Spirituality And Politics In the Works of Hrotsvit Gandersheim (Hardback)Stephen L. Wailes (author)
Hardback 290 Pages / Published: 01/01/2006
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A Saxon canoness in the convent at Gandersheim, Hrotsvit studied and wrote during those decades of the tenth century when Otto the Great was consolidating his rule over Saxony and neighboring German principalities, expanding it eastward into Slavic lands, and exerting a powerful influence over affairs in northern Italy. Stephen L. Wailes has produced a study of the sixteen extant works of Hrotsvit and has shown that she believed the basic duty of a Christian ruler was to defend and extend the Church, and that in her writing she offered several models of correct political behavior for the benefit of both Otto and the noblemen who constituted his base of power. At the same time, she was a zealous student of the Christian conscience, who was sure that God made all things good, including the human body, even if human beings used these things unwisely - as through sexual sinfulness. In her stories and plays, she demonstrates God's inexhaustible love and the infinite resources of forgiveness and reconciliation that are offered to even the most flagrant sinner, provided that person repents. All of her sixteen works are closely analyzed in this book to make clear her messages concerning the spiritual lives of individuals and the political lives of the powerful. Her puzzling short tale of "Christ's Ascension" is shown to be an assertion of the beauty and dignity of the human body; her version of the story of "Agnes" is a subtle argument for the superiority of martyrdom to virginity, perhaps to correct an obsession with their bodily purity on the part of her sisters at Gandersheim; the brilliant cleric "Theophilus" is a study in pride; the nameless young woman in Basilius finds a path of action when others are immobile, and so resolves a problem caused by passionate, adolescent love. Three plays show the gradual, but ineluctable advance of Christendom, with women in the van (even though men hold the seats of rule). In other plays, the Christian zealot Drusiana learns humility through failure; the prostitute Mary is shown to be the victim of deeply flawed mentors, so that her redemption is also that of Abraham and Ephraim; and the prostitute Thais finds forgiveness through contribution as the balance between body and spirit is restored within her. Her two historical poems reveal Hrotsvit's disillusion with Otto's politics after his imperial coronation in 962, contrasting the beauty of sacred and secular authority working in harmony to create Gandersheim with the saga of intrigue and power that brought Otto I and his son Otto II the title of emperor.
Publisher: Associated University Presses
Number of pages: 290
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 237 x 167 x 23 mm
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