Nietzsche, to the extent that truth has become occulted by Christianity, it "becomes more subtle, more insidious, more evasive,-it becomes a woman, it becomes Christian."" [Bloch]


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:52 am

Quote :
"The founding articulation of equality is to be found in Paul, Galatians 3:28, where it is written: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." If one takes seriously the Pauline prescription of equality, one is potentially apt to believe, with Jo Ann McNamara, that "patristic writers were committed to the doctrine that with God there is neither male nor female," and that "despite the personal proclivities of many of its formulators, the logic of the Christian doctrine required a commitment to sexual equality." Despite the enormity ofthe irony, almost all patristic writers maintain the rule of equality, the Pauline principle of "Oneness in Christ," alongside an omnipresent anti-feminism.

Further, if one follows to its conclusion the logic ofthe new religion of the meek, according to which "the last shall be first, and the first last" (Matthew 20:15), then women possess the potential not only to equal but even to surpass men. Indeed, to the extent that the frailty ofthe flesh is elided to the side of the feminine, it entails, through the inversion of the values of weakness and strength synonymous with early Christianity, the possibility of women being stronger than men. Since the coming of Christ, complains Chrysostom, "women outstrip and eclipse us." The literature of the early fathers is filled with examples of heroic feminine martyrs, of women whose triumph is considered to be all the greater because oftheir gender. Paul maintains in Romans 5:20 that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"; and of the thirty-six names he cites in Romans for valorous effort in the Christian cause, sixteen are the names of women. Augustine, in speaking of Felicity and Perpetua, claims that "the crown is all the more glorious when the sex is weaker, and the soul shows itself assuredly more virile in women when they do not succumb to the weight of their fragility."

Thus women are considered special candidates for salvation, since, according to the dichotomy that places man on the side of the spirit and woman on the side of the senses and seduction, men, strictly speaking, have less to overcome in order to be redeemed. Here too we touch upon an area that defines more powerfully than any other the appeal of Christianity to women, for not only is the woman who is saved more holy than her male counterpart, but it is a woman who carries the possibility of salvation. Mary, the redeemer of Eve who liberates her from the malediction of the Fall, is one ofthe great themes of the formative Christian era and a mainstay of Christianity's attraction.

"Come, virgins, to the side of the Virgin," we find written in a pseudo-Augustinian sermon, "come women, to the side ofthis Woman; come mothers, to the side ofthis Mother; come you who give your breast to the side of this one who gives hers; come young women to the side of this young woman. Mary has passed through all the states ofwoman in Jesus Christ our Lord in order to welcome all women who seek her. The new Eve, who remains a virgin, has restored the condition of all women who come to her side.

Renunciation of the flesh thus became the principle that made Christianity a truly universal religion. It was "the great equalizer": "As Christians, women and the uneducated could achieve reputations for sexual abstinence as stunning as those achieved by any cultivated male. Total chastity was a gesture that cut through the silken web of decorum that swathed the public man: here was 'philosophical' restraint at its most drastic, now made open to all." Asceticism served, at least at the outset, to define the struggling sects and to encourage their internal social cohesion. Gradually, however, as the Roman world became increasingly divided between Christian and non-Christian, asceticism assumed, like the totem of the clans of a tribal village, a functional role in the definition of difference between the two cultures - one the secular culture of the city, of the body, of materialism, marriage, and women, and the other, the monkish culture of worldly renunciation. In a sophisticated version of antifeminism as a deterrent for clerics against the temptations ofthe flesh, misogyny constituted a "challenge to the city".

Thus the studied misogyny of much ascetic literature did not reflect merely a shrinking away from women as a source of sexual temptation. It was mobilized as part of a wider strategy. It served to contain and to define the place of the ascetic movement in late Roman society. Faced by the perpetual threat ofan asceticism so radical that it blurred the distinction between city and desert, even between men and women, the leaders of the churches, in Egypt as elsewhere, fell back on ancient traditions of misogyny in order to heighten a sense of sexual peril. In so doing, they insured that their heroes, the monks, remained in the prestige-filled, and relatively safe, wne of the desert. In fourth-century Egypt, fear of women acted as a centrifugal separator. It kept ''world'' and "desert" at a safe distance from each other.

Finally, as Christianity became the official state religion and the original purpose of virginity as a social marker disappeared, asceticism continued to act, through Augustine's interpretation of Genesis, as the primary justification of the power of men over women and the vehicle of appropriation of the individual by the state." [Bloch]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:54 am

Quote :
"Jack Goody approaches the issue of late Roman and early medieval family structure from the perspective of the "historical materialist" and the "social anthropologist." In his Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe he poses the question:

"How was it that after about 300 A.D. certain general features of European patterns ofkinship and marriage came to take a different shape from those of ancient Rome, Greece, Israel, and Egypt, and from those of the societies of the Mediterranean shores of the Middle East and North Mrica that succeeded them?"

The answer to this question lies, Goody maintains, not in the area of ideology - ethics or doctrine - rather, in the precarious economic situation of the early church and in the methods it developed to attenuate the power of wealthy Roman families and thus to get family property "flowing" in its direction. As would again be the case in the twelfth century, the clergy sought ways of inserting itself into the domestic life of converts through a series of "strategies of heirship" aimed at disrupting the devolution of the patrimony of the Roman clan. Thus the church embarked upon a biopolitics of lineage predicated upon several actions.

1. The extension of the degrees of kinship within which marriage was prohibited. This prohibition, which had been basic to the Arab world as well as Greece and the Palestine of Jesus, weakened the family's ability to keep property to itself through close or in-marriage, which was outlawed along with polygamy.

2. Discouragement of the creation of "fictional" heirs by banning both the Roman practice of adoption and the Germanic practices of wet-nursing and fosterage.

3. The outlawing of concubinage, which among the Romans had had the effect of creating offspring who, despite their illegitimacy, could nonetheless inherit property.

4. The prohibition of divorce, which might have as an effect the creation of progeny of a second bed when the first one was sterile.

5. The admonition against remarriage, which implies a second chance at procreation.

6. Affirmation of the principle of the consent of parties rather than paternal sanction where the choice of marriage partners is concerned.

7. The designation of celibacy as a virtue and the glorification of virginity as both a personal goal and a cultural ideal. This made it the duty of virgins to remain virgins, of those whose spouses had died to remain widows or widowers, and of those who had married to renounce within marriage further sexual relations.

For Goody the current of asceticism that was practically synonymous with Christian morality was but one of many strategies aimed at divesting the Roman family of its property. This was equally true of the issue of clerical celibacy. The church's "acquisitions, both real and personal, were of course exposed to much greater risk of dilapidation when the ecclesiastics in charge ofits widely scattered riches had families for whose provision a natural parental anxiety might be expected to over-ride the sense of duty in discharging the trust confided to them." The model of kinship proffered among the early sects in the first centuries of our era was aimed -consciously or not -at breaking up great family lineages, and thus great family fortunes, which instead began, through the practice of lateral donation as opposed to lineal legacy, to accumulate in the coffers of the spiritual brotherhood.

Many aspects ofthe ideology as well as the history of the first centuries of Christianity serve to substantiate Goody's claim that church policy was aimed at fragmenting the cohesiveness of the Roman gens. It is not hard, for example, to interpret the antiparental and antimarriage campaign of the apostles as an attempt to substitute the idea ofspiritual family for the biological or even social kin-group, and this from the beginning.
Jesus is reported to have said (Luke 14:26) "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
"But I would have you without carefulness," writes Paul. "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife: There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things ofthe Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

More important, Christianity can be seen as a religion that held men and women accountable to the same rules where questions of marital fidelity, the penalties for adultery, the grounds for divorce, chastity, or virginity before marriage were concerned. In this it stands as a rejection of the blatantly inequitable double ethical standard of the Hellenic and Judaic world, the world of Palestine as well as of Rome.

The church offered material advantages to those constrained by Roman family structure as well as to those isolated from the mainstream of Judaic religions and social life. More precisely, Christianity held the promise of escape from the patriarchy of the ancient world in which a girl of twelve might easily be married against her will to a man of fifty and would thus pass from the control offather to that of husband. "Forget also thine own people and thy father's house," Jerome, quoting Psalm 45, addresses Eustochium, "and the King [Jesus] shall desire thy beauty." And at the same time, as some scholars have insisted, the sects of "brothers and sisters" extended to women opportunities from which they were otherwise excluded: advantages of travel (albeit as pilgrims), education and intellectual pursuits, relative freedom to control the fortunes left to them as daughters and widows, and, finally, the possibility offounding, participating in, and even directing religious institutions.

Many religious foundations benefited from the disposition of feminine wealth. The clergy "welcomed women as patrons and even offered women roles in which they could act as collaborators," writes Peter Brown. "By 200 A.D., the role ofwomen in the Christian churches was quite unmistakable. . . . Altogether the Christian intelligentsia of the age took the presence of women, as disciples and patronesses, absolutely for granted."
Not only did the early sects ofthe faithful appeal to wives and daughters anxious to escape Roman tutelage, but also in the early church (that is, before its repatriarchalization) women functioned as prophets, missionaries, heroic martyrs, and leaders.

By offering an alternative to the patriarchal family, to the tutelage ofthe Roman paterfamilias or the Jewish father, Christianity became in the phrase of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, a "role-revolt" that "advanced women's cultural-political emancipation," a "liberating choice," according to Rosemary Ruether. It appeared as a "kind of women's liberation," says Robert Nisbet, as a counter to the certain feminine disenfranchisement prevalent within marriage and in society at large. For the Christian community, understood in the light of Galatians 3:28, is rooted in an "egalitarian vision and in altruistic social relationships that may not," again in the words of Fiorenza, "be 'genderized'."

To the legends of the virgin martyrs who refuse to marry are added those of the married women who, in opposition to family, choose to renounce marriage, as well as of the widows who reject remarriage.

The ascetic campaign of the early church deeply disturbed the traditional patterns of marriage of the Roman patriarchy. "The clergy's new language of ex voto dedication," in the words of Peter Brown, "threatened in no uncertain manner to freeze the benign current of young girls that flowed from their parents' house so as to knit together the families of the locality." Asceticism brought the life of cities as it had existed to an end: "And many other women besides fell in love with the doctrine of purity . . . and men too ceased to sleep with their wives. . . . So there was the greatest dismay in Rome" (Acts ofPeter 34,2).

Nor can such disruption be detached from the patterns of inheritance and the disposal of wealth of the gens. Whether by the refusal to marry or the practice of continence within marriage-house asceticism - the devolution of patrimony, which would normally pass to heirs, was at least potentially interrupted. More important, "bodies withdrawn in perpetuity from the normal ebb and flow," in Peter Brown's words, of the patriarchal family's marital policies did not mean the simple interruption ofthe capital exchange ofa class, of the exchange ofwomen and dowries as capital. It seems to imply a much freer disposition of property on the part of those who chose to practice asceticism.

This was an important factor in the economic life of the Christian community, given the greater longevity of women in the late Roman world, the fact that the majority of virgins were themselves daughters of widows, the fact that ascetic women were for the most part well-to-do, and the fact that women-wealthy converts, young virgins, pious widows, benefactresses, prophets, exemplary martyrs, missionary coworkers, pilgrims, confidantes, and friends-were the greatest supporters of the communities of brothers and sisters. They were the children of God, who were encouraged, according to the apostolic model, "to leave mother and father," to become the "Brides of Christ," and to prefer spiritual kinship over blood ties-that is, to choose the family of ascetics who were "mothers," "fathers," "sisters," and "brothers" to each other. These were the women who endowed nunneries and monasteries, paid for pilgrimages, supported scholarly enterprises, and sustained the charitable undertakings of those who ministered to the poor.

Thus, Goody's theory, nourished by those of Castelli, Pagels, and Brown, goes a long way toward explaining the motivation of early Christianity to break the power ofpatriarchy by a series of social and institutional practices ideologically sustained by an ascetic campaign directed especially toward women.  
But certain difficulties still remain. First, at the time of its campaign ofrenunciation the church also outlawed child abandonment, abortion, and homosexuality, practices ofthe Roman world whose continuation might have furthered the "strategies of heirship" aimed at inhibiting reproduction. Second, though much of the literature we have examined is assumed to appeal to women, there exists relatively little direct testimony to confirm its attractiveness to those to whom it was addressed.  Third... nothing in all we have seen until now explains how fledgling Christian sects could logically hope to attract women by the renunciation of the flesh that is also gendered feminine.

As long as we continue to view the early church as embracing an attitude either sympathetic or antipathetic to women, its originality will remain hidden.

The uniqueness of Christianity has to do, as we have seen, simultaneously with a gendering of the flesh as feminine, an esthetization of femininity, and a theologizing ofesthetics - all processes that can be found elsewhere, but not in quite this combination. The originality of Christianity consisted also in a repositioning of the feminine, such that the concept of woman came to occupy a central position in the "imaginary economy of the Church" (Peter Brown).

Finally, the uniqueness of Christianity resides in the fact that it, unlike any of the cults and religions that can be identified as potential sources, not only makes women assume the burden of mediator but also holds conflicting sexual attitudes in simultaneous abeyance. Thus the message to women is not "you are the Bride of Christ," or "you are the Devil's gateway," or even "you can be either," "you have a choice." Rather, it says, "you are at one and the same time the 'Bride of Christ' and the 'Devil's gateway,' seducer and redeemer, but nothing in between." The effects of this coincident contradiction are powerful and far reaching indeed.
The simultaneously bivalent Christian attitude renders the feminine so abstract that woman (not women) can only be conceived as an idea rather than a human being. It polarizes the definition of the feminine to such an extent that women are pushed to the margins, excluded from the middle, in other words, isolated from history. Again, this is not to deny the importance of individual women within the early church, or the importance of women mystics of the late Middle Ages.

Poised between contradictory abstractions implicated in each other, women are idealized, subtilized, frozen into a passivity that cannot be resolved. Thus we find the prevalence in our culture ofthe idea of woman as contradiction, which we have seen rendered throughout the Middle Ages in terms of woman as perpetual over-determination - either too rich or too poor, too beautiful or not beautiful enough, too rational or out of her senses. And thus too arises the notion of woman as ambiguity, paradox, enigma; woman as question; woman as a vehicle to be used for thinking; and even the notion, at the cutting edge of some feminist theory, of woman as theory. For the intractability of her doubleness under such a definition abstract, polarized, pacified - is the very stuff of a double bind that begins to answer the question of Christianity's feminine appeal.  

The issue of vulnerability is crucial here, for it alone, as the end product of the placement of women in the position of "both at once," allows us to see that the strategy of Christianity at the outset was not simply to appeal to women, which it could have accomplished much more readily by the elaboration of the seductiveness of the "Bride of Christ" motif alone, but to appeal to women and to control them at the same time. The idea of woman as simultaneously seducer and redeemer is therefore no contradiction at all but a powerful ideological weapon by which women, along with the property attached to them, passed out of the possession of families and were repossessed by the church. Individual women may have been freed from the patriarchal order in the early centuries of Christianity, but they were liberated only to be recuperated by the family of brothers and sisters in which they assumed the burden, every bit as impossible as the old Roman tutelage, both of carnality and spirituality, the agent-seducer and redeemer - through which men were to find either perdition or salvation." [Bloch]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:18 pm

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"Though Jerome asserts elsewhere that "God cannot raise a virgin once she has fallen," it is clear, according to the Christological model of salvation history, that redemption implies a return to the state of virginity, to the vita angelica - an eschatological abolition ofsexu- ality. Methodius speaks of the "bliss of a new Eden," Gregory of Nyssa of a return to the time before the Fall: "Through this sequence of events, we, together with our first father, were excluded from paradise, and now, through the same sequence, it is possible to return to the original blessedness." "In the risen Christ," Gregory asserts, "there is neither male nor female."

On the individual level one assumes, ofcourse, that a virgin is a woman who has never slept with a man. Indeed, much of the imagery surrounding virginity focuses upon the notion of a bodily integrity that rhetorically holds out to the woman willing to renounce her sexuality the promise of escaping the consequences of the Fall. Yet, as the fathers make abundantly clear, it is not enough merely to be chaste. As Methodius proves methodically, "For if a person endeavors to restrain his body from the pleasures of carnal love without controlling himself in other respects, he does not honor chastity; indeed, he rather dishonors it to no small degree by base desires, substituting one pleasure for another."

The distinction between virgins in mind and chastity of the body is emphasized throughout, since there is no difference between desire and the act. Rather, the act is defined by the mental state of those who perform it. Thus, according to the Glossa Palatina a couple could be said to practice chastity even while making love. And, conversely, "one can commit an adultery only in the heart," writes Origen in his commentary on Matthew, "without going all the way toward realizing it. . . . The one who is guilty only in his heart will be punished for this adultery: ... And if, on the contrary he has wanted to do it and has tried without succeeding, he will be punished as ifhe had sinned in act and not only in the heart." A virgin, then, is a woman who not only has never slept with a man, but also has never desired to do so. "For there are virgins in the flesh, not in the spirit, whose body is intact, their soul corrupt," Jerome maintains. "But that virgin is a sacrifice to Christ, whose mind has not been defiled by thought, nor her flesh by lust." "There must be spiritual chastity," John Chrysostom insists, "and I mean by chastity not only the absence of wicked and shameful desire, the absence of ornaments and superfluous cares, but also being unsoiled by life's cares."

According to Tertullian, "marriage ... as fornication is transacted by gaze and mind." "Seeing and being seen belong to the self-same lust." And, in what is perhaps the most violent expression ofthe deflowering effect of the look, Tertullian insists that "every public exposure of an honourable virgin is (to her) a suffering of rape." The founding thinking of the problem of desire in the first four centuries of the Christian era establishes a profound link, which will surface occulted in the twelfth century to dominate the Western love tradition, between the distortion implicit to the gaze and erotic desire. Hence the stipulation, found in the penitentials, that sexual intercourse should take place at night and the prescription of one in particular that a man should never see his wife naked. A virgin, in short, is a woman who has never been seen by a man.

The logic of virginity thus leads syllogistically to an even deeper paradox, which I am not the first to notice. That is, ifthe feminine is elided to the side ofthe flesh such that the woman is the body of the man, and if renunciation of the flesh is the only means to equality, then woman is put in a position such that the only way she can be equal is to renounce the feminine or to be a man. Thus the reply (Gospel ofThomas) of Jesus to Simon Peter, who demands that Mary Magdalene leave the circle of male disciples: "I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven"; and thus Mary's encomium to Jesus in the Gospel of Mary: "Praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us into men." Where the exegetical tradition is concerned, Philo claims that "progress is nothing else than the giving up of the female gender by changing into the male." Jerome too promises that the woman who leaves her husband for Jesus "will cease to be a woman and will be called man. . . . Let our souls cherish their bodies," the man who considers all Christians his children urges, "so that wives may be converted into men and their bodies into souls." Asceticism, better than any modern-day surgical rearrangement of the anatomy, offered a way out of the gendered spirit-body dichotomy.

Third and finally, to the extent that chastity implies victory over the corporeal it betrays a deep longing to be rid of consciousness itself, and in this desire lies the unmistakable symptom of a death wish. "While in the flesh let her be without the flesh," urges Jerome. "The virgin . . . both yearns for her death and is oppressed by life, anxious as she is to see her groom face to face and enjoy that glory," Chrysostom assures us. "What is virginity," Novatian asks, "if not a magnificent contemplation of the afterlife?" The fathers are, ofcourse, highly conscious that ifeveryone practiced chastity, the human race would come to an end. Virginity as absolute cannot, in other words, be absolute, but depends upon the difference it excludes. This is one of the persistent justifications for sexual intercourse-that in losing one's virginity one can always, as Jerome maintains, give birth to a virgin. Nonetheless, celibacy generalized conspires with the end ofhuman time, "for from marriage," warns Tertullian, "result wombs, and breasts, and infants. And when an end ofmarrying? I believe after the end ofliving!"

In fact, a certain inescapable logic ofvirginity, most evident in medieval hagiography, leads syllogistically to the conclusion that the only real virgin- that is, the only true virgin-is a dead virgin. For Cyprian the only proper adornments of the virgin's flesh are the wounds ofthe martyr: "These are the precious jewels of the flesh; these are the better ornaments of the body." Martyrdom is practically synonymous with virginity, as Ambrose insists in his tale of Saint Agnes's beheading: "What threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she answered: 'It would be an injury to my spouse to look on anyone as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not.' "

Stated simply, to the extent that the woman of the lyric seduces but is never seduced, she represents a virgin. The prerequisite of her being desired is that she be perfect, ideal, complete unto herself, without imperfection or lack, and therefore without desire; the sine qua non of loving, therefore, is that one not be loved in return. The lady must be a virgin in order to be loved; the desire for the virgin represents an ideal or idea that we have identified elsewhere - in relation to the concept of misogynistic virginity - as a desire for the absolute, which in this case subtends a profound wish for identity with the other, for self-identity. Yet the very notion of self-identity, like the possibility ofthe embodied virgin, is undercut at every instant within the poem, since self-identity is never realizable, according to medieval sign theory, within the realm oflanguage. The prooflies in the first line: "Ausi conme unicorne sui." "To be like" a unicorn is not "to be" a unicorn, language itself embodying the principle of such difference, or opening a space within the self each time one speaks or writes.

The ultimate object of the poet's desire, as argued by Denis de Rougemont, [is] desire itself. Thibaut's final strophe in which he asserts, "Lady I fear nothing more than failing to love you", would certainly support such a claim. "Ausi conme unicorne sui," like "Can vei la lauzeta mover," makes it clear that the desire for suffering is indeed related to the desire for song and that this masochistic coupling transforms the poet's suffering into a relation less with the woman, never named, of whom it supposedly speaks, than with himself. To wit, if the poet is like the unicorn who seduces himself with a fatal look, and if the representation in metaphoric language of that seduction implies an alienation of the poet from himself, then there is, finally, no way ofseparating the death wish attendant upon virginity from such use of metaphor. The prison of the poet is, in its medieval lyric reception, the "sweet charterhouse" ofwriting

This is another way of saying that there is less difference than is often assumed between the courtly love song, identified with the secular realm of the flesh, and the supposedly more spiritual genre of songs to the virgin:

In a virgin lyric entitled "Tant ai amors servies longuement," for example, Thibaut seems to renounce the love of his lady in favor of devotion to the Mother of God. Yet he recognizes, at bottom, that love is always directed toward the unobtainable.

True love does not allow one to choose the apenser object of his thoughts. One prefers to love
in a foreign land where one cannot come and go than to love what one can have at home. The folly is well known.

In the seemingly contrasting love lyric and the song to the virgin, Thibaut underscores the coterminous paradox of courtliness and of virginity: to love, one must love perfection, or a virgin; to love a virgin is to love an abstraction; in loving an abstraction, one loves what is by definition unembodied; and, finally, by giving expression to the love object, one destroys it. Whether one desires the unattainable lady or the Holy Virgin, the object of desire is always absent in order for desire to fix upon it. This is the point of several whole subgenres ofthe lyric that are structured dramatically by the motif of departure and, ofcourse, the crusade song.
The premise ofthe love song is separation.

"With the season which rejuvenates the world and makes fields green again, I want to begin a new song about a lady love whom I love and desire," confesses Cercamon, "but she is so far away from me that I cannot attain her, and my words don't please her anyway."

Herein lies the profoundest sense ofthe famous "love from afar" of the troubadours which, far from being an isolated subcategory of courtly love, stands, in the phrase of Leo Spitzer, "paradoxically consubstantial with the desire for union" and, in the terms of our analysis, as the purest expression ofthe logic ofvirginity inherent to courtliness.

The condition of the poet's loving is, in other words, that he love and not be loved, in other words, that the woman remain unattainable; the paradox of virginity, would sully the purity of the "one whose value is so pure and perfect".

The pervasive poetics of virginity, according to which the poet loves finally an abstraction - the lady as long as she is kept at a distance, a hypostatic notion of perpetually unsatisfied love, or even his own voice - more than any concrete embodiment of the avowed object of desire. At an extreme, as the troubadour Guilhem de Montanhagol recognizes, the love that ennobles ends necessarily in sexual renunciation: "Lovers must continue to serve Love, for love is not a sin, but a virtue which makes the wicked good, and the good better, and puts men in the way of doing good every day. Chastity itself comes from love, for whosoever truly understands love cannot be evil-minded."

This suggests that the paradox of the courtly lady, who is lovable as long as she stays at a distance -remains, in other words, an abstraction - is but a version of the paradox of the virgin who must remain unseen, unspoken, and even unthought in order to remain a virgin. The impossibility inscribed at the core of the invention of Western eroticism as we know it accounts for the always present masochism of the poet and also explains the fatalism that hangs over the courtly poetic production. It is not simply that love and death go together, or are bound in some kind of theologized notion of a desire for transcendence, mediated through the individual love object's being the same as the desire to escape individual incarnation. On the contrary, the intimacy of love and death in eroticism has to do with the fact that one kills something whenever one desires - if nothing else, the virginal purity that is conceived to be the sine qua non of loving. This means that so-called courtly love is never very far from a poetics of virginity in which the discourse of medieval antifeminism is subsumed.

Indeed, all that we have seen thus far indicates that the two dominant cultural discourses on women, the deprecatory and the idealizing, are hardly contraries. For each is as overdetermined as woman is herself assumed to be. Only recognition of the closeness, even the identity, of the two can explain the mystery ofWilliam IX's famous conversion from rude misogynist to the first courtly lover or, finally, reconcile the opposing faces - courtly and misogynistic - of Andreas Capellanus's Art ofCourtly Love.

The cavalier lecher, who treats love in ribald fashion and women as interchangeable horses to be tricked and mounted until the point of exhaustion, is replaced by the timid courtly lover respectful, obedient, and even worshipful of the woman from afar.

How often I screwed them you will now hear:
One hundred and eighty-eight times! So that my tackle almost broke
And my harness
And I cannot tell you what great sickness
Overtook me from all that.

to,

Every joy should be humble
And every wealth obeisant toward her,
Milady because of her beautiful welcome
And because of her beautiful pleasing face;
And he would last another hundred years
Who could seize the joy ofher love.
Through herjoy a sick man can become well
And through her anger a healthy man die
And a wise man become foolish
And a handsome man lose his beauty
And the most refined become boorish
And the most boorish refined.

Antifeminism and the idealization of the feminine are mirror images of each other - coevally overdetermined visions of woman as overdetermined.

According to Erich Koehler, the doctrine of ennobling unhappy love emerged both as an idealization of the deteriorating situation of the lower nobility and as a forum for the resolution of potentially violent intraclass tension. The precarious position of both segments of an endangered chivalry produced a consciousness of their mutual class interest which, by occulting or idealizing the tension, prevented it from becoming an open conflict. To the lower nobility, the hobereaux or squireens, courtliness offered the possibility ofregaining a measure of lost prestige through the myth ofan aristocracy of soul rather than birth; it also helped guarantee the material maintenance of the dispossessed knight by transforming the traditional feudal contract, by which the promise of loyalty and counsel on the part of the vassal was exchanged for material support and protection on the part of the lord, into the moral value of obligatory generosity or largesse. To the upper nobility it offered the ideal image of a feudal king to whom the great horde of dispossessed knights remained loyal, even to the extent of being able to fantasize loving women of the upper aristocracy without actually being able to touch them; it transformed, as in the case of Jaufre Rudel and the troubadours, this distance between lover and lady into an ideal.

Kristeva returns love to the domain of Christian mysticism, which, through the incantation of the courtly song, transforms rhetoric into a religion:

In point of fact, courtly songs neither describe nor relate. They are essentially messages of themselves, the signs of love's intensity. They have no object - the lady is seldom defined and, slipping away between restrained presence and absence, she is simply an imaginary addressee, the pretext for the incantation. . . . This latter focus ofincantation soon led to the inscription of courtly rhetoric into religion and changed the Lady into a Virgin Mary.

The courtly lady is, according to Kristeva, merely another version ofthe Virgin Mary who represents the "prototype of a love relationship" in the West and "the focal point of men's desires and aspirations."

The courtly lady as an avatar ofthe Mother of Christ is, of course, nothing new. Scholars ever since the nineteenth century have seen in courtliness a secular manifestation of medieval Mariology, pointing to the nostalgia of the lover for a distant ideal, the attempt to spiritualize the physicality of the body along the lines of Cistercian mysticism, the glorification of suffering, the ecstasy ofthe lover, the woman as a source of redemption, and the infusion of religious terms within the semantic range of courtly sublimation.

What is the difference between the analogy established between the ascetic misogyny of the church fathers and courtly love as renunciation, and Kristeva's analogy between adoration ofthe Virgin Mary and courtly love as "the unconscious needs of primary narcissism," or attachment to the mother? Just this: that where Kristeva seeks both the courtly lady and the Holy Virgin as aspects of a biologized maternal principle that must by its nature be the same everywhere, I have maintained throughout that they are the ideological representations of deeper cultural currents determined by material forces and interests (family structure, patterns of inheritance, control of patrimony) that cannot be confused with nature.

One recognizes in the thought of de Rougemont, Bataille, and Kristeva the degree to which the notion we encountered in Lewis and Briffault of love as resistance (to the law, to the church) ends not only in an idealization of romantic passion - "love declared noble in order that it not be declared scandalous"-but in the universalizing glorification of love, and thus of woman, as a means of salvation. One recognizes too the extent to which the glorification ofwoman, whether consecrated virgin or redeeming mother, represents a version, the ultimate legacy, of the courtly abstraction of the feminine and, more important, the extent to which this abstraction works not to empower the woman it seems to elevate but to keep her at a distance from history and the world.

They participate in the myth of the advent of romantic love as cultural progress, an antidote to ten centuries of misogyny, which is a view that dates to at least the nineteenth-century positivist belief. Michelet maintains that Robert d'Arbrissel is one of those who make history appear "as the progressive triumph of liberty." He sees the period under study as the century in which "God changed sex, so to speak . . . ; and just as woman reigned over heaven, she began to rule the earth."
"Psychologically and morally," writes Paul Imbs in our own time, "it is a question of the phenomenon of freeing the spirit and recognizing the right to happiness through the free disposition of one's body, a phenomenon whose first beneficiaries were the women of the South, who were more independent in relation to their husbands." Robert Miller speaks of the "civilizing influence" of courtly love: "In this quaint way, the western world was delivered from the Dark Ages." Charles Carnproux is convinced of a "will toward the emancipation ofwomen" ("volonte d'emancipation feminine"). Courtly love "celebrated woman as an ennobling spiritual and moral force, thus expressing a new feminism that contradicted both the antifeminism ofthe ecclesiastical establishment and the sexual attitudes endorsed by the church," writes Diane Bornstein, who, in The Dictionary ofthe Middle Ages) reinforces the accepted attitude concerning the invention of Western romantic love as a process of sexual textual liberation.

By now it should be obvious that the danger of a conception of courtliness as a remedy to antifeminism is, first, a confusion of the idealization that courtliness contains with love itself and, second, a blindness to the profound identity of seemingly contrary but remarkably similar contending abstractions of the feminine. For all that we have seen thus far indicates that the conception of romantic love was not so much the product of ecclesiastical pressure upon a licentious aristocracy to respect the institution of marriage as it was a reaction on the part of a marriage-minded nobility against the increasing economic power ofwomen; and this, again, precisely in the south where the hold of the church was reduced and the power of heiresses and dowagers implied the greatest threat.

The invention of Western romantic love represented, above all, a usurping reappropriation of woman at the moment she became capable of appropriating what had traditionally constituted masculine modes of wealth.

Fontevrault was a place where a woman had power over women as well as over men, a place whose particular brand of piety emphasized woman as the incarnation ofthe Mother of God. More important, it served an important social function as a refuge for women, a "safe house" in which those seeking to escape marriage-either before or after-might find a haven.
A licentious, antifeminist, patriarchal William IX, threatened by a competing cultural model, appropriated, transformed, and thus usurped the opposing ideology according to which woman is valued and even worshiped-and which had institutional expression at Fontevrault-by giving it a secular cast in terms of a veneration of woman who incarnates the Virgin and who also subsumes all earthly values. Worship of the Virgin and adoration of the courtly lady - are not opposite to each other at all. On the contrary, they are co-conspiring manifestations of the same reifying abstraction of the feminine whose singular purpose can best be explained by changes in women's economic situation and, in particular, by a shift in women's relation to property.

