Dying 101: emotion, experience, and learning how to die in the late medieval artes moriendi.
What becomes clear, however, is that these two intentions were not necessarily symbiotic, and, if not carefully balanced by the author of the ars moriendi, could easily come into conflict. Heightened emotion by itself does not necessarily prove an effective teaching tool, and can even become counter-productive, such as when fear of death results not in positive action on the part of the reader but rather in terrified immobility. Medieval authors were aware of this. Esther Cohen has argued that '[f]rightening the faithful for their own good was an acceptable idea in the thirteenth century. Practically all preachers' manuals openly avowed the same aim: terrifying their audiences into obedience'. (3) At the same time, theologians carefully parsed types of fear to distinguish the potentially overwhelming from the beneficial. In what is known as his 'Treatise on the Passions', (4) Thomas Aquinas addressed the question of whether fear impedes action and determined that
if the fear is moderate and does not greatly disturb the reason, it is conducive to acting well, insofar as it creates a certain amount of concern and causes the person to take counsel and act more carefully. If, however, the fear grows so large that it disturbs the reason, then it impedes action. (5)
It soon became evident that engendering a beneficial fear rather than an unserviceable one was contingent upon the way the person envisioned and became emotionally invested in the fear, and this in turn implicated both the application of imagination to the self and modes of self-fashioning.
Instructional texts designed to advise readers how to fashion themselves or create a particular disposition in themselves came to the fore at the end of the eleventh century in devotional and monastic contexts, particularly the Cistercian and Victorine. These texts drew from the focus on the interior homo or inner person that became increasingly prevalent throughout the long twelfth century. As Ineke van t Spijker has outlined, these texts wove together aspects of 'interiority, affectivity and experience' in the process of self-modelling, developing earlier, less conceptually complex, ritual devotions. (6) These new texts of self-formation were more than simply lists of prescribed and proscribed actions: instead they offered 'something comparable to a score of music: to be studied, practised and performed. On the part of the reader, they demand an affective and interpretative responsibility'. (7) This form of self-fashioning thus required an imaginative and experiential immersion in an affective disposition on the part of the devout practitioner.
Drawing from Augustine, medieval thinkers recognised the existence of a close interrelationship between thought, reason, imagination, and emotion. (8) As Walter S. Melion argues, the action of the soul served to 'liberate images from mere sense perception, allowing them to be adjusted, revised, and in effect invented, and further, preparing them for analysis and abstraction by the higher cognitive faculties of ratiocination (intellect), determination (will), and recollection (memory as thought rather than storage)'. (9) An influential text, De spiritu et anima, thought in the Middle Ages to have been composed by Augustine, declares: 'The senses drive the imagination, imagination the reason, and reason produces knowledge or wisdom.' (10) Imagination was seen as particularly key to the production and application of beneficial fear. As Richard Sorabji notes with regard to ancient thought: 'you cannot move the non-rational by means of reason, unless you present it with something like a picture to look at ... the judgements of reason are not sufficient for fear or distress without the irrational pictures of the imagination.' (11) Indeed, according to Aquinas's typology of the passions, without the application of imagination, the actual passion sensed would not be fear at all, since fear can only be produced by the apprehension of a future evil. As Robert Miner explains, '[i]f the evil were to become materially present, the result would be not fear but sorrow'. (12) Yet the future evil cannot be so distant that it fails to effect a change in behaviour. Aquinas was well aware, as was Aristotle before him, that humans have an ability to fail to fear even something as terrible and inevitable as death, if it does not appear to be imminent. (13) Yet if a properly moderated fear of an imagined and imminent evil could be produced, a type of wisdom would result. As Jean Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, noted when parsing types of prudence in his treatise on the four cardinal virtues: 'Providence is wisdom that leads to judgment from conjectures regarding the future.' (14)
The problem with a practice that required immersion in an experiential mode, however, was a certain theological suspicion of the nature of experience. This doubt had developed primarily from Augustine's reading of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden as exemplifying the dangers of 'knowing by experience', rather than by precept or divine revelation. (15) By the time of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Europe, there existed, in uneasy relationship with each other, the monastic understanding of experience as a devotional mode, and the nascent experimental and observational science of thinkers like Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, and Albertus Magnus, based on the increasing influence of Aristotelian texts entering Western Europe and their place in the emergent university system. (16) Key to the development of an experimental approach to natural philosophy were Aristotle's Metaphysics, Posterior Analytics, and Nicomachean Ethics. (17) The aphorism that 'from perception there comes memory ... and from memory (when it occurs in connection with the same thing), experience', drawn from Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, was frequently cited in the emerging scientific discourse of experience. (18) Steven J.Williams notes that early experimentalist, Roger Bacon, 'cites the Nichomachean [sic] Ethics and the Metaphysics on the importance of experience in attaining certainty' and the 'Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics on the limitations of theoretical knowledge. (19) Aristotle powerfully influenced Scholasticism, as seen particularly in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, (20) and gave rise to the scholastic motto nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu (nothing can be understood that is not first experienced). (21) Indeed, for late medieval and early modern Europe, Aristotle has been called the 'incontrovertible foundation of natural philosophy'. (22)
This was a significantly different approach to and application of experience from that evident in monastic devotion. For instance, in his third sermon on the Song of Songs, composed in the early twelfth century, Bernard of Clair vaux writes: 'Today we read in the book of experience. Turn to yourselves, and let each one consider with regard to his own conscience these things which are said.' (23) Yet as van t Spijker clarifies, at this stage 'the word experientia does not necessarily have the same connotations of irreducible authenticity and subjectivity as its modern counterpart, but is closely connected to cogitatio, and affectus'. (24) That is, particularly within religious contexts, experience is subject to, and interdependent upon, meditative thought and emotional disposition. It was this interplay of heightened affective state, active contemplation in the formation of the self, and personal experience of the divine that would particularly infuse the mystical traditions of the high and later Middle Ages. (25) It is also these aspects that can be seen at work, and more problematically, in conflict, in the developing genre of the ars moriendi.
