In Peter Damian’s letters, Peter reveals that Hildebrand gave up leeks and onions because of his inordinate desire and enjoyment for and of them, and that such desire and pleasure could become an impediment to proper action. In this paper I will explore Hildebrand/Gregory VII’s understanding of pleasure and the way in which anything that might be construed as temporal distracted from the true eternal and spiritual focus, and thus from what was vital and necessary for the benefit of all Christians and all of Christendom. For Gregory VII, anything that distracted from that which was eternal needed to shunned or cast aside, from leeks and onions to clerical marriage. The rejection of pleasure served, in Gregory’s eyes, as the most efficient means to the true desired end.
Bede’s commentaries were widely read by the Carolingians. His actual influence, however, is better known in outline than in detail. This paper proposes to clarify the level of his influence by examining the reception of his interpretation of Jesus’s food miracles as allegories regarding Scriptural interpretation and the pleasures promised to the spiritual reader. Further, Carolingian adaptations of Bede’s work will be read in light of the broader theological discourse on overindulgence, arguing that such interpretations authorized a form of indulgent pleasure, figured as a type of feasting and inebriation open to all levels of Carolingian society.