THE MONASTIC CONTEXT:
HILDEGARD VON BINGEN'S ORDO
n this paper I wish to observe Hildegard of Bingen in her medieval context of monasticism and to view the monasticism of women as both equal to and as opposed to that of men. I shall specifically discuss the use by monastic women and men of drama in play and as therapy, as a sphere of vicarious disobedience in opposition to the real obedience required by their Rule, their Ordo and its Regula./1 I shall then focus these observations upon Hildegard's own Ordo Virtutum./2And pearls are like poet's tales; disease turned into loveliness.
Isak Dinesen, 'The Diver'
Order and Rule. Monasticism had its origins, for Christianity, in the Essene practices, where Jews chose to dwell in community in the caves of the Dead Sea area, in the wilderness, as textual communities obedient to a Rule./3 These practices were later carried into Egypt and then Ireland by Christian monks dwelling in lauras./4 Saints Augustine and Caesarius wrote Rules for their sisters in Africa and France./5Jerome was accompanied in his labours of translating the Bible by Paula and her daughter Eustochium./6 We also know of Egeria, who travelled to the Holy Places and wrote back detailed notes concerning the quasi-dramatic liturgical practices in Jerusalem and Constantinople to her fellow nuns in Spain./7 Eventually, circa 547, Benedict codified his monastic practices with his Ordo and Regula, his Order and his Rule. In these documents he prohibited pilgrimage, which was also to be proscribed to monastics at the Council of Whitby (664), though he insisted upon hospitality to pilgrims./8 He had a sister, St Scholastica, and his Rule embraced and oppressed her. St Gregory, in his Dialogues, tells their story.The labour of Obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience.
St Benedict, Rule
Monks carried out the opus dei, the work of God, in the liturgical Offices with scriptural readings and the chanting of psalms. They could and did add hymns of their own composing to those of the Bible. Such monasticism required literacy and functioned as a textual community./9 To compensate for that power its members renounced sex, sublimating sexuality into textuality. Monks and nuns took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The liturgical opus dei carried out in the abbey church required not only the book of the Gospels upon the altar but also books containing the Offices (the word opus, 'office' and 'work' are related) and the music to which these would be sung. The Offices were, and are, Matins, in the night, Lauds, at dawn, Prime, at the first hour of day, Terce, at the third hour, at nine o'clock, Sext, at the sixth hour, noon, None, at the ninth hour, three o'clock, Vespers, at sunset, and Compline, in the evening.
Next to the abbey church was the generally square and arcaded cloister, often with a well and tree at its centre, which symbolized the celestial Jerusalem, Paradise, established in the center of the Wilderness./10 There the monks or nuns could pace in contemplation or read books in carrels (they read aloud, and these were built for soundproofing - so as not to annoy the other readers - as well as for protection from the elements/11). There also the young oblates would be taught their Latin and their music, often simultaneously, such as we can see in the liturgical dramas and in the Letters between Abelard and Heloise./12 Paul Meyvaert adds the interesting touch that in the Middle Ages the washing would also be hung in the cloister./13 Meetings concerning compliance with their Rule would be held in the Chapter, at which a chapter of the Rule would first be read, then discussed. Texts would also be read at meals in the refectory. Following the last office of the day, Compline, the community would be enjoined to silence and would retire to sleep in the dormitory. All was ordered in time, according to Benedict's Rule, and space, the St Gall plan giving us the ideal blueprint of the latter./14 The Latin for order and obedience is incorporated into the title of Hildegard's drama; it is Ordo.
The abbot or prior, abbess or prioress would be elected by his or her brother and sister monks and nuns in Chapter, and would represent Christ amidst his disciples. Obedience was mandatory, but there was also the compensating requirement on the part of the abba, 'father' to wash the feet of the community on Maundy Thursday and likewise to wash the feet of pilgrims seeking hospitality at the abbey, as if these were Christ in disguise. Thus we see that monasticism is an artificial family, a textual community living life according to books, dramatically enacting these texts in flesh and blood reality, reading them, writing them, singing them, illuminating them, sculpting them, even acting them.