In the discourse of theology as it developed in the region of Paris, there appeared a marked preference for the doctrine of "pure consensualism," that is to say, for the belief that nothing other than the assent of parties is necessary to a valid bond. "The efficient cause ofmarriage is consent" ("EfIiciens autem causa matrimonii est consensus"), states Peter Lombard. The agreement of parents is not required at the time either of the betrothal or of the actual wedding.

First, in Rome consent to a marriage was almost always accompanied by a dotal exchange, in which gifts from the groom were minimal and the wife's dowry, which was in effect a condition of the legal recognition of a union, was comparatively great. Ancient Germanic culture, on the other hand, practiced a mode of marital exchange (Kaufehe) such that the husband's family essentially purchased a wife from her family via the morgengabe, a gift presented on the "morning after."
In the centuries following the introduction of Christianity and the invasions, however, both systems were transformed. Beginning about A.D. 200 the "flow of wealth" among the Romans changed course, such that the burden of endowment, the sponsalia latgitas or the donatio ante nuptias shifted from the family ofthe bride to that ofthe groom. Concomitantly, among the Germans the brideprice (withrum) was no longer paid to her parents or guardians but directly to the bride. And whether this reversal of the Mediterranean model along with the attenuation of that of the invading tribes was the product of contact oftwo civilizations or the result, as has been maintained, of a change in the sex ratio of available females to males, the fact remains, as David Herlihy observes, that "the dominant form of marital conveyance in Western Europe during the early Middle Ages, from the barbarian migrations until the twelfth century, was the reverse dowry."

The return of the dos has been seen as the result of the reformist ecclesiastical effort to make marriages public or to protect the rights ofwives, which tended to erode under customary law, or, as recent demographic studies have shown, as the consequence of marriage market pressures that restricted the supply of available men, or even as a manifestation of the crystallization in the postfeudal era of the vertical family or lineage. Still, the dotal world is, at bottom, one in which the woman depends less on the generosity ofher husband (on the morning after) than on that of her own kin.

Stated in the simplest possible terms, a dialectical reading ofcourtly love, one that assumes idealization to be an inverted mirror and not simply the direct reflection of a material base, is just this: As long as woman was property to be disposed of, she was deprecated in accord with received misogynistic notions ofthe feminine as the root ofall evil; but as soon as woman became capable ofdisposing- and) more specifically) of disposing ofproperty - she was idealized in the terms of courtly love.

Although the discourse of courtliness, which places the woman on a pedestal and worships her as the controlling domna seems to empower women along with an enabling femininity, it is yet another ruse of sexual usurpation thoroughly analogous to that developed in the early centuries of our era by the fathers of the church. No less than the discourse of salvational virginity does it place the burden of redemption upon the woman who, as in the double bind of Christianity's founding articulation of gender, finds herself in the polarized position of seducer and redeemer - always anxious, always guilty, never able to measure up, vulnerable. Misogyny and courtly love are co-conspiring abstractions of the feminine whose function was from the start, and continues to be, the diversion of women from history by the annihilation of the identity of individual women, hidden behind the requirement of discretion and the anonymity of the domna and thus the transformation of woman into an ideal. Courtliness is, at bottom, a competing mode of coercion that will, alongside misogyny, continue to hide its disenfranchising effects behind the seductions of courtesy, and thus to dominate the discourse of lovers in the West.

Courtly love is perhaps the best example of what Gisele Halimi, in an anthology entitled New French Feminisms terms "Doormat-Pedestal" tactics, which seek to elevate woman in order to debase her.  
"There are," writes Jean-Marie Aubert, "two ways of placing woman outside of all public life or refusing her the rights monopolized by men: one to consider her as an imbecile and to place her squarely in tutelage ... the other to exalt her through a sublimation which renders her unworthy of all worldly tasks." Here the possibilities - all versions of the Eternal Woman are almost infinite, ranging from the psychoanalytic investment of the mother with omnipotence according to the Oedipal story, to her psychoanalytic positing as enigma, to the Lacanian version ofthe Woman as the Other, to the philosophical notion of woman as Truth in Nietzsche, or as Anti-Truth in Derrida, to her transubstantiation in theological discourse into the Holy Virgin, or, in the language ofthe love poets, into the revered domna." [Bloch]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:06 pm

Quote :
"Arthurian courtesy (courtoisie) lived in a dynamic symbiosis with a conscious social and moral commitment which contrasted with that world from within, and ultimately dissolved it. All this occurred while courtesy, an ethos that pursued its own social and literary development, conspired with “chivalry” and “courtliness” to form a triad of value systems that operated both inside and outside the world of chivalry. All the sundry possibilities came to fruition. The chivalry of the Perceval story entailed a metaphysical, mystical, and theological level of courtois refinement in an effort to attain a supreme level of personal perfection. The courtliness of a Tristan, instead, involved personal survival in the real world of hostile social forces. Yvain, in turn, worked both inside and outside the Arthurian court to achieve a purposefulness that would satisfy the image of the whole man.

There were three types of “chivalry.” There was, first, a Christian knighthood, centered in northern France and reaching its consciousness in 1050–1100. This was followed by a courtly knighthood and, finally, a culture of courtly love. The latter two matured in southern France between 1100 and 1150, then quickly extended to northern France and beyond by 1150– 1180. The three phenomena are distinct and partly antagonistic. Nonetheless, they converged and thrived side by side.


The identification of these three currents is similar to Carl Erdmann's 1935 thesis (Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens, The Rise of the Crusade Idea), apparently endorsed by E. R. Curtius (European Literature 536), which explains Christian knighthood as arising out of the contrast between pagan Germanic warlike attitudes and the Church's sense of Christian meekness. French epics expressed this evolving knightly ethos in the two distinct forms of Christian transcendence and struggling baronial fealty, while Germanic epics incorporated the growing elements of courtesy over the substratum of a pagan military ethos. The courts of Provence and then Champagne and Flanders harbored a different knightly spirit that fed on the assimilation of service to the lord and service to the lady, thus combining chivalry and love.

The third code combined the other two, adding to them the element of love, represented by a courtly-mannered knight who was motivated by both heroism and love in a state of harmonious symbiosis.

The paradoxes of the social reality and its accompanying ideology, were rooted in the dual nature of both knighthood and courtliness: the denizens of the court were inherently torn between their servile status toward the lord and their exalted status as part of the power structure. They thought, felt, and operated as both free and unfree agents: free in their privileges vis-à-vis subjects and commoners, unfree vis-à-vis the masters.

Social background and ethical principles closely connect the culture of courtliness to the literature of courtesy. Courteous and courtesy (occasionally, for greater clarity, Fr. courtois, courtoisie) refer to the results of the civilizing process (connected with both courtliness and chivalry) whereby respect for others' feelings and interests was expected as acceptable behavior and a sign of noble nature.

The rise of the merchants also had an impact on life at court when merchants began to compete with noble courtiers for administrative positions. The intrusion of this alien social element into the ministerial ranks introduced new ethical factors which were at variance with the mental attitudes of clergy and warriors (oratores and bellatores). This bourgeois invasion was to have a significant impact on the relationship between the sexes. In the mid-twelfth century, at the same time that matrimony became a sacrament, the mercantile view of marriage as a contract freely entered upon by mutual consent, like a mercantile contract, started to infiltrate and eventually, though slowly, to overrun the heroic view of marriage as possession of the woman by right of conquest, even by force.

The idea of curialitas or courtliness appears to have originated among the curiales (from curia, “court”), the secular clergy trained in the royal chapels, which supplied the bulk of high civil servants and royal counselors. Josef Fleckenstein (1956) mapped out the flowering of the newly revived cathedral schools of the tenth century under the aegis of a new policy of imperial patronage, and argued that the direction of these new schools changed purposely from the Carolingian emphasis on the training of preachers and teachers of Scripture to the formation of statesmen and administrators. Jaeger agrees:
"The goal was not knowledge for its own sake or knowledge for the glory and worship of God, but rather knowledge to be applied in the practical duties of running the empire. Brun of Cologne as imperial chancellor is known for transforming the royal chapel into a sort of academy of philosophy and school for imperial bishops. The instruction that turned gifted young men into trained administrators and loyal supporters of the emperor originated at court, in the chapel. But it was so valuable that it spilled over the borders of that tiny, elite institution, and sought accommodation elsewhere. This gave cathedral schools their new role . . . . Cathedral school education becomes identical with preparation for service at court, be it secular or episcopal."

Thus, following Roman models, Otto I and Brun created an institutional basis for the teaching of courtly manners while trying to take care of the actual needs of effective and orderly government. The courtier bishops and the cathedral schools they controlled became the centers for the education of clerics in courtly manners. This vigorous educational program went hand in hand with the Saxon emperors' will to restore the empire and revive the ancient cultural splendor.

Amounting to both a Christianization of militarism and a militarization of Christianity, the Pax Dei bears the seeds of chivalry, since the knightly class responded to the complex situation created by the Peace of God.[33] The original intent was to restrain the destructively barbarous forms of military activity prevailing among feudal bands. In a second stage, during the second quarter of the eleventh century, the Church went farther by proclaiming the “Truce of God” (Treuga Dei), which declared private warfare a sinful pleasure to be restrained. During specified periods of “abstinence” the penitent knights were urged to put down their armor and swords and join the inermes, the unarmed under the spiritual protection of the Church. It was a further progression toward chivalric deeds.

Military knightly orders, like the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights (“Deutscher Orden”), arose in the wake of the preaching of the Crusades, which marked the third phase of the Peace of God, and the new spirituality erupted in the enthusiasm for crusading in Europe and in the Orient. The knight's ethic thus became ambivalent, entailing a denial or limitation of his right and duty to do battle except for Christ. The principle was clearly stated at the Council of Narbonne in 1054 and made universal at the Council of Clermont in 1095.

The militia was given a chance to become what Pope Gregory VII and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090/91–1153) would then call a nova militia, the militia Dei or Christi, if it abided by its purported divine calling to be a providential arm for justice, peace, and social order. Such a role was far less urgent in Germany, as the bishop of Cambrai had affirmed as early as 1025, since there the sovereign had sufficient power to keep the peace. Knightly status generally rose in prestige as a result of the ecclesiastical reform movements which moralized and spiritualized the social function of knighthood, and this rise in prestige fostered the assimilation of the two orders of nobiles and milites, which, for the same reason of lesser urgency, did not take place in Germany.

The active alliance between religious and secular knighthood exhausted itself when the crusading spirit failed. Hence, the Church's rejection of warlike attitudes forced a new justification of chivalry, with a displacement of values that could take one of two directions: (1) a willful acceptance of military action (even outright brigandage) for economic and political reasons of a purely secular nature, or (2) a shift in emphasis from the military aspect of chivalry to the nonmilitary, that is, to a noble code of loving (the ideology of courtly love) and behaving at court (the ideology of manners).

Georges Duby has proposed to view the poor nobility as both creator and direct audience of the literature of courtoisie. The curiales or curial clerics and the knights, most commonly poor nobles, shared economic interests and social background, both often being noble cadets who could neither inherit their fathers' domains nor aspire to independent sources of livelihood. They could enter a monastery or seek ecclesiastical careers as court clerics, or they could turn to the knightly profession. Starting in the tenth or eleventh century the members of the landless lower nobility who turned to knightly status gravitated around the seigniorial courts as their natural habitat, since, deprived of permanent residences and personal holdings in the form of fiefs, they depended on the liberal hospitality of a lord and mistress. In return for hospitality these “marginal men” served according to a regular contract that specified the duty to perform chevauchées through the countryside. The purpose of such errands, which became the practical model of the knight errant's idealized adventure trips, was not to find portentous encounters with ogres, dragons, or magic villains, but to ensure the orderly collection of levies and taxes and strike terror in the hearts of the peasants. The knights were the lord's militia, police, and law enforcers.

In southern France more than elsewhere, the knights came to constitute a sort of state within the state, taking right and justice into their own hands for largely uncensurable and uncontrollable purposes. Their livelihood could be supplemented from acts of violence at the expense of various property owners. Indeed, it was not always easy to distinguish between knights and bandits, since even the most fearsome bandits might display the same chivalrous and courtly conduct toward ladies and the downtrodden. When his superiors decided a knight's behavior was no longer acceptable or manageable, he would be declared an outlaw, which occasionally turned him into a popular hero (vide the various Robin Hoods of British and continental history).

Episcopal vitae and related tracts predicated a mixture of Christian virtues overlaid on a range of somewhat heterogeneous Ciceronian/Stoic ones. We could list them as: formositas (beauty), eruditio (education or learning), virtus (encompassing eloquence as eloquentia or facundia), mansuetudo, discretio or reticentia, amabilitas, and mensura (Jaeger: 30–48). Mansuetudo, surely an unheroic quality, included patience in the face of offense: the Roman de la rose 1.39: 1236–1237 said of the allegorical figure Cortoisie: “never spoke ill of anyone, nor did she bear rancor toward anyone.”

Discretion or reticence was meant as calculated underplaying of talents, somewhat analogous to Castiglione's sprezzatura. Mensura —also moderamen or moderatio, originally the Aristotelian mesotes, balance between opposite extremes—also included a sort of diplomacy that allowed the subject to survive under the most trying circumstances without taking a dangerous stand on matters of principle. The whole was made effective by a cultivated personal charm of the type that we would now call charisma (Jaeger 1987: 595).

A more articulate portrait of the courtly type included, within the ethical framework of elegantia morum: disciplina (self-restraint), urbanitas (entailing eloquence), kalokagathia (harmony of inner and outer man), and, under the rubric of behavioral patterns, decorum, facetia, hilaritas/jocunditas, and curialitas, a comprehensive term. This schema also subsumed an aptitude for connivance and a taste for intrigue. These two qualities were seldom mentioned explicitly yet they were clearly represented in the literature; they were also part of the needed self-restraint in the face of the warrior/knight's tendency to act boldly on first impulse and without regard to consequences. All these courtly qualities would contrast directly with the image of the chivalrous gentleman and knight as frank, straightforward, and naively loyal.

Kalokagathia, rooted in the classical notion of symbiosis of the beautiful and the good, and deeply embedded in the Greek paideia ever since Isocrates, could be defined as perfect rectitude united with urbanity and good breeding. It implied qualities clearly at work in the images of the Ottonian and Salian royal bishops. Capellanus seemed to have such a distinction in mind when he coupled curialitas (as the outer refinement that, together with liberalitas, makes the lover socially attractive) with probitas (the inner virtue that makes the lover truly lovable). This aestheticizing of manners and conduct as part of an ideal education remained operative through Castiglione and beyond.

Classical Latin disciplina had meant only learning and art, as in “the school disciplines.” Medieval Latin added the connotation of monastic rule and/or chastisement. But in eleventh- and twelfth-century Germany, curiales disciplinae (hövesche zühte), like the singular elegans et urbana disciplina (schöne und hövesche zuht), became common terms, all hovering around the clerical intellectual circles of towns and courts (especially about the court chapels). They signified the kind of elegant self-control that distinguishes the moral makeup and outward behavior of the sophisticated courtier.

Cicero developed his theme in a somewhat meandering way by embroidering around the cardinal virtues of justice, fortitude, temperance, and prudence, insisting repeatedly on the centrality, particularly for the public servant, of what he called honestum, a term which, in turn, can be rendered as “the moral good” or “the morally beautiful,” corresponding closely to Greek tò kalón. In book 3 Cicero argued at length that honestum and utile cannot be in conflict: when properly understood they practically coincide. Speaking of the apt use of speech (2.48), he pointed to the power of “comitas affabilitasque sermonis” in winning friendship and influence, with an interesting coupling of courtesy and affability as aspects of effective speech.

The qualities analyzed in De officiis (especially 1.93–1.113) that bear more directly on the new curial ideal were those of urbanity (urbanitas ), modesty, moderation, restraint, considerateness (verecundia), and self-control in the sense of subjection of passion to reason, all subsumed under the rubric of temperantia, the fourth cardinal virtue, like the other major quality of decorum, which also includes reverentia or reverence toward deserving men (116 f.). All these qualities, together with affabilitas and iocunditas or hilaritas, affability and good disposition, win friendship, and act both through decorous speech, which includes facetia, iocus, and urbanitas (Gr. eiróneia), and decorous bearing, which includes a beautiful appearance (formositas), grace (ornatus), and cleanliness in dress (munditia).

Cicero ascribed this type of behavior particularly to the statesman,

whose public service it aids and enhances, thus making him a more valuable member of society and a more heroic citizen than the warrior with his military prowess (115 f.).

Let us look at some key passages (1.27.93–94, 98, 107):
We must next speak of the one remaining part of honestas, wherein we find reverence (verecundia ) and a certain ornament of life, temperance, modesty, and all restraint of the perturbations of the soul, together with a sense of measure in all things. Here is contained what Latins call decorum, the Greeks prepon. The force of this quality is such that it cannot be separated from honesty: indeed, what is becoming is honest, and what is honest is becoming . . . . Similar is the nature of fortitude. For what is done with a manly and great soul appears worthy of a man and dignified, whereas whatever is contrary to this is morally ugly, hence unbecoming.
Hence poets will see what is becoming in the great variety of their characters, even the vicious ones; as to ourselves, whatever nature has given us in the form of constancy, moderation, temperance, and reverence, and since nature teaches us not to overlook the manner in which we act toward others, it is clear how wide the realm of dignified behavior (decorum ) is, to wit what is part and parcel of honesty as a whole, as well as what pertains to every single kind of virtue.
We all partake of reason and of that quality by which we are above the beasts, from which we derive all honesty and dignity (honestum decorumque ) as well as the method of finding out what duty is.

Note this gathering of key concepts: verecundia, ornatus, temperantia, modestia, decorum, fortitudo, animus magnus, constantia, honestum, ratio, and also the closeness of decorum (or its synonym decor ) and honestum, yielding an insight into their ethical and social connotations. These terms constitute an important segment of the broad semantic field of Latin decorum/decor/decus. The term “decoration,” still applied today to a social status or dignity that is added for its display value as “an ornament of life,” is etymologically and semantically derived from decor and decus. It first appeared in this acceptation in medieval French décorement, with its allied adjective aournez.

Thus Cicero's recipe for a successful public career accorded with another characteristic of eleventh/twelfth century thinking and speaking on the primacy of the practical versus the merely intellectual, and the moral versus the merely cognitive. It did so by stressing, as the medieval literature of curiality repeatedly did, the coupling of virtue and beauty, the moral and the aesthetic, inner and outer behavior. The life of the wise public man was perceived as beautiful in itself and successful precisely by virtue of its aesthetically attractive and persuasive qualities. Likewise, Heraclius of Liège (d. 971), his mid-twelfth century biographer tells us, was equal to the greatest philosophers not only for his mastery of human and divine learning, but especially because “his splendid manners gilded his physical beauty,” “presertim cum venustatem corporis mores etiam inaurarant splendidi.” He was a forerunner of the mentality that students of fifteenthcentury Italian humanism have labeled “civic humanism” ever since the studies of Hans Baron and Eugenio Garin, a mentality that harmonized with Cicero's emphasis on the life of the public servant as morally beautiful if based on honestum, decorum, and tò kalón.

In essence, the medieval civic ethos derived, through Cicero and other authorities, from the classical (mostly Stoic) system of the cardinal virtues of prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance as reinterpreted by the Christian fathers. This civic ethos would later be extended from the formation of the curial courtier to that of the knight. In the process, in both courtly and chivalric ethics, prudence was commonly defined as knowing what is fitting and acting accordingly; temperance as moderation from excess and pride; fortitude as valor and bravery; and justice as service to the weak and the needy, especially if they were victims of injustice. Prudence came to include cunning in courtliness while fortitude became daring adventurousness in chivalry, as a means to prove one's true worth. Of course, the classical, traditional sense was betrayed here, since the typical excesses of the knights' adventurousness defied prudence and also contravened the attendant virtue of moderation or measure. Nevertheless, the knight who exceeded (i.e., when the story explicitly presented his behavior as excessive) was punished with failure. Moderation, in turn, was a standard virtue in the Middle Ages.

From the late tenth century on, a pattern of behavior appropriate to a successful life at court was a prerequisite for the pursuit of an episcopal seat.

Hugh of St. Victor (ca. 1096–1141) spoke of disciplina as an inner habit that keeps instincts and passions in check and as an outer form which confers a convenient dignity on appearance, gesture, speech, and behavior in public, specifically at the table. Hugh saw gestus, habitus, gressus, incessus, motus corporis, locutio, cibus, and potus, namely gesture, comportment, gait, way of walking, movements of the body, speech, and ways of eating and drinking, as signs of inner virtue (De institutione novitiorum ). These were not mere rhetorical topoi conventionally repeated, since they occur within specific pragmatic contexts.

This emphasis on the aesthetic aspects of virtue and on the importance of outer signs of inner dispositions was clearly part of the political dimension of the special ethos for public administrators and social leaders.  

In consequence of these advertised prerequisites, the courtier became “the master of his every word and act, of his diction and gestures . . . . The mask and the disguise became major psychic vestments of the courtier” (Jaeger: 7). The courtly code is an assurance of the courtier's aptitude or fitness (idoneitas ) for the fulfillment of his political function. The amabilitas of the Ottonian chaplain, hence of the courtier bishop, included the attitude of affability, which in Castiglione aimed at winning and maintaining the favor of the prince...

Courtoisie, hövescheit, and cortesia are the vernacular code words for a type of conduct that the medieval cleric/courtier had fashioned for himself on the basis of ancient ideals of the Greek asteîos anér (= urban, hence urbane < ástu “town”) and the Roman urbanus, endowed with urbanitas, as opposed to the rusticus (Gr. agroîcos ). The concept of urbanity as synonym for civilized behavior extended with greater force of logic to the culture of the burgher towns, while its etymological counterpart of rusticity was reflected in that scorn for the peasant which pervades medieval lyrics and chivalric romances and which is implied in the frequent references to the rusticus (Fr. vilain, G. dörperlich ).

A relevant text is a small treatise from the 1220s in the genre of education of princes, to wit Johannes of Limoges's Morale somnium Pharaonis. When Joseph fears that entering the king's service will cause envy and lead to worldly distractions, Pharaoh admonishes him: “Is it not worse for you to fear the loss of life than to fear the extinction of justice and fairness in the kingdom? Is it not more glorious to die in the active struggle for justice than to wait passively for sickness and old age to produce the same effect?” (Epistolae 8, 8 ff.). This was a positive view of the active duties of rulers and counselors, who must leave contemplation and prayer to those who do not carry the burden of government. This ethic of worldly service developed by court clerics eventually contributed to the civilizing of the nobility and the formulation of the type of knight and lover that we find in the courtly lyric and the chivalric romance; it is still detectable as background to the model Renaissance courtier.

The orthodox ascetic milieus had always held to an austere view of moral life that took issue with one distinct feature of courtliness: hilaritas or iocunditas.

This was part of his general condemnation of the world of chivalry as a synthesis of all worldly vices: “they spout abominable mimes, magic and fabulous tales, obscene songs, and idle spectacles, like vanities and lying insanities.”
Within the rigoristic monastic circles this distrust of courtly ways accompanied an underlying suspicion of chivalry that had a powerful political motivation: that is, the strong alliance that tied some leading monasteries and cathedrals to centralizing, antifeudal monarchic policies.

Interestingly enough, the strong reaction in courtly circles to his Epistle 14 soon compelled Peter of Blois to recant in his Epistle 150 (PL 207: 439–442): “Indeed, I acknowledge the sanctity of assisting our royal lord.” He went on quoting Horace: “Having pleased our leaders is not the last of merits,” adding, for good measure: “I deem it to be worthy of not simply praise but glory to be of help to a royal lord and to the state, to be unconcerned about one's own self, and to belong completely to all people.” The last phrase was a recurrent topos of the literature on the courtly cleric, ultimately derived from Paul's omnia omnibus factus sum, “a man for all seasons.”

The Facetus de moribus et vita, a mid-twelfth century versified manual of behavior which established a minor genre of didactic poems known by the same title, can boast a sort of priority in setting a canon of prudent dissimulation in public behavior for the sake of avoiding unnecessary offense. It admonishes us to use restraint and be considerate of others by lying at the proper time, for to speak the truth at all time is counterproductive: “Esto verecundus, falsum quandoque loquaris, / Nam semper verum dicere crede nephas.” Once again, we are bound to think ahead to Castiglione's advice concerning a prudent dissimulation as an essential part of the art of surviving and thriving at court.

Even more intriguing is that the Facetus conceived of both humanity and the civilized state as products of human “art,” art being innate in man as a potentia, which it is up to the individual to bring forth into actuality: “Ars hominem format”, and “habet omnis homo quo se possit fabricare.”

At the hands of the Ottonian and Salian clerics, courtliness was clearly not “art” but, precisely, “civilization”: culture was at the service of society, not, as it became in some extreme forms of Romanticism, a tool to subvert society and reject its given order. In this Germany made an original early contribution, and it may well have been “next to Christian ideals, the most powerful civilizing force in the West since ancient Rome” (Jaeger: 261).


Leighton. The Dedication.

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William the Conqueror, presented as the perfect ideal of the valorous and pious knight. The noble warrior wants to defeat his knightly opponents, not slay them. Here again we are reminded of the knight's reluctance to kill even the most abominable characters in the romances, once they have been duly defeated. Interestingly enough, the portraits keep shifting the emphasis from the subjects' warlike virtues to their being handsome knights dedicated to the protection of the poor and the weak, the clergy and the Church, and to the prevention of injustice, plunder, and the violation of equity and measure. In more religious contexts the miles Christi was reminded that he had to serve with humilitas and misericordia, Christian humility and readiness to help the needy. All three chroniclers, Dudo and the two Guillaumes, agree on attributing to the fierce dukes the pious qualities that the preachers of the Peace of God, in the wake of an ancient tradition based on the Bible, had wanted to see in a ruler and a noble soldier.

The clerics perform their self-appointed task as court educators by assigning to the rulers a mission that is both a prefiguration of chivalric ethic and a confirmation of what Jean Flori calls “the royal ethic,” which, in the climate of the Peace of God, gradually percolated down from the king to the princes and, finally, to the new knightly class.

This “royal ethic” could not play the same role in Germany as in France, given the different relationships between Church and state in the two regions and the more limited role of the Peace of God in Germany.

Joachim Bumke (1964) uses Lambert's famous text to support the following conclusion, a neat summary of his authoritative interpretation:
"The aristocratic knighthood of courtly literature is not explainable in terms of shifts in the class structure. It is an educational and cultural idea of farreaching significance, and a phenomenon that belongs far more to intellectual than to social history. The reality of the nobility around 1200 clearly looked quite different . . . . Poets set the ideal of chivalric virtue against this harsh reality, the dream of the gentleman who has tempered his nobility with humility, and who strives to fulfill his worldly duties and to serve God at the same time."

This ideal was created not “out of thin air,” but as part of the civilizing process contained in the clerical education of curial and courtly candidates. The process started in imperial Germany and continued independently throughout the West.

Chivalry is a historic phenomenon based on both hard social realities and lofty literary ideals, separate yet somehow convergent. It contains in itself, as essential ingredients, the civilizing factors of both courtliness and courtesy, the former being more social in origin, the latter, at this time, more ideological (including, in particular, an exquisitely literary idea emerge in the poetry, namely courtly love as the spring of heroic action, its motive and goal).

Because of the model introduced by French romances, the vulgate view of chivalry and courtesy (courtoisie ) has tended to confuse the two categories as originally and naturally coextensive, further combining or confusing the proper elements of courtliness with courtly love. Courtesy became an operative principle in literature only when education of the noble/warrior class by clerics became an accomplished fact. At that point the “courtly,” later “courtois” knight began to draw inspiration from the life of the court, which had become his psychological locus. It was not so before, when the feudal lord lived on his domain without a court of educated clerics and intellectuals. The first point of pressure was at the royal courts, where the need for social polish and regulated behavior was first felt, with the high lords soon starting to emulate the royalty. In due course the progress of royal centralization carried the process further. The literature of romances, first written by clerical curiales for a noble audience, completed this “educative” task."

Around 1168 the abbot of Bonne-Espérance, Philip of Harvengt (near Mons), wrote two revealing letters to important noblemen. First, addressing the new Count Philip of Flanders, he eloquently argued for the principle that a noble knight's militia is enhanced, not hindered, by learning, and that, conversely, letters and the arts are given purpose by the virtues of the good ruler:
Neither is manly chivalry of prejudice to learning, nor is a fitting knowledge of letters of prejudice to the knightly exercises. Indeed, the union of the two is so useful and so becoming in a prince, that the prince who is not made truly noble by knowledge of letters betrays his status by stooping to the condition of a rustic or even a beast.

The closeness of the cleric to the knight that we have seen so clearly implied in Ordericus Vitalis is stated outright as an established principle in a remarkably perspicuous allegorical poem of the late thirteenth century contained in Bodleian MS. Douce 210 (ff. 1ra— 12vb), where the identification of nobility and knighthood is also sanctioned in straightforward terms:

(And when you hear the name of prince, / understand it for knight; / a king cannot be without the knight, / no more

than a bishop without the priest, / hence these two, the cleric and the knight, / have all the world to govern; / the cleric to teach us all, / and the knight to defend us all.)

Summarily setting the nascent chivalric code alongside the courtly one: equivalences and similarities may point to the way the two will combine into the new code of courtesy. The courtier's “elegance (or beauty) of manners” had meant self-control, entailing humanity and consideration toward others. Similarly, the victorious knight of the romances often surprises us by resisting the instinct to pursue his victory and exercise his right to kill. He humanely releases his prisoner without conditions, or simply on his word that he will publicize his defeat. Elegance is also personal style, etiquette, and social manners, and the knight always puts on a dignified, even splendid show if circumstances permit, with liberality and a sense of theatrical display. Love for the woman adds the decisive dimension of gentility, refinement, and devotion.

Around the year 1100, once the gains obtained by force of arms became consolidated, the high nobility began to taste the advantages of a more refined way of life which was being defined by the educated clerics for a lay society with a secular culture. A more sophisticated ethical code began to set in, with the help of a literary corpus of tales and precepts. The old military virtues became joined with the new courtly ones, specifying liberality in the use of worldly goods, affability and articulateness in conversation, and elegance of manners: the whole cemented in a sublimated experience of love, proclaimed as the secret of all human value. Nobles and knights were getting ready to advance their full claim to rule.

One of the most influential of these mirrors of princes calls for our special attention: the De regimine principum, dedicated about 1280 to the young prince, the future Philip IV of France, by the Augustinian scholar, high administrator, and pupil of Thomas Aquinas, Aegidius Columna Romanus (Egidio Colonna or Giles of Rome, ca. 1247–1316).

What throws a special light on this important text is the way it was rendered into French in a remarkable vulgarization that was more influential than the original, undoubtedly starting at Philip's court. The definition of curialitas was dropped in the translation, rendered without any hesitation as “courtesy,” cortoisie (Molenaer ed.: 261). The text goes on promising to demonstrate by two arguments of “nobility” why the ministers of kings and princes must be courtly or courteous: “nobility of manners and virtue rather than by birth.” Then the exposition presents a twist: the courtier must be courtly (cortois, curialis in the original), not simply in order to do what is pleasant or to obey the law, but in order to be like the noblemen of the court. He is truly noble who behaves like a nobleman at court.

Knights are called upon to defend the people from external enemies or from internal dissensions and injustices. Proper knights are arbiters of battle, above common soldiers. On Vegetius's authority, Giles says peasants are better fighters — because they are tougher, more used to physical effort and all sorts of hardships, and, not expecting much from life, they are less fearful of death, whereas the nobles are accustomed to many comforts. Vegetius, of course, was speaking of Roman legions, where the generals knew all too well that the bulk of their strength lay with the peasants, not the equites. Yet the nobles have a powerful factor in their favor: they are motivated by honor, which can make them better fighters. Besides, knowledge and skill count too, especially on horseback. at the time of their full ripening, the three notions of courtliness, chivalry, and courtesy (in the broadest possible sense, including good social conduct) could be seen as logically coexistent and convergent in their natural habitat at court. They coexisted as the centrifugally active ideology, the ethical core of the power center." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:09 pm

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"French chevalier, like German rîter, ritter, simply denoted the horse-mounted man (at arms). But knights could also be called knechte, “servants,” in Middle High German, which, like the cognate English “knight,” clearly pointed to the bond of service between soldier and master. Thus, in a highly productive paradox, what was to become the paramount linguistic sign of nobility, hence freedom, started out as a mark of servitude: the knight was inherently “unfree” as a liegeman and bond-servant of a master who kept him in his pay and at his orders for military and other services. The duality of functions for the nascent status of knight, namely being servant to a feudal lord and, at the same time, member of the ruling class endowed with power and lofty privilege, lies at the root of the contradictory nature of the knight's ideology and self-expression. He is proud of his exalted position and seeks his own individual growth to full dignity in the free experience of bravery, skill, and actual personal power (sought and tested through adventures), but at the same time he acknowledges the source of his dignity and power in the court where he must serve (Arthur's, Charlemagne's, or others).