This article explores how authors recognised and sought to negotiate these competing imperatives. It takes as its subject matter the tradition of the ars moriendi in Catholic writers from the early fourteenth century to the early sixteenth century. In doing so, it recognises that the humanist and Protestant artes, which grew in number and influence from the time of the early sixteenth century on, comprise quite a distinct development of the genre with its own particular forms and focus. (26) In particular, this article traces the devotional approach to the art of dying that arose from German mystic Henry Suso's writings on this theme. It examines two texts that drew from his exemplar--one anonymous, the other by the English writer Thomas Hoccleve--before concluding with a discussion of the approach to death developed by Richard Whitford, a monk of the Brigittine Syon Abbey. In doing so, it aims to reveal how authors of these artes moriendi in the late medieval period came to recognise the need to negotiate and balance the arousal of emotion and the application of experience in order to instruct their readers how to 'learn to die' most effectively.
I. Henry Suso, Buchlein der ewigen Weisheit
(The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom)
Of the antecedents to the late medieval and early modern genre of the ars moriendi, the two chapters on'how to die' written by the German mystic Henry Suso in the early fourteenth century are among the most highly influential and prove productive of imitations of increasing length and complexity over the next two centuries. Suso first considered the concept of 'learning how to die' in a single chapter of his Little Book of Eternal Wisdom (Buchlein der ewigen Weisheit) which he wrote in Middle High German in c. 1330. The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom itself forms one discrete text within the compilation of Suso's writings now known as the Exemplar, which also includes his own Life. Jeffrey F. Hamburger has argued that 'Suso presents his life in the form of an exemplary account that serves his readers as a model for their own experience'. (27) In this regard, Suso was not unaware of the developing influence of Aristotle on understandings of experience, and does include a quote from Aristotle in his Exemplar. Scholars have, however, tempered the implications of this, and Edmund Colledge argues that while Suso 'shows a nodding acquaintance with Aristotle's writings ... there is nothing to indicate that his knowledge extended beyond the contexts in which they were quoted by such authorities as Thomas Aquinas'. (28) It is interesting, nevertheless, that in one manuscript of the Exemplar, a leaf given over entirely to illustration has the figure of 'Aristotiles' as a key image, along with Solomon, David--from whose mouth issue the words: 'Inicium sapientie timor domini' ('Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom')--and Eternal Wisdom (Christ) himself. (29)
In the chapter on learning how to die in The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom, which is written as a dialogue, a Servant asks Eternal Wisdom (Christ) what he will teach him, and Wisdom's first response is: 'I will teach you how to die' ('Ich will dich leren sterben'), before adding 'and I will teach you how to live' ('und will dich leren leben'). (30) The Servant enquires whether Eternal Wisdom is speaking metaphorically, in terms of dying to the self and the world, or literally. (31) Upon being advised that both forms of death are to be taught, (32) the Servant further asks: 'Lord, why do I need instruction about the death of the body? It teaches itself quite well, when it arrives.' (33) Eternal Wisdom advises that the powerful emotions which invest the moment of death, namely grief and fear, can derail the process of dying, leading a good Christian to make a bad death.
Eternal Wisdom then offers an exemplary image of a bad death in which the Servant can immerse himself vicariously--emotionally and experientially --in order to realise the dangers that potentially await him. Wisdom tells the Servant to open his inner senses that he might see and hear. (34) Immediately the Servant becomes privy to the death throes of a young man (aged thirty), the moriens, who is dying unexpectedly before his time and who cries out: 'Don't you see that I am utterly terrified? My anguish is great indeed.' The moriens adds that fear has rendered him senseless, thereby hindering his ability to make a good death. (35) As he nears his end, he begins to relate the horrifying visions he sees of Purgatory: 'In terror the chilling sweat of death penetrates my body ... I see in this land of torment terror and agony.' (36) The Servant asks the moriens what he can learn from his situation and is advised: 'The constant thought of death ... will quickly bring you to the point of not only not fearing death but even of welcoming it with the full desire of your heart.' (37)
As this vision fades, the Servant reveals himself a changed man and declares to Eternal Wisdom: 'I am utterly terrified. I never realized that death was so close to me.... I shall learn how to die.' (38) To this Eternal Wisdom responds: 'Take heart! This fear is a beginning of all wisdom and a path to all happiness.' (39) Suso thus posits in this text a distinction, apparently simple, between emotion unprepared for which can condemn a soul to damnation (the fear inspired by imminent death that prompts a kind of helpless stasis), and emotion that is willingly and rationally accepted, and indeed actively contemplated, ahead of time, which can save the soul by habituating it to the sorts of affective impulses that might otherwise derail it in times of crisis--this is the fear of God. From this beneficial fear, the new emotions of desire for and joy in death can arise.