English monasticism could be double, having both genders in sexual equality present within their walls, as at Hilda's Whitby. This model of sexual equality was then exported to Germany by English monks./15 Such a practice may account for, first, the Abbess Jutta's, then her nuns' presence at the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg. In Hildegard's own day, Benedictinism, which had become corrupt, was being challenged by the countering form of monasticism, Cistercianism. Bernard of Clairvaux sought a return to the earlier monasticism when monks had been clad in white rather than black and when they had been pioneers in the wilderness rather than wealthy, powerful and lazy with market towns and cities grown up around their gates. Hildegard herself corresponded by means of epistles with Bernard, and in 1147 he, too, her still incomplete opus, the Scivias, to the Cistercian Pope Eugenius III at the Synod of Trier for his examination and approval./16 Cistercian Bernard, Cluniac Abelard and Benedictine Suger - each stood in opposition to the others. Though Bernard befriended Hildegard, she belonged to Benedictinism and would be more comfortable with Abbot Suger's obsession with gems than with Bernard's Cistercian severity. She nevertheless fought with all her might to achieve independence from her abbey of Disibodenberg, of which she had become abbess at Jutta's death in 1136, by establishing Rupertsberg in circa 1150 as an abbey for nuns only, with the exception of her secretaries and priests, and by bringing to it twenty wealthy and nobly-born nuns./17
Contemporary with Hidlegard and Bernard were also Abelard and Heloise, first connected with the cathedral schools, then with Benedictine and Cluniac monasticism. In their epistles we can glean more information concerning monasticism of both men and women. It is of interest that Abelard, in writing to Heloise at her request, struggled to feminize Benedictinism - concerned, for instance, that menstruating women should not be required to wear woolen undergarments since these do not take to frequent washing. Heloise made this request for a Rule of Abelard, one suspects, as psychological therapy for his physical castration.
A major aspect of monasticism and its celibacy is that sexual differentiation is no longer of importance and that women who were nuns became 'virile' and 'virtuous'. The name of Hildegard's abbess, Jutta, is the German equivalent of Judith, who was a liberator of her people/18 - a fact that may be relevant to the meaning of the Ordo, which presents the feminine as a liberating aspect in the psychomachia. Unlike Abelard and Heloise, Hildegard, when commenting in her role as abbess on the Benedictine Rule, spoke exclusively in masculine terms, and saw herself as analogous to Moses with the Law, Benedict with the Rule./19 It was not until St Birgitta of Sweden that a women wrote a Rule for women and men and insisted upon its authorization by popes. While St Clare of Assisi's Rule was more hidden.
In a monastery there was an ideal of equality. Yet there was also a paradoxical, contradictory sense of perfection and privilege versus the outside world. Georges Duby has shown us how in this period monasticism combatted a growing ecclesiastical and lay movement, the Peace of God and Truce of God, which desired to stress the equality of all Christians in God's image by presenting the counter model of the Three Orders, or Ordo, of the Monk, the Knight and the Ploughman. In that argument, we find Hildegard of Bingen's own statement insisting upon aristocratic privilege./20 Criticism of Hildegard was leveled against her by a canoness Tengswich of Andemach both for her elitism and for the rumour that she had her nuns go to Mass in white veils and wearing precious gems and theatrical gear of crowns (coronas) upon which were angels and the Agnus Dei - carnalizing her Apocalyptic allegories. Hildegard did not deny the charge./21
Disorder and Misrule. At the same time that St Benedict of Nursia established his Ordo, governed by his Regula, women as nuns, entering into that sphere, subverted it. On each feast day of Saints Scholastica and Benedict, celebrated on February 10, their Office is sung at Vespers. And that Office is like drama, chanting antiphonally the tale of Benedict's chauvinism, requiring Scholastica's obedience to him, followed by her prayer to God that he break his Rule and stay overnight in her monastery. God then, hearing her prayer, sends a thunderstorm out of a clear sky and forces Benedict's disobedience to himself, obedience to his twin and female sibling and obedience to the deity. Thus the Office for the feast of Saints Scholastica and Benedict, the reading for which is taken from Gregory's Dialogues, includes within itself the defiance and opposition to the Rule of Benedict./22 It celebrates disobedience. Hildegard and her nuns would have participated in that Ordo at Disibodenberg and at Rupertsberg.Leopards break into the temple and drink the sacrifical chalices dry;
this occurs repeatedly, again and again; finally it van be reckoned upon beforehand and becomes a part of the ceremony.