Loyalty meant expectation of protection in exchange for service, and service could be withdrawn when no longer profitable.

In the state of quasi-anarchy that followed the break-up of the Carolingian order, the counts saw themselves forced to shape their domains into relatively independent military entities, relying on a new class of horse-mounted soldiers to enforce their claims against their equally independent-minded vassals. Knights had to be fashioned into reliable, loyal followers through a suitable education, personal support, and enfeoffment for the worthiest. Thus the lord's house became a “court,” the home for these new dependents and helpers. Soldiers turned courtiers and, occasionally, noble knights with some feudal status of their own.

The knight's duty toward the lord developed alongside the need for self-assertion as an independent fighting warrior, since fighting was both part of service and a way to acquire one's own fief as due reward. During the lord's frequent absences, his wife acquired a special status carrying great authority: as the lord's substitute (midons < Lat. meus dominus, referring to the lady, meant “my lord”) she became the center of the court and an object of respect, even veneration, on the part of these often unmarried knights. In courtesy and courtly love service to the lady symbolically replaced the service to the real master. If the two goals of service and acquisition were inherently at odds with each other, they still constituted a unified ideology in the imaginary representation of the man who was both adventurous knight and poet in love.  

In A. J. Denomy's phrasing (1953: 44), courtly love distinguished itself in “its purpose or motive, its formal object, namely, the lover's progress and growth in natural goodness, merit, and worth.”

The chivalrous code of courtesy became one of respect for the woman and concern for others' needs and feelings, hence for good manners in public behavior. Such a code could not arise by itself from the lords, who neither needed it nor really practiced it, but who in the end gladly adopted it from their subordinates for the sake of order and, as it were, a feeling of comradeship within the comital household. In adopting it, the lords implicitly yielded to a sort of ideological blackmail. In what Leo Spitzer called the paradoxe amoureux of troubadour poetry, we see mirrored the lesser nobility's effort to integrate itself into the higher nobility, an effort which the latter accepted by historical necessity and managed to control. This effort toward self-legitimization (the proclaimed loyalty, leialtat, etymologically implied legality, legalitas ) embraced a diverse group of court-dwellers who found this ideology to their common interest. Loyalty was a companion of fe or fes, faithfulness.

Courtesy implied a self-restraint that was essential to the knights' survival. Mezura became a key principle of cohabitation, entailing recognition of the limits beyond which one could not go. By its inner logic the court also became the natural place for an art of loving, whose object was the domina/domna, superior by definition and unreachable, yet desired by all. Obviously mansuetude and humility (umildat ) were a necessary marker of recognition of the lady's absolute superiority as well as the lover/courtier's readiness to be obedient in all (obediensa) in order to qualify as fis, a dedicated “faithful of Love”—his loyalty going more to the God of Love than to an individual lord or lady.

The convention of this erotic relationship caused keen competition among “lovers,” each of whom naturally saw in all others nothing but unworthy rivals to be exposed and denigrated. The term lauzengiers covers all other lovers in the audience, denounced as envious and insincere flatterers. The husband, that is, the lord, accepts this chaste devotion toward his wife and is often reminded not to take on the ridiculous role of gilos, “the jealous one.” He is also reminded that he must reward his vassal's devotion with generous gifts—possibly land, immunities, and positions of power in the household and the domain—this reward being the real, material one adumbrated in the request for merce (Fr. guerdon ) from the lady. The expectation of a benefice was part of the appeal to dreitz, the cardinal virtue of justice the lover proclaimed about himself and demanded of the lord.

The application of the feudal relationship of lord and vassal to the relationship between lovers, the man becoming, in all humility, the servant, carried with it a high degree of playful ambiguity. Another factor of ambiguity was the introduction of the Christian ideology of mystic love, represented at best by the Marian cult, which became bent to profane love. Ever since it was first postulated by the French literary historian P.-L. Ginguené, it has been argued whether the Marian cult influenced courtly love or, on the contrary, it was in part a by-product of the new literary cult of womanhood. Such complexity is part of the fascination medieval literature exerts to this day, since the tension between contradictory moods results from a degree of (Christian) interiorization that ancient man could not experience.

The ideology of courtly love can be seen as part of a process of social climbing, the poor knights behaving as “marginal men” who sought recognition by the upper social stratum in order to overcome the limitations of the stratum they were trying to leave behind. A more aggressive posture could make the lords the butt of impatient courtiers, who criticized them as the “evil rich” (rics malvatz ), incapable of true love because they were married (molheratz ), illiberal, lustful, part of the different, inferior “others.” Logical and necessary by the very nature of the ideology, these insults risked becoming counterproductive, since the desired advancement depended on the lords' good will. Yet, overlooking such occasional side effects, the lords welcomed the ideology and even joined it because it ensured the knights' loyalty, which the lords needed. A sort of compromise ensued.

With succeeding generations of troubadours, the courts increased in importance as they became the only locus for the poor, landless, and homeless knights. Courtesy was the common bond because of common interests (keeping harmony in the familia ). As, with time, grants of land and property became less likely, reputation and honor (pretz and onor ) no longer depended on property but on public recognition of this ideal of inner perfection. The critique of power and property, noble or bourgeois as the poets might be, was founded on this perception of a superior nobility of spirit.

On the sentimental plane, the rule is not really love as we would understand it, but desire, an unfulfillable desire that is the root and source of unlimited perfectibility—somewhat like the romantic German Sehnsucht. Unsatisfied desire frustrates but also gives the lover the true nobility to which he aspires.[28] Satisfaction might not end the infatuation, but would end the progress toward ever increasing perfection.

What the more exalted troubadours show is a state of mind that transcended and even denied the values of feudalism: their newly found sen, “wisdom” or “knowledge,” their gai saber, “gay learning,” became opposed to the warriorlike ardimen, “courage” and “bravery” (Fr. hardiment, G. Tapferkeit, Lat. fortitudo ), and proeza (Fr. proece ) of the feudal vassal and the knight. Whereas physical strength is born with us, our wisdom and knowledge are acquired, like the erudition of the clerical courtier. Thus, gradually, as the feudal order started weakening, the themes also shifted in relative emphasis, undermining the original ethical system from within and moving from the cavalaria of the loving knight to courtly love without the warrior virtues. The knight's military qualities had been set off against the courtly qualities as valuable assets for winning ladies' favors, but later they began to lose the argument as less important.

In the quasi-epic setting of the French and German romances it was the other way around: Erec and Yvain had to leave their ladies to prove their worth by a series of victorious knightly deeds. But in a partimen between Guionet and Raembaut, Raembaut decides that “he who is correct, pleasing, of good manners, liberal and courtly and without any boorishness,” is worth a hundred times more to his lady than the one who has ardimen, because it is not right that for one virtue alone one should possess a good lady. In another partimen, already mentioned, between Albert de Sisteron and Peire, the latter insinuates with a delightfully ironic touch of bourgeois common sense that military adventure is a dangerous way to win a lady. Better to have the lady without the battle; better to be courtly than to have been brave. A dead emperor is not worth very much. So courtesy could now even dispense with heroic prowess. Originally proeza had meant military valor, as in Guilhelm IX; it was now becoming synonymous with cortesia even without ardimen. At the extreme end of such arguments, boorish ardimen could become an obstacle to the cortesia demanded by love, and even a cause of downright vilania when deprived of wisdom and culture (sen ). Sen was originally distinguished from saber or clerical doctrine, shunned by the knight as pedantic bigotry (the Germans called it pfaffisch ), but this distinction later disappeared." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:27 pm

Quote :
Bernart de Ventadorn (fl. 1150–1180), for example, displayed the ideological framework of Neo-Platonic love in the sophism of the heart and soul leaving the lover.
His canso “Tant ai mo cor ple de joya” (P.-C. 70.44, st. 3 vv. 33–36):  "I have my heart close to Love, and my spirit also runs there, but my body is here, in another place, far away from her, in France."
He ends his long canso “Lancan vei la folha” with this envoy: “Lady, I am sending you my heart, the best friend I have, as hostage until I return from here."

Similarly, in his poem “Merci clamans de mon fol errement,” Le Châtelain de Coucy (d. 1203) had the following: “When I take my body away from her, I return my heart to her." For an example from Chrétien's own region of Champagne, the trouvère Gace Brulé (fl. 1180–1213) has literally lost his heart (to the lady): “If she does not believe me, let her come and look: see, there is none inside me!"
In his “Ahi Amour! com dure departie,” the French trouvère Conon de Béthune (ca. 1150–1219 or 1220), on the verge of leaving for the Crusade, protests that he is not departing from his beloved at all, since he leaves his heart with her: Compare, too, Thibaut de Champagne's (1201–1253) famous poem “my heart was startled so, that it remained with you when I moved away." Shades of Marsilio Ficino!

In an analogous vein, within the scope of expressing the contradictions of the lover's predicament, the rhetoric of courtly love developed a set of conventions that could be played as a game—part of what was then perceived as civilized refinement, the style of the élite man. A sort of initiation ritual imposed a language of seeming irrationality that combined endlessly, in elegant and witty paradox, contradictory positions of love and hate, hope and despair, happiness and sorrow. Petrarca turned all this into an enduring style of oxymora that had a serious side (the discovery of the contradictory nature of the psyche).

In “Quant l'aura doussa s'amarzis,” Cercamon (fl. 1137–1152) said he was pleased when his lady made him mad, when she made a complete fool of him, when she laughed at him. He thoroughly enjoyed being full of worries for her sake, and it was up to her to make him faithful or full of tricks, a rustic peasant or a most refined courtier, and so on...
His canso “Non es meravelha s'eu chan,” Bernart de Ventadorn had it thus: “A hundred times a day I die of grief, and I revive of joy a hundred times. My disease has a wonderful appearance, for my pain is worth more than any other good."

For exemplary cases among the trouvères, compare Blondel de Nesle's (second half of the twelfth century) heaping of oxymora in quick succession: “plaisant martire,” “a pleasant martyrdom,” “douce mort,” “a sweet death,” “qu'en ceste amour m'est li tourmenz delis,” “in this love of mine my torment is a delight”. Gace Brulè says he wants what harms him most, and dismay makes him rejoice and laugh. Finally, in “Chançon ferais, que talenz m'en est pris,” Thibaut de Champagne raves so: “Lady, for you I want to go around like a fool, for I love the grief and pain I have from you, . . . my great suffering for you pleases me so!"

Its apparent play of unreality expresses the very predicament of the illusory woman represented and invoked in the lyric. For the earliest testimony, see Guilhelm IX: "I have a lady friend but I don't know who she is, since I've never seen her, nor has she done to me anything either pleasing or displeasing, and I couldn't care less . . . . I've never seen her yet I love her heartily."

The lady may be, but does not have to be, a person: she can be the lover's other self, his better, spiritual self, his ideal of inner perfection, his mirror image—Narcissus. In other words, the woman was the knight's chivalric and courteous self.

This possibility is an aspect of the unreality of the woman's presence in medieval literature, even while she is, conversely, the center of attention of much of the literary and artistic discourse. The apparent paradox results from woman having been symbolically invested with functions that did not literally belong to her—like being the real lord—or that were hers on a purely anthropological level—as, typically, in the common phenomenon of equivalence between biological sex and grammatical gender, in bono et in malo: woman as the Church (Ecclesia ), Wisdom (Sophia, Sapientia, Philosophia), lust (luxuria ), and so on. It it also part of what made courtly love so exemplary and durable, namely a radical crystallization of that biological/anthropological phenomenon defined by Mircea Eliade as (Platonic) “androgynization,” meaning that in love “chaque sexe acquiert, conquiert les ‘qualités’ du sexe opposé (la grace, la soumission, le dévouement acquis par l'homme amoureux, etc.).” We have a revealing testimony to this phenomenon in the fact that the list of virtues attributed to the courtly woman is more or less the same as for the man: she is supposed to be doussa, bela, genta, fina, and endowed with cortezia, pretz, sabers, and umildat.

Austrian master Reinmar der Alte (1150/1160, d. before 1210, believed to be the poet praised by Gottfried as “the nightingale of Hagenau” set up the most radical standard of total mansuetudo vis-à-vis a mistress who behaved as a cruel tyrant:
"Of one thing only and no other do I want to be a master as long as I live: I want the whole world to give me praise for having the skill to endure suffering better than anyone. A woman is the cause of this state of mine, whereby I cannot remain silent day or night. But I have such a gentle disposition that I take her hate as joy. Yet, alas, how much it hurts!"

Close as it remained, all in all, to the troubadour lyric, the Minnesang also showed marked differences from it. The absence of the concept of joven, “youth,” and joi in the exalted comprehensive sense it had in southern France—Middle High German vröide (G. Freude) is more neutral—reflected a different social situation and resulted in the absence of certain literary forms. The fact that German courts were configured with a predominance of ministeriales over knights of lineage, imposed a greater respect for the lords and less polemical spirit against them, since the often non-free ministeriales, who did not enjoy any mobility, tended to accept their given status. Even a knight of lineage like Walther von der Vogelweide, with all his restlessness, was compelled to place werdekeit, “value,” in a sense of mâze, “measure,” that was equivalent to “loyal” acceptance of one's “stable status” (staete): see his famous poem “Aller Werdekeit ein füegerinne” to Lady Moderation, Vrouwe Mâze, where he says: “However low my status is, I still am, with regard to my worth, high enough within my status."

Many key terms of the Minnesang are equivalent to those of the troubadours: gemüete, sin, tumpheit, kumber, elende, übermuot, senen, sorge, biderbe, wert, leide, and mâze correspond, respectively, to corage, “valor”; sen, “wisdom”; foldat, “folly”; ira, “sadness”; caitiu, “wretched”; orguelh, “pride”; dezirar, “to desire”; cuidar, “worry”; pro, “advantage”; valor, “worth”; sofrir, “suffering”; and mezura, “moderation.” But there were new and different terms also. Vröide corresponds to joi but with an ulterior sublimation into saelde, completely lacking in the troubadours. Despite the mystical overtone of sanctity (saelde/saelic, like sâlig and sâlida, is the etymology of G. selig, “blessed”), this concept is unlike the troubadours' assimilation of love for the lady to love for the Virgin Mary, as they did when they became affected by the religious involution after the Albigensian Crusade. It meant, rather fatalistically, “happy through good fortune.” Similarly, the rendering of merce with lôn and gnâde (benefice, grace) stressed the unexpected character of the reward, coming as a gratuitous, rare act of favor. This further proves a lower social origin, since lords would not expect grace: they could only grant it, not receive it—and they performed neither dienst, “service,” nor arebeit, “work,” as the courtiers insisted they did.

The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries witnessed a fashion of erotic allegory (Minneallegorie ) which did not tire of reproducing a set progress of the knight riding through a forest where he meets a beautiful lady: she leads him to a castle where he makes the acquaintance of a series of female allegorical figures that reproduce such familiar chivalric virtues as Love, Joy, Honor, Chastity, Constancy, and Honesty. Die Jagd (ca. 1335) of the knight Hadamar von Laber from the High Palatinate is regarded as the high point in the genre for the early period. It was often imitated both in subject matter and in its way of using the “Titurel-stanza.” In the flowery style that often characterizes such compositions, Hadamar has an allegorical hunter pursue a deer with the help of his spiritual forces, the hounds Triuwe, Staete, Fröude, Liebe, Leide, Trûren, Sene, Harre, and more, but to no avail, since this kind of hunt can have no end (Ende ) except in death." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:28 pm

Quote :
"The perfect knight who joins in his exemplary person the leading qualities of arma, amor, and litterae — the valor of the fighter, the refinement of the true lover, and the sophistication of the educated man of society.

Provençal epic of circa 1150, the ten-thousand-line Girart de Roussillon, celebrating the struggle between the French King Charles Martel and his vassal GirartFolcon was in the battle lines, with a fine hauberk, seated on an excellently trained horse . . . . He was most graciously armed . . . . And when the king saw him he stopped, and went to join the Count of Auvergne, and said to the French: “Lords, look at the best knight that you have ever seen . . . . He is brave and courtly and skilful, and noble and of a good lineage and eloquent, handsomely experienced in hunting and falconry; he knows how to play chess and backgammon, gaming and dicing. And his wealth was never denied to any, but each has as much as he wants . . . . And he has never been slow to perform honorable deeds. He dearly loves God and the Trinity. And since the day he was born he has never entered a court of law where any wrong was done or discussed without grieving if he could do nothing about it . . . . And he always loved a good knight; he has honored the poor and lowly; and he judges each according to his worth.”

The 114 lines dedicated to him present Folcon as an ideal knight thanks to courtly virtues (he is cortes in the sense of “having the manners of the court,” according to Hackett) that, outside the lyric, are perhaps here for the first time attributed to a knight rather than a nobleman. He hates war but enters the field of battle with fierce bravery when loyalty calls. He shows good breeding, liberality, and eloquence as well as skill in the courtly pastimes of hunting and social games. His humanity and sense of justice toward the needy also make him the sort of knight that the Peace of God had been preaching.

King Arthur's knights regularly proved their mettle at tourneys in the presence of ladies with whom they were in love. No lady worth her honor would think of granting her love to a knight who had not tested himself successfully three times: this kept the courtly ladies “chaste” and the knights more noble through their love for them...

Courtly love demands control of irrational forces and animal instincts, rationally channeled toward social ends. Appearances and reputation are not external matters but the essence of social living.

Gawain will define the vices of “avarice, excess, the frailty of the flesh, and, above all, pride” as the destruction of chivalry. Gawain, nevertheless, is the paragon of knightly virtues: the pentangle emblazoned on his shield and coat involves, in “an endless knot,” five sets of virtues, the last of which was made up of: “Free-giving, Good Fellowship, Chastity, Courtesy, and Pity”. He is welcomed at the castle of the Green Knight as one who brings with him “virtue and valor and the very finest manners,” and everybody rejoices at the prospect of watching an incomparable display of

". . . the most subtle behavior,
The most sophisticated standards of civilized speech, . . .the lore of effortless language,
. . .the paragon of perfect manners.
An education in etiquette
This knight shall surely bring;
And those who listen well
May gain love's mastering."
(Part Two, stanza 17, vv. 912–927)

The Lady of Belcirak weaves her tempting tryst with her guest by engaging in polite flirting with that art of gallant conversation that will become the pride of French Classical literature. In affairs of chivalry, she says, the chief thing is the game of love (v. 1512). And so it was, including this supremely sophisticated gem of late medieval poetry, where not only love but chivalry itself becomes an elegant game to be played in earnest for honor, self- esteem, and survival. The ludic element in the acting out of noble ideals had never found a subtler statement, nor had it ever been taken to more dizzying heights.

One reason for the relative dearth of German chivalric literature in the twelfth century is that education, according to customs inherited from the earliest times, was still regarded with a certain contempt among the German nobility. The Ostrogoths had forbidden noblemen to entrust their sons to teachers, who would turn their minds away from the pursuits of the warrior class. Procopius of Caesarea (The Gothic War, sixth century) relates such an edict by Theodoric the Great. Thereafter the Goths sought a “barbaric education” for their sons, who should grow up in the company of their peers and accustom themselves to the use of arms and the exercise of force over their subjects, away from the influence of old, effeminate wise men.

In the French romances, courtliness subdued the heroic need for proud self-assertion and revenge of personal offense. The failure of courtliness to achieve this triumph of “measure” is part of the tragic element in the Nibelungenlied, even though some of its key figures do appear conditioned by courtliness. Siegfried and his parents, Kriemhild herself, Gunther and his brothers, even the pagan Etzel and his surrounding vassals, chiefly Dietrich von Bern, Hildebrand, and especially Rüdeger, are guided by a sense of humanity, good breeding (zuht ), and measure or self-restraint (mâze ). The numerous hôchgezîte or festival banquets are marked by liberality (milte ), hospitality, and knightly contests. The three contests Brunhild imposes on Gunther and Siegfried (Bartsch/de Boor ed.: 7.37 [425]) are tests of manhood of the type that the chivalrous knight would undergo to prove himself as deserving of his lady's guerdon.

It is not unwarranted to assume that the ladies' dominant role in determining the course and fate of the knights' heroic adventures had antecedents beyond the chivalric romances. An outstanding example is Brunhild's behaving as the amazon who would submit only to a victorious hero. Before the right of the stronger man to possess the woman of his choice started to be questioned (perhaps under the influence of the mercantile ethic, as we have observed), the woman could only assert her dignity by fighting on man's own terms, sword at hand, ready to be subdued by force in a fair, manly contest. The code of the French romances, where the woman was not allowed to handle manly weapons, excluded this “heroic” Germanic way." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:34 pm

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Quote :
"Tristan's modest pose (the modestia of the curial ethos) “cunning” or “craftiness” (kündekeit, 3576– 3583), very close indeed to Castiglione's sprezzatura, wherein the secret of success lies in a cleverly calculated underplay of talent which blunts envy and intrigue at court. It is exquisitely “political” and “diplomatic” and it arouses admiration, not disapproval, even though the sharp-eyed among the audience, including the king, do not fail to see it as a mask. Jaeger (239) compares this situation with Alain de Lille's very “moral” allegorical figure of Honestas (to be placed alongside Cicero's concept of honestas ), who advises the New Man to learn the rare art of leading two lives, “living his interior life for himself and his exterior life for the many; to . . . show himself all things to all men” ( the advice is loosely adapted from Seneca, ad Lucilium 5: 2–3: “Intus omnia dissimilia sint, frons populo nostra conveniat”.)

This positive dissimulation, which the critics called hypocrisy, was found in Thomas Becket, vir geminus (double man), whereas Thomas More, still very much “a man for all seasons,” “omnia omnibus factus” in St. Paul's picturesque metaphor, was equally doomed even without being so ready to adopt duplicity. If duplicity could be regarded as a morally debasing form of hypocrisy, Paul's and Seneca's contexts referred to a manner of duplicity that could well be morally exalting and prudently endowed with saving grace.

Höfische minne thrives on deceit, says Gottfried (Jackson: 93), whereas hohe minne transcends deceit and cunning, valsche und akust (v. 12,239). Yet courtly society breeds precisely these qualities which can be good or bad, according to circumstances. They are good when they allow Tristan to survive envy, bad when Tristan and Isolt use them to serve their love in a struggle against society. So the very qualities that have made Tristan a hero turn negative and pave his path to self-destruction. These have become the same predicaments of adulterous triangles, covered up elegantly and skillfully in the history of courtly societies from King Arthur to Versailles and the Parisian salons, down to the eighteenth-century cicisbei, fashionable young dandies who publicly courted and escorted married ladies as surrogate husbands. Society will destroy the true lovers, whom it casts out because they flaunt its rules overtly and dangerously, whereas it will accept, admire, and honor the courtly, prudent, dissimulating, and “diplomatic” lovers and sinners who play the games of elegant society. The high nobility as well as the high clergy would show the way at all times. Gottfried seems to accuse literature of hypocrisy (Jackson: 94) because it produces mere fiction, divorced from reality, whereas he advocates literary myths that should be our guides in action. In other words, the code that at the start was educational and formative, once established becomes a rule of conformity and success at any cost.

The naturalism of Gottfried's hohe Minne and Thomas's fin'amour, unlike and against the socially conditioned amour courtois, raises love above human law and social norms to the exalted dignity of a law of nature. The true origin of this phenomenon, admittedly preexisting Thomas, is ostensibly neither courtly nor chivalric. It is an anthropological/psychological fact that seems part of the subgenre and logically and chronologically transcends the birth of chivalry. The court, however, behaves in it not so much as a microcosm of society at large but as a realm of special groups, the rising bourgeoisie and perhaps also the clerical functionaries, who could not hope to achieve chivalric status.

The moral imperative is reduced to the wisdom of saving what can be saved. It is wise to lie (“one must lie in order to erase the dishonor and cancel the evil"); wisdom lies in being “diplomatic” and making the best of a difficult situation, without jeopardizing social order and welfare for the sake of absolute or abstract principles. Which is, within our discourse, the essence of “courtliness.”" [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:35 pm

Quote :
"As Frappier put it (1954), the peculiar mystique of the Grail romances as a whole, from Chrétien through Wolfram and on to Robert de Boron and the Vulgate prose romances (the Lancelot/Graal), expressed not so much a view of chivalry at the service of religion as, rather, of knighthood as a religion in itself. The old ideal of a marriage of bellicosity and piety, which the clerical milieus had fostered and nurtured, resulted once again in a juxtaposition rather than a full harmonization.

A systematic and authoritative treatment of chivalry within the established orders of Christian society appears in the De insigniis et armis by the prominent jurist and theorist of canon law, Bartolus of Sassoferrato (1314–1357), who distinguished among “theological nobility” due to God's grace, “natural nobility” due to birth, and “civil nobility” issuing from the will of the sovereign, hence formally recognized by law. Natural and civil nobility were thus to be understood as necessitating a degree of wealth, since generosity (Fr. largesse, free spending to reward one's dependents), a concomitant of nobility, is impossible without something to give. Aristotle had rightly postulated the need for wealth for the free members of human society, and Bartolus also agreed with Aristotle's distinction between men who are naturally free—hence born with the capacity to rule—and those who are only apt to serve. Indeed, the French term franchise meant the moral attitude of the naturally free, who consequently bear themselves as free persons.

Courtoisie could perform a metaphysical function analogous to the theological one of divine grace; the opposition courtoisie/vilenie, originally meaning aristocracy versus both bourgeois and peasant estates, came to imply secular transcendence of social limitations whereby the poor or landless knights, even when nonnoble by feudal standards, could be redeemed and ennobled by courtesy alone, the domna replacing God. This meaning of “true nobility” could find its place in the Provençal partimens or in the thoroughly secular neo-Platonic mysticism of the Perceval figure.

Moving along such lines, in the subsequent doctrine of the Dolce Stil Nuovo the argument for spiritual refinement played a key role, stressing personal inner nobility versus social privilege. Dante's Convivio would soon lend powerful support to this thesis. True nobility was, for these poets, gentleness of heart, and the “gentleman” was inescapably marked by the capacity for love. The motif of the noble heart as source of true nobility reminds us of Gottfried's edele herzen: it implied a happy yet tragic conspiracy, like that of Tristan and Isolt, individuals isolated by their virtuous superiority to the intrigue, dishonesty, baseness, raw ambition, and material impulses of the crowd at court. Cavalcanti was known, even as late as Boccaccio's Decameron, for his aristocratic will to stay aloof from the materialistic crowd of his fellow Florentine merchants, and Dante's own scorn for the bourgeois ideals of his fellow citizens was tied to his despair about the future of Florentine policies. All this notwithstanding, we must bear in mind that the Stil Nuovo is essentially a bourgeois movement, numbering among its leaders lawyers and high merchants. It was not without social reason that it flourished in areas with strong popular bases, namely Bologna and Tuscany. The unashamed espousal of the vernacular, as most consciously with Dante, was an explicit act of faith in the popolo. In his Convivio Dante meant to share science with the common man, a goal that required the vernacular.

At the time of Dante, cortesia began to be felt as a sublime moral attitude within a religious context in the Franciscan circles. Compare the Fioretti...

Remarkably, here courtesy is assimilated to charity and attributed to God himself. The most inspired collection of popular tales, known as the Novellino but entitled Libra di novelle o di bel parlar gentile in the Panciatichiano manuscript (ca. 1290), used the word as denoting effective speech—a sense it still carried markedly in Boccaccio.

Cortesia became a commonplace term, with an ever more vague meaning, still carrying along villania as its antonym. Yet the term was ready to enter the semantic field of etiquette, since as early as the second half of the fourteenth century it could be employed in the external sense of behavioral patterns that come immediately under the senses.

A Tuscan merchant who may have held office in the Florentine commune, Paolo (fl. ca. 1360) had offered this interesting definition: “measure endures, and courtesy is nothing but measure, to wit, orderliness in your business.” Hence we may interpret the implicit values of parsimoniousness and accountability.

The courtois morality of the communal bourgeois is contrasted by Paolo with “beastly,” irrational, and potentially criminal behavior of the peasant (still the uncourteous villano, rustico, or pagano ), whom the landowner must handle with shrewdness and circumspection. The aristocratic quality of loyalty to one's liege has been turned into a bourgeois virtue: the peasant's good service toward the landlord.

The ideology of courtesy also shows its impact where, rather than amor or charitas, Dante chooses venus to denominate the theme of love as one of the three that fit the illustrious vernacular (salus, venus, and virtus; “salvation, love, and virtue”— (VE 2.2.8 ).

Despite Juvenal's Stoic identification of nobility with virtue alone (“nobilitas animi sola est atque unica virtus”), there are two valid kinds of nobility, Dante concluded, the inner one (propria ) and the inherited one (maiorum ), as in Aeneas's exemplary case. In defining nobility, Dante related it to cowardice (viltade ) as its opposite. Noble is equal to non-vile.

True enough, Cicero had been mediated by closer authorities within the circles affected by the ideals of curialitas, including Hugh of St. Victor, who spoke of moralis composicio having an inner aspect (the cultivation of virtue) as well as an outer one that faithfully mirrored the former: this outer manifestation of virtue consisted of a dignified bearing at all times. Cicero's decor, Hugh's decens disposicio, and Dante's onestà are all akin. In the Commedia, too, onesto means “dignified” rather than “morally good.”

Dante recalls the virtues according to the Nicomachean Ethics, his verbal texture entails subtle distortions, which give his listing a “chivalric” sound. He enumerates the virtues as eleven, namely: fortezza (defined as the middle between foolhardiness and timidity), temperanza (measure in the use of food), liberalitade (measure in the use of material goods), magnificenza (advantageous use of wealth), magnanimitade (rational thirst for fame), amativa d'onore (measured ambition), mansuetudine (moderation of anger), affabilitade (sociability), veritade (avoidance of boasting), eutrapelia (wit), and giustizia. Dante dropped “shame” or “fear of dishonor,” given by Aristotle as a quasi-virtue (and different from the Ciceronian notion of reverentia that we find in medieval curiality and, for example, in Castiglione's vergogna, implying considerateness). The prominence given to liberality, as middle ground between avarice and prodigality, is clearly in tune with a genuinely chivalric discourse. The long Aristotelian section on liberality and magnificence (Nicomachean Ethics 4.1–2 1119b-1123a) could sound to a medieval ear like an appropriate exhortation to chivalrous behavior. While the systematic appeal to the happy medium is thoroughly Aristotelian, affability (affabilitade), a traditional curial and courtly quality, replaces Aristotle's friendship (Lat. amicitia ), leaning on Thomas Aquinas's commentary referring to Aristotle's NE 2.6.1108 26–28.  

The general moral is clear, and its emphasis is on the value of public service, whose aim is to uphold not the fame of an individual, but the honor and fortune of a people.” In sum, we could hardly find a better example of civic humanism at work within the legacy of chivalric ideology.

We could trace our steps even further back and find continuity and implicit alliance between curialitas and humanism, starting with Petrarca and his immediate predecessors. Petrarca's idea of education and Vittorino da Feltre's pedagogical practice were closer to the image of the early medieval teacher of curiality and courtliness than to that of the scholastic dialectician. For, even more than the ascetic monastic circles, the courtly ethic's sternest enemies were the thirteenth- and fourteenthcentury dialecticians who remained the target of most humanists' arrows down to the beginning of the sixteenth century. Those dialecticians had replaced a concern for humaneness and affability with an unswerving quest for pure truth. The Battle of the Seven Arts had started in mid-twelfth century France on the level of psychological and ethical habits affecting personal careers as much as on that of methods of teaching, learning, and thinking; the contrast between the cult of personal greatness, establishing patterns of imitation on the ground of the teacher's charisma, and a desire to prove one's point in purely scientific terms.

Many humanists were at the same time men of action and men of learning, active and occasionally leading citizens of city states, like their proclaimed models from ancient Athens and Rome. True enough, while the chivalric knight had represented the sublimated ideal of medieval clerics and noblemen, the new burgher tried to see himself as a reincarnation of the ancient hero. Yet the goal was similar: to become a civic-minded leader. Pietro Paolo At the same time the more worldly side of both medieval and Renaissance educational training, to wit, the rhetorical curriculum (including the ars dictandi ), was directed at what looked like useful preparation for the art of the practicing lawyer. “The critical figures in the origins of humanism,” Lauro Martines reminds us, “were lawyers and notaries, the most literate members of lay society and among its most active in public affairs.”