II. Henry Suso, Horologium sapientiae
When Suso revised The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom a number of years later, reformulating it into Latin as the Horologium sapientiae (Wisdom's Watch upon the Hours), (40) he complicated this emotional equation whereby active fear of God simply cancelled out the debilitating fear of death. He appears at first to maintain this straightforward equivalence when he places fear upfront as the foundation upon which the knowledge of how to die must be grounded, but whereas in The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom this was the precept upon which Eternal Wisdom concluded, in the Horologium, Wisdom makes it his point of departure instead: 'Therefore I shall teach you these things in proper order, starting from the saving discipline that comes from "the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom": first, how a man should die ...'. (41) As in the earlier text, Wisdom then provides exemplary teaching to the Disciple through the figure of the moriens and his recounting of the moments leading up to his death. In the Horologium, however, Suso has Wisdom describe the moriens as an 'exemplo sensibili'--that is, an example able to be sensed or experienced--who can illustrate the deep mystery of his teaching on death. Suso also acknowledges the role of the moriens in arousing an emotional response in the reader, suggesting that the image of the dying youth will 'move' ('moveat') the Disciple 'more ardently' ('ardentius') than precept alone. (42) In this, Suso shows himself familiar with the developing medieval understanding, as defined by Cohen, 'that all that was necessary for the apprehension of pain was the interior sensation, rather than an exterior trauma'. As Cohen further observes: 'The scholastic concept of internal apprehension of pain was also the cornerstone of devotional compassion--the total identification with another's pain, to the point of sensing it in one's own self.' (43)
Once again, the moriens makes it evident that preparation for death is required because emotions can overwhelm the dying in extremis: 'See how utterly terrified I am by the fear and horror of death ... all my senses have left me, and I can think of nothing but how I may evade the moment of death. (44) Yet the contradictions inherent in the application of heightened emotion to the practice of imagining death again come to the fore as Suso now intensifies the theatre of death, heightening its attendant emotions to the point where a reader might well begin to believe, along with the moriens, that all is indeed hopeless. For instance, Suso multiplies the speaking voices to amplify the dramatic effect of the moriens' plight. Not only does the moriens address the Disciple from the point of death, but a personified Death itself speaks, declaring menacingly to the moriens: 'You are "the son of death" .' (45) Even more terrifying, when the moriens encourages the Disciple to imagine himself already in Purgatory, tortured in the flames, he also advises the Disciple to hear the tormented cries of his own soul which laments: 'O dearest of all my friends, rescue me, your unhappy soul.' (46)
Not surprisingly, by the time the moriens finally expires, the Disciple is left in a state of terror: 'At this vision the Disciple greatly mourned, and for fear "all his bones trembled".' He declares: 'I am utterly filled with terror.' (47) It requires the admonitory words of Wisdom to convert this potentially immobilising state into one capable of producing an effective outcome, as he advises: 'Now that fear has so completely terrified you, become of calmer spirit, know that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".'48 Suso thus distinguishes between the earthly and heavenly forms of an affective state. Where an earthbound fear of death can create a paralysing stasis that hinders salvation, a heaven-centred fear of the Lord can convert that emotion towards its rightful object, fostering in the devotee a disposition towards grace.
Suso similarly differentiates forms of experiential knowing and empathy. For instance, the Disciple responds to his emotive immersion in the experience of death with some scepticism, reasoning with the moriens: 'This teaching would indeed be most useful, if anyone could acquire it, as you have done, by experience. But even though your words may seem very moving and pointed, they will still be of little profit to many.' (49) This constitutes a challenge to the emergent power of experience as an epistemology in the mid-fourteenth century. It is telling in this regard that the moriens' only response to this is a reiteration of the more conventional monastic virtue of exemplarity: 'remember me well every day, think carefully of my words, and write them in your heart. Consider the sorrows and terrors that you have seen in me, and think of those that will come to you in the next world.' (50) In other words, what cannot (and, indeed, should not) be learned by experience can be effectively absorbed through example.Yet Suso does not dismiss the value of experiential knowledge outright. While he recognises that experience in the form of sharing the heightened emotional states of others can be fraught with devotional pitfalls, he nevertheless commends the application of experience when this is understood as a long acclimatisation to an idea or state. In this instance, therefore, persistent meditation on and preparation for death constitute a form of experience that will lead to a right outcome.
By the same token, the value and proper object of empathy are drawn into question in the Horologium. In this case, empathy is closely connected to the concept of experience. As the Disciple observes and immerses himself in the moriens' sufferings, he cries out: 'Dear friend, I see that your sorrow is overwhelming, and so I sympathize with you from my heart.' (51) Yet this empathy is an ineffective emotional response to the stimulus: it cannot save the moriens and, unless properly directed, will more likely hinder than help the Disciple himself by fostering in him debilitating fear. Again, the answer is the Christ-centred form of the concept: empathy is useful, as long as it takes Christ as its object. Thus Wisdom advises: 'put my Passion between you and my judgment, lest, filled with more fear than need be of my justice, you lose your hope.' (52) Suso returns to this theme throughout his Horologium, with chapters 14 and 15 of Book I entitled: 'How profitable it can be to have Christs Passion constantly in mind' and 'How a true disciple of Christ ought to conform himself to him in his Passion'. (53) In Chapter 14, he explains that this empathic identification with Christ should proceed 'with mature and careful and heartfelt recollection, and with a certain mournful compassion'. (54) He even spells out a devotional procedure by which such empathy can be obtained, which is 'by directing your hands or your eyes up towards the crucifix, by striking your breast or devoutly bending your knees, or by other similar acts of piety, persisting till there come a plenteous flow of tears'. (55) Here he argues for the ideal of experience, understood as long custom, over experience defined as sensual feeling and affective arousal. Accordingly, he suggests that if the devotee should pursue these processes without experiencing a state of affective transcendence, such persistence is nevertheless more important than feeling, because affect is a gift of grace, but ceaseless exercise is a virtue. (56) In short, Suso's exploration of how to die reveals that empathy and experience can be useful, but only if properly instrumentalised, while a heightened emotional state of fear can be productive--if regulated and suitably directed. Experiencing ones own death vicariously can lead to debilitating fear, but accustoming oneself to death daily and immersing oneself in Christ's death can produce a salutary fear that sustains rather than destroys hope.
III. De meditatione mortis
The 'learn to die' chapter of Suso's Horologium underwent development over the next century with an increasing focus on experience and emotional provocation. An exaggerated form of the chapter exists as a short text known as the De meditatione mortis (Meditation on Death). This has been attributed by its recent editor, Gilbert Ouy, to Jean Gerson on the basis of the ascription in two of the six known manuscripts. (57) It is, however, clearly an abbreviation and rearrangement of Suso's chapter, directed to a monastic reader whom it pictures as in his cell: 'and so seat yourself in the enclosure of your cell' ('Sedeas igitur in secreto celle tue'). (58) The ascription to Gerson in both manuscript and edition is no doubt due to the fact that Gerson was indeed the author of an Ars bene moriendi; his text, however, was a simple procedural manual consisting of nothing more emotionally complex than four exhortations, six questions, four prayers, and ten observations which were to be directed to a dying person to assist him in making a good death. (59) Gerson's Ars bene moriendi developed out of the De visitatione infirmorum handbooks of the patristic and early medieval periods. (60) By contrast, the De meditatione mortis presents a text that is more emotionally intense, less measured, and less procedural than either Suso's antecedent or Gerson's genuine Ars bene moriendi.