Franz Kafka, Fragment
Monastic drama had a lengthy history as joca monachorum, the playful defiance to the obedience of the Rule, containing within itself misrule that was nevertheless obedient to a higher law - the law of love manifested in the Gospel./23 This is best exemplified in the gloriously paradoxical figure of Mary Magdalen who appears in the monastic drama of the Resuscitatio Lazari in her whorish scarlet at the house of Simon the Pharisee, where she anoints Christ after she washes and dries his feet with her tears and her abundant hair; next, in the Visitatio Sepulchri, she mourns at Christ's tomb, again with precious ointment or incense; then in some versions of the play, joyously and poignantly greets him as the gardener within the garden. We can see this drama best in the Fleury Playbook (Orléans, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 201) associated with Fleury and perhaps Winchester, which in turn has a much earlier account of Easter performances in the Regularis Concordia along with the excellent illuminations in the Winchester Benedictional of St Aethelwold. Behind these performances lie the monks' knowledge and possession of Terentian codices, of his six Comedies performed in Rome's redlight districts and in Carthage where St Augustine saw them and against which both Augustine and Boethius inveighed./24
Besides these liturgical dramas performed in the monastic Offices, we also know of six extraordinary plays written in emulation of Terence by the canoness Hrotswtha of Gandesheim at the end of the tenth century; she had been taught by a Richardis and encouraged by her abbess Gerberga. In her six Comedies Hrotswitha turns to the legends of the saints, martyrs and desert fathers and draws upon those tales of harlot actresses converted to recluses who mirror Mary Magdalen. The plays frequently incorporate almost allegorical figures, the daughters, Faith, Hope and Charity, their mother Sapientia (Wisdom) in one play, the maidens Agape (Charity), Chionia (Chastity, Snow) and Hirene or Irene (Peace) in another. Looking at these plays physically one can see - from the Dulcitius, for instance - that their performance was likely in the refectory of the monastery with the actress in drag for Dulcitius retreating into the monastery's kitchen and then re-emerging covered with soot and grease from the rape attempt on the pots and pans. One can imagine that exit and extrance, sandwiching clangs, clashes and bongs, sound effects off-stage, were accompanied by the giggles and laughter of the nuns. Hrotswitha combined her book learning of the distant past with the realities of her present. What is interesting as well is that these saints' legends frequently centre upon the early Christians' disobedience to the Empire and defiance even unto death to the swearing of oaths, bloody sacrifices and participation in the military required of them by the state./25
Related to this material is the use to which Heloise put Abelard when she had him compose ninety-three hymns for her nuns of the Paraclete in 1130; these included the Planctus varii of biblical episodes which appropriately mirrored their own calamity: the planctus Dinae filiae Jacob, the planctus Virginum Israelis super filia Jepthae Galaditae, and the planctus Israel super Samson./26 These, like the Eastern sermons and kontakia of Ephraem and Romanos, and like the Western Office of Saints Scholastica and Benedict, are almost dramas; and they are also psychotherapy for this separated, yet wedded, now textual, previously sexual, couple and their celibate communities.
Hildegard, in the midst of this tradition, is an anomaly in preferring allegory to Gospel or saints' legends. And we find that, even when she is speaking concerning a Gospel text, immediately its figures become allegorized by her into virtues and vices in the manner of the Psychomachia./27 Her Liber vitae meritorum likewise makes powerful use of dramatic dialogues between the various allegorical personifications presented within the text./28 It is typical of Hildegard, as in her music, that she would both work within and rebel against what is common monastic practice.
There are problems with the schizophrenic mode which is allegory. I told my fellow students at Berkeley during the rioting that when they flung flowers at the police and the police responded by beating up the students, the police were seeing themselves as Castitas being pelted with roses by Luxuria,/29 while the students were interpreting themselves as Caritas and the police as Ira. Nevertheless, a psychomachia, a psychodrama, can be used as therapy. Hildegard herself attempted to impose such a drama as therapy in the case of Sigewize of Cologne, the young woman possessed by a demon who called Hildegard the vetula Scrumpilgardis, 'old lady Wrinklegard', while pleading for her aid. The drama did not work too well, and Hildegard and her nuns had to take the patient into their abbey for a more protracted cure./30
Early Sorrow. We need to see the play of the Ordo Virtutum in its contexts, first of monastic obedience, then of flesh and blood reality concerning disobedience behind its morality, the tragedy of Hildegard's companion, Richardis von Stade, and lastly the surrounding text in which it first was found, the Scivias, especially the final section, and other writings by Hildegard which enclosed this central drama in her thought and her life. Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum is the celebration of Obedience following upon a period of revolt. It is the story not so much of a prodigal son as of a prodigal daughter.Deus creavit mundum
non facio illi iniuriam,
sed volo uti illo.Hildegard, Ordo Virtutum
In real life there had been such a prodigal daughter. Richardis von Stade was the much loved fellow nun who had colluded with and nursed Hildegard in her illness of not only the customary migraines but even bouts of blindness and paralysis at the time when she sought to leave Disibodenberg in order to found Rupertsburg./31 Richardis had encouraged Hildegard in her writing of Scivias, begun in 1141. Perhaps she recognized that this was psychotherapy for her abbess. The partly completed text of Scivias, Bernard's interest in it, and Richardis' family influence enabled Pope Eugenius III to grant papal recognition to Hildegard at the Synod of Trier and also made possible the move to Rupertsberg./32 At this time the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had a secret interview concerning prophecy with Hildegard, the Sibyl of the Rhine, at his royal palace at Ingelheim./33 It is very likely that these clustered actions took place through the influence of Richardis von Stade and her powerful family in their attempt to save Hildegard's life.
