Unformatted text preview: EUH 2001 HMA Flowering Discussion “Statutes for a College”—“Woman is More Bitter than Death” The “Dark Ages” connotes an era of dank, ignorant, squalid life for medieval Europeans. Hemmed in by fear and disease, they eked out a meager life before slipping into the netherworld between the splendor of antiquity and the vitality of the Renaissance. Sound about right? But I have little tolerance for the term precisely because it ignores both the cultural achievements and attention to academic exploration that defined the period, right alongside the better known religious wars and epidemics of disease. This was a complex, vibrant, and very human world. To help us explore this idea, we’ll read the sources not as testaments to academic achievements, but for the human beings who created them. Begin with Aquinas’ selection on natural law. The Summa Theologiae is one of history’s most challenging documents, but let’s use it as a means to understand the High Medieval human. What are the main tenets of natural law, according to Aquinas? Now, let’s apply Aquinas’ theories to the life of a medieval university student. How do you see Aquinas’ ideas reflected in the rules and conditions of student life set down by Robert de Sorbonne? Let’s go on and apply Aquinas’ natural law to the equally brilliant Peter Abelard and his beautiful student, Heloise. Their story can be read as a juicy scandal, an exploited protégé and lascivious teacher, or a fallen philosopher. Or, we can read it as a human story—we easily associate peasants and criminals and even kings with the vagaries of the human condition, but we ignore that element in philosophers, scientists, and clerics. How do you see the natural laws of humanity at work in both Abelard’s and Heloise’s accounts of their affair? ...
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- Summer '10
- HMA Flowering Discussion, medieval Europeans. Hemmed, brilliant Peter Abelard, High Medieval human., medieval university student.