The value of rhetoric was stressed not only in special treatises on the art, but also in humanistic political tracts, like the Re repubblica by T. L. Frulovisi (ca. 1400–1480), who held eloquence basic for all members of the city government, including the prince.

Toward the middle of the sixteenth century Peter Ramus produced a large number of school manuals, particularly successful in France, England, and Germany, that contributed to a more practical orientation of educational methods in the sense of pursuing socially attractive positions rather than simply scholarly and intellectual sophistication. But medieval and early humanistic education had been typically concerned with what was regarded as “formation of the mind” rather than with the imparting of directly useful skills: the Trivium Arts were eminently formal rather than professional. This included, to a large extent, rhetorical training, whose relevance to the purpose of forming the lawyer and public man was limited to the development of the “power of persuasion.” [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:35 pm

Quote :
"Vergerio's De ingenuis moribus (ca. 1402) addressed this type of humanist as a whole man, scholar and citizen when, citing Aristotle, it warned that “the man who surrenders himself completely to the charm of letters or speculative thought may become self-centered and useless as a citizen or prince.”

Humanistic education ideally aimed at a coupling of eloquence with civic and moral virtues. The thread that ties together the three main subjects — courtliness, chivalry, and courtesy — should by now be clear: just as knighthood and courtliness were intimately interrelated in the Middle Ages, so was the Renaissance courtier the direct descendant of the medieval knight. With regard to courtesy, while discussing Wolfgang Mohr's (1961) description of the twelfth-century courtois lover/courtier as “servant of love,” Minnes Dienstmann, E. Köhler (Mancini ed., p. 276) offered a sociological transcription of it which, mutatis mutandis, could still apply to Castiglione's courtier over three hundred years later:

"To be recognized as a powerful lord's Dienstmann already meant much for the knight: having once obtained this goal he must persevere in his service with loyalty, constance, and without hesitation. He must know how to be patient and to endure disillusionment. A great psychic, ethical, and spiritual effort was necessary to advance in the service of the lord. His effort aimed at the ultimate goal of becoming integrated into the rank of lords, but the aspirant took great care not to make his wishes too obvious."

We could say that the Renaissance cortegiano's submissiveness placed him even closer to the curialis than to the knight, and even the “aestheticizing” of manners and conduct that makes cortegiania, in Burckhardtian terms, a work of art, had clear medieval precedents. Furthermore, both curialis and chivalrous knight possessed a high degree of polite refinement (including affability in elegant conversation, musical training, respect for women, humility toward superiors, and dedication to helping the needy and the weak) which distinguished them from the heroic knight of the epic, and which continued to engage the theorist down to the Cortegiano.

The old theme of the primacy of arms or letters spilled over into dozens of treatises of all kinds, and included the clerical argument on whether a cleric could be a better lover than a knight.

Despite these medieval antecedents to the requirement of literacy in the clerics and courtiers, Castiglione's emphatic statement is clearly a reflection of Renaissance humanism: his courtier needs “more than an average degree of erudition . . . at least in these studies that we call humanities,” meaning “familiarity with the poets, the orators, and the historians,” music and the arts, Latin, Greek, and the vernacular, too. All this because “letters are the true and principal ornament of the soul,” and not only for courtiers.

it is L. B. Alberti's Ecatonfilea (1428), with its portrait of the ideal lover:
neither poor, uncleanly, dishonorable, nor cowardly . . . which will require prudence, modesty, patience, and virtue. . . ; studious of the good arts and letters . . .. Deft, physically strong, courageous, both bold and meek at the right time, poised, quiet, modest, given to wit and playfulness when and where it was fitting, he was eloquent, learned and liberal, loving, compassionate and respectful, cunning, practical-minded, and more loyal than anyone, excellent in courteousness, adept with the sword, horse riding, archery, and whatever similar sport, and expert in music, sculpture, and any other most noble and useful art, and second to no one in all such worthy activities.

In his Ragionamento d'amore of 1545, Francesco Sansovino repeated these epithets of astuto and pratico in another lover's portrait: “of medium height, well to do, noble both by inner worth and by birth, versed in letters and music, . . . prudent, attractive, courageous, practicalminded and cunning, well-received and of loving disposition, affable, pleasing and sweet.” We can readily note the persistence of so many specific terms.

If it is true that the crucial term cortesia is missing, it should be evident that Castiglione's three key terms sprezzatura, grazia, and affettazione are recognizable reinterpretations of measure (G. mâze ), good bearing (like G. zuht ), and the opposite of reticence as part of mansuetudo —this last quality encompassing the “naturalness” that is part of the game of noble deportment, associated with the kind of dissimulation in Gottfried's young Tristan. Ever since Quintilian and through the medieval period, urbanitas included elegant and witty speech, hence also facetia.

Nor should we forget the presence of clowns or minstrels at Castiglione's court: besides being the traditional carriers of literature (mainly oral), they contributed that ingredient of courtly gaiety that we have seen among curial qualities as facetia and among courtly/ courtois ones as joi and solaz. The extensive treatment of wit and humor in speech (including facezie ) is part of this.

Castiglione explains it further with the synonymous sprezzata disinvoltura, a nonchalantly poised self-assurance designed to impress the observer with the feeling that “the man masters his art so thoroughly that he can obviously make no mistake in it,” like the dancer who talks and laughs while he performs, seeming to pay no attention to his complicated movements (1.27). It is all part of the standards of external conduct, the mores (MHG síte ). The seeming disregard for behavioral technicalities, whereby we look like noble gentlemen rather than manual craftsmen or professionals, is not only an elegant attitude but the result of the fact that the courtier's instruction in the arts is, precisely, not professional, as Castiglione emphasizes early on.

Sprezzatura recalls the Nicomachean Ethics' rather ambiguous treatment of “irony” as the counterpart of boastfulness, somehow corresponding to Castiglione's opposition of sprezzatura/affettazione. For some critics the dissimulation that is inherent to both irony and sprezzatura is “a trick, . . . a discrepancy between being and seeming”; it seems to reveal “an attitude to class values that we must call aristocratic”: in Aristotle “the magnanimous man will have recourse to irony in his dealings with the generality of men, the masses.” It also involves a complex, difficult, and risky balancing act: if we are caught dissimulating, our game will be over—like courtiers, diplomats, or orators in front of a jury.

There are closer antecedents for this notion of an art that looks like nature. In his treatise on the managing of the household (De iciarchia ), L. B. Alberti advised his readers to handle important things
with much modesty joined with gracefulness and a certain gentlemanly air, so as to delight the observer. Such matters [requiring maximum concentration] are horseback riding, dancing, walking in public, and so on. Above all we must moderate our gestures and our bearing, the movements of all our person with the greatest care and with such thoroughly controlled art, that nothing will seem to be done with calculated artifice; whoever sees you must feel that this excellence is an inborn, natural gift.

Similarly Castiglione:
Having long considered whence this grace may come, I find a most universal rule, to wit, . . . to eschew affectation as much as possible; and, to coin what may be a new term, to make use in everything of a certain sprezzatura that conceals art and makes whatever we do and say seem effortless and almost unconscious. I feel that grace derives above all from this: and this is because we all know the difficulty of things that are rare and well done, so that we tend to marvel at witnessing ease in such matters. Therefore we can say that true art is that which does not appear to be art; nor must we put our effort in anything more than in hiding it . . .. I remember having once read of excellent orators of antiquity, who . . . pretended not to have any knowledge of letters; and while dissimulating their knowledge.

This gift of concealed art, echoing Ovid's Metamorphoses, remained a trait of noble behavior until at the court of Louis XIV Boileau defined it as the peak of art, calling it art caché (translation of Longinus's Ch. 22). We know that the same milieu had become accustomed to the identification of reason and nature or naturalness. The, shall we say, deceiving function of such fashioning of character through the appropriate use of misura and mediocrità lies in being not “like the others” but better than they, but without offending them and, we could add, without causing reactive “envy”: “he must strive to surpass all others in everything at least a little, so that he will be known as the best.”

Alberti's antecedent to the supreme requirement of dignity, poise, and ease that Castiglione summarizes in sprezzatura can also be recognized in what has been called the “poetics of ease” (poetica della facilità ) with reference to the controversy over comparing Raphael's Olympian style to the “difficulty” of Michelangelo's art. Alberti's De pictura (1435) had enjoined that the motions of the figures be “moderate and sweet, so that they will rather inspire grace to the onlooker than wonderment out of difficulty,” and that virgins, young men, or adults should all be represented as moving with strong but sweet gracefulness (“una certa dolcezza”). The term and the concept were destined to enduring success.

In sum, the ideal portrait encompasses the principal requirements of: nobility; military art (but only the basic principles, not the “mechanical” technical skills, and including the knightly art of horseback riding); knowledge of humanistic disciplines, including dance and music; and, as for mores, the sprezzata gracefulness of a second nature, in addition to that discretion that avoids or blunts envy and that sense of measure which avoids passing the mark. Since the Renaissance interpreted the traditional virtue of sapientia as essentially knowledge of literature, within the courtly frame of reference the traditional heroic symbiosis of fortitudo and sapientia became a binomium of arms and letters. (Of all Europe, Siglo de Oro Spain witnessed the most intensive and productive coupling of armas y letras.)

But Castiglione no longer separates the two poles: he smoothly merges them into his ideal courtier, a refined military man, statesman, and, if called for, a man of the Church too, the way the medieval bishop had to be statesman and armed ruler in one.

The courtier's functional requirements include the traditional cardinal virtues. Although princes often “abhor reason and justice” (“alcuni hanno in odio la ragione e la giustizia” 4.7), it is the courtier's role to make them practice them in spite of themselves, together with fortitude, prudence (prudenza and discrezione ), and temperance (defined as harmony through reason). In performing this difficult task, grazia must temper the severity of the philosopher and moralist, who would otherwise anger an impatient prince. The courtier thus becomes a subtle and dissimulating diplomat, indeed, the foundation of modern diplomacy." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:45 pm

Quote :
"The “Florentine secretary” Machiavelli was particularly disinclined to appreciate the role of the social layer that made up the courts. As a true citizen of bourgeois and republican Florence, he did not hesitate to define the gentiluomo as one who lives abundantly off revenues without work, “senza fatica”; hence he is inherently outside that true “vivere in civilitá” that Machiavelli identified with the free cities, and is particularly dangerous when he possesses castles and dominates working people who have to obey and serve (Discorsi 1.55).

That “vivere senza fatica” that irked Machiavelli as parasitism unwittingly echoes Castiglione's image of the gentleman whose most impressive behavioral feature is grace in concealing his artfulness, so that he seems to do whatever he does without effort and almost without thinking: Besides being a supreme mark of elegance, that easy manner was also a correlative of “living without effort” on the economic level. The very abstractness and unproductiveness of knightly games in the literature of the romances was a necessary sign of the knights' “nobility”—not quite without effort, to be sure, but without “use.”

To Machiavelli, military exercises were justifiable neither as elegant games nor as a form of superior service to God, but only as necessary means to political ends—a shift that even the Church was compelled to accept. Hence his little regard for the usefulness of the knightly class extended to the military sphere, where he held infantry more valuable than cavalry.

There he takes a firm stand against public opinion, including the hallowed authority of his Livy, by protesting that the people are more prudent, more stable, and of better judgment than the prince: They are also more reliable in their choice of elected public officials, usually worthier men than the choices of absolute rulers: The people will never be persuaded to put in office a corrupt and infamous person, something princes do easily. In sum, popular governments are better than despotic ones:
If, as was the thesis of Il Principe, princes are better at organizing new states, popular governments are superior at maintaining a state once organized: even if Machiavelli's close paradigm was bourgeois Florence, which did not include peasants as citizens, his universal model was republican Rome, with plebeians a majority among the voting population.

All this notwithstanding, analyzing the virtues that are profitable to the prince in the ethical section of Il Principe, he criticizes above all the notions of liberalità, generosità, and lealtà.  Machiavelli advises the prince to be a "gran simulatore e dissimulatore".
He opposes liberality to miserliness, generosity to thievery, pity or mercy to cruelty, loyalty to treachery, manly spiritedness (Fr. franchise ) to duplicity (a courtly though not a courtois virtue), indulgence to hardness, dignity to plainness, and respect for religion to indulgence to hardness, dignity to plainness, and respect for religion to irreverence.

The reference to greatness of character or soul that was implied in the animoso (contrasted to pusillanime ) is fully developed, where grandezza (grande imprese, rari esempli ) is commended as a way of winning fame (egregius habeatur in the Latin title rubric) and conquering the admiration of subjects and rivals. Once again, Machiavelli had the ancient Romans in mind, but the belligerent policies he regarded as a sign of vitality in the state and an almost biological law of politics had been a trademark of the chivalric ethic. Aristotle's megalopsychia was destined to play a continuous role through the Middle Ages and humanistic education as well, including, in the new context of militant Christianity at the service of the Church, the Jesuit schools. The ideal of magnanimity would remain part and parcel of Jesuit pedagogy, since Ignatius of Loyola (himself a heroic professional soldier before his conversion) characterized the true Christian as a militant soldier of Christ, the new miles Christi. Machiavelli's heroic view of political leadership falls within this continuous tradition.
Indeed, at opposite poles, as it were, both the secular thinking of a Machiavelli and the planning of educational patterns for the Counter-Reformation disclose the presence of the combined ideologies of chivalry and courtliness." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:46 pm

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"The Aristotelian/Ciceronian/Horatian notion of virtue as medietas or mediocritas, middle point between extremes, as a key ingredient of medieval courtesy under the rubrics of Latin moderamen, French mesure, and German mâze, returns as the supreme ideal in the Trattato. One achieves this certo mezzo o certa misura (middle point or measure), which is convenevole, “decorous,” when one manages to please and captivate the powerful. The text of the Galateo, too, shows the proximity of Cicero's De officiis; for example: “even the good, when excessive, displeases. . . . Those who make themselves humble beyond any sense of measure and refuse the honors they deserve, display in this more pride than those who arrogate to themselves what is not due to them.”  “Good manners” from misura, a happy medium which consists of avoiding both the excess of deferring to our interlocutor (this is giocolare e buffone, demeaning buffoonery and downright flattery) and the opposite excess of being unconcerned with the effect we make on others.

The string of three insistent terms: bellezza, misura, and convenevolezza appears to echo the Ciceronian as well as the courtly appeal to moral beauty, measure, and honesty in the sense of mores that are becoming to our social status and function. “Gracefulness is nothing other than a certain light that shines forth through the fittingness of things that are discreetly and harmoniously composed all together: without this degree of measure even the good is not beautiful, nor is beauty truly pleasing.”

Next, manners are compared with food: gracefulness and a sweet lightness of touch are to manners what flavor is to food, which will not be pleasing just by being wholesome and nourishing.

The work characteristically concentrates on manners and mores, as indicated in the very title Galateo ovvero dei costumi:

"I shall begin with . . . what is pertinent to the purpose of being well mannered and pleasing: which nevertheless is either a form of virtue or very similar to virtue . . .. Good manners are no less important than greatness of soul and mastery of the self, since they need to be exercised many times in the course of every day, . . . whereas justice, fortitude, and the other nobler, major virtues are put into practice more seldom."

He repeats later on that he has been treating not virtues and vices intrinsically but “fitting or unbecoming ways of dealing with each other.” Likewise, he had gone over the matter of making dress and speech appropriate to social status and local custom for the sake of not displeasing our audiences unnecessarily in matters of no moral substance. Here again we could think of Cicero's treatment of honestas as the virtue of fitting behavior to occasion and circumstance.

The elegant little treatise insists on a pattern of civic behavior that will ensure respect toward others' interests and rights, sensitivity to others' wishes and well-being, and, in one word, the beauty and sacredness of individual “liberty.” See the prolonged critique of false display of respect, which offends the recipient as insincere and inappropriate if not downright adulatory with ulterior motives. The author designates this insincere adulation with a relative neologism, cerimonie, implicitly attributing it to foreign influences (read: Spanish; it has not taken deep roots in Italy, he says). Such obnoxious “standing on ceremony” hinders that freedom which we all desire more than anything else, and derives from an annoying overemphasis on nobility as mere social status. It is an excess of formality that either covers up for moral vacuity or conceals a base character. Della Casa advises against using social status as a basis for judgment of personal character.

Della Casa's overarching concern is with being “pleasant,” but this pleasantness is not based on conformism and indifference to underlying moral issues: it is a necessary aspect of a way of life that takes into account the need to communicate and interact with others, in full respect for their feelings and interests. In other words, it is the outer veneer of that urbanity that we have seen attributed to the city dweller, the asteîos anér, both in ancient Greece and Rome and in the medieval centers of curiality. This form of urbanity was particularly at home in the Italian communes, as part of a city-bound society. From the very beginning of his dialogue, Della Casa explicitly stresses the distinction between morality and sociality, the heroic ethic of pure virtue, which comes into play only seldom, and the compromise with others that makes the worldly city human and operative. The moraliteit that Tristan was teaching the young Isolt, and that Gottfried of Strassburg extolled as the most profound message of courtly education, was, we can extrapolate, closer to this sociality than to a pure, abstract, and heroic morality. For Della Casa this concrete virtue of “comune conversazione” is part of social intercourse: it is not at home in the solitude of hermitages." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:48 pm

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The Humanists' Ethical View of Man as Citizen

"Della Casa's theme of “conversation” implemented humanism's commitment to civic-minded allegiance to the community, excluding the recluse, the misanthrope, and the hermit.

In two versions of a lifetime work running from 1543 to 1582, Piccolomini spoke of the “animale civile e comunicativo” that thrives in the society of the city, whereas the hermit ceases to be truly human. Social living requires manners (costumi ) that are developed by education through literature and poetry, history and eloquence, the natural sciences being only instrumental. Similarly, another Piccolomini, Francesco (1520–1604), stressed the scienza civile over and against the heroic virtue worthy only of heroes. It was all part of that humanistic concern with the viver civile which runs through both Castiglione and Della Casa, continuing some specific themes of the medieval curial tradition and applying them to social conduct in new environments. In his Della perfezione della vita politica (1579) Paruta proclaimed that a goal of philosophy was preparation for the active life, incomparably superior to the works of the solitary man who lives only for himself. On a more professional philosophical level, a host of commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics carried on the message of the superiority of praxis to pure contemplation, as part of civic humanism's stress on the citizen's duty toward the social group: we are human only by being an active part of society. Yet, for all its relative platitude, what interests us in this once successful production is the continuous vitality of specific motifs of chivalric and courtly virtues, which, rather than being overtly brought forth in treatises with a specific chivalric/courtly theme, were generalized, disguised, and eventually assimilated to classical virtues.



Court and World as Actor's Stage

The motif of sociality as the truest form of morality that is shared by much of Cinquecento ethical speculation becomes a true leitmotif in Stefano Guazzo's (Casale Monferrato 1530– 1593) La civil conversatione, where it insistently recurs even ad nauseam.

Guazzo's title made “conversation” a term for social behavior throughout Europe. It echoed Della Casa's “comune conversazione,” but its twofold acceptation of “pleasant, civilized social intercourse” and “using language as a civilized and civilizing means” was already established, as shown in the “cosmological” thesaurus La fabrica del mondo (1546– 1548) of Francesco Alunno (1485–1556). The notion of “civil conversation” and the association of the city with courtesy, urbanity, and civility was manifest in Alunno's definition of urbanità: “urbanità, la civilità”; “urbanità: Lat. urbanitas, facetiae, dicteria, ioci, sales, lepores, cavillatio, dicacitas, argutiae, delitiae; è gratiosa conversatione di cittadini.” It was a list of rhetorical figures covering all forms of wit. Alunno defined conversare as “conversare per praticare insieme,” and cortesia as “beneficence, gift, humane and gracious liberality, with a becoming habit of moderation; so denominated from the courts of good princes where such virtues always shine.”

Although conversation for Guazzo meant social intercourse, his dwelling on verbal civility contributed to the spreading of “conversation”'s more modern acceptation. The lexical choice is an important echo of the humanistic emphasis on language as the foundation and carrier of civilization—“language as the basis of social intercourse". Humanists conceived of speech as the essence of humanity, and language as action in dialogue, hence truly “the art of conversation.” “He who wishes to engage successfully in civil conversation,” says Guazzo, "must consider that language is the mirror and portrait of his soul; and that, much as we can tell a coin by its sound, so from the sound of our words we see deeply inside a man's character and his behavior."

After Castiglione, his earnest concern for the moral substance of the man of court came to take second place to the art of speaking charmingly and effectivelyin public. The art of the courtier became a sort of court rhetoric and elegant conversation.

Milán's hero must speak well but mostly, it seems, about pleasant, witty, and harmless things: he must be a good motejador. Although this emphasis on orality was to be further developed in France, the Spain of Philip II provided a new breeding ground for the medieval virtue of reticence: besides knowing how to speak well, the new hero, el cortesano, has to know when it is more appropriate to keep silent. We sense here a new twist away from Castiglione's individualistic and comparatively independent agent toward a mere servant at court, prudent master of diplomacy and self-effacement. This twist was already apparent in Pellegro Grimaldi, who in his Discorsi (1543) did not want to discuss the virtues of a complete courtier but only the art of survival, to be summed up in the advice “to keep your mouth shut, as the saying goes,” after doing all that pleases the prince—and no more.One of the more than one hundred proverbial sentences that stud Guazzo's Civil conversatione has the same ring: “keeping mum at the right moment wins more praise than eloquence.”

The city, larger setting of the court, is regarded as the seat of civilization and virtuous living. Hence the sphere of civility goes beyond the walls of both the court and the city: “Civile conversation is a vertuous kinde of living in the world . . . [but] to live civilly is not said in respect of the cities, but of the qualities of the mind: so I understand civile conversation not having relation to the citie, but consideration to the manners and conditions which make it civile” (Pettie 1: 56). Thus, beyond the taste for a plainer style, Guazzo's originality vis-à-vis Castiglione lies mainly in this broader scope than that of the man whose whole career is centered on currying favor with superiors and the powerful. Consequently his art of conduct becomes, in the end, potentially incompatible with the dissimulation, the insincerity, the theatrical display, the cultural dilettantism, and the outward ornamentation that life at court seemed to require and that court critics found so objectionable even in Castiglione, regardless of that author's lofty moral concerns.

What the French would later call le qu'en dira-t-on, similar to the punctiliousness of the Spanish pun de onor, is a special dimension of a society that recognizes the importance of our public image: the man of court is all reputation, next to which inner worth is nonexistent or irrelevant. Regretfully, Guazzo had to recognize that “the jugement which wee have to know our selves is not ours, but wee borrow it of others” (Pettie). An attentive critic (Frank Whigham [1983]) has underscored this statement as a sign that reputation had replaced virtue for all practical purposes, and was therefore “radically dependent on the eye and voice of the audience.” Thus, “the ideal courtier is never off-stage” and “public opinion takes precedence over one's own moral perception” (Whigham 634 f.). On this ground Stanley Fish (1988: 260) makes a remark which could be a summary conclusion on the general drift of that courtly ethic we have seen unfolding from the beginning: “so self-consciously rhetorical is courtly life that moral categories themselves are realized as various performative styles.” Fish (261) quotes Heinrich F. Plett's further observation (1983: 613) that “the courtier lives only as a social being and is in private ‘retreat’ . . . a cipher.”

This interpretation offers an understanding of Ben Jonson's difficult predicament in reconciling inner honesty with successful adjustment to the ways of the world, especially in the hothouses of princely courts. The motif of urban versus rustic is intensified into an explicit defense of the theatricality of court manners and gestures as a functional semiotic pattern, consciously sought and accepted as part of necessary class distinctions within an aristocratic society." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:48 pm

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"Whereas the feudal lord could rely on his privileged position by birth alone, Castiglione's courtier fashioned a code for a new nobility which, being mostly of middle class origin, needed distinguishing traits in its outward appearance and behavior. The medieval nobleman had a use for manners only when he had to prove himself at court; the Renaissance nobleman needed them in all circumstances, since he often derived his power and status solely from having held office or having officeholders among his forebears. This gave rise to a relatively fixed political class—a phenomenon that had started in Venice early in the fourteenth century. Historians have pointed out that in the middle of the sixteenth century politics in Italy came to be formally associated with noble lineage. Although it was only in the relative stability of the years 1550–1560 that this situation became crystallized, Castiglione's portrait of the courtier reflects this incipient shift where it prescribes nobility and the imitation of the feudal knight by acquiring the martial arts (e.g., 1.14).

Since the new nobility no longer lived through feudal grants, the ethic of feudal rewards had outlived its function. Absolutist centralization tended to reserve land and fiscal rights for the state: the rewards for service were now offices, favor, and influence. Accordingly, traditional “liberality” acquired the bright new function of making the prince shine through a splendid theatrical display of wealth and power which wrapped the whole court within its glow. Through the ancien régime, this life of conspicuous consumption became the trademark of princes and their acolytes, while courtiers looked on that style of life as a flattering backdrop for their own social preferment. Recent scholarship has stressed the element of “play” in the life of Castiglione's courts, but it might be more appropriate to speak of “theatricality.”

The courtier sees himself as constantly on stage. Since he is what he seems to be, his social status is based on appearance. Shakespeare's generalization “the world's a stage” was clearly inspired by the spectacle of the court, and the baroque insistence on “the theater of the world” was motivated likewise. The courtier had to be able to use his public image to his advantage, almost “pushing it ahead of his true self”: “whenever he has to go where he is not yet known, he must send there first, before his own person, a good image of himself, making it known that in other places, at the courts of other lords, ladies, and knights, he enjoys good esteem.”

The progress toward absolutism altered the nature of the courtierprince relationship: the excellence of the courtier as Castiglione describes it was of great value in laying a solid foundation for the deification of the prince, whose authority owed much to the convenient services of such public “educators.” Ottaviano Fregoso put it eloquently: “Helped by the instruction, education, and artfulness of such courtiers and formed by them to such prudence and goodness, . . . the prince will be glorious and most dear to men and God, acquiring by God's grace that heroic virtue that will enable him to exceed the boundaries of humankind, so that he will be regarded more as a demigod than a mortal man.”

The court becomes a functional backdrop for absolutism, preparing the ground for the transition to the state of an Elizabeth I or a Louis XIV, where the courtiers' relationship with the monarch will be the carefully managed stage for the monarch's exalted status. The new circumstances forced a process of adaptation for the traditional mix of courtly qualities. “Modesty,” for example, became the acknowledgment of the gratuitous nature of princely reward, whereas the feudal vassal's contractual relationship with his lord had once put him in a position to insist on such reward as a right—a right constantly proclaimed in troubadour poetry.

This fateful turning point in the conception of state power was grounded in the doctrine of the king as lex animata, law in form of a person possessing summa legibus soluta potestas, hence a supreme authority unbounded by law. The prince's arbitrary power was thus explicitly justified by the principle of the transcendence of sovereignty, according to the doctrine of “the king's two bodies” illustrated in a famous study by Ernst Kantorowicz (1957).

The courtier does not claim the right to influence the prince by personal merit: he only relies on the prince's unpredictable pleasure and arbitrary, uncensurable choice. Castiglione was clear on the matter. The power relationships at court had grown beyond the encounter of competing personal rights of feudal times, when the king's attempts to establish himself as true sovereign had to overcome the feudal lords' resistance in the name of customary rights and privileges. The doctrine of the rex legibus solutus had to override the feudal notion of the king as simply suzerain, just enforcer of customs and laws. At a time when authoritarian regimes were on the verge of crowding out the last surviving forms of representative government, Castiglione attempted to map out a morally defensible type of princely state that was based on a well-groomed court of administrators and advisors. His formula might have satisfied the popular longing for justice, order, and peace by bracketing tensions and personal struggles within the enclosures of the courts and keeping in check the despots' irresponsible arbitrariness. Still, the people would have been excluded from any direct form of participation. Machiavelli's sympathies for effective republicanism were already discounted in Castiglione's experience, which corresponded to the patterns prevailing outside Florence and Venice.

Thus, around the middle of the sixteenth century the new sociopolitical situation forced a major shift in the self-image of the nobleman/gentleman. The ideals of courtliness and chivalry underwent a momentous reduction that centered the new idea of nobility on personal “honor,” with an accent on the duel as the definitive test of truth and merit. This produced a flowering of treatises on a new “science of chivalry,” dealing specifically with honor and duels.

The ethos of curiality and courtliness had come about originally through an interpretation of the classical cardinal virtues with the addition of Cicero's decorum: this peculiar formula had become a prop for the image of true nobility. As we approach the end of the Renaissance, we observe that this heritage was adapted to a theatrical show of Castiglionesque gracefulness as the foundation of a new nobility, whose chief function was to serve the prince in his public display of splendor. After having become a courtier, the medieval knight had turned into a docile servant of princes in a hothouse where the court had replaced nature.

A provocative case is that of Philibert de Vienne's Le philosophe de cour (Lyons, 1547; Paris, 1548), a perceptive, tongue-in-cheek satire of court behavior. Philibert was pointing to a chronic irreconcilability between court ethic and classical ethic, which he identified with the Socratic tradition. “Socrates forbids such masking and general disguising, because we should not appear to be others than we are; and we also allow the same . . . . But Socrates letteth us not, that having no desire to show ourselves contrary to that we would be esteemed, notwithstanding we dissemble, and accommodate ourselves to the imperfections of everyone.”

The satirical garb of the presentation turns the problem around by pretending that Socrates was wrong and we are right, since this is the wise way to live in the real world. Indeed, overlooking the exemplariness of his execution as a martyr of straightforwardness, Philibert declares Socrates
himself a master dissembler through the deceptive maieutical method of his philosophical pedagogy: “Himself doeth serve us for example, for although he was ever like unto himself, yet was he the greatest dissembler in the world” (North's trans.: 97 f.).

By a brilliant stroke of psychological observation, Philibert makes us face the paradoxical opposition between private and public morality by exposing the pragmatic coincidence of the theoretically incompatible criteria of being and seeming (the fundamental dilemma of classical ontology and metaphysics), hence sincerity and insincerity, knowing and pretending, meaning and dissimulating. Even the most formidable symbol of the knight's status and power, the sword, had become little more than an ornament, since it was used mostly for duels in matters of personal honor. Success rested no longer on bravery and military prowess, but on playing the courtly game gracefully and cleverly.

Like Molière's Alceste, Philibert's gentleman is taught that “the virtue of man consisteth not in that which is only good of itself, following the opinion of Philosophy: but in that which seemeth to them good”. “In so doing he shall be accounted wise, win honor, and be free of reprehension everywhere: which Proteus knew very well, to whom his diverse Metamorphosis and oft transfiguration was very commodious”.

In the meantime, France had acted as a mediator in the Renaissance fashioning of the ideal gentleman as social canon.

The change from courtois to honnête and civile was more than a matter of linguistic fashion. It reflected a gradual change from the image of a knight who drew his authority and legitimacy from a court but acted as a relatively independent agent in his adventurous endeavors, to that of the man of court who saw himself and was seen by the whole society as the acme of civilized living, regardless of his having become completely dependent on that same court, to the point of seeing his nobility practically equated with the status of successful bourgeois courtiers. This process spanned the twelfth through the seventeenth century, the moment of transition coming at the time of Henry IV of France (1594–1610), who, as Henry of Bourbon, Prince of Navarre, had been one of the last heroes of the chivalrous ideal of resistance to monarchic centralization, but upon becoming king felt compelled to execute “those who resisted, those who did not understand that from free lords and knights they were to become dependent servants of the king.”

We are reminded of Farinata's arrogant question to Dante: “Who were your ancestors?” (“Chi fuor li maggior tui?” Inferno 10.42). The firm sentiment for keeping one's place and holding inferiors to theirs was not to be challenged until the French Revolution.

Knigge's observation that to live well in the world one must adjust and be governed by the others' customs, feelings, and manners—which was in line with the long tradition of cortegiania —elicited a lively reaction in the age of Romantic emphasis on the honest individual who must stay away from the crowd in order to preserve his or her purity as well as intellectual and moral superiority.

Indeed, the new Romantic hero was to be an anticourtier who rejected rules and conventions even to the point of being unwilling or unable to adjust to social realities; he was ready to go under rather than compromise with the rules for power and worldly success. Goethe's Werther was the first symbol of this uncompromising attitude toward the principles put forward by the tradition we have been following: he was an adversary of those who had succeeded by adopting the ways of the world even in the form of being chivalrous, courtois, and courtly.