Then Adelheid was elected abbess of Gandesheim in 1152, Richardis having been elected abbes of Bassum in 1151./34 Hildegard had bitterly opposed Richardis' election which would take her way from her, and she ungratefully took the case to her family and to the pope. Adelheid's election was not so disturbing to her./35 The Archbishop of Bremen, Richardis' brother, have been forced to write to Hildegard to break the news to her of Richardis' sudden death on 29 October 1151. He told her that his sister when dying had stated her intention of returning to Hildegard and Rupertsberg. Hildegard, answering his letter,/36 described Richardis in words that echo and mirror those of the Ordo Virtutum and its surrounding text in the Scivias; there are also echoes of another letter written to a woman who had abandoned being a nun and to whom Hildegard had referred as a prodigal son./37 In all these writings Hildegard stressing her outrage at women's disobedience, used the Benedictine emphasis upon Ordo, even to the extent of paraphrasing Benedict's Rule, while describing the serpent, the devil, in Virgilian terms borrowed from the Aeneid, Book II, to give vent to her personal emotions.
Perhaps within that rage is Hildegard's envy of Richardis' freedom. Her headaches and invalidism could indicate suppressed fury. She herself tended to recover from serious illness through being disobedient. She had been presented to Disibodenberg as a child of eight, and took her vows of perpetul virginity and obedience very early in life. Obedience, Ordo, is central to her life and art. Yet her writings are full of sexual curiosity and lore, this material granting her writings some of their most powerful images. Yet she disobeyed Disibodenberg in founding St Rupertsberg. Yet she herself would defy St Paul against women preaching, and she would herself preach at Trier - like Mary Magdalen's legendary preaching in Provence. Mary Magdalen being perceived in monasticism as having been the first contemplative, the model for monastic life - though Hildegard oddly compared her love for Richardis to that of Paul for Timothy./38 Yet she would even, in 1178, when she was eighty, defy the Church concerning the burial of a young nobleman and would face six months of excommunication. Yet her music disobeys, to its glory, the acceptable and expected intervals of Gregorian chant./39 Not for nothing did Goethe, who knew her work, echo her love of viriditas with his Faustian 'Grey, dear Friend, is all theory,/ And green is life's golden tree'./40
In the play, but only in play, not in reality, the Anima/ Richardis returns to Queen Humility/ Abbess Hildegard, the ugly shouted words of the Devil giving way to the chanted symphony of the Virtues and the returned Soul - an alternative and comedic ending to the tragic story. The scenes of the Soul and of the chained Devil are splendidly illuminated in the now lost Scivias codex./41 It could well be that had it not been for Richardis' disobedience, first to the concept of women's helplessness, then to the concept of her dependency upon another, and finally Richardis' choice of death as freedom from Hildegard's tyranny, the writings, the music and the illuminations we so treasure today could not have come into being. They are like the pearl of great price: they inscribe, chant and illumine the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us now conclude with Hedwig's vision of Hildegard walking in the cloister which she had built, singing her own sequence O virga ac diadema./42
Regula, ed. Rudolfus Hanslik, Corpus Scriptorium
Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, 75 (Vienna:
Holder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1960); The Rule of St Benedict,
ed. Timothy Fry (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1981).