In Suso's text, the explanation of why one must learn to die is presented within a survey of forms of human knowledge of which it constitutes the capstone. Thus Wisdom declares that he will teach the disciple: 'first, how a man should die, then how he should live; afterwards how you should receive me sacramentally, and finally how you ought always to praise me with a pure mind.' (61) Yet in the De meditatione, the two key interlocutors of Suso's text, Wisdom and the Disciple, have been elided. The text itself, which is not identified with any particular speaking voice, addresses the reader directly and its sole focus appears to be a powerful experiential prefiguration of death. The text advises its reader to gather up his imaginative powers and focus them on the physical aspects of the day of his death, as though he were able to see the very destruction of his body. (62) The corporeal pain of death is immediately brought to the fore with the description of the impending demise as 'a horrific slaughter' ('cladem horribilem) and the instruction that the reader 'embrace the suffering' ('Suscipe dolorem) he will feel on that day and can in no way escape. (63)
The image of the moriens who speaks of his death pangs then appears, but his words have been significantly heightened from Suso's exemplar and are no longer interspersed with the reasoned counter-arguments of the Disciple. Instead, the picture is one of great and unremitting suffering. As in the Horologium, Death speaks to the moriens, but the author of the De meditatione has extended and intensified this discourse. Whereas in the Horologium Death declares: 'You are the son of Death' ('Filius es Mortis'), the De meditatione continues to build the sense of foreboding by having Death add: 'Get up. You have to go' ('Surge. Exi foras'). (64) At this point in the Horologium, the Disciple intervenes to point out calmly to the moriens the inevitability of Death regardless of one's age or station in life. Here, however, the same message is conveyed with far greater emotional intensity by Death who continues: 'Neither your words, nor your sighs, nor your laments, nor your weeping, nor your wailing will assist you.' (65) Death then advises that the moriens will now have to experience death in a way that will overwhelm all his physical senses and rational processes: 'you will experience such things as your eye does not see, nor your ear care to hear, nor your heart wish to consider.' (66)
Suso had his moriens express the physical moments of the dying body and its failing processes as a final caution before he expired: 'How my feeble hands begin to stiffen, my face grows pale, my vision dims and my eyes start to sink and wander.' (67) These symptoms are largely descriptive and designed to mark the imminent passing of the moriens and turn the text towards its moralisation: the need to prepare for death. In the De meditatione, however, they are expanded and intensified, becoming a powerful litany that absorbs the readers attention and heightens the fear associated with death. The moriens cries: 'Ah behold, my hands begin to grow rigid, my feet to grow cold, my nails to blacken, my face to grow pale, my sight to grow dim, my eyes to sink, my thoughts to wander back, and everything to become fearful.' (68) Indeed, as the genre of the ars moriendi continued to develop over the coming century, so would this list of the physical failings of the body at death, becoming ever more emotionally provocative. (69)
The effect of this experiential contemplation of the pains of death is an increase in the emotion of fear associated with death. Certainly the production of fear appears to be a primary concern of the author of the De meditatione, as he has his moriens declare that he is rendered prostrate by fear and terror, oppressed by anxious thoughts, and even alienated from his rational processes by the extremes of fear he is experiencing. (70) This affective state of fear becomes debilitating, not permitting the moriens to do what he needs to do to make a good death: 'I want to do penance, but I am not able to because of the pains of death.' (71) Indeed, as the author of the tract points out, the heightened emotional state of the moriens actually throws into doubt any actions of penitence that he might make at this point: 'his salvation will be insecure and uncertain because he will not know whether he repents truly or feignedly, through fear, or love.' (72) As he departs, the moriens advises his companions to learn to live well and die well in God, (73) but he does not explain how this might be achieved. Because the author of the De meditatione has elided the voices of the Disciple and Wisdom from Suso's Horologium, there is now no authority figure who can provide a commentary upon the carnal fear of death experienced by the moriens and channel it into the holy fear of God that allows the reader to make a good end. The De meditatione thus proves adept at arousing fear in its readers but unprepared to suggest practices that will allow this fear to be applied productively. Without a guiding voice to balance the vicarious experience of death and the fear this arouses with a proactive means of turning such experience and emotion into effective penitence, the creation of a state of fear becomes the sole objective of the text.
One addition to the De meditatione provides some insight into the development of the concept of experience in the later Middle Ages. Although the fourteenth century was a time of increasing reliance on and practice of experimental science, such developments sat alongside a persistent suspicion, particularly within religious contexts, of inordinate curiosity--that is, of wanting to know simply for the sake of knowing. (74) This is strongly in evidence in the De meditatione. Where Suso's moriens laments that he has wasted his life in vanities ('Why did I apply myself to vanity, and why did I not learn all my life long to die?'), (75) the moriens in the De meditatione expands this simple lament into a catalogue that encompasses the nascent sciences of astronomy/ astrology, natural science, and medical herbology:
How vainly I wasted my time! I wanted to know the pathways of the stars, the motion of the heavens, the natural causes of things, the properties of plants, the customs of men, the thoughts of beings, and I attended to many other things with the utmost curiosity and vanity ... I knew many things and I was ignorant of myself ... Why in my whole life did I not learn how to live well and how to die well? (76)
A similar distrust of curiosity can be found in medieval devotional texts that developed the idea of personal experience as means of knowing while remaining sceptical of unrestrained thought and questioning. (77)
In the De meditatione, the author uses personal experience to create a hyper-emotional context around death designed to influence the reader's affective state, while he remains antagonistic towards inquiry (or experiential knowledge) for its own sake. There thus exists in this text a distinction between experience as productive of emotion, which is valorised, and experience as productive only of (vain) knowledge, which is censured. The prominent focus on emotion in this text brings into question, however, the practice of arousing emotions unadvisedly, without providing a productive channel for them.