The individualistic streak of chivalrous culture survived the centralization of state authority and the shift in military techniques, including a heavier emphasis on well- armed infantry as well as the replacement of knights with trained professional officers (who often were members of the nobility of knightly rank in different dress but similar spirit). At home that individualistic streak of chivalry sustained the spirit of independence, resistance, and occasionally rebellion in the various frondes to the very threshold of the French Revolution. The same chivalric individualism contributed to the adventurous urge that drove legions of Europeans into the “errantry” of exploration and conquest in the eras of discovery and colonization. Colonization, a strictly European phenomenon (adopted by Japan as part of its westernization), can be regarded as an extension of the chivalric tradition. “The legacy of the cult of errantry in the age of chivalry” survived in individual “odysseys” that kept driving new adventurers abroad, in quest of gain and honor, in a mixture of ruthless rapacity with the noble cause of carrying “faith, civilization, and the flag of loyalty” to faraway lands and peoples (M. Keen 1984, 250). Dress changed more than the underlying spirit." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Nov 13, 2014 3:49 pm

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"Germanic behavior was regarded as based on sheer force, as opposed to the southern peoples' reliance on a sense of reason and justice. Had Vico been familiar with the Germanic heroic literature from the Hildebrantslied to the Nibelungenlied, he would have found there the most fitting confirmation of his theory that Achilles' murderously resentful wrath was also in keeping with the morality of the feudal age.

As centralized absolutism was taming knights and courtiers, the idea of nobility was also being weakened, sapped at the very roots of its actual or perceived functionality. Noblemen began to be seen as parasites without sufficient objective merits to support their privileges. In 1710 the polymath Scipione Maffei from Verona, himself a marquis, published a scathing attack on the ideas of chivalry and nobility in his satirical Della scienza chiamata cavalleresca. Maffei proposed that the laughable modern punctilio on knightly honor, which he traced to the Longobards' barbarous custom of private vendetta (faida ), be replaced with a newly classical sense of true human virtues, which he wanted to see grounded on a philologically correct knowledge of antiquity. This new classicism would act as a corrective to false notions of nobility and reveal where human greatness truly lay. The nobles could once again become honorable by turning to useful functions instead of vegetating as expensive parasites who spurned on principle all productive activity. Maffei was thus closing the circle of the history of courtliness, which had started out with the Ottonian thrust toward education with a social content.

The romantic gentleman became a chivalrous figure who was brave, honorable, frank, true to his word, loyal to country, monarch, and friends, ready to defend women, children, and the downtrodden. He was worthy of ruling the country in all honorable employments not because of wealth or social position, but because of moral superiority. He was well removed from the eighteenth-century gentleman, essentially a privileged man of landed property. Furthermore, his sexual attitudes bore the mark of a new courtly lover, pure as Galahad while absolutely devoted to his wife, whom he had married for love.

We can agree with C. S. Jaeger that, rather than arising from a change within the French lay nobility, “courtesy and ‘chivalric’ ideals were nurtured in the conditions of court life.”
Knight/courtiers constantly operating under the creative stress of a need to justify their social function by serving the power structures at the same time that they were seeking their own personal ennoblement by rising to a privileged status of free, refined agents. The knight, etymologically a servant, became the most exalted model figure of his society. The courtier saw himself not only as a knight but also as a paragon of human perfection and the aesthetic ornament of his society, sitting on top of a decorative power structure. Words, concepts, and institutions have thus shown their close mutual ties even while they contained insoluble contradictions. This existential dialectical ambiguity characterizes the history of western civilization.

What succeeds is not necessarily truthfulness, righteousness, and goodness, but rather a persuasive agreeableness, grazia perhaps. It is necessary to hide one's feelings and smile in the face of adversity, be respectful and kindly toward our enemies even at the moment of confronting them, be calculating and diplomatic, even to be or to seem to be hypocrites in order to survive and perhaps, in the end, to win in the real world. The patterns of public behavior rest on an inherent duplicity, and virtues are at times indistinguishable from vices.

Setting different genres alongside one another has shown an enduring correspondence between woman as object of a sublime devotion, mixing sexual desire and Platonic renunciation, and the image of the woman of court as the bearer of aristocratic blood, hence necessarily chaste even while she served as a stimulus to other men's bravery and eloquence. The knight fights bravely and the courtier speaks artfully for the sake of the chaste and unattainable woman they faithfully yet hopelessly love. This predicament combines the ethic of knighthood and the ethic of courtliness even while it shows us the relationship between the conduct of courtiers and the code of the romances." [Scaglione]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:25 pm

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Quote :
"In origin the chivalric code may have been based on ethics more than religion. But when it was united with the crusading impulse, it gave the actions of the warrior a transcendent defense, combining military aggression with both divine favor and moral validation. As armor protected the fragile body, the code shored up the spirit, vindicating the show of power and turning self-promoting display into holy ritual. Both chivalry and crusade declared that spiritual approval is necessary for military victory, and military glory without spiritual sanction is vain.

Not incidentally, along with the higher social standing, there were legal privileges that often came from crusading. But the most powerful lure crusading afforded was the indulgence for sins. Unlike the usual form of penitence for killing in battle, which required fasting and a symbolic stripping away of earthly identity, knights on crusade could do penance without taking of their armor. As a further inducement, if you died on the battlefield you would go immediately to heaven, perhaps, like Roland, carried by angels.

Church-sponsored initiatives such as the Truce of God had some chastening effect on brutal lords and nobles. But with the Crusades came an even more effective artistic and symbolic celebration of warrior saints to bridge the conflict between Christian peace and knightly war. In the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood, the narrator tells of his dream of the cross (rood in Old English) who speaks to him of its life, being cut down as a tree in the forest and used for the Crucifixion. In the poem Jesus rushes forward to climb the cross, much as secular poems would describe a young warrior plunging into battle:

"Then the young Hero (that was God almighty) took off his clothes.
Strong and resolute, he went up on high,
Mighty in the sight of many he would redeem mankind." (Dickins and Ross, 25)

The poem illustrates the effort to unite spiritual heroism with warrior tradition.

In common with many other historically compelling ideas, the concept of the Crusades constituted a field within which many seemingly opposed values could be fused:
A significant achievement of the Crusades was to bring a spiritual manhood—albeit in military guise—onto the stage of European culture. Instead of the warrior body, Christianity emphasized the soul as the essence of identity, first in conversion and later in its purification through penance. In the aristocratic and tribal view of honor, a man without honor was not a man. But in the Christian view a man not capable of honor (for class or other reasons) was still a man, although a somewhat different sort of man. He didn’t need to continue to perform honorably in order to demonstrate his masculinity—he was already a man spiritually because of God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice.

The awkwardness with which these two different definitions of the heart of masculinity attempted to find common cause is obvious. By the Second Crusade in 1146, a new institution had combined the military and spiritual into a kind of warrior monkhood. From their roots in the care of others—in hospitals, as custodians of religious places, and as protectors of pilgrims—they became a sort of private army. Most historians consider that the real onset of the direct connection between chivalry and crusading began with the Third Crusade (1189–92), which furnished heroes both real (Richard the Lion-Hearted) as well as fictional (Robin Hood). But in France and, even more extensively, in England, it was particularly the figure of King Arthur who merged the warrior past with the Christianized present, the authority of a single ruler with the prowess of individual knights, and, not incidentally, the sanction of local pride with the universal claims of the Church.

The literary and artistic myth of his autonomy, the solitary knight on a quest to do what he believes is right, owes its genesis to the effort of Christianity and chivalry to reshape the warrior heritage into a new system of values. The difference is that the aloneness of the Christian knight is not the archaic autonomy of the hero whose unfocused prowess can destroy even his own community, but an aloneness with God and the chivalric code.

In this way, the competitive dangers of the violent male group were softened with an air of introspection and piety. It’s a model that persists in the present, when the hero in westerns and action films is so often depicted as a bystander, a loner who doesn’t want to become involved in the fray but finally must, because of personal relation and moral obligation. The artistic preoccupation in both Western and Japanese culture with the solitary adventurer, as well as the lure of aloneness in increasingly complex urban societies, owes a crucial debt to the chivalric model of the warrior, knight or samurai, whose primary function is not in fighting but in the quest for a truth that is both outside himself and within.

On the road to a more complex identity, both Erec and Yvain frequently refuse to give their names either to those they fight or to those they defend. Medievalists call this the motif of the Bel Inconnu, the handsome unknown. Like the wandering solitary knight, they must lose the names known by an appreciative tournament audience in order to regain them from within. Chrétien’s Arthurian tales thus help mark a crucial step in the development of the male image. From the vaunting warriors of classical epic parading their prowess along with their genealogy, the Anglo-Saxon flyters hurling insults at the enemy before battle, and the Icelandic berserkers chewing their shields, we have come to the stoic warrior who indicates his valor not by heat but by cool. In turn, they become the progenitors of the western movie drifters who come to town and combat evil only to leave again after it is defeated, or the wandering masterless samurai swordsman, who aims to lose his conventional social identity in the act of swordplay and thereby gain another, more rarefied sense of self.

The figure of the knight on a solitary quest carries forward into later centuries an influential vision of masculine self-containment and personal prowess. In Albrecht Dürer’s popular engraving Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513), for instance, he is allegorized into the ideal Christian warrior, clad in elaborate parade armor, who moves sternly and inexorably on his journey past the grotesque and demonic forces arrayed against him. But just when the lone knight who creates his masculine identity in tests of love and war was becoming a powerful mythic figure, his dream of spiritual independence was being inexorably eroded by the rapid growth in the size of armies and the sophistication of armaments that by the seventeenth century would make Europe the center of world military and political power.

In the seventeenth century, political theorists like Hugo Grotius, by speaking of a just war, assumed war’s inevitability in human affairs, but also stressed the need for international relations and diplomacy not just as happenstance agreements between nations but as an articulated code of conduct. Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan was perhaps the first to argue at length that society itself is specifically created by the fear of war, in an attempt to contain and channel for the good of the group the inherent male disposition to fight. Terrorist tactics in general try to imply that all the high technology in the world cannot stop a determined enemy, even one armed only with primitive weapons, especially if it is psychologically bent on self-sacrifice. The soldier is no longer a member of an actual army but of, at most, a small group, prepared carefully by his recruiters for certain death, binding a ritual cloth around his head and looking to a transcendent afterlife as his reward. All war has in effect become a suicide mission." [Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:08 am

Quote :
"In 1549 William Thomas, a scholar who had just returned from his five years’ stay in Italy, published The historie of Italie. Thomas put forward several views which would become central to the entire duelling tradition. First, duelling was de- scribed as a relatively new phenomenon. Second, Thomas argued that unfailing courtesy and a penchant for duelling went hand in hand. Third, not only was duelling perceived as an integral part of courtesy, but it was even said to enhance the general level of civility within gentlemanly society. Moreover, both the exceptionally high level of politeness and the concomitant aptitude for duelling were seen as a peculiarly Italian phenomenon. Although modern commentators of civility have mostly ignored Thomas, none of his points were lost on the subsequent generations of Englishmen. Finally, it was perhaps only natural that Thomas, a great admirer of Italy, found duelling a highly commendable social custom.

The duel of honour and its theory came to England as part of the Italian Renaissance notion of the gentleman and courtier.The duel of honour, in other words, emerged as an integral part of the Italian Renaissance theory of courtesy.There had ofcourse been along medieval tradition of courtesy books and also a distinctively Christian tradition of civility whose origins are to be found in monastic and clerical rules of conduct.This Christian tradition of civility or discipline was embraced by both the Catholics and the Protestants alike but was especially strong amongst the latter who promoted it as a religious and moral ideal.

One of the overriding themes in these Renaissance courtesy treatises was to explain how the perfect courtier and gentleman should conduct his manners and behaviour so that he won a favourable response from other courtiers and gentlemen. A successful pursuit of this end demanded two kinds of behaviour. On the one hand, the courtier had to master a technique of self-representation – to offer as good a picture of himself as possible. On the other hand, he had to take his fellow courtiers and gentlemen into account and to accommodate his outward behaviour accordingly.

To describe the courtier’s behaviour, Castiglione borrowed the term ‘grace’ from the literary or artistic context. First, it was crucial that the courtier did not conceal his talents, ‘so that every possible thinge may be easye to him, and all men wonder at him, and he at no manne’. Second, it was equally crucial to seem in awe of othermen’s achievements: the courtier must ‘with gentlenesse and courtesie praise other mens good dedes’. The aim was in brief ‘to purchase...the general favour of great men, Gentlemen and Ladies’. Primary stress was, in other words, placed upon appearances. In order to meet these standards, it was important for a courtier to exhibit ‘a gentle and lovynge behaviour in his daily conversation’

Ostensibly following the first book of Cicero’s De officiis, Philibert claimed that the means to achieve this ‘comelinesse’ was to embrace the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, magnanimity and temperance. These virtues were, however, clearly subordinated to the courtier’s main characteristics – decorum or ‘good Grace’. Moreover, virtue itself was nothing but to act in compliance with the life of the court; indeed ‘vertue is a manner of lyuing according to the manner of the Courte’.

Philibert emphasised even more strongly than Castiglione that the aim was‘the contentmente and pleasure of men’. This becomes apparent in the discussion of ‘good Grace’, or ‘courtly ciuilitie’. Although Philibert stressed the Ciceronian combination of honesty and decorum, he focused his attention exclusively on the latter concept, which was defined as ‘a certayne framing and agreeing in all our actions, to the pleasing of the worlde’. He asserted that ‘the perfite glorie of our Philosophie’ is nothing more than to ‘be pleasing to all men’. It followed that the philosopher of the court must be ‘ready to doe whatsoeuer it be’ to please all men: ‘For if it be needefull to laughe, hee reioyceth: If to be sad, he lowreth: If to be angry, he pyneth: Ift of eede, heeateth: Ift of aste, he frowneth.’

The gentleman and courtier’s courteous behaviour mostly preoccupied Giovanni Della Casa in the Galateo. In his dedication to the earl of Leicester, Robert Peterson,the translator, observed that ‘Courtesie and Courtiership’ were inseparable; ‘who so diuorceth them, destroieth them’. The central topic of the book, Della Casa informed his readers, was ‘what manner of Countenance and grace, behoueth a man to vse, that hee may be able in Communication and familiar acquaintance with men, to shewe him selfe plesant, courteous, and gentle’. The answer he gave was to the effect that, although virtues might be necessary, they were rarely of great use. It was therefore the gentleman’s ‘courteous behauiour and entertaynement with good manners and wordes’ that assumed the most central part in conveying his courtesy and pleasantness.

The fullest analysis of the centrality of conversation in civil courtesy is to be found in Guazzo’s lengthy The ciuile conuersation. According to Guazzo, civil conversation was of great importance, it had a central place in gentlemanly courtesy, in conveying our politeness. It referred to both ‘our tongue, and . . . our behauiour’. The term ‘civil conversation’ thus referred both to civilised social intercourse and to the usage of language as a civilised and civilising means. There was nothing surprising in Guazzo’s insistence that the main aim of conducting a civil conversation was to please one’s interlocutors. He emphasised several times that the end was to be ‘better thought of’, to win ‘the loue & goodwill’ of our peers. It was useless ‘to be honoured for some office . . . or for vertue’ if a man purchased ‘not also the friendship and good will of other, which is the right and sure bond of conuersation’. It was thus only civil conversation which could bring about the desired effect. Guazzo was never tired of arguing that ‘we win chieflie the friendship and good will of other, by the manner of our speech, and by the qualitie of conditions’; that a man ‘shall get the goodwill and fauours of others, as well by giuing eare curteouslie, as by speaking pleasantlie’; that ‘we are so much the more esteemed of, by how much our Ciuilitie differeth from the nature and fashions of the vulgar sort; or that ‘gentle and curteous speech, is the Adamant stone which draweth vnto it the hearts and goodwills of all men’. But the converse was no less true. ‘I first admonish him’, Guazzo noted, ‘which taketh pleasure in ciuile Conuersation, to eschue all things which make the talke lesse delightfull to the hearers.’

In The honest man: or, the art to please in court, originally published in 1630 and translated into English in 1632, Nicolas Faret also gave a prominent place to courteous behaviour in general and pleasant conversation inparticular.The entire topic of his treatise was‘the most necessary qualities . . . which hee ought to haue, that desires to make himselfe pleasing in Court’. By far the most necessary of these characteristics was said to be ‘to purchase a good opinion in the imagination of euery man.’

‘By courtesie and humanitie’, William Martyn wrote in Youths instruction, ‘all societies among men are maintained and preserued . . . society is nothing else but a mutual & a reciprocal exchange of gentlenes, of kindnesse, of affabilitie, of familiaritie, and of courtesie among men’.

The Christian tradition of courtesy had always emphasised the fact that the body was the outward reflection of the soul – ‘this outward honesty of the body cometh of the soul well composed and ordered’, as Erasmus had put it. In the Renaissance notion of civil courtesy a much greater emphasis was placed on the exterior – decorum.

In civil courtesy the content of the conversation could be negligible as long as decorum was maintained. Philibert excused his total concentration on good grace and outward behaviour by claiming that man’s character is ‘too bee knowne by the gesture and outwarde countenaunce of the bodye’. According to him, ‘wee commonly iudge others by theyr outwarde signes’. Civil conversation was by definition purely courteous and thus empty of propositional content.Thispointis brought out with particular adroitness by Philibert’s satirical presentation of the courtesy theory. In his characterisation of the courtier, the worst mistake was precisely to forget this empty courtesy and to venture one’s sincere opinion. Philibert could not, as he put it, ‘forget the ignorance and brutishnesse of the people, who in feasts, banquettes,and assemblies, gouerne and order themselues, not according to the maner of the Court whiche is the best rule: but according to theyr particular pleasures and opinions’.

It followed, as Cleland for instance argued, that there could be a considerable discrepancy between surface and reality in conduct or speech and that dissimulation was an integral part of civil conversation. Honest dissimulation was thus justified because social life took precedence over innerlife. This is ofcourse central to Castiglione, who pointed out that ‘it is not ill for a man that knoweth himselfe skilfull in a matter, to seeke occasyon after a comelye sorte to showe hys feat therein, and in lykecase to cover the partes he thynketh scante woorthye praise, yet notwithstandinge all after a certeine warye dyssymulacion’. Whereas for Erasmus and others courtesy was an outward sign of the soul, for Castiglione and his followers it was largely a means to repress outward indications of inner feelings. As Philibert put it, ‘dissimulation...we affirm to be of so great force in our Philosophie’. And some English writers followed suit. According to George Puttenham, ‘the credit . . . and profession of a very Courtier . . . is in plaine termes, cunningly to be able to dissemble’. The courtier, Puttenham wrote, should be able to ‘dissemble his conceits as well as his countenances, so as he neuer speake as he thinkes, or thinke as he speaks, and that in any matter of importance his words and his meaning very seldome meete’. Du Refuge’s A treatise of the court was even more openly advocating dissimulation and flattery.

Della Casa had already accepted flattery as a necessary component in courtesy in his discussion of ceremonies. He opened his discussion by claiming that ceremonies are almost like ‘lyes & dreames’. They were ‘but vaines he wes of honour and reuerence, towardes him to whome they be doone: framed of semblance and wordes touching their titles and courtious offers’. They were ‘vaine’ because, although ‘we honour men to their face’, we do not necessarily ‘reuerence...in deede, but otherwise contemne’. Ceremonies, in other words, were such that the words involved had lost their actual meaning and had received a figurative one instead. These ceremonies, Della Casa asserted, ‘though so fayre and gallant without’ were ‘altogether vaine within’; they consisted ‘in semblance without effect, & in wordes without meaning’. No matter how empty the ceremonies were, it was misleading to assume that  they were dispensable. First of all, they were faults of the times rather   than of particular gentlemen, and gentlemen were thus bound to follow them. Moreover, ceremonies performed an important social task. Even a ceremony for profit (a flattery done ‘to the ende wee should doe them some pleasure, for it’) was ‘by reason of custome sufferable’, although Della Casa hastened to add that it was hurtful and thus unbecoming for a gentleman.

A ceremony for duty was a different matter altogether. It might fulfil the general definition of ceremony (being utterances where the words have lost their connotative meaning), but ‘we must not leaue them vndone any wise. For he that faileth to doe them, dothe not onely displease, but doth a wrong to him, to whom they be due.'  From a perspective that emphasised manners rather than matter, identity was to be derived from external behaviour and social indelicacy was a most serious vice.

Sociability and the usefulness of civil conversation implied that in conversing with other people we should focus on what was said rather than how it was said. According to Guazzo, ‘in money we doe not chiefly consider the fourme, and the stampe, but the weight, and the matter whereof it is made, so in speach wee ought not to looke so much to the grace and finenesse of it, as to the grauitie and goodnesse of it’. But it also meant that men were supposed to express their thoughts and feelings. Civil conversation, according to this interpretation, entailed a close correlation between ‘the inward affection of my heart’ and ‘outward signes & tokens of goodwill’. ‘He’, Guazzo wrote, ‘then that will be haue himselfe well in ciuile conuersation, must consider that the tongue is the mirrour & (as it were) the Image of his minde. ’It followed that‘ by the sound of words, we gather the inward qualities and conditions of the men.

All this did not mean, however, that Guazzo failed to pay attention to the theatricality and superficiality of civil conversation. As we have seen, he emphasised again and again that the primary aim of civil conversation was to please one’s interlocutors and that therefore one had to eschew everything which was ‘lesse delightfull’ for them. The term ‘civil’ referred to ‘manners and conditions’ rather than to one’s moral character. Given the fact that the end was to please other people and to gain their approval and esteem, it should be of no surprise that a gentleman was required above all to accommodate his ‘manners and conditions’ to other gentleman’s manners. ‘To be acceptable in companie’, Guazzo insisted, ‘we must put of as it were our owne fashions and manners, and cloath our selves with the conditions of others, and imitate thems of arre as reason will permit.

As Guazzo put it, ‘but touching the diversitie of the persons with whome we shall be conuersant,we must alter our selues into an other’. Underlying this conviction was a more general principle that exterior was more important than interior – that ‘we take more pleasure to seeme than to bee’. Guazzo agreed with Castiglione that ‘the dutie of a perfect Courtier...is to doe all things worth carefull diligence, & skilful art’, but ‘so that the art is hidden, and the whole seemeth to be done by chaunce, that he may thereby be had in more admiration’.

Guazzoalso concurred with Della Casa’s analysis of the importance of ceremonies.Of course, it was possible to argue that many‘ professe themselues mortall enemies to those ceremonies’. But on closer inspection this was not the case and even those who ‘openly detest’ ceremonies, in fact, ‘secretly desire them’. The reason was not far to seek. ‘Ceremonies’, Guazzo maintained, ‘displease no bodie’, because ‘they are doone in signe of honour, and there is not he, who is not glad with all his heart to be honoured’. The conclusion was obvious: ‘these worldly ceremonies purchase vs the goodwill of our friends and superiours, to whome they are addressed and make vs knowne for ciuile people’." [Markku Peltonen, The Duel in Early Modern England: Civility, Politeness and Honour]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:55 pm

Quote :
"The heart altogether vnlike, and the face altogether like to the people’. Anyone who could not come round to this ‘shall be driuen to curse Conuersation’. ‘And it is lawfull likewise’, he maintained, ‘sometime to make as though we see not their faults, and that we haue a good opinion of them’. Honour, in the end, was not in a man’s own hands, but ‘in the hearts and opinion ofother men.’

As Guazzo posed the question, ‘howe shall I behaue myself with some, whom I knowe farre more wicked than those whome you haue spoken of, albeit by their dissembling hypocrisie, they are accounted of euerie men for honestmen?’ He admitted that this was a real problem but insisted even more strongly that we have to accept that if someone through his cunning dissimulation earned a good reputation, he was then to all intents and purposes a good and honourable man.

How were men expected to honour and esteem each other? The answer was simple: men honoured each other by civil courtesies. Outward ceremonies were conducted, as we have seen, ‘in signe ofhonour’; flattery and dissimulation were potent means ofsho wing that ‘we haue a good opinion of’ other men. Explaining how other people’s ‘good opinion’ could be received, Guazzo argued that this was done ‘by vsing that common meane and instrument, whereby mens hearts are wonne, that is, curtesie and affabilitie’.

It was precisely the distinction between horizontal and vertical honour which also underlay Romei’s account ofhonour in the third dialogue of The courtiers academie. All participants in the dialogue agreed that honour Robert Ashley’s account ofho w honour was bestowed sheds further light on this intimate link between honour and courtesy. Having dealt with the objection that since men are sometimes unable to judge other people, they are unable to bestow honour rightly, Ashley emphasised that ‘you geue every one that honour which is fytt for him.’ This raised the obvious question ofho w honour was conferred. Ashley began his answer by admitting that it varied ‘according to the custome and diuersitie of nations’. But it was generally done by showing courtesies to the person in question: ‘As some in rising fromtheir seat, others in attending, following, and accompanying, others in vncovering their heads, and others in such other thinges do imagine honour to consist.’ Therefore, if honour consisted ofthe reputation ofthe one who was honoured, it also consisted ofthe reverence, esteem or courtesies shown by the one who honoured. Furthermore, Ashley believed that although the best deserved the greatest honour, ‘we ought to honour and reuerence all, and to contemne no man’. He continued:

For yt ys the part of civile courtesie and modest humanitie to speake gently to all, to salute, embrace, and enterteyne them without difference, because nothing doth more easilie draw the good willes ofmen then this gratious and Courtuous kind ofbeha viour. Notwithstanding yt ys also the part ofa prudent man to respect the desert ofeuerie ones vertue and also the dignitie ofhis person, and whatsoever els ys of moment toward th’atteyning of Honour .

To act impolitely towards someone was to dishonour him. Although honour was a reward for virtue, it was requisite to honour even those who wanted virtue, ‘for courtesies sake, for shew of some owtward good, or els for fear of offence’.

To show discourtesy to someone was thus to arouse his anger and to lose the prospect of his subsequent esteem and reverence. According to Ashley, we had ‘to labor that by our humanitie and honest indevour we may gaine the good will and fauour of all that haue poore [i.e. power] to honour vs’.

James Cleland advised young noblemen to ‘honor those vnto whom yee doe Reuerence, and by consequence yee shal bee honoured your selues’. Honour, in the end, was not in a man’s own hands, but ‘in the hearts and opinion ofother men.’

Honor’, Du Refuge wrote, ‘consists, either in the opinions we conceiue ofa mans perfections & merits, or in the ceremonies ofr espect and reuerence, wherwith we honour him who is our superiour.’ A gentleman’s honour and reputation thus consisted ofanother gentleman’s esteem ofhim. They conferred honour on each other by mutual courtesies. A gentleman’s reputation was thus closely linked with civility and civil conversation, which was nothing but continual performance before one’s peers. But ifthis was so, the question arises, what happened ifthe meticulous rules ofcivility were breached. The authors ofcivility and civil conversation were acutely aware ofthis problem. They agreed that ifcivil behaviour was so important in shaping a perfect gentleman, even the smallest departure from the code of courtesy could be taken as supercilious behaviour and thus cause serious rupture between gentlemen. Speaking was necessary for the continuation of civil conversation, but there was always the risk ofcausing affront. All these authors of civil courtesy agreed that nothing distanced a gentleman from the desired end more than uncouth behaviour and ungentle speech. Anna Bryson has argued that the obligation to accommodate the self to the sensibilities ofother s and the general awareness that a smallest digression from the code of civil courtesy would cause offence were new articulated principles in early modern courtesy manuals. Della Casa carefully listed all the particular actions which might give offence to other people. He insisted that not only ‘rude behauiours’ but even rude ‘fashions’ indicated that ‘they doe esteeme them but light’. But it was above all speech-acts which had this undesired tendency, and Della Casa focused his main attention on the gentleness of our speech.

Unlike in rhetoric, in civil conversation a gentleman had to be extremely careful and always to remember that ‘he which wisheth to be well spoken of by others, must take heede he speake not ill ofother s’. Guazzo drew the conclusion ‘that it is better to slip with the foote, then with the tongue’.

Guazzo also concurred that honour was reflexive. It was, he pointed out, very troublesome that so many sought ‘to blemish the brightnesse ofother names’. This was so because reputation went before everything else – including even life. It was ‘a greater offence to take awaie ones good name, which refresheth the soule, than to defraude one of foode, which sustaineth the bodie’. But ifthis was indeed so, it followed that a gentleman had to safeguard his reputation, irrespective of whether his reputation was based on sincerely virtuous character or on pure dissimulation and hypocrisy. As Guazzo concluded, ‘we cannot abide to be il spoken of our selues, whether it be rightfullie or wrongful lie’.

The concept ofr eflexive honour emerged even more clearly in Romei’s account. According to his definition, a man lost his natural honour as soon as someone impugned it. Honour was lost as soon as a man lost the good opinion ofthe world. Every discourtesy was a clear indication that he was not being treated as he might expect. One’s reputation or status as a gentleman was, in other words, questioned. When this happened the only means ofr etaining the good opinion and thus one’s status as a gentleman was a counterattack. As Romei’s interlocutors agreed, he was ‘amongest men dishonourable, who with his proper valour, makes no shew ofbeing touched with an iniurie’. Romei fully agreed with Castiglione that this reflexivity distinguished female from male honour, because unlike men, a woman did not lose her honour ‘ifwith proper valor she repel not iniurie’. If one wanted to ‘be an honorable man’ he must preserve ‘the opinion ofthe world’; and the only way to do this in case ofan injury was an appropriate counterattack. Exactly like Guazzo,Romei emphasised that the gentleman’s utmost need to preserve his reputation was such that he must be ready to discard conventional questions ofmorality . The gentleman, Romei maintained, must react to every insult even ifit were justified. ‘An honorable man’, he wrote, ‘is tyed in right or wrong by his owne proper valor, to repell an iniury, and also to maintaine an vniust quarell, lest he remaine dishonored.’ Of course, ‘this position, at the first appearance, seemed to all the standers by, a paradox, yet was it by the greater part ofthe Gentlemen approoued for most true’.

The importance ofthis reflexiveness was dramatically increased by the fact that once lost there was no means by which a gentleman could recover his natural honour. Relying on the unquestioned authority of Cicero in claiming that private revenge is admissible, Romei added that a gentleman who patiently suffered an injury showed ‘himself worthie of contempt, and consequently, vniust, and wicked; for only the wicked man is worthy to be ignominious.’

The gentleman’s reputation was extremely fragile; it was ‘like glasse, if it be once cracked, it is soone broken’. Robert Ward declared in that as long a ‘Gentleman abused’ has not received the satisfaction which the honour required, ‘there remaines a secret tincture of disrepute’.

Given the fact that gentlemen and courtiers easily took one another’s words amiss, it is no surprise that the courtesy guides discussed the duel. Even a small rupture in courtesy or civil conversation could prompt a duel. As a consequence, the person starting a proper conversation or failing to dissemble was not only breaking the rules of civil conversation; he was also giving rise to a duel." [Peltonen, The Duel]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:57 pm

Quote :
"In Elizabethan and early Stuart material, it was argued that in civil and polite society what mattered most was the outward appearance. Civility meant simply ‘the

edification, and building up ofthe outward man’. Vaumori`ere insisted that ‘we must not neglect the outside.We should always so ordeur it, that the first impressions turn to our advantage, and dispose People the better to rellish the Sentiments ofour Mind, and the agreeable products ofour Fancies. Bellegarde claimed that ‘a Man loses more than is imagin’d by neglecting outward Appearances’.

The essence of‘P oliteness’ consisted of‘a Thousand little Civilities, Complacencies, and Endeavours to give others Pleasure’.Thus ‘Politeness’ was nothing but ‘an ornamental Accomplishment’; yet, human happiness depended ‘as strongly on small Things, as on great’. If politeness only concerned the outward appearance, it followed that gentleman’s genuine opinion and inward principles must be ignored. In gentlemanly civility it was strongly prohibited to ‘trouble  others with the Articles ofhis religious Creed, or political Engagements’. We must ‘aim’, Forrester wrote, ‘at being quiet within our selves, and agreeable to those among whom we live, let their political Notions be what they will’.