2 For the text of the Ordo Virtutum and commentary, see Peter Dronke, Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970), pp. 150-92; also the same author's 'The Composition of Hildegard of Bingen's Symphonies,' Sacris Erudiri 19 (1969-70), 381-93; for transcription of the music, Audrey Ekdahl Davidson, ed., Ordo Virtutum (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute, 1984). For an abbreviated version of the Ordo, see Hildegard's Scivias, in S. Hildegardis Abbatisae opera omnia, Patrologia cursus completus, ser. Lat. (henceforth PL), CXCVII (Paris: Garnier, 1882, 732-38, II.620-36; Scivias, ed. Adelgundis Fuerhrkoetter, Corpus Christianorum, 43-43A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1978), II, 620-36; Scivias, trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop, intr. Barbara Newman (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), pp. 528-36.
3 G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Harmonsdworth: Penguin, 1962), pp. 16-33.
4 Derwas J. Chitty, The Desert a City: An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966); Helen Waddell, The Desert Fathers (1936; rprt, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1942), passim; P.L. Henry, The Early English and Celtic Lyric (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1966), pp. 40-45 and passim.
5 Augustine, Epistola CCXI, PL, XXXIII, 958-65; Letters, trans. Wilfrid Parson, Fathers of the Church, 13 (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1956), pp. 38-51; The Rule for Nuns of St Caesarius of Arles, trans. Maria C. McCarthy (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1960).
6 Jerome, Epistola CVIII, PL, XXII, 902-03; The Letters of Paula and Eustochium to Marcella about the Holy Places (365 A.D.), trans. Aubrey Stewart (London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1896).
7 Egeria, Itinerarium, ed. A. Franceschini and R. Weber, in Itineraria et alia geographica, Corpus Christianorum, Ser. Lat., 175 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), pp. 27-103; Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage, trans. George E. Gringras (New York: Newman Press, 1970).
8 In the monastic Officium Peregrinorum, acted by monks in the guise of their pilgrim guests, we have a playful disobedience to the Rule of St Benedict while the Gospels of Luke and Christ are observed; Julia Bolton Holloway, The Pilgrim and the Book: A Study of Dante, Langland and Chaucer (Bern: Peter Lang, 1987), pp. 19-43.
9 See Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy (Princeton: Princeton University press, 1983), pp. 88-231, concerning the concept of 'textual communities'.
10 George Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought: The Biblical Experience of the Desert in the History of Christianity and the Paradise Theme in the Theological Idea of the University (New York: Harper, 1962); Herrad of Landsberg, PL, CXCIV; Hortus Deliciarum, ed. Rosalie Green, Michael Evans, Christine Bischoff and Michael Curschmann (London: Warburg Institute, 1979). Herrad, who was composing hymns and illumianting visionary allegories (1176-96) was Hildegard's junior contemporary. As with the manuscript of Scivias, which disappeared at the end of World War II, so also was the Hortus destroyed in wartime destruction in 1870. Sess esp. Vol. II. 243-7, where female skirted armoured knights as Virtues (Hope, Obedience, Faith, Chastity, Patience, etc.) combat Vices, one of whom is Tristessa, Sadness and Despair. Herrad's text stresses virtuous women, Miriam, Esther, Judith, the Queen of Sheba.
11 H.J. Chaytor, From Script to Print (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), pp. 13-19.
12 On the cloister in the medieval abbey, see Paul Mayvaert, 'The Medieval Monastic Claustrum,' Gesta, 12 (1973), 53-59. For the liturgical drama, see Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church (Oxford: Clarendon, 1933), 2 vols; Fletcher Collins, Jr., The Production of Church Music-Drama (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972); William Smoldon, The Music of the Medieval Church Dramas, ed. Cynthia Bourgeault (London: Oxford University Press, 1980, Susan Rankin, 'Liturgical Drama', in The Early Middle Ages to 1300, ed. Richard Crocker and David Hiley, New Oxford History of Music, 2 (Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 310-56. On Abelard and Heloise, see T.P. McLaughline, 'Abelard's Rule for Religious Women', Mediaeval Studies, 18 (1856), 241-92; The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. Betty Radice (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), pp. 214-15.
13 Meyvaert, 'Medieval Monastic Claustrum', p. 56.
14 Walter William Horn and Ernest Born, The Plan of St Gall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 3 vols.
15 See Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R.A.B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), pp. 418-19; Edward Kylie, The English Correspondence of Saint Boniface (London: Chatto and Windus, 1911), pp. 49-50, 57-70, 78-93. 106-12, 130-34, 147-51. A votive antiphon in Hildegard's Symphonia celebrates St Boniface (St Hildegard of Bingen, Symphonia, ed. and trans. Barbara Newman [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988], pp. 204-05). See also Regularis Concordia: The Monastic Agreement of the Monks and Nuns of the English Nation, trans. Thomas Symons (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), for English Benedictine practices for monks and nuns in the centuries immediately preceding Hildegard.
