IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 103: Love and Pleasure

Monday 9 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Teodora Artimon, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Paper 103-aRhazes and His Argument against Love
(Language: English)
Jalal abd Alghani, Department of Arabic Language & Literature, University of Haifa
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Language and Literature - Semitic, Philosophy, Sexuality
Paper 103-bBecoming Her Own Accuser: The Art of Courtly Love as a Commentary on Eleanor of Aquitaine
(Language: English)
Colleen Dunn, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Politics and Diplomacy, Sexuality
Paper 103-c'Per etterna legge è stabilito': Canone emozionale e gravitazioni amorose tra Agostino e Dante
(Language: Italiano)
Valentina Atturo, Dipartimento di Studi Americani, Europei e Interculturali, Università degli Studi di Roma 'La Sapienza'
Index terms: Language and Literature - Italian, Monasticism, Philosophy, Theology

Paper -a:
Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Zakariyyāʾ al-Rāzī (d. 925 or 935), a physician, philosopher and alchemist, is the author of Kitāb al-Ṭibb al-Rūḥānī (Psychological Medicine) which is one of the earlier medieval Arabic compilations of psychology. Representing al-Rāzī’s Epicurean ethical system, this book advances prescriptions for rectifying the ethics (iṣlāḥ al-akhlāq) intended for the welfare of the soul. Al-Rāzī deals mainly with certain symptoms of illness which inflict the soul such as arrogance, jealousy, avarice, voracity and concerns himself with some misconducts such as immoderate drinking and unrestrained coitus. Of central importance is the chapter dealing with love. Through this section, which is entitled On Love and Intimacy and Speaking briefly on Pleasure, al-Rāzī considers love as an adversity that brings on subservience and surrender; madness and enervation. He condemns lovers, particularly hermaphrodites, love poets, idle people, and those living a sybaritic life for they are engrossed in love. Al-Rāzī wrote this chapter to profess his thought of the precaution against love’s symptoms and to warn against its deception. Through his argument, al-Rāzī engaged with related topics such as explicating the essence of pleasure engendered by love and the hurt caused by the beloved’s departure. Al-Rāzī, moreover, criticizes the literary discourse on love developed by the littérateurs and the elegants. He represented their main ideas and contradicted them: (1) the belief that only the discerning dispositions and flaming minds are accustomed to love; (2) love induces purity, suavity and adornment; (3) the efficacy of love poems on the circulation of love’s values; and (4) talking about lovers of poets, authors, chiefs, and even prophets to extol love and popularize it. These statements represent some of the main established concepts and conventions shaped by medieval Arabic writings on love theory from the 9th to the 14th century. On these conventions the rules and conducts of love affairs between lovers were built. Al-Rāzī’s assessment of love, however, deviates from the outlines of Arabic love theory. By demolishing the aforementioned four points al-Rāzī advances his ‘own’ concepts and conventions of love.

Paper -b:
While The Art of Courtly Love appears to operate primarily as a mock treatise on love, it also functions as a political and moral commentary on Eleanor of Aquitaine. This work was likely written somewhere between 1174 and 1199, during which time the queen had been imprisoned by her husband, Henry II, and staged a revolt against him. These contemporary events inform the way Eleanor’s character in the work should be read; while outwardly the queen is cited as an ‘authority on love,’ it becomes apparent the author is using Eleanor’s history against her, ultimately having the ‘Eleanor’ in the work utter the very words that satirically condemn her historical counterpart.

Paper -c:
This research forms part of a larger project (PRIN ‘Emotions in Medieval Lyric: Words and Themes’) supervised by Prof. Roberto Antonelli. My exact area of study deals with the emotional dichotomy pleasure-pain throughout the entire corpus of medieval lyric. Pleasure (Aristotelian ‘eudaimonia‘, Latin ‘gaudium‘ and ‘delectatio‘, vernacular ‘joy’, Christian ‘fruitio‘) and Pain (‘tristitia‘, ‘dolor‘) emerge as the key terms of my investigation, precisely because they function as two focal points and ethical goals for medieval moral philosophy and medieval poetry. Another key element of my research is the idea of ’emotional canon’. By this, I mean a classification system of emotions stemming from antiquity and medieval times. In particular, in this paper I concentrate on the role played by Pleasure with particular regard to ‘inner’ rules and free will (‘pondus amoris‘) in Agostino and Dante’s Divine Comedy.