The need to conform with prevalent fashion was often couched in terms of humility . Courtin stated laconically that ‘Civility’ was ‘nothing else but humility’, and many others agreed. According to Josiah Dare, civility consisted both ofa voiding being ‘unpleasant and offensive’ and also ofswimming ‘with the stream’ rather than ‘against it’. It followed that ‘thou wilt be accounted nothing, ifthou opposest the publick Customs’. There seemed only one conclusion to be drawn: ‘the humble man is the most agreeable person upon earth’. In the late sixteenth century the emphasis placed on appearance had led many theorists ofcivil courtesy to accept flattery and dissimulation as its vital parts.

In the Renaissance theory ofcivil courtesy it had been emphasised not only that gentlemen must exchange courtesies and civilities and conduct a civil conversation with one another but also that even the smallest departure from the code ofcourtesy was a clear sign ofcondescending behaviour and thus caused a serious affront.
Since he must never fail to act politely, it followed that he should be rather ‘civilly false’ than ‘rudely honest’. It was more important to be ‘well-manner’d’ than ‘well-born’. Following prevailing customs and fashion had become more important for a courtier and a gentleman than obeying Christianity. ‘Custome’, Waker noted, ‘is a second nature’, somuch so that it even ‘prevails upon men more than.. the institutions of Religion’. In Scud´ery’s dialogue ‘Ofdissim ulation, and ofSincerity’, one of the interlocutors also exclaimed that genuine sincerity was both ‘imprudent’ and ‘troublesome’, being in fact ‘an uncivil and rude sincerity’. According to Bellegarde, ‘Unpoliteness’ was ‘ofall Vices, that which makes a Man most despisable’. La Bruy`ere developed a similar argument, asserting that iflittle was required to gain people’s ‘Esteem’, even less was needed to lose it.

In An essay concerning human understanding he pointed out that the laws off ashion were much stricter than either God’s law or the laws ofthe state. In breaching the divine law one could always ‘entertain Thoughts off uture reconciliation’, and in breaching a civil law ‘they frequently flatter themselves with the hopes of Impunity’. But the laws of fashion were different. ‘No Man’, Locke insisted, ‘scapes the Punishment oftheir Censure and Dislike, who offends against the Fashion and Opinion of the Company he keeps, andwould recommend himselfto .’

Amongst the ways in which men could honour each other, Hobbes listed conventional qualities ofcivility: first, ‘to speak to another with consideration, to appear before him with decency, and humility, is to Honour him’.

Similarly, ‘to agree with in opinion is to Honour’. Even more, ‘to flatter, is to Honour’, as Hobbes put it succinctly. But ifacting with a high sense ofcivility was to confer honour on one’s conversants, precisely the same values solved the problem ofthe competition for honour and in fact made sociability possible.Ahigh sense ofcivility and agreeable behaviour were indispensable for social life. According to Hobbes, ‘Compleasance; that is to say, That every man strive to accommodate himself to the rest’ was the ‘fifth Law of Nature’.

Nevertheless, if‘Compleasance’ made men ‘Sociable’, even the smallest departure from its rules caused a serious ado. To break the rules of civility – ‘to neglect’ one’s interlocutor or even simply ‘to dissent’ from him amounted to ‘Dishonour’. Hobbes was convinced that there was only one way in which men resisted the dishonour occasioned by such uncivil behaviour. ‘All signes ofha tred, or contempt’, he wrote, ‘provoke to fight; insomuch as most men choose rather to hazard their life, than not to be revenged.’ Duels were, in brief, ‘effects of rash speaking, and ofthe fear ofDishonour’.  The duel was thus the only means to restore one’s honour when it was questioned by even the slightest sign of incivility. Hobbes summarised the entire argument by carefully echoing duelling treatises. Men, he wrote, were always ready to fight duels ‘for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other signe of undervalue in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name’.

Explaining Della Casa’s account ofcer emonies, Waker pointed out that ‘the omission ofa due payment of them does not only displease but injure others’. According to Pierre Bayle, men aspired most to be esteemed by other men...

Bayle went on, made honour more important than the precepts ofChristianity . Whereas the Christian notion ofcourage was ‘fitted to endue us with an heroick Patience’, ‘by a Man ofCourage , the World understands one extremely nice in the Point of Honor, who can’t bear the least Affront, who revenges, swift as Lighting, and at the hazard of his Life, the least disrespect’.

The delicacy created by outward politeness, Jacques Esprit wrote, rendered gentlemen ‘sensible ofan Injury’. Even a small incivility kindled ‘his Anger, and that he betakes himselfto his Arms to kindle his Resentment’. As Esprit summarised the entire argument, ‘at the same time that they seem to have such a scorn and contempt ofthemselv es, they continually observe the behaviour ofother s towards ’em; they rigorously expect from others those Formalities and Respects which are their due, and revenge the least injuries done ‘em’.

Duelling was especially pertinent to questions of civil conversation. ‘A free Tongue’, he told his son, had ‘neede of a strong hand and a stout hearte’. The son was advised to remember his own dignity but also never to ‘affront’ anyone ‘with whom you dare not fight’. The earl thought that ‘there are many actes ofGener osity to be performed to an Enemy’. If, for instance, your enemy ‘lies at thy mercy’ you must not ‘take aduantage further then in relation to your security’. This way you could ‘let him see Thou canst pardon as nobly, as content’. Carbery also instructed his son to give ‘a publicke and due prayse’ for the merits ofthe opponent, but ifhe ‘be scurrilous or rayle’ you must not use a similar language, but be ready ‘to doe a Courtesy’. Finally, the earl of Carbery reminded his son that it was important ‘in a faire triall’ to be ‘modest’ in winning, noting that ‘you vanquish your Enemy agayne, if you vse him with Ciuility, and your Victory with modesty’.

The point of honor’ consisted as much in ‘the practise ofmorals’ as ‘shewing heart and courage’. The conclusion was, however, inevitable: ‘certainly no rational person will condemn this resentment, only will advise me to use honest and lawful means to get satisfaction’.

But resenting injuries could be objected to not merely by the precepts of morality; it could also be opposed by ‘a Divine Precept to bear injuries’, which Gailhard was ready to ‘confess, when ’tis for conscience sake, and for the cause and glory of God, or upon the account of Religion’. Christianity told us both that ‘the life we venture is not ours’ but belongs to God and that ‘we must not have boldness to destroy the image ofour Sovereign God, which is man’. But to take these precepts as applicable to everyday life in general or to the life of a gentleman in particular would be nothing less than to ‘set all earthly things in a confusion, and destroy all manner ofpr opriety, right, and justice’. It would be absurd, Gailhard argued, to demand that ‘I sit still, be an idle spectator, and suffer it’ when ‘a man will take away my estate, my life, and reputation, which I cannot subsist without’. Gailhard, as so many before him, dismissed religious counterarguments against duelling. The maintenance of a gentleman’s honour outdid God’s commandments, with which anyone worth a gentleman’s salt had, willy-nilly, to comply. Relying on the authority of Aristotle and Seneca, he argued that ifone resented no injuries it was a certain ‘sign of a low soul, of a poor and fainting spirit, and ofa heartless man’. Suffering ‘one injury upon the back of another’ would eventually account for ‘a pusillanimous creature, fitter to live in Woods, and Wilderness, than in the society of mankind’. It would have been a cardinal error to take such behaviour for ‘a virtue’." [Peltonen, The Duel]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Nov 25, 2014 1:00 pm

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"Just like human sociability in general, so the project of politeness in particular was grounded on nature rather than on human opinion and will. Shaftesbury wanted to repudiate as clearly as possible the sceptic view endorsed by many civility authors that opinion and fashion were the ultimate criteria ofall human values. He described such a view condescendingly All is opinion. It is opinion which makes beauty and unmakes it. The graceful or ungraceful in things, the decorum and its contrary, the amiable and unamiable, vice, virtue, honour, shame, all this is founded in opinion only. Opinion is the law and measure. Nor has opinion any rules besides mere chance, which varies it as custom varies and makes now this, now that, to be thought worthy, according to the reign off ashion and the ascendant power of education.

When John Locke examined civility in Some thoughts concerning education he also wanted to distinguish between proper and mistaken civility. Ofcour se, he was aware ofthe importance of‘g raceful Way and Fashion’.

But the main aim ofhis account ofcivility was to emphasise the indispensability of‘inwar d Civility’, which was the only means to avoid ‘mistaken Civility’, which, needless to add, consisted of‘F lattery’ and ‘Dissimulation’. If the children’s ‘Minds’, he wrote, ‘are well disposed, and principled with inward Civility, a great part ofthe roughness, which sticks to the out-side for want of better teaching, Time and Observation will rub off.’ Man’s exterior not only bore a close relationship to his interior; the exterior carefully mirrored the mind. Being ‘Wellfashion’d’ meant ‘that decency and gracefulness of Looks, Voice, Words, Motions, Gestures, and ofall thewhole outward Demeanour,which takes in Company, and makes those with whom we converse, easie and well pleased’. But, Locke went on, ‘this is, as it were, the Language whereby that internal Civility ofthe Mind is expressed’. Since there was thus a direct relationship between the mind and the exterior, as soon as virtues were inculcated in a child’s mind, he would quickly learn outward civility. Men were able to make ‘all those little Expressions of Civility and Respect, which Nature or Custom has established in conversation, so easy to themselves, that they seem not Artificial or Studied, but naturally to flow from a sweetness of Mind, and a well turn’d Disposition’. It followed that ‘Affectation is an awkward and forced Imitation of what should be Genuine and Easie, wanting the Beauty that Accompanies what is Natural.’ Indeed, Locke agreed with Bacon that civility was exceptionally easy to learn." [Peltonen, the Duel]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Nov 25, 2014 1:00 pm

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"A chief concern in both The Tatler and The Spectator was to reveal the hollowness of empty civil conversation and to uphold its opposite, a proper conversation dominated by simplicity, yet conducted in a polite manner. The Tatler announced that ‘the graceful Manner, the apt Gesture, and the assumed Concern, are impotent Helps to Persuasion, in Comparison ofthe honest Countenance ofhim who utters what he really means’. When the paper exposed ‘the Affectation of Politeness’, its chiefconcer n was with the modish language ofempty pomposity. ‘All the new affected Modes ofSpeec h’ in general and those ofthe ‘Men ofthe Court’ in particular would soon perish and ‘appear perfectly ridiculous.’ In a proper conversation the interlocutors were supposed to be disagreeing and sometimes even contradicting each other, albeit in a polite and civil manner. According to The Spectator, the sad consequence ofthe new ‘excessive way ofspeaking Civilities’ was that words had lost their meanings. ‘The World is grown so full of Dissimulation and Compliment, that MensWords are hardly any Signification of their Thoughts.’Words, in short, were made ‘to signify nothing’. Empty courtesies had replaced traditional ‘Plainness and Sincerity’, and a man’s work was no longer measured by ‘his Heart’.

Shaftesbury formulated his own theory of politeness in order to counter such developments. Politeness and ethics, or manners and morality, should not be separate butmust merge with one another. Shaftesbury wanted ‘to recommend morals on the same foot with what in a lower sense is called manners and to advance philosophy, as harsh a subject as it may appear, on the very foundation of what is called agreeable and polite’. His sociability was thus ‘ethical sociability’, as Klein has put it. The virtuous active life was closely associated with politeness. Philosophy worth one’s while must teach ‘Action & Capacity, how to be useful in the World, a good Patriot’. The aim was thus nothing less than the inculcation ofthe promotion ofthe public good by a virtuous civic action in the polite world. In a civil state or public’, Shaftesbury once wrote, ‘we see that a virtuous administration and an equal and just distribution ofr ewards and punishments is ofthe highest service, not only by restraining the vicious and forcing them to act usefully to society, but by making virtue to be apparently the interest ofe veryone.’ Shaftesbury coupled his account of civil life and politeness with a comprehensive analysis ofliberty. This analysis runs through his writings and together with his account ofpoliteness forms their central theme. Shaftesbury was convinced not only that civic life entailed liberty but also that his entire programme ofpoliteness could only materialise ‘in a free nation’. ‘Want ofliberty’, he declared, ‘may account for want of a true politeness and for the corruption or wrong use of pleasantry and humour.’ Whereas a stringent court context only produced vacuous, theatrical politeness, which only seemed to please, liberty made a sincere politeness possible by allowing men to be natural and express their genuine opinions in a polite manner and thus to create authentic sociability. As Shaftesbury famously put it: ‘All politeness is owing to liberty. We polish one another and rub off our corners and rough sides by a sort of amicable collision.’" [Peltonen, The Duel]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:39 pm

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"Mandeville was convinced that ‘all untaught Animals are only sollicitous of pleasing themselves’, as he put it in the opening words of‘ An enquiry into the origin of moral virtue’, in part one of The fable. This was especially true of a man who was ‘extraordinary selfish and headstrong’, and it had always been regarded as the main task ofla wgivers to persuade the people to believe that it was much better ‘to conquer than indulge his Appetites, and much better to mind the Publick than what seem’d his private Interest’. This persuasion had been based on offering ‘a Reward’ for those who had given up their private good. But since there had not been enough real rewards, lawgivers had had to invent ‘an imaginary one’ which they had found in ‘Flattery’. Everyone had been ‘charm’d with Praise’ or had wanted at all cost to avoid ‘Contempt’. In this way people had been instructed ‘in the Notions ofHonour and Shame’. It is not too much to say that honour was a central notion in Mandeville’s philosophy.

By the time he published the second part of The fable, Mandeville had developed a more nuanced analysis of man’s selfish nature, which was based on a distinction between self-love and self-liking. Whereas selflove ‘was given to all Animals . . . for Self-Preservation’, self-liking was ‘our inclination to overrate ourselves in comparison with others’, as Bert Kerkhofhas defined it. Underlying our love ofpraise was the passion ofself -liking. After Cleomenes’s careful explanation Horatio felt confident in declaring that when self-liking ‘is moderate andwell regulated, [it] excites in us the Love of Praise , and a Desire to be applauded and thoughtwell ofb y others, and stirs us up to good Actions: but . . . when it is excessive, or ill turn’d, whatever it excites in our Selves, gives Offence to others, renders us odious, and is call’d Pride’. Mandeville’s claim that the origins ofhonour were to be found in flattery and self-liking enabled him to launch a scathing attack against what he took to be a seriously misleading account of honour.

He asserted that many took honour for ‘the Reward of Virtue’ or even for ‘Virtue itself’. But instead ofe xpounding this idea ofthe close connection between virtue and honour, Mandeville dismissed it and argued that honour was simply someone’s favourable opinion of others. His notion ofhonour was strongly horizontal. In the Remark C ofthe first part of The fable he wrote ‘by Honour, in its proper and genuine Signification, we mean nothing else but the good Opinion ofother s,which is counted more or less Substantial, the more or less Noise or Bustle there is made about the demonstration ofit’. In The enquiry into the origin of honour Cleomenes explained that honour was ‘always a Complimentwe make to Those who act, have, or are what we approve of; it is a Term of Art to express our Concurrence with others, our Agreement with them in their Sentiments concerning the Esteem and Value they have for themselves’. This of course resolved Horatio’s condundrum; honour was based on the fact that ‘a Man adores himself’; he was simply ‘worshipping Honour’.

It followed that the higher a man’s pride could be raised, ‘the more refin’d you may render his Notions ofHonour’, as Cleomenes carefully explained. It was important to realise, however, that honour was reciprocal. It entailed an honour groupwhere people exchanged compliments and honours. According to Cleomenes, honour ‘signifies a Means which Men by Conversing together have found out to please and gratify one another’. It is hardly surprising that Mandeville’s contemporary critics could not agree with his uncompromising notion ofhoriz ontal honour. Ify ou called someone ‘a Man of Honour’ this entailed, Fiddes claimed, that ‘all his Actions’ proceeded ‘from good Motives’. In short, ‘Honour ought never to be separated from Honesty.’

As Nicole had expressed it, ‘the ground ofhumane Civility . . . is but a kind oftraf fick ofSelf -love, wherein we endeavour to buy the affection of others, by owning a kindness for them’. It is hardly surprising that human glory, according to Nicole, consisted of‘the good opinion others have for us’.
Esprit’s analysis had been strikingly similar. It was self-love which explained men’s proneness to human civility and complaisance. ‘Altho Complaisance’, Esprit had written, ‘appears so opposite to the inclinations ofSelf -Love, and seems to sacrifice it every hour, yet she serves it with an entire Fidelity.’ Civility was thus based on selfishness. Abbadie had also claimed that he was merely stating ‘the plain Truth’ when he had written that ‘Outward Civility’ was ‘nothing but an apparent Preference we make of our selves before all the World’. But this portrayal ofhuman civility had only provided the counter-image oftrue Christian civility. According to Esprit, ‘all Human Complacency is without merit, or vitious in its original. Only Christian Complacency is truly vertuous.’ He had concluded his chapter on politeness:

‘we may say that Charity, which is the Original oftha t Conduct which they observe toward their Neighbours, is the sole and only true Politeness, and real Civility, and that ofall other Men, Christians are the truly Polite and Civil People’. Nicole had emphasised that he wanted ‘to make our Civility different from that of Men of theWorld. It must be perfectly true, perfectly sincere.’
‘The Fountain head’ of civility , as he summarised his entire argument, was to be found in ‘Divine Reasons’.

The idea ofhonour was in fact so important that it could be called nothing less than ‘the tye ofSociety’; nothing had been ‘halfso instrumental to their civilizing ofMankind’. Without honour men ‘would soon degenerate into cruel Villains and treacherous Slaves’.

Politeness played a dual role in human sociability.On the one hand, it was the way in which we gratified the self-liking of other men.We agreed with them about their worth and esteem; we honoured them by acting politely towards them. On the other hand, politeness was also the way in which we hid our own excessive self-esteem – our pride. Cleomenes argued:

When once the Generality begin to conceal the high Value they have for themselves, Men must become more tolerable to one another. Now new Improvements must be made every Day, ’till some ofthem grow impudent enough, not only to deny the high Value they have for themselves, but likewise to pretend that they have greater Value for others, than they have for themselves. This will bring in Complaisance, and now Flattery.

Even more, whilst politeness had started as a means ofhiding our self-liking and pride, in the course oftime it had become its substitute. Hiding our pride, in other words, had become a way to rejoice in it. This was a reciprocal process. The more pride men had and thus ‘the greater Value they set on the Esteem ofother s’, the more politely they behaved. Conversely, ‘a refin’d Education, and a continual Commerce with the Beau monde’ – a high level ofpoliteness – increased man’s pride. ‘The Man ofSense and Education’, Mandeville argued, ‘never exults more in his Pride than when he hides it with the greatest Dexterity.’

Furthermore, although pride and thereby honour played important roles in the development of politeness, hardly less significant was the part played by their opposites, shame and dishonour. Whereas shame was ‘a sorrowful Reflexion on our own Unworthiness’, dishonour consisted ‘in the bad Opinion and Contempt ofother s’.

Mandeville further insisted that artificiality and thus contrariety to nature was the whole purpose of politeness. As Cleomenes explained, ‘the more civiliz’d’ people are ‘the more they think it injurious to have their Nature seen’. This explained the usage ofmake-up and wigs. But what further compounded this learning process was the fact that no matter how refined and therefore artificial the forms of civility and politeness were it was of utmost importance to learn to perform them in such a skilful way that they appeared completely natural. As the example ofdof fing our hats demonstrated, the polite forms of behaviour were far from being natural to man – indeed, they were artificial by their very nature. Nevertheless, all ofthem should be internalised to such a degree that they would become a gentleman’s second nature. Mandeville insisted, as we have already seen, that nothing must appear difficult for a polite courtier or gentleman.

Mandeville argued, ‘Men are taught insensibly to be Hypocrites fromtheir Cradle.’ Politeness rested entirely on dissimulation: ‘all Civil Commerce would be lost, ifb y Art and prudent Dissimulation we had not learn’d to hide and stifle’ the ‘Ideas that are commonly arising within us’. The aim ofcivility , as we have already seen, was not to express our inner feelings in a polite manner; on the contrary the whole notion ofcivility was designed to conceal (rather than reveal) our self-liking – to disguise our genuine and true feelings of ‘that great Value, which all Individuals set upon their own Persons’ – by an exterior which would be highly pleasing.

The facts that politeness had a progressive tendency and that it must appear entirely natural, that despite all this it was fully artificial and that it was governed by hypocrisy and flattery, were all closely intertwined. It followed that in the course of time civility had become more refined and had soon been wholly based on hypocrisy and flattery. Yet, at the same time it had become evermore distant from man’s natural behaviour whilst looking evermore natural. ‘Whatever Alterations’, Mandeville wrote, ‘may be made in the Sense ofW ords, by Time; yet, as the World grows more polish’d, Flattery becomes less bare-faced, and the Design ofit upon Man’s Pride is better disguis’d than it was formerly.’" [Peltonen, The Duel]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:41 pm

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"‘The Reverse ofHonour’, Mandeville wrote, ‘is Dishonour, or Ignominy, which consists in the bad Opinion and Contempt of others.’ It followed that if polite and agreeable conduct was a way to gratify someone, to pay honour to him, a converse behaviour was a certain means ofdemonstrating dishonour. Mandeville, in other words, wholeheartedly accepted the idea that a strong sense ofcivility and politeness entailed an equally strong sense ofinsult and affront. when politeness became more refined, man’s pride became more vehement. Education, in other words, not only advanced our civility; it equally increased our sense ofpride and thus ofshame . This sense could, indeed it did, become so tender that it overshadowed our selflove – self-preservation. In order to be taken as a man ofhonour , a gentleman had to prefer his self-liking before his self-love. This meant that whatever was deemed to touch his honour must be ofg reater importance for him than anything else in his life, including his life itself. What was at stake in an impending duel was nothing but honour and shame – nothing ‘but the bare Opinion of Men’. This also explained why in sickness or storm the fear of death was ‘so glaringly conspicuous’, but in a duel the same was ‘entirely well hid’. It was ‘their Pride’ which assisted the duellists ‘in concealing the fear of Death’.

Although Mandeville had thus explained the raison d’ˆetre ofduelling , he also insisted that it could be explained in historical terms. According to him, duelling was a human rather than a natural institution and there could be other means ofdemonstra ting that one’s self-liking overrode one’s self-love. As Cleomenes put it, ‘the fear of Shame in general is a matter ofCaprice , that varies with Modes and Customs, and may be fix’d on different Objects, according to the different Lessons we have receiv’d, and the Precepts we are imbued with’.

Rather than being classical in origin, duelling and the adjacent notion ofhonour were partly medieval, partly modern. There had been two crucial moments in history which had given a strong impetus for these institutions to develop. First, approximately ‘these Seven or Eight HunderdYears’ ago ‘Honour andReligion’ had been ‘blended together’.

This had occurredwhen ‘the Church of Rome’, in ‘enslaving the Laity’ and thus establishing its secular authority, had founded ‘the various Orders of Knighthood . . . to defend the Temporals ofthe Church’. In order to accomplish this, the church had reconciled, ‘in outward Shew, the Principle of Honour with that ofthe Christian Religion’. Soon this notion ofhonour had generally been accepted. ‘As all Gentlemen were train’d up to Arms’, Cleomenes told Horatio, ‘the Notions ofHonour were of great Use to them; and it was manifest, that never any Thing had been invented before, that was half so effectual to create artificial Courage among Military Men.’

In order to buttress the link between religion and honour and thereby courage, the medieval church had established several institutions, amongst which had been the ordeal.
Modern men of honour had given up all the former rules of honour except one; they seemed, as Mandeville pointed out, ‘to be more remiss; they have a profound Veneration for the last’ rule only – ‘to suffer no Affront. At the beginning ofthe seventeenth century, Mandeville declared with a direct reference to one of the most provocative claims of earlier duelling manuals, ‘the Sense of Honour was arrived to such a Degree of Nicety all over Europe, especially in France, that barely looking upon a Man was often taken for an Affront’.

If a man wanted to be fashionable, he had to wear what most men were wearing; mutatis mutandis, if he wanted to appear honourable, he had to comply with the prevalent rules of honour . What counted as fashion and honour depended thus on the current custom. The breaking ofthe rules of honour and fashion would not only result in placing oneself outside the beau monde; it would also end in being ‘the Jest and Scorn of Publick-Houses, Stage Coaches, and Market-Places’; it would make the man ‘a common Laughing-stock’. Little wonder that honour had such a crucial role in human society – that it was ‘the strongest and noblest Tye of Society’. Mandeville maintained that the greatest benefit society would reap from duelling was a highly enhanced level of politeness in general and of civil conversation in particular. ‘Ife very ill-bred Fellow’, he declared, ‘might use what Language he pleas’d, without being called to an Account for it, all Conversation would be spoil’d.’ It was thus not somuch the actual duel itself, but rather the fear of it that ‘civilizes a Man’." [Peltonen, The Duel]

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"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:46 pm

Quote :
"Sociability required theatrical civility which in its turn depended on the theory ofthe point of honour and duelling. There was an exceptionally close link between politeness and luxury. Mandeville emphasised this connection in both A letter to Dion and An enquiry into the origin of honour. He argued that ‘Luxury, tho’ depending upon the Vices of Man, is absolutely necessary to render a great Nation formidable, opulent and polite at the same Time’. Indeed, ‘the Epithets ofpolite and flourishing are never given to Countries, before they are arriv’d at a considerable Degree of Luxury’.

Both luxury and politeness mainly consisted of‘outwar d Appearance’, which was why in ancient Greece and Rome as well as in ‘the great Eastern Nations, that flourish’d before them . . . Luxury and Politeness ever grew up together, and were never enjoy’d asunder.’Furthermore, luxury as well as politeness aimed at pleasure and happiness. ‘Precepts ofgood Manners’, Mandeville insisted, assisted ‘in the Enjoyments of Life, and refining of Pleasure’. He could conclude that ‘Comfort and Delight upon Earth have always employ’d the Wishes ofthe Beau Monde; and that . . . their chiefStud y and greatest Sollicitude, to outward Appearance, have ever been directed to obtain Happiness in this World.’

The proximity ofpoliteness and luxury was not merely due to their similar ends but also to the fact that they were both based on the same human passion – pride. If politeness and luxury, court and commerce were so closely linked with each other in Mandeville’s theory, it is misleading to juxtapose court society and the society of merchants. Both the polite sphere of courtiers and the commercial sphere ofmer chants were overlapping, so much so that they could not be kept apart.

The starting point of Mandeville’s analysis ofcivility’ s role in the world ofcommer ce was the hypocritical nature ofall social activity. Because men were utterly selfish, it followed that ‘it is impossible we could be sociable Creatures without hypocrisy’. Rather than being social virtues, frankness and openness were unacceptable social vices, because they would hamper all sociability. As Mandeville put it, ‘all Civil Commerce would be lost, if by Art and prudent Dissimulation we had not learn’d to hide and stifle’ our own thoughts. Moreover, ‘if all we think was to be laid open to others in the same manner as it is to our selves, it is impossible that endued with Speech we could be sufferable to one another’. But if polite dissimulation was a sine qua non in social life in general, even more so was it in commercial life in particular.

In Mandeville’s theory of civility and politeness there was no sharp distinction between the politeness of the court and that of the town. Genuine politeness was always both theatrical and artificial in character, and duelling, together with the concomitant notion ofhonour , was its sole guarantee.

Court and city were overlapping rather than contradictory sites of civility . the ultimate aim of this attempt was not to make politeness more compatible with commerce – let alone that politeness had been perceived as a creation of commerce. Most importantly, the strongest case for the close proximity of commerce to politeness depicted politeness as purely theatrical and thus returned to, rather than argued against, its courtly interpretation. According to Mandeville, it was above all the beau monde, the polite, who were distinguished by their singularly theatrical politeness and therefore by their propensity to duelling as well as by their extravagant consumption. Indeed, as Mandeville declared, ‘Luxury and Politeness ever grew up together.’ Dissimulation and ‘a Renaissance notion of prudential self ’ as ‘a rhetorical posture that subordinated honesty to decorum’ played a central role in the discovery ofthe individual and the selfin early modern Europe. The aim of civility and politeness, he maintained, was to make ‘society easy and agreeable’, ‘to accommodate and oblige others’. One’s conversation must always be pleasing and agreeable – always avoiding ‘argumentative, polemical conversations’.

By this time a neologism for civil conversation had been invented: ‘study to acquire that fashionable kind of small talk or chit chat, which prevails in all polite assemblies’. And since it was the exterior which was given the sole emphasis, a gentleman’s attire was hardly less important than other aspects ofhis outward appearance. Chesterfield summarised his argument by equating politeness with ‘complaisance’, and by claiming that it could always cover ‘a number ofsins’. Indeed, outward politeness or ‘good-breeding is, to all worldly qualification, what charity is to all Christian virtues’.

It should be no news that Chesterfield’s account ofinsults was equally familiar. Since politeness only concerned our exterior and since it was based on ‘vanity and self-love’, even the most trifling affront which touched a gentleman’s appearance and questioned his status was the most vicious insult; ‘wrongs’, Chesterfield wrote, ‘are often forgiven, but contempt never is’.This was so simply because ‘nothing is more insulting, than to take pains to make a man feel a mortifying inferiority’. It was nothing less than ‘brutally shocking’when you gave even the smallest sign of ‘a seeming inattention to the person who is speaking to you’. How was the gentleman expected to react? ‘A well bred man’, Chesterfield declared, ‘thinks, but never seems to think himselfslighted, undervalued, or laughed at in compnay, unless where it is so plainly marked out, that his honour obliges him to resent it in a proper manner.’ There were thus ‘but two alternatives for a gentleman and a man of parts – extreme politeness, or a duel’.

The notion of honour inherent in this theory was thus strongly horizontal. Such an ideology also entailed, however, that even ‘the least Word, Look, or Motion’ could easily be taken as undervaluing a gentleman and thus occasioning a challenge. As Anna Bryson has put it, ‘a failure to perform a gesture of deference required by the status of another noble or gentleman is not merely a boorish failure of complaisance, but a positive injury to the honour ofthe other’. It followed that even the minutest breach of the gentlemanly code ofconduct blatantly demonstrated the lack of respect and thus cast serious doubt on the gentleman’s honour as long as he did not clear his tarnished reputation by a proper counterattack. This was so because the notion ofhonour was also reflexive. The duel was, in other words, the only polite response to an impolite word or deed, and thus the only proper means ofr estoring gentlemanly civility." [Peltonen, The Duel]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:04 am

Christian Trinitarianism: Chivalry, Courtesy, Civility - is a Censorship - an "Ef-Face-ment":

Erving Goffman wrote:
"Every person lives in a world of social encounters, in­ volving him either in face-to face or mediated contact with other participants. In each of these contacts, he tends to act out what is sometimes called a line-that is, a pattern of verbal and nonverbal acts by which he expresses his view of the situation and through this his evaluation of the participants, especially himself. Regardless of whether a person intends to take a line, he will find that he has done so in effect.

The term face may be defined as the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact. Face is an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes-albeit an image that others may share, as when a person makes a good showing for his profession or religion by making a good showing for himself. At such times the per­son's face clearly is something that is not lodged in or on his body, but rather something that is diffusely located in the flow of events in the encounter and becomes mani­fest only when these events are read and interpreted for the appraisals expressed in them.

The line maintained by and for a person during contact with others tends to be of a legitimate institutionalized kind.

Thus while concern for face focuses the attention of the person on the current activity, he must, to maintain face in this activity, take into consideration his place in the social world beyond it. A person who can maintain face in the current situation is someone who abstained from certain actions in the past that would have been difficult to face up to later. In addition, he fears loss of face now partly because the others may take this as a sign that consideration for his feelings need not be shown in the future.

To study face-saving is to study the traffic rules of social interaction; one learns about the code the person adheres to in his movement across the paths and designs of others.

As an aspect of the social code of any social circle, one may expect to find an understanding as to how far a per­son should go to save his face. Once he takes on a self­ image expressed through face he will be expected to live up to it. In different ways in different societies he will be required to show self-respect, abjuring certain actions be­ cause they are above or beneath him, while forcing him­ self to perform others even though they cost him dearly. By entering a situation in which he is given a face to maintain, a person takes on the responsibility of standing guard over the How of events as they pass before him. He must ensure that a particular expressive order is sustained -an order that regulates the How of events, large or small, so that anything that appears to be expressed by them will be consistent with his face.

Since each participant in an undertaking is concerned, albeit for differing reasons, with saving his own face and the face of the others, then tacit cooperation will natu­rally arise so that the participants together can attain their shared but differently motivated objectives.