IV: Thomas Hoccleve, 'Dialoge', and 'Ars vtillisima sciendi mori'
In the fifteenth century, English bureaucrat Thomas Hoccleve took Suso's Horologium as an exemplar for his own 'Ars vtillisima sciendi mori' (A most useful art of knowing how to die). (78) Hoccleve makes explicit this attribution in his 'Dialoge' with a friend where he writes:
In Latyn haue I seen a small tretice, Wiche Lerne for to Die callid is ... And that haue I purposid to translate. (79)
Although Hoccleve cites the Horologium here, and his translation is clearly of that text, he may also have been aware of Suso's earlier version of the material, for interestingly, just as Suso's Little Book of Eternal Wisdom constitutes one text within his Exemplar, which also contains an autobiographical element, so Hoccleves 'Ars vtillisima' forms one text within a composite work, now known as the Series, which also includes a form of his own life: 'My Compleinte'. Indeed, when he announces his forthcoming translation in the 'Dialoge', Hoccleve notes that there is an autobiographical aspect to it: once the text is done, so will his work be, since
The niet approchep. It is fer past noon. Of age am I fifty wintir and three. Rip enesse of deeth faste vppon me now hastip. (80)
Over the next thirty lines of the 'Dialoge', Hoccleve then produces an adumbrated version of an ars moriendi, arguing that all life is transitory and that we should always focus therefore on our imminent death: 'And syn pat shee shal of vs make an ende, | Holsum is hir haue ofte in remembrance.' (81)
Hoccleves friend in the 'Dialoge' then advises him not to pursue these thoughts of death because they could upset his precarious emotional wellbeing and balance. (82) He thereby proves himself exactly the kind of false deathbed friend against which the artes moriendi traditionally cautioned, as Hoccleve himself makes clear in his 'Ars vtilissima': 'Thus bodyes freendes been maad enemys | To the soule.' (83) Gerson's Ars bene moriendi similarly opens with a contemplation of how imminent death proves the true and faithful friend to be the one who is more concerned with the care of the soul than the treatment of the physical body, and ends with a warning that friends should not distract the dying man with thoughts of physical recovery and wellbeing. (84) Indeed, Thomas More strikingly describes those clustered around the deathbed as 'a rable of fleshly frendes, or rather of flesh flies, skippying about thy bed & thy sicke body, like rauens aboute thy corps now almost carreyn'. (85) Hoccleve's 'Dialoge' thus functions as a first-person experiential ars moriendi: not only does it rehearse, ostensibly from Hoccleve's own perspective, the traditional arguments of the genre, it also enacts for its readers the sorts of worldly considerations, such as friends and their concern for the body's health, that can prevent the Christian from preparing for a good death.
In doing so, it throws into relief one of the key undercurrents of the ars moriendi tradition: a deep suspicion of interpersonal empathy. In both Suso's vernacular and Latin chapters on dying, the moriens complains that in his moment of need, his friends would not give alms for him because they felt the need to provide rather for their own salvation. (86) The moriens might find this distressing, but the genre itself appears to approve such self-consideration, for every text in the ars moriendi tradition insists that each person must be fully prepared for death and in no way reliant on the advice, succour, or assistance of others. Learning to die means learning to be utterly self-sufficient in death. Gerson even specifies that family members--including wife and children --should not be brought into the presence of the dying person so as not to distract him from the work of dying. (87) Human interpersonal affection is a snare: at the moment of death, the only secure and effective focus of empathy is Christ and his Passion. Emotional and experiential immersion in Christ's suffering becomes the only remedy for the otherwise debilitating fear that accompanies the process of dying. Suso hasWisdom make such a declaration, (88) and Hoccleve follows suit in his 'Ars vtillissima', having Sapience advise: 'My passioun putte eek twixt my doom and thee, | Lest, more than neede is, adrad thow be.' (89) As a result of this experiential identification, the excesses of emotion that have been aroused by impending death can be calmed. Sapience reassures his addressee: 'Now restfuller in thy goost be withynne | hat ouer ferd art.' (90)
V: Thomas More, The Last Things
The anonymous De meditatione and Hoccleves 'Ars vtillisima' reveal how Suso's chapters on 'learning how to die' developed over the ensuing century in their focus on emotion and experience. The De meditatione highlights the dangers of the inflamed but undirected emotion that can arise from experiential immersion in a dying persons situation, while Hoccleves text enacts the theological dangers of empathic identification with the dying person. Yet the ars moriendi tradition was at the same time developing in directions that relied less immediately on Suso's original 'learn to die' chapters. An associated genre, which also had patristic and medieval roots, was the devotional text that encouraged its readers to focus on the 'four last things' of Ecclesiasticus 7. 40: 'in omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccabis' ('In all your works, remember the last things and you will never sin'). The four last things to which the genre applied itself were Death, Judgement, Hell, and Heaven. Two key exemplars of the genre, the Cordiale de quattuor novissimis (c. 1380-96), probably by Gerard van Vliederhoven, and the Liber utilissimus de quattuor hominis novissimis (c. 1455-60), by Denys the Carthusian, were in wide circulation throughout late medieval Europe. Although the most recent editor of More's The Last Things, Katherine Gardiner Rodgers, does not argue for a direct influence of either of these texts on More s, (91) yet key to an understanding of More's Last Things is the unashamed approach of the De novissimis genre, and Denys's exemplar in particular, to rousing devotion by way of emotional appeal, with a particular reliance on fear. As Rodgers notes, '[i]n its emphasis on fear as the path to righteousness, the Liber utilissimus is typical of its genre: works on the novissima do not seek to propound Stoic acceptance of death ... rather, they attempt to instill in the reader ... an absolute fear of death'. (92)
More's The Last Things is a bold attempt, explicit in the text, to meld the genres of the de novissimis and ars moriendi, and to approach both through an analysis of the seven deadly sins. It was probably begun around 1522, and never finished; most likely, Rodgers believes, because it buckled under the weight of the generic complexity More imposed upon it. (93) What it draws from both medieval genres, however, is a strong focus on the fear and pain associated with death. This More grounds in the everyday, addressing two issues: the intellectual hurdle of how the living can truly comprehend the nature of death, and how the fear engendered by consideration of the pain of dying can be managed. That More was aware of the propensity for fear to result in deleterious outcomes is suggested by his personal and professional experiences in dealing with a suicide that was apparently prompted by fear of judicial punishment. (94)
