14 April, 2008

Philosophia siue sapientia?

Today I'm sitting down to write my abstract for my Margery Kempe paper. All I have to do is bang out 200 words of what I plan to write, and then I can forget her for a month or two. Longer, if I decide to go with the long-established custom of writing a paper the week before it's due to be presented.

I'm also starting to assemble my thoughts on St Katherine of Alexandria, of whom a half-dozen vitae were written in late Medieval England. She was pretty popular, and remarkable for passages where she asserts her right to rule in her own right. Relevant to me, she gets into an argument with Emperor Maxentius, who waxes "wroth and wod" several times. The language used to describe Katherine's wisdom and the emperor's great anger is very interesting.

In the Legenda Aurea version, there is a fascinating digression on the types of wisdom and how they all apply to Katherine. It's almost Scholastic in tone and the way is neatly divides and categorises the species. All of a sudden, I feel the need to consult with David, and I'm blessing the times in the past we've talked about Scholastic philosophy, and also the Book of Twenty-Four Philosophers, which this passage also reminds me of.

It's strange. As much as I despise doing philosophy, I'm absolutely drawn to it in contexts like this. I'm far more interested in what this passage is doing here than I am by the rest of the story. Given the context of 13th century English hagiography, what the heck is "Philosophia enim siue sapientia diuiduntur in theoricam, praticam et logicam" doing in a life of an early-Church martyr? Why? Now I'm actually excited to have read these stupid vitae.

And finally, I'm a couple days late on this one, but check out this strip from the awesome comic Get Medieval. It's totally about my research! Woo!

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