One common type of tacit cooperation in face-saving is the tact exerted in regard to face-work itself. The person not only defends his own face and protects the face of the others, but also acts so as to make it possible and even easy for the others to employ face-work for themselves and him. He helps them to help themselves and him." [Interaction Ritual]
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:05 am

Fence-sitting Politeness is a hedonistic di-Ploy-macy:

Erving Goffman wrote:
"Tact in regard to face-work often relies for its operation on a tacit agreement to do business through the language of hint-the language of innuendo, ambiguities, well-placed pauses, carefully worded jokes, and so on. The rule re­garding this unofficial kind of communication is that the sender ought not to act as if he had officially conveyed the message he has hinted at, while the recipients have the

right and the obligation to act as if they have not offi­ cially received the message contained in the hint. Hinted communication, then, is deniable communication; it need not be faced up to. It provides a means by which the person can be warned that his current line or the current situation is leading to loss of face, without this warning itself becoming an incident." [Interaction Ritual]
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:06 am

Courtesy and Domesticaion:

Erving Goffman wrote:
"Interruptions and lulls are regulated so as not to disrupt the flow of messages. Mes­sages that are not part of the officially accredited flow are modulated so as not to interfere seriously with the ac­ credited messages. Nearby persons who are not partici­ pants visibly desist in some way from exploiting their communication position and also modify their own com­ munication, if any, so as not to provide difcfi ult interfer­ ence. A particular ethos or emotional atmosphere is al­ lowed to prevail. A polite accord is typically maintained, and participants who may be in real disagreement with one another give temporary lip service to views that bring them into agreement on matters of fact and principle.

Rules are followed for smoothing out the transition, if any, from one topic of conversation to another.

These rules of talk pertain not to spoken interaction considered as an ongoing process, but to an occasion of talk or episode of interaction as a naturally bounded unit. This unit consists of the total activity that occurs during the time that a given set of participants have accredited one another for talk and maintain a single moving focus of attention.
Once engaged in conversation, he must demand only the amount of attention that is an appropriate expression of his relative social worth. Undue lulls come to be potential signs of having nothing in com­ mon, or of being insufficiently self-p ossessed to create something to say, and hence must be avoided. Similarly, interruptions and inattentiveness may convey disrespect and must be avoided unless the implied disrespect is an accepted part of the relationship. A surface of agreement must be maintained by means of discretion and white lies, so that the assumption of mutual approval will not be dis­ credited. Withdrawal must be handled so that it will not convey an improper evaluation. The person must restrain his emotional involvement so as not to present an image of someone with no self-control or dignity who does not rise above his feelings." [Interaction Ritual]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:07 am

Ritual Assimilation:

Erving Goffman wrote:
"The ritual order seems to be organized basically on ac­commodative lines, so that the imagery used in thinking about other types of social order is not quite suitable for it. For the other types of social order a kind of schoolboy model seems to be employed: if a person wishes to sustain a particular image of himself and trust his feelings to it, he must work hard for the credits that will buy this sel£­ enhaucement for him; should he try to obtain ends by improper means, by cheating or theft, he will be punished, disqualified from the race, or at least made to start all over again from the beginning. This is the imagery of a hard, dull game.

Facts are of the schoolboy's world-they can be altered by diligent effort but they cannot be avoided. But what the person protects and defends and invests his feelings in is an idea about himself, and ideas are vulnerable not to facts and things but to communications. Communica­ tions belong to a less punitive scheme than do facts, for communications can be by-passed, withdrawn from, disbe­ lieved, conveniently misunderstood, and tactfully con­veyed. And even should the person misbehave and break the truce he has made with society, punishment need not be the consequence. If the offense is one that the offended persons can let go by without losing too much face, then they are likely to act forbearantly, telling themselves that they will get even with the offender in another way at another time, even · though such an occasion may never arise and might not be exploited if it did. If the offense is great, the offended persons may withdraw from the en­ counter, or from future similar ones, allowing their with­ drawal to be reinforced by the awe they may feel toward someone who breaks the ritual code. Or they may have the offender withdrawn, so that no further communication can occur. But since the offender can salvage a good deal of face from such operations, withdrawal is often not so much an informal punishment for an offense as it is merely a means of terminating it. Perhaps the main principle of the ritual order is not justice but face, and what any offender receives is not what he deserves but what will sustain for the moment the line to which he has committed himself, and through this the line to which he has committed the interaction." [Interaction Ritual]


Erving Goffman wrote:
"Role is the_basic unit of socialization. It is through roles that tasks in society are allocated and arrangements made to enforce their per­formance.

The function of a role is the part it plays in the maintenance or destruction of the system or pattern as a whole, the terms eufunction and dysfunction sometimes being employed to distinguish the sup­ portive from the destructive efforts. Where the functional effect of a role is openly known and avowed, the term manifest function is some­ times employed ; where these effects are not regularly foreseen and, especially, where this foresight might alter effects, the term latent is sometimes used.

A concept that is often employed in the discussion of roles is that of commitment. I propose to restrict this term to questions of im­personally enforced structural arrangements. An individual becomes committed to something when, because of the fixed and interdepend­ent character of many institutional arrangements, his doing or being this something irrevocably conditions other important possibilities in his life, forcing him to take courses of action, causing other persons to build up their activity on the basis of his continuing in his current undertakings, and rendering him vulnerable to unanticipated conse­ quences ofthese undertakings. He thus becomes locked into a position and coerced into living up to the promises and sacrifices built into it. Typically, a person will become deeply committed only to a role he regularly performs, and it is left to gallants, one-shot gamblers,​ ​and the foolhardy to become committed to a role they do not per­form regularly.

The self-image available for anyone entering a particnlar position is one ofwhich he may become affectively and cognitively enamored desiring and expecting to see himself in terms of the enactment of the role and the self-identification emerging from this enactment. I will speak here of the individual becoming attached to his position and its role, adding only that in the case of larger social units - groups, not positions - attachment is more likely to have a selfless component.
An appreciation can grow up concerning how attached an 'individual ought properly to be to a particular role, giving rise to the possibility that, compared to this moral norm, a performer may be overattached to his role or alienated from it." [Encounters]


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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:09 am

Institutionalization or Sheltering:

Erving Goffman wrote:
"Whatever his position in society, the person insulates himself by blindnesses, half-truths, illusions, and rationali­zations. He makes an "adjustment" by convincing himself, with the tactful support of his intimate circle, that he is what he wants to be and that he would not do to gain his ends what the others have done to gain theirs. And as for society, if the person is willing to be subject to informal social control-if he is willing to find out from hints and glances and tactful cues what his place is, and keep it­ then there will be no objection to his furnishing this place at his own discretion, with all the comfort, elegance, and nobility that his wit can muster for him. To protect this shelter he does not have to work hard, or join a group, or compete with anybody; he need only be careful about the expressed judgments he places himself in a position to witness. Some situations and acts and persons will have to be avoided; others, less threatening, must not be pressed too far. Social life is an uncluttered, orderly thing be­ cause the person voluntarily stays away from the places and topics and times where he is not wanted and where he might be disparaged for going. He cooperates to save his face, finding that there is much to be gained from ventur­ing nothing." [Interaction Ritual]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:33 am

Add to the 'Arabic Influence', J.-Xt. misogyny, and extend the arrow down to libertarianism and modern terrorism:

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About Gynocentrism
(I don't approve of this blog in its entirety, just here and there.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:51 pm

Xt. misogyny and hatred of the body resulting simultaneously in reactive whoredom and goddess-idealization,, is where liberty and chivalry respectively merge, in its political form we know as Libertarianism;

Quote :
"Of course, the most important argument for the legalization of prostitution services is that such prohibitions violate one’s most basic and inherent rights. Prostitution is the voluntary sale (or rental) of a labor service. Individuals own their own bodies and their own labor services and have the absolute right to decide how those labor services should be used. As long as the prostitution transaction is voluntary, there is no justification for governmental interference. Indeed, such interference constitutes an infringement of the privacy and personal liberty of the individuals involved." [Paul Armentano]

Prostitution is Libertarian

Consequence:




Universal Xt. Human rights becoming a conflict between self-liberty of the prostitute and the imposed-liberty of the protective virgin mother - between anarchism and secular humanism both invoking the same J.-Xt.

Any encroachment of this universal human rights is a 'rudeness', and calls for 'chivalry' which is the Civil word for Terrorism.
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:38 pm

Pentangle

Quote :
"Knights and nobleman also exhibited pagan symbols upon their armor and garb during pilgrimages and battles. During the medieval era it was common for knights to utilize typically pagan symbols and allot them religious or spiritual value and meaning, allowing them to then serve similar purposes as traditional religious pictures and icons. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight showcases the use of traditionally pagan symbols as religiously important as he is described to have on his shield “the pentangle portrayed in purest of gold” (Sir Gawain and the Greeen Knight, Lines 620). This symbol was a five pointed star drawn in one continuous and linking line rejoining itself (Boroff 18). This star is a traditionally non-religious emblem that was given magical and religious associations in medieval times. The symbol often ceased to be simply a pagan emblem, and was instead said to represent the five wounds of Jesus during his crucifixion, thus allotting it religiosity and transforming it into a religious emblem (Rose 109).


The pentangle that Sir Gawain adopted as his coat of arms on his shield, gold on a red background, has several different interprative meanings depending on the context. In the story, Sir Gawain adoption of the pentangle as his own personal symbol makes the pentangle yet another religious icon adorning a knight’s possessions, as Sir Gawain wore the symbol on his person: “On shield and coat in view/ He bore that emblem bright” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Line 636). The five pointed star dressed the front of his shield and the arm of his coat, and was therefore evident that he held high regard for its symbolism and meaning. Religiously, the pentacle's five points have been known to represent the five wounds of Christ, symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, the five virtues of knighthood:  “generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Line 663). This pagan, or religious, symbol therefore represents virtues and ideal characteristics of a knight, and its presence on his armor and clothing serves as reminders and assurance of his honor and virtues as a knight. Therefore, this symbol, like many other symbols utilized by knights and soldiers, were taken and used to represent a knight’s particular religious beliefs for the purpose of protection, physical remembrance and reverence to religious beings, or personal representation of one’s own values and aspirations as a pious and chivalric virtues of a knight (Boroff 18). The pentangle was also known to represent the five joys of Mary: The Annunciation, Nativity, Ressurection, Ascension, and Assumption (Rose 110). As Gawain is a knight of the Church, it is likely that the pentangle represents all of these things; however, foremost the five joys of Mary, as Sir Gawain is specifically a Knight of the Blessed Virgin, having her image painted on the inside of his shield so he may look upon it and retain his knightly virtues.

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Jan 27, 2015 3:25 pm

The other side... Stoic origin of Civility, Courtesy, etc. that co-mingled with Xt.


Verecundia


Quote :
"As the combined testimony of these texts suggests, verecundia animates the art of knowing your proper place in every social transaction and basing your behavior on that knowledge; by guiding behavior in this way, verecundia establishes or affirms the social bond between you and others, all of whom (ideally) play complementary roles. Most fully, this means that you will each gauge your standing relative to the others; you will each present yourself in a way that at least will not give offense—for example, by confrontation or importunity—and that preferably will signal your full awareness of the oth- ers’ face, the character they wear in the transaction and the respect that that character is due; and you will stop short of overtly pressing your full claims, yet not be excessively self-effacing—not obliterate your own face, the char- acter you are wearing and the respect that it is due. This is the script, the sequence of interlocking motives and moves, that someone experiencing verecundia—a verecundus person—enacts; by enacting that script, the verecundus person draws a line for the self to observe, in settings where no such line is drawn by formal or external authority, where he or she must improvise a performance as a well-socialized person.

The etymological link between verecundia and the verb vereri, and so verecundia’s grounding in a kind of fear: to be verecundus is to feel, or to be disposed to feel, vere-, as being iracundus (“angry,” “wrathful”) is to feel, or to be disposed to feel, ira.6 This fear is not dread or gut-wrenching anxiety, much less terror or panic. Rather, it is the fear suggested by the English words “wary” and “worry” (there is no etymological link among the three, tant pis): a mild and strategic sort of fear, which manifests itself above all in circumspection and the wish to avoid drawing attention to oneself in an improper way or to an improper degree. As just indicated, this emotion can be experienced in two different forms, an “occurrent” form and a “dispositional” form.

When I report that I am experiencing verecundia in its occurrent form, I mean to convey that I am experiencing a fully embodied worry about mishan- dling (in particular ways) a specific interpersonal transaction already in progress, a form of fearful self-consciousness that at least in some instances approximates our being and feeling flustered or embarrassed. By contrast, if I say that I am dispositionally a verecundus person (though, being such, I prob- ably would never say that), I mean that I tend as a general matter to be wary about mishandling (in particular ways) interpersonal transactions whenever they might occur: my self-description conveys that I am the sort of person much inclined to experience the occurrent form of verecundia and am habitually sen- sitive to contexts that arouse it. In this same way, iracundia (iracundus), in com- mon Latin usage, can convey either the disposition to feel ira—“irascibility,” “wrathfulness”—or the occurrent emotion itself. Because the disposition so readily leads to an embodied experience of the emotion proleptically, “at the very thought,” the dispositionally verecundus person tends to live with the foretaste of this form of worry at the back of his throat, as the more generally fearful person chronically tastes a more generalized fear and as the dispositionally iracundus person lives with the fore- taste of anger: life habitually lived as one of these sorts of person (or as a sort that combines two or more of these sorts) simply “feels different” from a life lived as some other sort. It is such habituation, too, that causes emotional dispositions to be counted among the abiding ethical traits that we commonly call virtues and vices.  

To turn now to verecundia in action, we can say that the simplest social product of verecundia is what might be called “ignorability”: not being invisible, quite, but being seen to claim the minimum amount of social space needed to carry out a given line of action. This is a social virtue that most of us manage to practice most of the time—as when we amble down a city street without making a spectacle of ourselves or colliding with the odd passerby

Cultivating ignorability has two complementary aims that are also two of the basic effects of verecundia: avoiding offense to others, by avoiding improper assertion of the self... others—and which by avoiding offense to others succeeds in pro- tecting the self and its value.

Whereas it is the role of iustitia not to “violate” others—not to do them obvious, even violent, harm—it is the role of verecundia not to “offend” them.

Implied here is that it fundamentally rests with the others to set the bounds of propriety and to define the degree to which, or the means by which, you can extend your self: you have offended me if I believe that you have offended me, and that means that you can never be completely sure before the fact— hence the wariness and the worry. This is one of the distinctions between verecundia and iustitia, insofar as the latter, concerned with iniuria, belongs more to the realm of objectively determinate violations and the workings of positive law.

Because the opportunities for offense are so rich and varied, the self-monitoring that verecundia entails is constant; because this constant monitoring makes it an emotion of self-attention and self-assessment—like our pride, shame, or embarassment—verecundia was understood by the Romans to differ from other forms of fear in the way it was embodied, being marked not by the pallor asso- ciated with timor or metus but by the blush associated with pudor.

Beyond being an emotion that social life prompts, verecundia itself is crucial to making social life possible. This role for the emo- tion was implied by Cicero’s comments in On Appropriate Actions remarked earlier, and it is made explicit early in Book 2 of the same work: the gathering of humans in cities led to the creation of customs and formal law (leges moresque constituti), to equity and a fixed way of life (iuris aequa discriptio certaque viv- endi disciplina); on these there followed the effects of what we call socializa- tion—gentleness of spirit (mansuetudo animorum) and verecundia—and so the mutuality that makes life secure and supportable (“ut esset vita munitior atque ut dando et accipiendo mutandisque facultatibus et commodis nulla re egeremus”).

The mutuality of verecundia, the way that its wariness looks both to the self and to the other—to the extent of seeing the matter as the other sees it — is the essence of the emotion as a force of social cohesion. I cannot gauge where I stand relative to you unless I first consider where you stand; and while considering your standpoint does not strictly entail considering your viewpoint, it certainly exerts pressure in that direction. He will do it verecunde modiceque, with restraint and with proper regard for the face that both he and his opponent are wearing. His own face is determined here by his relationship with his client, as a “loyal and reliable friend”; the attack he is about to deliver is both required by that relation and the means for making the relation plain in this context.

The concern with face that we see here moving in both directions can have different emphases in different circumstances, being directed now more toward the self, now more toward the other. Sometimes the concern is pre- dominantly with your own face, when what matters most is to avoid what a slightly archaic English turn of phrase calls “being out of countenance”—that is, having reason to be abashed.

Quintilian illustrates this point when he connects verecundia with the job of advocates who find they must shade the truth in setting out and explaining the facts of a case in a way favorable to their side. Some such “false expositions” rely on devices (instrumenta) external to the advocate’s argument (for example, witnesses who provide a false alibi), while others rely solely on the wit (ingenium) of the advocate who makes up the story. That is where verecundia enters in: the crucial question is how big a whopper the advocate can tell without blushing—that is why (Quintilian adds in an etymological aside) this spinning of the facts is called a “color,” because it can bring a blush to the cheeks. An advocate in that position, we can take it, could blush for one of two reasons, not mutually exclusive: becoming aware that others were looking at him (or anticipating that others would look at him) with frank disbelief, he would see himself being seen as a liar and so be unable to maintain the face of an honest man; or as the burden of falsehood became more than he himself could bear, he would see himself as a liar and so be unable to maintain the face of an honest man even in his own eyes.

A second example, by contrast, expressly involves the threat to your face that results from failure to feel verecundia in the proper way.

As William Ian Miller remarks, “Our own embarrassment is often our best indication that we have judged others to be humiliating themselves”: not look- ing such people in the face is the only means left to us for helping them save face—as we wish to do just because we are decent people—and so we avert our glance.

Verecundia operates in circumstances where there is in principle a choice to be made as to whose interests will be put to the fore and whose will be restrained: as we have frequently seen, it implies a voluntary stepping back from pressing one’s own interest (at a minimum) or a voluntary privileging of the interests of the other. For soldiers, however, issues of self- restraint, self-expression, and respect are not left to be sorted out by some haphazardly socialized emotion: the line that verecundia informally draws for us in civil society is more reliably drawn for the soldier by the chain of command and, ultimately, by the commander’s imperium, his power to demand obedience (obsequium) on pain of death.

Slaves and soldiers aside, then, we are all called upon to exercise our verecundia to make our civil community a livable place. Even the emperor is expected to be verecundus, assuming he has any claim on being a “civil prince” (princeps civilis): as the younger Pliny tells Trajan again and again, his willing- ness to speak and walk with members of the senate, as merely one man among other men, is one of the traits that most distinguishes him from certain vile predecessors. And, to the extent that the virtues of civil society are just the virtues of the household writ large, we can say that verecundia begins at home.

Verecundia, as an emotion, animates the art of knowing your proper place in every social transaction and binds the free members of a civil community, exerting its force both vertically, across the different ranks of society, and horizontally, among members of comparable status." [Robert Caster, Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome]
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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:09 pm

Sonnets of Cavalcanti, tr. by Ezra Pound.


Quote :
Sonnet I

YOU, who do breach mine eyes and touch the heart,
And start the mind from her brief reveries,
Might pluck my life and agony apart,
Saw you how love assaileth her with sighs,
And lays about him with so brute a might
That all my wounded senses turn to flight.
There's a new face upon the seigniory,
And new is the voice that maketh loud my grief.
Love, who hath drawn me down through devious ways,
Hath from your noble eyes so swiftly come!
'T is he hath hurled the dart, wherefrom my pain,
First shot's resultant! and in flanked amaze
See how my affrighted soul recoileth from
That sinister side wherein the heart lies slain.


Quote :
Sonnet II

I SAW the eyes, where Amor took his place
When love's might bound me with the fear thereof,
Look out at me as they were weary of love.
I say: The heart rent him as he looked on this.
And were't not that my Lady lit her grace,
Smiling upon me with her eyes grown glad,
Then were my speech so dolorously clad
That Love should mourn amid his victories.
The instant that she deigned to bend her eyes
Toward me, a spirit from high heaven rode
And chose my thought the place of love's verities
That all Love's powers did my sight accost
As though I'd won unto his heart's mid-most.


Quote :
Sonnet III

O LADY mine, doth not thy sight allege
Him who hath set his hand upon my heart,
When parched responses from my faint throat start
And shudder for the terror of his edge?
He was Amor, who since he found you, dwells
Ever with me, and he was come from far;
An archer is he as the Scythians are
Whose only joy is killing someone else.
My sobbing eyes are drawn upon his wrack,
And such harsh sighs upon my heart he casteth
That I depart from that sad me he wasteth,
With Death drawn close upon my wavering track,
Leading such tortures in his sombre train
As, by all custom, wear out other men.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet IV

IF I should pray this lady pitiless
That Mercy to her heart be no more foeman,
You'd call me clownish, vile, and say that no man
Was so past hope and filled with vanities.
Where find you now these novel cruelties?
For still you seem humility's true leaven.
Wise and adorned, alert and subtile even,
And fashioned out in ways of gentleness.
My soul weeps through her sighs for grievous fear
And all those sighs, which in the heart were found,
Deep drenched with tears do sobbing thence depart,
Then seems that on my mind there rains a clear
Image of a lady, thoughtful, bound
Hither to keep death-watch upon that heart.


Quote :
Sonnet IV (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

To a Friend who does not pity his Love
IF I entreat this lady that all grace
Seem not unto her heart an enemy,
Foolish and evil thou declarest me,
And desperate in idle stubbornness.
Whence is such cruel judgement thine, whose face,
To him that looks thereon, professeth thee
Faithful, and wise, and of all courtesy,
And made after the way of gentleness?
Alas! my soul within my heart doth find
Sighs, and its grief by weeping doth enhance,
That, drowned in bitter tears, those sighs depart:
And then there seems a presence in the mind,
As of a lady's thoughtful countenance
Come to behold the death of the poor heart.


Quote :
Sonnet V

LADY, my most rash eyes, the first who used
To look upon thy face, the power-fraught,
Were, Lady, those by whom I was accused
In that harsh place where Amor holdeth court.
And there before him was their proof adduced,
And judgment wrote me down: "Bondslave" to thee,
Though still I stay Grief's prisoner, unloosed,
And Fear hath lien upon the heart of me.
For the which charges, and without respite,
They dragged me to a place where a sad horde
Of such as love and whom Love Tortureth
Cried out, all pitying as I met their sight,
"Now art thou servant unto such a Lord
Thou'lt have none other one save only Death."


Quote :
Sonnet VI

THOU fill'st my mind with griefs so populous
That my soul irks him to be on the road.
Mine eyes cry out, "We cannot bear the load
Of sighs the grievous heart sends upon us."
Love, sensitive to thy nobility,
Saith, "Sorrow is mine that thou must take thy death
From this fair lady who will hear no breath
In argument for aught save pitying thee."
And I, as one beyond life's compass thrown,
Seem but a thing that's fashioned to design,
Melted of bronze or carven in tree or stone.
A wound I bear within this heart of mine
Which by its mastering quality is grown
To be of that heart's death an open sign.


Quote :
Sonnet VII

Who is she coming, drawing all men's gaze,
Who makes the air one trembling clarity
Till none can speak but each sighs piteously
Where she leads Love adown her trodden ways?
Ah God! The thing she's like when her glance strays,
Let Amor tell. "T is no fit speech for me.
Mistress she seems of such great modesty
That every other woman were called "Wrath."
No one could ever tell the charm she hath
For toward her all the noble Powers incline,
She being beauty's godhead manifest.
Our daring ne'er before held such high quest;
Be ye! There is not in you so much grace
That we can understand her rightfully.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet VIII

AH why! why were mine eyes not quenched for me,
Or stricken so that from their vision none
Had ever come within my mind to say
"Listen, dost thou not hear me in thine heart?"
Fear of new torments was then so displayed
To me, so cruel and so sharp of edge
That my soul cried, "Ah mistress, bring us aid,
Lest th' eyes and I remain in grief always."
But thou hast left them so that Amor cometh
And weepeth over them so piteously
That there's a deep voice heard whose sound in part
Turned unto words, is this: "Whoever knoweth
Pain's depth, let him look on this man whose heart
Death beareth in his hand cut cruciform."

Quote :
Sonnet VIII (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

Of his Pain from a new Love
WHY from the danger did mine eyes not start,--
Why not become even blind,--ere through my sight
Within my soul thou ever couldst alight
To say: "Dost thou not hear me in thy heart?"
New torment then, the old torment's counterpart,
Filled me at once with such a sore affright,
That, Lady, lady, (I said,) destroy not quite
Mine eyes and me! O help us where thou art!
Thou hast so left mine eyes, that Love is fain--
Even Love himself--with pity uncontroll'd
To bend above them, weeping for their loss:
Saying: "If any man feel heavy pain,
This man's more painful heart let him behold:
Death has it in her hand, cut like a cross."


Quote :
Sonnet IX

I AM reduced at last to self compassion,
For the sore anguish that I see me in;
At my great weakness; that my soul hath been
Concealed beneath her wounds in such a fashion:
Such mine oppression that I know, in brief,
That to my life ill's worst starred ills befall;
And this strange lady on whose grace I call
Maintains continuous my stour of grief,
For when I look in her direction,
She turns upon me her disdeigning eyen
So harshly that my waiting heart is rent
And all my powers and properties are spent,
Till that heart lieth for a sign ill-seen,
Where Amor's cruelty hath hurled him down.


Quote :
Sonnet X

ALAS, my spirits, that ye come to find me
So painful, poor, waylaid in wretchedness,
Yet send no words adorned with deep distress
Forth from my mind to say what sorrows bind me.
Alas, ye see how sore my heart is wounded
By glance, by fair delight and by her meekness;
'Las! Must I pray ye that ye aid his weakness,
Seeing him power-stripped, naked, confounded.
And now a spirit that is noble and haut
Appeareth to that heart with so great might
That all th' heart's virtues turn in sudden flight.
Woe! and I pray you greet my soul as friend,
Who tells through all her grief what things were wrought
On her by Love, and will be to the end.


Quote :
Sonnet XI

IF Mercy were the friend of my desires,
Or Mercy's source of movement were the heart,
Then, by this fair, would Mercy show such art
And power of healing as my pain requires.
From torturing delight my sighs commence,
Born of the mind where Love is situate,
Go errant forth and naught save grief relate
And find no one to give them audience.
They would return to the eyes in galliard mode,
With all harsh tears and their deep bitterness
Transmuted into revelry and joy;
Were't not unto the sad heart such annoy,
And to the mournful soul such rathe distress
That none doth deign salute them on the road.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XII

THE grace of youth in Toulouse ventureth;
She's noble and fair, with quaint sincerities,
Direct she is and is about her eyes
Most like to our Lady of sweet memories.
So that within my heart desirous
She hath clad the soul in fashions peregrine.
Pilgrim to her he hath too great chagrin
To say what Lady is lord over us.
This soul looks deep into that look of hers,
Wherein he rouseth Love to festival,
For deep therein his rightful lady resteth.
Then with sad sighing in the heart he stirs,
Feeling his death-wound as that dart doth fall
Which this Tolosan by departure casteth.
Concerning the source, the affects and the progeny of the little spirit of pure love:

Born of the perception of beauty, he arouseth that power of the mind whence is born that quality of love which ennobleth every sense and every desire; misunderstanded of base minds who comprehend not his power, he is the cause of that love in woman which teacheth modesty. Thus from him is born that love in woman whence is born Mercy, and from Mercy "as a gentle rain from heaven" descend those spirits which are the keys of every spirit, perforce of the one spirit which seeth.

Quote :
Sonnet XII (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

Of the Eyes of a certain Mandetta, of Thoulouse, which resemble those of his Lady Joan, of Florence

A CERTAIN youthful lady in Thoulouse,
Gentle and fair, of cheerful modesty,
Is in her eyes, with such exact degree,
Of likeness unto mine own lady, whose
I am, that through the heart she doth abuse
The soul to sweet desire. It goes from me
To her; yet, fearing, saith not who is she
That of a truth its essence thus subdues.
This lady looks on it with the sweet eyes
Whose glance did erst the wounds of Love anoint
Through its true lady's eyes which are as they.
Then to the heart returns it, full of sighs,
Wounded to death by a sharp arrow's point
Wherewith this lady speeds it on its way.


Quote :
Sonnet XIII

SUBTLE the spririt striking through the eyes
Which rouseth up a sprit in the mind
Whence moves a spirit unto love inclined
Which breeds in other sprites nobilities.
No turbid spirit hath the sense which sees
How greatly empowered a spirit he appeareth;
He is the little breath which that breath feareth,
Which breedeth virginal humilities.
Yet from this spirit doth another move
Wherein such tempered sweetness rightly dwells
That Mercy's spirit followeth his ways,
And Mercy's spirit as it moves above
Rains down those spirits that ope all things else,
Perforce of One who seeth all of these.


Quote :
Sonnet XIV

SURELY thine intellect gives no embrace
To him who hath bred this day's dishonesty;
How art thou shown for beggared suddenly
By that red spirit showing in thy face!
Perhaps it is some love within thee breedeth
For her who's folly's circumspection,
Perhaps some baser light doth call thee on
To make thee glad where mine own grief exceedeth.
Thou art my grief, my grief to such extent
That I trust not myself to meet Milady,
Starving myself of what Love sweetest lent me
So that before my face that key's forbent
Which her disdeign turned in my heart and made me
Suitor to wrath and sadness and lamenting.


Quote :
Sonnet XV

THOU hast in thee the flower and the green
And that which gleameth and is fair of sight,
Thy form is more resplendent than sun's sheen;
Who sees thee not, can ne'er know worth aright.
Nay, in this world there is no creature seen
So fashioned fair and full of all delight;
Who fears Amor, and fearing meets thy mien,
Thereby assured, he solveth him his fright.
The ladies of whom thy cortèconsisteth
Please me in this, that they've thy favour won;
I bid them now, as courtesy existeth,
Holding most dear thy lordship of their state,
To honour thee with powers commensurate,
Sith thou art thou, that art sans paragon.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XVI

To Guido Orlando

THIS most lief lady, where doth Love display him
So full of valour and so vestured bright,
Bids thy heart "Out!" He goes and none gainsay him;
And he takes life with her in long delight.
Her cloister's guard is such that should you journey
To Ind you'd see each unicorn obey it;
Its armed might against thee in sweet tourney
Cruel riposteth, thou canst not withstay it.
Though she be surely in her valliancies
Such that she lacks not now worth's anything,
Still I believe her to be mortal creature;
Whence seems it, that (and here some foresight is)
If thou wert made aware of this, thou'ldst bring
Her to partake somewhat of some such nature.
Concerning Pinella, he replies to a sonnet by Bernardo da Bologna and explains why they have sweet waters in Galicia (Liscian).

Quote :
Sonnet XVI (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

To Guido Orlando

In Praise of Guido Orlandi's Lady
A LADY in whom love is manifest--
That love which perfect honour doth adorn--
Hath ta'en the living heart out of thy breast,
Which in her keeping to new life is born:
For there by such sweet power it is possest
As even is felt of Indian unicorn:[1]
And all its virtue now, with firce unrest,
Unto thy soul makes difficult return.
For this thy lady is virtue's minister
In suchwise that no fault there is to show,
Save that God made her mortal on this ground.
And even herein His wisdom shall be found:
For only thus our intellect could know
That heavenly beauty which resembles her.
[1] In old representations, the unicorn is seen often with his head in a virgin's lap.


Quote :
Sonnet XVII

NOW every cool small spring that springeth sweetly
Takes clarity and virtue in Liscian climes,
Bernard my friend, from one sole source, discretely:
'T is she who answereth thy sharpened rimes.
For in that place where Love's reports are laid
Concerning all who to his sight are led,
He saith that this so gracious and fair maid
Hath to herself all graces gatherèd.
Whereas my grief in this is grown more grave
And sighs have turned me to one light and flame,
I send my burning heart, in her acclaim
Unto Pinella, upon a magic stream
Where fairies and their fair attendants gleam,
In this wrecked barque! where their show is so brave!


Quote :
Sonnet XVIII

BEAUTY of woman, of the knowing heart,
And courtly knights in bright accoutrement
And loving speeches and the small birds' art,
Adorned swift ships which on high seas are sent,
And airs grown calm when white the dawn appeareth
And white snow falling where no wind is bent,
Brook-marge and mead where every flower flareth,
And gold and silver and azure and ornament:
Effective 'gainst all these think ye the fairness
And valour of my Lady's lordly daring?
Yea, she makes all seem base vain gathering,
And she were known above whome'er you'd bring
As much as heaven is past earth's comparing;
Good seeketh out its like with some address.
He suggests to his kinsman Nerone that there may be one among all the Buondelmonti of whom they might in time make a man.