More interrogates the efficacy of experience when it comes to dealing with death, arguing that although we know by 'dailye proofe & experience' that death occurs, yet we do not truly know death in the sense that we know something that we have 'feelyngly perceyued'. In this case, 'though we dayly se men dye, and therby knowe the death, yet our selfe neuer felte it'. (95) More counsels his readers to immerse themselves in images of death by letting them 'sink into our heartes, the very fantasye and depe imagination therof' so that 'we shal fele our self stered and altered, by the feling of that imagination in our hertes'. (96) Indeed, he defines this process as deploying 'not a false imagination, but a veri true contemplation'. (97)
Yet More was, or became, aware of the dangers of applying imagination to death. This is evident in his late-life text, A Dialogue of Comfort (1534), where, as Dale B. Billingsley observes, the speakers acknowledge how 'wrong imagination' can 'beguile' the senses and overcome reason. Billingsley continues: 'The crux of the psychological problem is the nature of the imagination. Since the imagination depends upon the senses, it inclines the mind toward the sensual world.' In A Dialogue, More's remedy is the Passion, which is able to 'mediate between the world of sense and the "uncogitable joy" of heaven'. (98)
The Last Things is unfinished, however, and lacks a similar refocusing of the emotionally disturbed mind onto the Passion of Christ. Instead, More finds in Christ's death further evidence of the suffering of dying. He points out that Christ cried out at the moment of death, even though he had suffered in silence up to that point unbearable torture and torment:
Some coniecture and token of thys poynt we haue, of the bitter passion and piteous departing of our sauiour Iesu Christ, of whom we nothyng rede, that euer he cryed for any payne. ... But whan the poynt approched in which his sacred soule shold depart out of his blessed bodye, at yt pointe he cryed loude once or twise. (99)
If death were so painful to Christ, More concludes, 'what intollerable torment wil death bee than to vs miserable wretches'. (100) Yet even as More powerfully describes the sorts of torments one might imagine death to bring, he still baulks at the possibility of a total identification with death: 'But what maner dolor & payne, what maner of grieuous panges, what intollerable torment, the sely creature feeleth in the disolucion and seueraunce of the soule fro the body, neuer was there body, that yet could tel the tale.' (101)
More's text thus problematises the mechanics by which the ars moriendi genre is operating at this juncture. He both suggests that imagination can arouse a fear of death so powerful that it may prove debilitating, while arguing that imagination necessarily fails to replicate the actual experience of dying. More would return to this conundrum in his later A Dialogue where he would effect a more workable resolution of these issues. (102) In the meantime, a new approach to the genre of the ars moriendi was addressing these problems from a different perspective.
VI: Richard Whitford, A dayly exercyse and experyence of dethe
Richard Whitford's contribution to the ars moriendi genre, A dayly exercyse and experyence of dethe, answers both the issues that More's text raises. Whitford was a monk of Syon Abbey and his treatise appeared in print in 1534, although he notes that it had first been written some twenty years earlier and had seen much use in the intervening years. (103) It provides an insight into the sources and constitution of the ars moriendi tradition, in that it springs from a mystic devotional context not dissimilar from Susos, while also displaying a familiarity with and understanding of the late medieval and early modern epistemology of experience. In particular, Whitford's evocation of death draws from his experience, as well as his readers' assumed shared experience, of mystic trances, while Whitford simultaneously evinces a familiarity with scientific and scholastic approaches to the epistemology of experience in his frequent references to Aristotle. In the process, he manages to mitigate, rather than emphasise, the suffering and pain of death while showing his reader how death can be most nearly approximated in this life.
The treatise is, tellingly, divided into two sections: 'In the fyrst parte wherof is intreated of the fere / or drede of deth to be excluded, exiled, and vtterly put awaye. In the .ii. parte is put forth. The dayly exercyse and experyence of deth.' (104) In other words, Whitford recognises that he must first address, and allay, the powerful emotions surrounding death before he can advise his readers how they might employ personal daily experience to bring themselves to a state of readiness for death.
Whitford's persistent message throughout the first part of his treatise is that 'in deth is no payne, or ryght lytle to be feared'. He makes full use of traditional means of instruction--citing biblical, patristic, and classical authorities in support of his contentions, and using deductive reasoning--yet he also deploys the 'new learning' of experience:
Thus haue we proued vnto you bothe by auctoryte and by reason / that in deth is no peyne, and so that no feare shulde be taken of any, or for any suche peyne. yet shall I go forther, and proue ye same by experyence. For lady experyence hath shewed of tymes / vnto many persones, that in dethe is no peyne. (105)
In support, Whitford confidently cites the new literature of experience: 'so sayth Arystotle in his boke of naturall philosophye.' (106) Whitford also adduces the evidence provided by sense perception. He argues, for instance, that there can be no pain felt in death, since the corporeal apparatus of sensation, namely 'all the senses and wyttes of the body', depart along with the body at death, while the soul is capable of feeling no pain, and in fact, experiences a sense of liberation in death, just as one who gains freedom following exile or prison. (107) Furthermore, observation reveals that those who are in deathlike states in which their souls are absent from their bodies--that is, those who have fallen into a trance, into a faint, or even just asleep--suffer no pain from that in their carnal form. Even those mystics who are apparently at the same time experiencing visions of either heaven or hell can be seen to remain impervious to physical sensation, so that 'the body felt nothynge ne any thynge perceyued by any of the senses, or wyttes'. If these living states of separation of body and soul afford no physical pain, then, Whitford reasons, neither should death.
