IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1621: Sexuality and Unsexy Rules: Conflicting Pleasures

Thursday 12 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Coralie Zermatten, Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG), Technische Universität Dresden
Paper 1621-aTheo-Centric Writing and the Rule of Sodom
(Language: English)
Kevin L. Gustafson, Department of English, University of Texas, Arlington
Index terms: Language and Literature - Italian, Language and Literature - Latin, Political Thought, Theology
Paper 1621-bSexual Repulsion as a Legal Issue: Rebellious Wives and Justice in Jewish Communities of Provence
(Language: English)
Nadezda Koryakina, RELMIN Project, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Ange-Guépin, Nantes
Index terms: Law, Religious Life, Sexuality, Women's Studies
Paper 1621-cLeadership through Self-Governance: The Carolingian Sovereign and the Rules of Bodily Comportment
(Language: English)
Maria Winter, Institut für Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin, Universität Ulm
Index terms: Anthropology, Daily Life, Mentalities, Political Thought

Paper -a:
Protagoras is traditionally credited with the dictum ‘man is the measure of all things’. This paper considers man-made rule in medieval treatments of Sodom and the other Cities on the Plain. Philo Judaeus claimed that Sodom meant ‘measure’, and subsequent writers, notably Augustine and Dante, made much of the legal implications of Genesis 19, arguing the Sodomites were punished in part because they sought to promote human custom over divine law. This ‘Rule of Sodom’, I argue, remained important to medieval writers because it represented a moral and legal relativism that had to be rejected in a theo-centric universe.

Paper -b:
This paper deals with the issue of rebellious wives according to the legal sources of Provençal Jewry.
As it clearly appears in various Halakhic writings, the legal status of married woman comprises the idea of consent to sexual relations. The refusal to fulfill these obligations constitutes the rebellion. This refusal could be expressed in several ways, including the public declaration that the husband is repulsive to his wife or a private proposal to the husband to go and look for a prostitute.
Halakhic prescriptions permitted to impose compulsory measures in order to make the rebellious wife change her mind. Among them there were public announcement of the rebellion in the synagogues and study houses as well as charges taken from her ketubbah.
The legal framework to the case of “rebellious wife” was created in the Mishnah (Ketubbot 5:5) and later developed by Maimonides (1135–1204) who proposed to use physical compulsory methods against a rebellious wife, even by “scourging her with a rod” (Hilkhot Ishut 21:10). It was Rabad of Posquières (1120 – 1197) who presented an objection to such a conduct, and declared that it was prohibited to beat women. However he supported monetary compulsion in order to make rebellious wives obey to their husbands, and unlike Maimonides he did not see any necessity to compel a husband to divorce the wife who refused to serve him. Up to the 14th century, there was a division of opinion in Provence, and the voices appeared calling for compelling the husband to divorce the rebellious woman (Teshuvot Hachmei Provincia, 72:117). In most cases, rabbis protected the rights of the husband, not permitting to dissolve marriage on the grounds of woman’s will. In order to find a solution the women and their families appealed to non-Jewish courts trying to compel judicial institutions of Jewish communities to proceed for the divorce under menace of persecutions.

Paper -c:
The Carolingian Mirrors of Princes preach an essentially Christian ideal of rulership. They demand of a sovereign justice, piety and restraint. Only if a sovereign governed himself and his house he could govern his realm. These ideals were in sharp contrast to the traditional warrior-like and hedonistic lifestyle of the nobility whose passion for hunting sparked criticism, as did their multiple concubines and wives in the face of the Church’s attempts to circumscribe all sexual activity, even in the fulfilment of one of a ruler’s main obligations: to produce a male heir.
This paper will outline the contradictory rules for a sovereign-like bodily comportment in Carolingian times as well as the ideas and ideals behind them.