16 PL CXCVII, 145; Barbara Newman, Sister of Wisdom: St Hildegard's Theology of the Feminine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), pp. 8-9. Hildegard also corresponded with the Cistercian Elizabeth of Schonau; see PL, CVCVII, 214-18.
17 Peter Dronke, Women Writers of the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 150; see also PL, CXCVII, 21-22. One of the nuns was named Hiltrudis.
18Regula S. Benedicti juxta S. Hildegardis explicita, PL, CXCVII, 1053-56. When she replied to Pope Eugenius, she stressed her compliance with the Benedictine Rule (see Epistola I, PL, CXCVII.145).
19 Jean Baptise Pitra, Analecta Sanctae Hildegardis Opera spicilegio solesmensi parata, in Analecta Sacra spicilegio solesmini parata (Montecassino: Typis Sacri Montis Casinensis, 1882), VIII.vi. In Hildegard's secret language, man is Jur, and woman is Vanix (ibid., VIII.497).
20 Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 225.
21 Epistola CXVI, PL, CXCVII, 336-38; Newman, Sister of Wisdom, pp. 72-73, 221-22, Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 165-67, 169, 200, giving Hildegard's later explanation which can be compared to Birgitta's crown for her nuns of white circlet and cross with five red circles upon the black veil, representing Christ's wounds and crown of thorns; in these unusial practices we catch a glimpse of what Roland Barthes has discussed concerning the imposition of imagined orders by means of structures such as rituals and theatres upon flesh and blood participants (Sade, Fourier, Loyola, trans. Richard Miller [New York: Hill and Wang, 1976], passim).
22 Sr Jane Morrissey, 'Scholastica and Benedict: A Picnic, a Paradigm', Equally in God's Image: Women in the Middle Ages, ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Joan Bechtold, Constance S. Wright (New York: Peter Lang, 1990), pp. 251-57; Gerard Farrell, 'Saints Benedict and Scholastica: The Liturgical Music', Equally in God's Image, pp. 358-60, Plate IX.
23 Writers discussing the concepts of doubleness and play in culture are M.M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, trans. Helene Iswolsky (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968), pp. 1-58, 437-74; Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens: The Play Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962); E.K. Chambers, The Mediaeval Stage (London: Oxford University Press, 1903), I.274-419, II.279-306; Maria Corti, 'Models and Antimodels in Medieval Culture', New Literary History, 10 (1979), 339.66; Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine, 1969); Clifford Geertz, 'Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight', Myth, Symbol and Culture, ed. Clifford Geertz (New York: W.W. Norton, 1971), pp. 1-37; Stephen Orgel, The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975). Jacobean masques typically had an antimasque of disorder and misrule, followed by a masque in which order was restored.
24 Julia Bolton Holloway, 'The Dream of the Rood and Liturgical Drama', Comparative Drama, 18 (1984), 19-37, and 'Crosses and Boxes: Latin and Vernacular', Equally in God's Image, pp. 58-87; in these article I also discuss the influence of Ephraem and Romanos' sermons. See Ephraem Syri, Hymni et sermones (Mechlin: Archiepiscopal Press, 1882); The Kontakia of Romanos, trans. Marjorie Carpenter (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1970).
25 PL, CXXXVII.939-1195; Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 55-83.
26 Abelard, Hymni et sequentiae per totum anni circulum ad usum virginum monasterii paraclitensis, PL, CLXXVIII.1817-24.
27 Espositio Evangeliorum, in Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.245-327. Her thought is closest to that of the Neo-Platonists, the Chartrians, and indeed her Scivias was given papal approval along with Bernard Silvester's Cosmographia; see Dronke, Women Writers, p. 148. She draws on monastic sources less than do most male monk writers, yet she concludes her projects better than did Bernard in his sermon cycle on the Song of Songs; see Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Cutlure, trans. Cathrine Misrahi, 2nd ed (1974; rprt. New York: Fordham University Press, 1982), pp. 5-8.
28 Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII-1-244.