In this way, Whitford uses both mystical and scholastic experiential ways of knowing to allay, rather than arouse, the fear of death in his readers, and he concludes the first part of his treatise: 'All this hytherto haue I sayde to the intente that you shulde exyle, exclude, and put away ferre from you, the commune feare full fantasye of the odious opinyon of deth.' (108) Having thus dispensed with the debilitating fear of death that earlier artes moriendi aimed to incite, Whitford then turns to his true task: showing his readers how they can deploy personal experience to prepare themselves for death. Here he turns to Aristotle once again to provide a workable definition of experience, showing how experience is distinct from, yet dependent upon, the type of exercise that an instructor can give to a student: 'Experyence is a knowledge that without any maister or techer is founde out and gotyn, by exercyse and vse. And by many experyences sayeth Aristotle arte / crafte or connynge is ingendred and gotyn.' (109)
The function of both exercise and experience in Whitford's regimen is particularly related to conquering the fear of death, which he finds to be consequent upon unfamiliarity with it: 'Lacke of exercyse vse, and experyence / causeth these persones to feare and drede dethe.' (110) Learning to die, therefore, means developing an acquaintance with the idea of death, and Whitford offers an exercise designed to accustom the reader to the same. The reader is to enter imaginatively into the situation of one condemned to death, 'as to be brent, hanged, or heded, or suche other' and to contemplate 'howe than wolde I do / or howe shulde I then, or were bounde to do for the saluacion of my soule'. (111) This is a total immersion in the idea of death: not just an imaginative viewing of another's dying moments, as with the Disciple and the moriens in Suso's works, but the very practice of one's own death. As Whitford declares: 'In this exercyse: you shall nat onely haue the experience / and the full arte, scyence, connyng, and knowledge of dethe / but also the very practyse of dethe.' (112) Allied with this imaginative state is a procedural exercise, with Whitford recommending to his readers that the attendant work of contrition, repentance, and confession should conclude with the recitation of words of the liturgy and the use of a candle to form a cross three times.
Whitford's second proposed exercise takes emotional regulation one step further, aiming to transmute a fear of death into a delight for death: 'you shall nat onely without fere or drede dispyse deth, but also (as an hongrye person) you shall haue an auidiouse & gredye appetite to thurst & wysch for deth'. (113) In order to achieve this, Whitford advises a meditation upon death so deep that the body is bereft of its usual perceptive senses:
And here knelynge, lynge or rather lyenge downe prostrate vpon your face: remayne, byde & dwell here styll / here expyre & dye starke deed / & vtterly that no soule ne spiryte be lefte or byde in youre body / ... there lyenge as a lumpe of cley be lefte without any senses or wyttes of heryng, seynge, smellynge, tastyng, or touchynges. (114)
Whitford declares that this comprises 'the moost hyghe poynte of this exercyse and practyse of dethe after the verye definicyon of deth', since 'betwixt naturall deth, and this deth of contemplacyon, is lytle difference'. The benefit of such an exercise is to accustom the reader to become 'so experte, and practysed in deth / that whan so euer it shall approche and come, it shall be no new thing'. Here Whitford's reference to expertise, a concept which came to the fore in the early modern period as experience became a mainstream epistemology, (115) reveals how he adapted new modes of learning to this devout context. A dayly exercyse and experyence of dethe demonstrates how the genre of the ars moriendi benefitted from the application of the emergent epistemologies of expertise and experience. These new ways of knowing allowed the author of an ars moriendi to cultivate and arouse his readers' emotional dispositions while directing their actions most effectively.
Later medieval and early modern technologies of experience, particularly in regard to fashioning the self and accustoming it to a particular situation, allowed authors of artes moriendi to utilise and yet regulate the emotions surrounding death. The early artes moriendi grew increasingly efficient in evoking the spectre of death by presenting a graphic portrait of the sufferings of a person dying unprepared, thereby arousing emotions of fear. Yet these texts did not take into adequate consideration that an excessive focus on fear could render the creation of a right disposition in the reader contemplating death less, rather than more, likely. It required a more developed understanding of the new technologies of experience, and of the means by which these could be employed in personal practice, to modify the ars moriendi from a genre that was successful simply in inculcating fear of death to one that transcended this as its ultimate aim. This next generation of artes moriendi would look to the production of an emotional state more conducive to the preparation for death, such as joy, or even the attainment of a state beyond emotional considerations where perceptual senses and affective dispositions were no longer in play. In this way, such texts could more effectively instruct their devout Christian readers to 'learn how to die'.
Juanita Feros Ruys
The University of Sydney
(1) This research was conducted by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (project number CE110001011). I would like to thank the two anonymous readers of the draft for their assistance in shaping the final form of this article.
(2) See, for instance, Mary Catharine O'Connor, The Art of Dying Well: The Development of the 'Ars moriendi' (NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1942); Nancy Lee Beaty, The Craft of Dying: A Study in the Literary Tradition of the Ars moriendi in England (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1970); and David William Atkinson, The English 'ars moriendi' (NewYork: Peter Lang, 1992). Amy Appleford's Learning to Die in London, 380-1540 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) came into print when this article was in final copyedited form, and so, regrettably, I was unable to consult it in the preparation of this article. I can only acknowledge Appleford's study of the 'learn to die' textual tradition and her analysis of a number of the texts discussed here.
(3) Esther Cohen, The Modulated Scream: Pain in Late Medieval Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), p. 41.
(4) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae, Qq. 22-48, in Corpus Thomisticum (Fundacion Tomas de Aquino, 2000-13), online edition <http://www.corpusthomisticum. org/> [accessed 8 December 2014].
(5) Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae, Q. 44, a. 4, co: 'si sit timor moderatus, non multum rationem perturbans; confert ad bene operandum, inquantum causat quandam sollicitudinem, et facit hominem attentius consiliari et operari. Si vero timor tantum increscat quod rationem perturbet, impedit operationem.' Translation is the authors own.
(6) Ineke van 't Spijker, Fictions of the Inner Life: Religious Literature and Formation of the Self in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), p. 5. See also p. 2: 'This interiorization is seen as part of broader changes in religion, away from the liturgical, ritual devotions of the earlier Middle Ages, as they were embodied in Benedictine monasticism.'