Quote :
Sonnet XIX

NEWS have I now for thee, so hear, Nerone,
How that the Buondelmonti shake with fear,
And all the Florentines can not assure them,
Seeing thou hast in thee the lion-heart.
They fear thee more than they would fear a dragon,
Seeing that face of thine, how set it is
That neither bridge nor walls could hold against it
Lest they were strong as is King Pharo's tomb.
Oh how dost of smoky sins the greatest
In that thou wouldst drive forth such haughty blood
Till all be gone, gone forth without retention.
But sooth it is, thou might'st extend the pawn
Of one whose soul thou mightest give salvation
Wert thou more patient in thine huckstering.

Quote :
Sonnet XX

SO vilely is this soul of mine confounded
By strife grown audible within the heart
That is toward her some frail Love but start
With unaccustomed speed, she swoons astounded.
She is as one in whom no power aboundeth;
Lo, she forsakes my heart through fearfulness,
And any seeing her, how prone she is,
Would deem her one whom death's sure cloak surroundeth.
Through th' eyes, as through the breach in wall, her foes
Came first to attack and shattered all defense,
Then spoiled the mind with their down-rained blows.
Whoe'er he be who holdeth joy most close
Would, should he see my spirit going hence,
Weep for the pity and make no pretense.
(Cf. Sonnet I)


Quote :
Sonnet XXI

THE DRED SPIRIT

THOU mayest see, who seest me face to face,
That most dred spirit whom Love summoneth
To meet with man when a man meets with Death;
One never seen in any other case.
So close upon me did this presence show
That I thought he would slay my heart his dolour
And my sad soul clad her in the dead colour
That most accords the will and ways of woe.
Then he restrained him, seeing in true faith
The piteous lights forth-issue from your eyes
The which bore to my heart their foreign sweetness,
While the perceptive sense with subtle fleetness
Rescued those others[1] who had considered death
The one sure ending for their miseries.
[1] The senses or the spirits of the senses.


Quote :
Sonnet XXII

To Dante, in answer to the first sonnet of the Vita Nuova.

THOU sawest, it seems to me, all things availing,
And every joy that ever good man feeleth.
Thou wast in proof of that lord valorous
Who through sheer honour lords it o'er the world.
Thou livest in a place where baseness dieth,
And holdest reason in the piteous mind;
So gently move the people in this sleep
That the heart bears it 'thout the feel of grief.
Love bore away the heart, because in his sight
Was Death grown clamorous for one thou lovest,
Love fed her with thy heart in dread of this,
Then, when it seemed to thee he left in sadness,
A dear dream was it which was there completed
Seeing it contrary came conquering.
Note: Dante, Vita Nuova III. "The true significance of the dream was not then seen by anyone."


Quote :
Sonnet XXIII

To Dante, rebuking him for his way of life after the death of Beatrice.

I DAILY come to thee uncounting times
And find thee ever thinking over vilely;
Much doth it grieve me that thy noble mind
And virtue's plenitude are stripped from thee;
Thou wast so careless in thy fine offending,
Who from the rabble alway held apart,
And spoke of me so straightly from the heart
That I gave welcome to thine every rime.
And now I care not, sith thy life is baseness
To give the sign that thy speech pleaseth me,
Nor come I to thee in guise visible,
Yet if thou'It read this Sonnet many a time,
That malign spirit which so hunteth thee
Will sound forloyn[1] and spare thy affrighted soul.
[1] The recall of the hounds.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXIV

DANTE, I pray thee, if thou Love discover
In any place where Lappo Gianni is,--
If't irk thee not to move thy mind in this,
Write me these answered: Doth he style him "Lover?";
And, "Doth the lady seem as one approving?"
And, "Makes he show of service with fair skill?";
For many a time folk made as he is, will
To assume importance, make a show of loving.
Thou know'st that in that court where Love puts on
His royal robes, no vile man can be servant
To any lady who were lost therin;
If servant's suff'ring doth assistance win,
Our style could show unto the least observant,
It beareth mercy for a gonfalon.

Quote :
Sonnet XXIV (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

He mistrusts the Love of Lapo Gianni
I PRAY thee, Dante, shouldst thou meet with Love
In any place where Lapo then may be,
That there thou fail not to mark heedfully
If Love with lover's name that man approve;
If to our Master's will his lady move
Aright, and if himself show fealty:
For ofttimes, by ill custom, ye may see
This sort profess the semblance of true love.
Thou know'st that in the court where Love holds sway
A law subsists, that no man who is vile
Can service yield to a lost woman there.
If suffering aught avail the sufferer,
Thou straightway shalt discern our lofty style
Which needs the badge of honour must display.


Quote :
Sonnet XXV

"Hoot Zah!!!"

COME, come Manetto, look upon this scarecrow
And set your mind upon its deformations,
Compute th' extent of its sad abberrations,
Say what it looks like where she scarcely dare go!
Nay, were she in a cloak most well concealèd
And snugly hooded and most tightly veiled
If, by her, daylight should once be assailed
Though by some noble woman partly healèd,
Still you could not be so sin-laden or quite
So bound by anguish or by love's abstractions
Nor so enwrapped in naked melancholy
But you were brought to deathly danger, solely
By laughter, till your sturdy sides grew fractions,
'Struth you were dead, or sought your life in flight.


Quote :
Sonnet XXVI

OF LOVE IN A DEAD VISION

Nay, when I would have sent my verses to thee
To say how harshly my heart is oppressed,
Love in an ashen vision manifest
Appeared and spake: "Say not that I foredo thee,
For though thy friend be he I understand
He will not yet have his mind so enured
But that to hear of all thou hast endured,
Of that blare flame that hath thee 'neath its hand,
Would blear his mind out. Verily before!
Yea, he were dead, heard, life, ere he should hear
To the last meaning of the portent wrought.
And thou; thou knowest well I am Amor
Who leave with thee mine ashen likeness here
And bear away from thee thine every thought."


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXVII

WERE I that I once was worthy of Love
(Of whom I find naught now save the remembrance)
And if the lady had another semblance,
Then would this sort of sign please me enough.
Do thou, who art from Love's clear realm returned,
Where Mercy giveth birth to hopefulness,
Judge as thou canst from my dim mood's distress
What bowman and what target are concerned.
Straining his arc, behold Amor the bowman
Draweth so gaily that to see his face
You'd say he held his rule for merrriment,
Yet hear what's marvelous in all intent:
The smitten spirit pardoneth his foeman
Which pardon doth that foeman's power debase.
Anyone who can, from the text as it stands, discern
what happens to whom in the final lines of this
sonnet, is at liberty to emend my translation.

Quote :
Sonnet XXVII (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

If I were still that man, worthy to love,
Of whom I have but the remembrance now,
Or if the lady bore another brow,
To hear this thing might bring me joy thereof.
But thou, who in Love's proper court dost move,
Even there where hope is born of grace,--see how
My very soul within me is brought low:
For a swift archer, whom his feats approve,
Now bends the bow, which Love to him did yield,
In such mere sport against me, it would seem
As though he held his lordship for a jest.
Then hear the marvel which is sorriest:--
My sorely wounded soul forgiveth him,
Yet knows that in his act her strenth is kill'd.


Quote :
Sonnet XXVIII

A LOVE-LIT glance with living powers fraught
Renewed within me love's extreme delight,
So love assils me with unwonted might,
And cordially he driveth me in thought
Towards my lady with whom 'vaileth not
Mercy nor pity nor the suffering wrought,
So oft and great, her torments on me fall
That my heart scarce can feel his life at all.
But when I feel that her so sweet regard
Passeth mine eyes and to the heart attaineth
Setting to rest therein spirits of joy,
Then do I give her thanks and without retard;
Love asked her to do this, and that explaineth
Why this first pity doth no annoy.

Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXIX

DANTE, a sigh, that's the heart's messenger
Assailed me suddenly as I lay sleeping,
Aroused, I fell straightaway into fear's keeping,
For Love came with that sigh as curator.
And I turned straight and saw the servitor
Of Monna Lagia, who came there a-crying,
"Ah pity! Aid me!" and at this his sighing
I took from Pity this much power and more.
That I found Love a-filing javelins
And asked him of both torment and solution,
And in this fashion came that Lord's replies:
"Say to the servant that his service wins.
He holds the Lady to his pleasure won.
If he'd believe it, let him watch her eyes."

Quote :
Sonnet XXIX (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

He reports, in a feigned Vision, the successful Issue of Lapo Gianni's Love
DANTE, a sigh that rose from the heart's core
Assailed me, while I slumbered suddenly:
So that I woke o' the instant, fearing sore
Lest it came thither in Love's company:
Till, turning, I beheld the servitor
Of Lady Lagia: "Help me," so said he,
"O help me, Pity." Though he said no more,
So much of Pity's essence entered me,
That I was ware of Love, those shafts he wields
A-whetting, and preferred the mourner's quest
To him, who straightway answered on this wise:
"Go tell my servant that the lady yields,
And that I hold her now at his behest:
If he believe not, let him note her eyes."

Quote :
Sonnet XXX

I FEAR me lest unfortune's counter thrust
Pierce through my throat and rip out my despair.
I feel my heart and that thought shaking there
Which shakes the aspen mind with his distrust,
Seeming to say, "Love doth not give thee ease
So that thou canst, as of a little thing,
Speak to thy Lady with full verities,
For fear Death set thee in his reckoning.
By the chagrin that here assails my soul
My heart's parturèd of a sigh so great
It cryeth to the spirits: "Get ye gone!"
And of all piteous folk I come on none
Who seeing me so in my grief's control
Will aid by saying e'en: "Nay, Spirits, wait!"

Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXXI

YOU, who within your eyes so often carry
That Love who holdeth in his hand three arrows,
Behold my spirit, by his far-brought sorrows,
Commends to you a soul whom hot griefs harry.
A mind thrice wounded she[1] already hath,
By this keen archer's Syrian shafts twice shot.
The third, less tautly drawn, hath reached me not,
Seeing your presence is my shield 'gainst wrath.
Yet this third shot had made more safe my soul,
Who almost dead beneath her members lies;
For these two arrows give three wounds in all:
The first: delight, which payeth pain his toll,
The second brings desire for the prize
Of that great joy which with the third doth fall.
[1] i.e. The Soul. I have kept the Italian gender in those few sonnets where there is no danger of confusing "her," the soul, with the subjects of other feminine pronouns.

Quote :
Sonnet XXXI (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

He speaks of a third love of his
O THOU that often hast within thine eyes
A Love who holds three shafts,--know thou from me
That this my sonnet would commend to thee
(Come from afar) a soul in heavy sighs,
Which even by Love's sharp arrow wounded lies.
Twice did the Syrian archer shoot, and he
Now bends his bow the third time, cunningly,
That, thou being here, he wound me in no wise.
Because the soul would quicken at the core
Thereby, which now is near to utter death,
From those two shafts, a triple wound that yield.
The first gives pleasure, yet disquieteth;
And with the second is the longing for
The mighty gladness by the third fulfill'd.

Quote :
Sonnet XXXII

To Cecco

If Santalena does not come unto you
Down in the plow-lands where the clods are hard,
But falls into the hands of some hot clod-pole
Who'll wear her out and hardly then return her;
Then tell me if the fruit which this land beareth
Is born of draught or heat or from the dampness,
And say what wind it is doth blight and wither
And which doth bring the tempest and the mist.
Say if it please you when at break of morning
You hear the farmer's workman bawling out
And all his family meddling in the noise?
Egad! I think that if your sweet Bettina
Beareth a mellow spirit in her heart
She'll rescue you once more from your last choice.

Quote :
Sonnet XXXIII

WITH DEATH

DEATH who art haught, the wretched's remedy,
Grace! Grace! hands joined I do beseech it thee,
Come, see and conquer for worse things on me
Are launched by love. My senses that did live,
Consumèd are and quenched, and e'en in this place
Where I was galliard, now I see that I am
Fallen away, and where my steps I misplace,
Fall pain and grief; to open tears I nigh am.
And greater ills He'd send if greater may be.
Sweet Death, now is the time thou may'st avail me
And snatch me from His hand's hosility.
Ah woe! how oft I cry "Love tell me now:
Why dost thou ill only unto thine own,
Like him of hell who maketh the damned groan?"


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXXIV

AMORE and Mona Lagia and Guido and I
Can give true thanks unto Ser Such-a-one
Who hath now ridded us of Know-you-who?
I'll name no name for I'd have it forgotten.
And these three people have no wish for it
Though they were servants to him in such wise
That they, in sooth, could not have served him more
Had they mistaken him for God himself.
Let Love be thanked who was first made aware,
And then give thanks unto the prudent lady
Who at Love's instance hath called back her heart;
Then thanks to Guido[1] who's not here concerned
And to me too who drove him back to virtue,
If then he please me, think it not perchance.
[1] i.e. Guido Orlando.

Quote :
Sonnet XXXIV (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation)

On the Detection of a false Friend[1]

LOVE and the Lady Lagia, Guido and I,
Unto a certain lord are bounded all,
Who has released us--know ye from whose thrall?
Yet I'll not speak, but let the matter die:
Since now these three no more are held thereby,
Who in homage at his feet did fall
That I myself was not more whimsical,
In him conceiving godship from on high.
Let Love be thanked the first, who first discern'd
The truth; and that wise lady afterward,
Who in fit time took back her heart again;
And Guido next, from worship wholly turn'd;
And I, as he. But if ye have not heard,
I shall not tell how much I loved him then.
[1] I should think, from the mention of Lady Lagia, that this might refer again to Lapo Gianni, who seems (one knows not why) to have fallen into disgrace with his friends. The Guido mentioned is probably Guido Orlandi.


Quote :
Quote :
Sonnet XXXV

To Guido Orlando

He explains the miracles of the madonna of Or San Michele, by telling whose image it is.

MY Lady's face it is they worship there.
At San Michele in Orto, Guido mine,
Near her fair semblance that is clear and holy
Sinners take refuge and get consolation.
Whoso before her kneeleth reverently
No longer wasteth but is comforted;
The sick are healed and devils driven forth,
And those with crooked eyes see straightway straight.
Great ills she cureth in an open place,
With reverence the folk all kneel unto her,
And two lamps shed the glow about her form.
Her voice is borne out through far-lying ways
'Till brothers minor cry: "Idolatry,"
For envy of her precious neighborhood.

Quote :
Sonnet XXXV (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's traslation)

To Guido Orlandi

Of a consecrated image resembling his Lady

GUIDO, an image of my lady dwells
At San Michele in Orto, consecrate
And duly worshipped. Fair in holy state
She listens to the tale each sinner tells:
And among them that come to her, who ails
The most, on him the most doth blessing wait.
She bids the fiend men's bodies abdicate;
Over the curse of blindness she prevails,
And heals sick languors in the public squares.
A multitude adores her reverently:
Before her face two burning tapers are;
Her voice is uttered upon paths afar.
Yet through the Lesser Brethren's[1] jealousy
She is named idol; not being one of theirs.

[1] The Franciscans, in profession of deeper poverty and humility than belonged to other Orders, called themselves Fraires minores.

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:14 pm

Rules of Courtly love

"Wounded by One of Love's arrows": Petrarch and Courtly Love


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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:32 pm

This is really good.

Zizek unwittingly makes apparent the connections between Xt., Courtly love, and the Culture of Victims; he being a Xt.-communist:


Zizek wrote:
"In this duality of private and public sphere is rooted woman's splitting into Mother and Whore. Woman is not Mother and Whore. but the same woman is Mother in the private sphere and Whore in the public sphere - and the more she is Mother in the private sphere. the more she is Whore in the public one. In other words, contrary to appearances, the division Mother/Whore does not concern the difference of content (positive characteristics that oppose the two figures) , but is of a purely formal nature - that is to say, it designates the two inscriptions, the two modalities, of one and the same entity. Its ideological co-ordinates become clear the moment we relate them to the male's splitting into Adventurer, destroyer of the family in the private sphere, and Ethical Hero in the public sphere: woman qua Mother (the reliable support of the family) involves the opposition to man qua dislocated Adventurer (in contrast to feminine substantial inertia and steadiness, man is active, reaching outside, transcending himself, the family frame restricts him, he is ready to put everything at risk - in short, he is Subject) ; whereas woman qua dislocated Whore (superficial, unsteady, unreliable, a being of delusive appearance) involves the opposition to man qua agency of ethical reliability (man's word is his bond, he is the very embodiment of reliable symbolic commitment, he possesses the proper spiritual depth in contrast to feminine prattle . . .) . We thus obtain a double opposition: female Substance against male Subject and female Appearance against male Essence. Woman stands for substantial fullness and for the fickleness of Appearance; man stands for the disruptive force of negativity and for the uprightness of Essence. These four terms, of course, form a Greimasian semiotic square.

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Man subordinates his relationship to a woman to the domain of ethical goals (forced to choose between woman and ethical duty - in the guise of professional obligation, etc. - he immediately opts for duty) , yet he is simultaneously aware that only a relationship with a woman can bring him genuine 'happiness' or personal fulfilment. His 'wager' is that woman will be most effectively seduced precisely when he does not subordinate all his activity to her - what she will be unable to resist is her fascination with his 'public' activity - that is, her secret awareness that he is actually doing it for her. What we have here is the inverted libidinal economy of courtly love: in courtly love I devote myself directly to the Lady, I posit my serving her as my supreme Duty, and for that reason woman remains a cold, indifferent, capricious Despot, an 'inhuman partner' (Lacan) with whom a sexual relationship is neither possible nor really desirable, whereas here I render the sexual relation­ship possible precisely by not positing it as my explicit goal...

This paradox emerges in almost every melodrama that interprets the man's readiness to sacrifice his beloved for the (public) Cause as the supreme proof of his love for her - that is, of how 'she is everything to him'. The sublime moment of recognition occurs when the woman finally realizes that the man has left her for the sake of his love for her. An interesting variation on this theme is offered by Vincente Minnelli's version of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

In this precise sense the phallus is the signifier of castration: 'symbolic castration' is ultimately another name for the paradox of 'states that are essentially by-products': if we are to achieve fulfilment through phallic enjoyment, we must renounce it as our explicit goaL In other words, true love can emerge only within a relationship of 'partnership' that is animated by a different, non-sexual goal (see the novels of Marguerite Duras) . Love is an unforeseeable answer of the real: it (can) emerge(s) 'out of nowhere' only when we renounce any attempt to direct and control its course." [Metastases of Enjoyment]


+


Zizek wrote:
"Compassion for the victim is precisely a way to avoid the unbearable pressure of this gaze - how? The examples of 'compassion with the sufef ring in Bosnia' that abound in our media illustrate perfectly Lacan's thesis on the 'reflexive' nature of human desire: desire is always desire for a desire. That is to say, what these examples display above all is that compassion is the way to maintain the proper distance towards a neighbour in trouble. Recently, the Austrians organized a large scale action of collecting aid for ex-YUgoslavia under the motto 'Nachbar im Not!

(Neighbour in trouble! ) ' - the underlying logic of this motto was clear to everyone: we must pay so that our neighbour will remain a neighbour, at a proper distance, and will not come to us. In other words, our compassion, precisely in so far as it is ' sincere' , presupposes that in it, we perceive ourselves in theform that wefind likeable: the victim is presented so that we like to see ourselves in the position from which we stare at her. . . .

'liVhat, then, is the status of the notrmous Balkan 'archaic ethnic passions ' usually evoked apropos of the war in Bosnia ?

In For They Know Not 'liVhat They Do, I discussed the well-known story of an anthropological expedition trying to contact a wild tribe in the New Zealand jungle who allegedly danced a terrible war dance in grotesque death-masks. When they reached the tribe in the evening, they asked them to dance it for them, and the dance performed the next morning did in fact match the description; satisfied, the expedition returned to civilization and wrote a much-praised report on the savage rires of the primitives. Shortly afterwards, however, when another expedition reached this tribe and learned to speak their language properly, it was shown that this terrible dance did not exist in itself at all: in their discussions with the first group of explorers, the aborigines somehow guessed what the strangers wanted and quickly, in the .night following their arrival, invented it especially for them, to satisfy their demand. . . . In short, the explorers received their own message back from the aborigines in its inverted, true form.

Therein consists the lure to be dispelled if one is to understand what the YUgoslav crisis is about: there is nothing autochthonous in its 'ethnic conflicts', the gaze of the West was included in them from the very beginning - David Owen and companions are today's version of the expedition to the New Zealand tribe; they act and react exactly in the same way, overlooking how the entire spectacle of 'old hatreds suddenly erupting in their primordial cruelty' is a dance staged for their eyes, a dance for which the West is thoroughly responsible.

So why does the West accept this narrative ofthe 'outburst of ethnic passions'?

For a long time, the 'Balkans' have been one of the privileged sites of phantasmic invesunents in politics. Gilles Deleuze said somewhere: 'si vous etes pris dans Ie reve de l'autre, vous etes foutu' - ifyou are caught up in another person's dream, you are lost. In ex-Yugoslavia, we are lost not because of our primitive dreams and myths preventing us from speaking the enlightened language of Europe, but because we pay in flesh the price of being the stuff of others ' dreams. The fantasy which organized the perception ofex-Yugoslavia is that of 'Balkan' as the Other of the West: the place of savage ethnic conflicts long since overcome by civilized Europe; a place where nothing is forgotten and nothing learned, where old traumas are replayed again and again; where the symbolic link is simultaneously devalued (dozens of ceasefires are broken) and overvalued (primitive warrior notions of honour and pride) .

Against this background, a multitude of myths have flourished. For the 'democratic Left', Tito's Yugoslavia was the mirage of the 'third way' of self-management beyond capitalism and state-socialism; for the delicate men ofculture itwas the exotic land ofrefreshing folkloric diversity (the films of Makavejev and Kusturica) ; for Milan Kundera, the place where the idyll of Mitteleuropa meets oriental barbarism; for the Western Realpolitik of the late 1 980s, the disintegration of Yugoslavia functioned as a metaphor for what might happen in the Soviet Union; for France and Great Britain, it resuscitated the phantom of the German fourth Reich disturbing the delicate balance of European politics; behind all this lurked the primordial trauma of Sarajevo, of the Balkans as the gunpowder threatening to set the whole of Europe alight. . . . Far from being the Other of Europe, ex-YUgoslavia was, rather, Europe itself in its Otherness, the screen on to which Europe projected its own repressed reverse .

How, then, can we not recall, apropos of this European gaze on the Balkans, Hegel's dictum that true Evil resides not in the object perceived as bad, but in the innocent gaze which perceives Evil all around? The principal obstacle to peace in ex-YUgoslavia is not 'archaic ethnic passions' but the very innocent gaze of Europe fascinated by the spectacle of these passions. Against today's journalistic commonplace about the Balkans as the madhouse of thriving nationalisms, where rational rules of behaviour are suspended, one must point out again and again that the moves of every political agent in ex-YUgoslavia, reprehen­ sible as they may be, are totally rational within the goals they want to attain - the only exception, the only truly irrational factor in it, is the gaze of the West babbling about archaic ethnic passions.

Why is the West so fascinated by the image of Sarajevo, this city-victim par excellence ?

Without the libidinal economy of this victimization, it is not possible to account for what has gone on in the last two years in Sarajevo.

The very geographic location of the city is significant: Sarajevo is distant enough not to be perceived as part of Western Europe proper; it is tinged by the exotic Balkan mystique, yet it is close enough to make us shudder at the thought of it (a permanent theme of the European media is 'Just think, this is not some distant Third World country - here, so dose to the heart of Europe, less than two hours' flight from us, such horrors occur! ' ) . How, then, did the West proceed in this case?

As Alenka Zupancic, a member of the Slovene Lacanian inner party circle, elaborated in a perspicacious analysis, the West provided just enough humanitarian aid for the city to survive, exerted just enough pressure on the Serbs to prevent them from occupying the city; yet this pressure was not strong enough to break the siege and allow the city to breathe freely - as if the unavowed desire was to preserve Sarajevo in a kind of atemporal freeze, between the two deaths, in the guise of a living dead, a victim eternalized in its sufef ring. Long ago Lacan drew our attention to the fundamental feature of the Sadeian fantasy, the eternalization of sufef ring: the victim - usually a young, beautiful, innocent woman - is endlessly tortured by decadent aristocrats. yet she miraculously retains her beauty and does not die, as if. beyond or beneath her material body. she possesses another. ethereal. sublime body. The body of Sarajevo is treated as just such a fantasy-body. eternalized in the fixity of its suffering. outside time and empirical space.

Of special interest here is the general framework that underlies this perception of Sarajevo: Sarajevo is but a special case of what is perhaps the key feature of the ideological constellation that characterizes our epoch of the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy: the universal­ ization ofthe notion ofvictim. The ultimate proof that we are dealing here with ideology at its purest is provided by the fact that this notion ofvictim is experienced as extra-ideological par excellence: the customary image of the victim is that of an innocent-ignorant child or woman paying the price fOf politico-ideological power struggles. Is there anything more 'non-ideological' than this pain of the other in its naked, mute, palpable presence? Does not this pain render all ideological Causes trifling? This perplexed gaze of a starved or wounded child who just stares into the camera, lost and unaware of what is going on around them - a starved Somali girl, a boy from Sarajevo whose leg has been butchered by a grenade - is today the sublime image that cancels out all other images, the ultimate scoop that all photo-reporters are after.

Victimization is thus universalized; it reaches from sexual abuse and harassment to the victims of AIDS, from the cruel fate of the homeless to those exposed to cigarette smoke, from the starving children in Somalia to the victims of the bombardment of Sarajevo, from the suffering animals in the laboratories to the dying trees in the rainforest. It is part of the public image of a movie or rock star to have his or her favoured victim: Richard Gere has the people of Tibet, victims of Communist rule; Elizabeth Taylor has AIDS victims; the late Audrey Hepburn had the starving children in Somalia; Vanessa Redgrave has children who suffer in the ex-YUgoslav civil war; Sting has the rainforest - up to the ageing Brigitte Bardot in France, concerned with the cruel fate of animals killed for their skins. . . . The case of Vanessa Redgrave is exemplary here - the diehard Trotskyite who has suddenly started to speak the language of abstract victimization, shunning, as the vampire shuns a string of garlic, a concrete analysis of the politics that led to the horrors in Bosnia. No wonder that by far the biggest classical music hit in recent years (two million CDs sold in Europe alone) is Henryk Gorecki's Third Symphony, a large lamentation on the fate of all possible victims quite adequately subtitled 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs'. Philosophy itself was quick to contribute to this universal victimization: in his Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Richard Rorty, the philosopher of liberal-democratic pluralism, defines man as such as a potential victim, as 'something that can be hurt'.

So what is wrong here - what does thisfantasy-image ofthe victim conceal?

The fantasy-image, its immobilizing power of fascination, thwarts our ability to act - as Lacan put it, we ' traverse the fan tasy' by way of an act. The 'postmodern' ethics of compassion with the victim legitimizes the avoidance, the endless postponement, of the act. All 'humanitarian' activity of aiding the victims, all food, clothes and medicine for Bosnians, are there to obfuscate the urgency of the act. The multitude of particular ethics thatthrivetoday (the ethics ofecology, medical ethics ...) is to be conceived precisely as an endeavour to avoid the true ethics, the ethics of the ACT as real. What we encounter here is again the genuinely dialectical tension between the universal and the particular: far from simply exemplifying the universality to which it belongs, the particular entertains an antagonistic relationship towards it. An d does not the same hold for the posunodern assertion of the multitude of subject-positions againstthespectreoftheSubject (denouncedastheCartesianillusion)? So the much-advertised liberal-democratic ' right to difference ' and anti-Eurocentrism appear in their true light: the Third World other is recognized as a victim - that is to say, in so far as he is a victim The true object of anxiety is the other no longer prepared to play the role of victim - such an other is promptly denounced as a 'terrorist', a 'fundamentalist', and so on. The Somalis, for example, undergo a true Kleinian splitting into a 'good' and a 'bad' object - on the one hand the good object: passive victims, suffering, starving children and women; on the other the bad object: fanatical warlords who care more for their power or their ideological goals than for the welfare of their own people. The good other dwells in the anonymous passive universality of a victim - the moment we encounter an actual/active other, there is always something with which to reproach him: being patriarchal, fanatical, intolerant. . . .

This ambiguous attitude towards the victim is inscribed into the very

foundations of modern American culture; it is discernible inJohn Ford's Searcher's as well as Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver: in both cases the hero endeavours to deliver the feminine victim from the clutches of the evil Other (American Indians, the corrupted pimp) , yet the victim seems to resist her own deliverance, as if she finds an incomprehensible enjoy­ ment in her very suffering. Is not de Niro's (Travis's) violent passage a l'acte in Taxi Driver an outburst by means of which the subject circum­ vents the deadlock of a victim that resists the imposed deliverance? Is not the same libidinal deadlock at the roots of the trauma ofVietnam, where the Vietnamese also somehow resisted American help? And - last but not least - is it not possible to discern the same ambiguity in the 'politically correct' male obsession with the woman as victim of sexual harassment? Is not this obsession driven by an unacknowledged fear that woman might somehow enjoy the harassment; that she might not be able to retain a proper distance towards it? Are we not thus dealing, once again, with the fear of feminine enjoyment? (Incidentally, one of the inherent contradictions of PC deconstructionists is that although, on the level of the enunciated content, they know very well that no subject, not even the most loathsome racist or sexist, is fully responsible (and therefore guilty) for his acts - that is to say, 'responsibility' is a legal fiction to be deconstructed - they none the less, at the level of the subjective position of enunciation, treat racists and sexists as fully responsiblefor their acts.)

The universalization of the notion of victim thus condenses two aspects. On the one hand there is the Third World victim: compassion with the victim of local warlords-fanatics-fundamentalists frames the
liberal-democratic (mis)perception of today's Great Divide between those who are In (included in the law-and-order society of welfare and human rights) and those who are Out (from the homeless in our cities to starving Mricans and Asians). On the other hand, the parallel victimization of the subjects of liberal-democratic societies indicates the shift in the predominant mode of subjectivity towards what is usually designated as 'pathological Narcissism': the Other as such is more and more perceived as a potential threat, as encroaching upon the space of my self-identity (by smoking, by laughing too loudly, by casting a covetous glance at me . . . ) . It is not difficult to ascertain what this attitude desperately endeavours to elude: desire as such, which, as we know from Lacan, is always the desire of the Other. The Other poses a threat in so far as it is the subject of desire, in so far as it radiates an impenetrable desire that seems to encroach upon the secluded balance of my 'way of life'.

Marx distinguished 'classic' bourgeois political economy (Ricardo) from 'apologetic' political economy (Malthus and onwards): the 'clas­sics' rendered visible the inherent antinomies of the capitalist economy, whereas the 'apologists' swept them under the carpet. Mutatis mutandis, the same could be claimed for liberal-democratic thought: it reaches a kind of greatness when it displays the inherent antinomian character of the liberal-democratic project. This antinomy concerns above all the relationship between universalism and particularism: the liberal univer­ salist 'right to difference' encounters its limit the moment it stumbles against an actualdifference. Suffice it to mention clitoridectomy to mark a woman's sexual maturity, a practice that pertains in parts of Eastern Mrica (or - a less extreme case - the insistence of Muslim women in France on wearing the veil in state schools) : what if a minority group claims that this 'difference' is an indispensable part of its cultural identity and, consequently, denounces opposition to clitoridectomy as an exercise in cultural imperialism, as the violent imposition of Euro­ centric standards? How are we to decide between the competing claims of an individual's rights and group identity when group identity accountsfor a substantial part of the individual's self-identity? The standard liberal answer, of course, is: let the woman choose whatever she wants, on condition that she has been properly acquainted with the range of alternative choices, so that she is fully aware of the wider context of her choice. The illusion here resides in the underlying implication that there is a neutral way of acquainting the individual with the full range of alternatives: the threatened particular community necessarily experiences the concrete mode of this acquisition of knowledge about alternative lifestyles (obligatory education, for example) as a violent intervention that threatens its identity. (For that reason, the Amish in the USA resist obligatory education for their children: they are quite justified in pointing out that state school attendance corrodes their group identity.) In short, there is no way to avoid violence: the very neutral medium of information that should enable a truly free choice is already branded by an irreducible violence." [Metastases]

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PostSubject: Re: The Nonsense of Chivalry, Courtesy and the Invention of Western Romantic Love Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:18 pm

Christianity and Romance in Medieval England

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