29 An especially fine example of this particular allegory can be found in Herrad of Landsberg's Hortus Deliciarum, II.243-47, where women in skirts and full armour battle against each other, Vices pelting roses at Virtues, Luxuria against Castitas.
30 Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 163-64, and 'Problemata Hildegardiana', Mittelateinisches Jahrbuch, 16 (1981), 118-22, 127.29; Epistola L, PL, CXCVII.258; Epistola LX, PL, CXCVII.278-80. In this instance, Hildegard uses figura allegory rather than psychomachia allegory, for she has her patient served by seven priests representing Abel, Noah, Abraham, Melchisadecj, Jacob, Aaron and Moses (rather than Dronke's guess of Christ) with rods in their hands, the concluding service taking place at the font on Easter Sunday at a ritual which includes the singing of Psalm 113 (114-5) concerning false idols and Exodus, while it had begun at the feast of the Purification. See, on possession, Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), pp. 106-13.
31 Oliver Sacks, The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (New York: Harper, 1987), pp. 166-70; See Liber compositae medicinae de Aegritudine causis, signis atque curis, in Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.479, where Hildegard discusses diseases of the head caused by capillaries, 'De capillarum casu', including 'De emigranea'. Her medical vocabulary is standard and Greek. Likewise her theology/philosophy is Chartrian
Neo-Platonist, speaking of matter as hyle (see Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.468). Her concept of Satan is Augustinian, God being a circle, 'Lucifer autem integer non est, sed in dispersione divisus est, cum esse voluit quod esse non debuit' (ibid, VIII.468).
32 Epistola I, PL, CXCVII.146-53; Epistola XXIX, PL, CXCVII.189-190; Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 150-59, 201.
33 Epistola XXVII, PL, CXCVII.186; Newman, Sister of Wisdom, p. 11. Hildegard wrote epistles to such figures as Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, King Henry of England; see Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.556.
34 Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.554-55.
35 Epistola XCVI, PL, CXCVII.317-18, Pitra, Analecta Sacra, VIII.554-55.
36 Epistolae V-X, PL, CXCVII.30-31, 155-63; see also PL CXCVII.30-31.
37 Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 154-59, 188-89, 258-59, presenting and translating letters in Berlin Staatsbibliothek MS Lat. Qu. 674, fol. 46-46v.
38 Dronke, Women Writers, p. 234, publishing autobiographical passages in Vita, Berlin Staatsbibliothek MS. Lat. Qu. 674, fol. 9v. On Mary Magdalen, see Pamela Loos-Noji, 'Temptation and Redemption: A Monastic Life in Stone', Liesel Nolan, 'Is she Dancing? A New Reading of Lucas van Leyden's Dance of the Magdalen of 1519', Equally in God's Image, pp. 220-50; H. Colin Slim, 'Mary Magdalene, Musician and Dancer', Early Music, 8 (1980), 460-73.
39 Barbara Newman comments: 'Hildegard, a maverick, preferred the archaic, non-metrical sequence, but exceeded the Carolingian composers in irregularity. In fact, her forms are so free that it is often hard to tell a sequence from a hymn' (Hildegard, Symphonia, ed., and trans., Newman, p. 16). I am much indebted to Sister Victorine Fenton's paper on her production, when she was Prioress of Mount Saint Benedict, Crookston, Minnesota, of the Ordo Virtutum, her paper being read at St Anselm's Benedictine Sesquimillenium 1981. See also my 'Medieval Liturgical Drama, the Commedia, Piers Plowman, and The Canterbury Tales', American Benedictine Review, 32 (1981), 114-21.
40 Goethe, Werke (Weimar, 1887-1918), XXXIV, as cited by Dronke, Women Writers, pp. 144, 306-07.
A useful comparison is Anna Bijns, Mary of Nijmeghen, trans. Eric Colledge, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, ed. Elizabeth Alvida Petroff (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 355-72, which is a play in the manner of Hrotswitha concerning a learned Faust, Mary Magdalen-like contemporary heroine.
41 See Hildegard, Scivias, ed. Fuehrkoetter, plates facing pp. 66, 84, 174, 308, 374.
42 PL, CXCVII.133, which identifies the sequence as O virga et diadema; see Symphonia, ed., and trans., Newman, pp. 128-31.
Originally published in The Ordo Virtutum of
Hildegard of Bingen: Critical Studies, ed. Audrey Ekdahl
Davidson. Early Drama, Art and Music Monograph Series, 18
(Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute, 1992), pp. 63-77 © The Board
of the Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University
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