(7) van 't Spijker, p. 14.
(8) See, for example, Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 59-69.
(9) Walter S. Melion, 'Introduction: Meditative Images and the Psychology of Soul', in Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, eds Reindert Falkenburg, Walter S. Melion and Todd M. Richardson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 1-36 (pp. 1-2).
(10) Pseudo-Augustine, De spiritu et anima (Jacques-Paul Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina (Paris, 1844-65), 40. 787): 'Sensus informat imaginationem, imaginatio rationem, facitque ratio scientiam sive prudentiam.'
(11) Richard Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 114.
(12) Robert Miner, Thomas Aquinas on the Passions: A Study of 'Summa Theologiae' 1a2ae 22-48 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 233, citing Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae, Q. 41, a.1, ad 2.
(13) Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae, Q. 42, a. 2, co.
(14) Jean Gerson, De quatuor virtutibus cardinalibus, in Qtuvres completes, ed. Palemon Glorieux, 9 vols in 10 (Paris: Desclee, 1960-73), ix (1973), 142-55 (p. 144): 'Providentia est prudentia adminiculans ad judicium ex conjecturatione futurorum.'
(15) Jean Pepin, 'Experimentum mali: Saint Augustin sur la connaisance du mal', in Experientia: X Colloquio Internazionale; Roma, 4-6 gennaio 2001, ed. Marco Veneziani (Florence: Olschki, 2002), pp. 63-75.
(16) Jacqueline Hamesse, 'Experientia/experimentum dans les lexiques medievaux et dans les textes philosophiques anterieures au 14e siecle', in Experientia, ed. Veneziani, pp. 77-90; Isabelle Draelants, 'Experience et autorites dans la philosophie naturelle d'Albert le Grand', in Expertus sum: L experience par les sens dans la philosophie naturelle medievale, eds Thomas Benatouil and Isabelle Draelants (Florence: Sismel, 2011), pp. 89-121; Steven J. Williams, 'Roger Bacon in Context: Empiricism in the High Middle Ages', in ibid., pp. 123-44; Jeremiah Hackett, Ego expertus sum: Roger Bacon's Science and the Origins of Empiricism', in ibid., pp. 145-73.
(17) Giacinta Spinosa, 'E|arceipia/experientia: modelli di "prova" tra antichita, medioevo et eta cartesiana', in Experientia, ed. Veneziani, pp. 169-98 (p. 174).
(18) Hamesse, p. 81.
(19) Williams, p. 131.
(20) Roberto Busa, 'Experientia, experimentalis, experimentum, experior, inexperientia, inexpers nell'Aquinate e negli altri autori censiti nell'Index Thomisticus', in Experientia, ed. Veneziani, pp. 101-68; and Notker Schneider, 'Experientia--ars--scientia--sapientia: Zu Weisen und Arten des Wissens im AnschluB an Aristoteles und Thomas von Aquin', in Scientia und ars im Hochund Spatmittelalter, eds Ingrid Craemer-Ruegenberg and Andreas Speer, 2 vols (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1994), i, 171-88.
(21) Peter Dear, Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 21.
(22) Arnaud Zucker, 'Expertine sunt antiqui?', in Expertussum, eds Benatouil and Draelants, pp. 19-39 (p. 34).
(23) Sancti Bernardi Opera, 8 vols in 9 (Rome: Editiones Cistercienses, 1957-77), I: Sermones super Cantica canticorum, 1-35, eds J. Leclercq, C. H. Talbot, and H. M. Rochais (1957), Sermo III, p. 14, lines 7-9: 'Hodie legimus in libro experientiae. Convertimini ad vos ipsos, et attendat unusquisque conscientiam suam super his quae dicenda sunt.'
(24) van t Spijker, Fictions of the Inner Life, p. 5, see also p. 9.
(25) Claudio Leonardi, 'L'esperienza del divino in Francesco d'Assisi', in Experientia, ed. Veneziani, pp. 91-100; Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker, Seeing and Knowing: Women and Learning in Medieval Europe 1200-1550 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), 'Introduction', pp. 1-19; and Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker and Liz Herbert McAvoy, 'Experientia and the Construction of Experience in Medieval Writing: An Introduction', in Women and Experience in Later Medieval Writing: Reading the Book of Life, eds Mulder-Bakker and McAvoy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 1-23.
(26) See Austra Reinis, Reforming the Art of Dying: The 'ars moriendi' in the German Reformation (1519-1528) (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
(27) Jeffrey F. Hamburger, The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (NewYork: Zone Books, 1998), esp. 'Medieval Self-fashioning: Authorship, Authority, and Autobiography in Suso's Exemplar , pp. 233-78 (p. 240; see also p. 235).
(28) Henry Suso, Wisdom's Watch upon the Hours, trans. Edmund Colledge (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1994) (hereafter Wisdom's Watch), p. 34.
(29) Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz, MS germ. fol. 658, fol. 87v. The folio can be viewed through the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlins Digital Collections <http:// digital.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/werkansicht/?PPN=PPN684112256&PHYSID=PHYS_0 180&USE=800> [accessed 12 December 2014]. Aristotle is saying 'wer diser weyhait wil pflegen Der sol orden als sein leben', which is a form of the quotation as it appears in Susos writings, 'whoever wants to practice such wisdom must set his whole life in order'.
(30) Heinrich Seuse, Deutsche Schriften, ed. Karl Bihlmeyer (Stuttgart: W Kohlhammer, 1907; facs. edn Frankfurt am Main: Minerva, 1961) (hereafter Deutsche Schriften), p. 279, lines 13-14. For an English translation, see Henry Suso, The Exemplar, with Two German Sermons, trans. Frank Tobin (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989) (hereafter The Exemplar); here p. 268.
(31) The Exemplar, p. 269; Deutsche Schriften, p. 279, lines 22-24: 'Herre, weder meinest du aber ein geistliches sterben ... oder ein liplisches sterben?'
(32) The Exemplar, p. 269; Deutsche Schriften, p. 279, lines 25-26: 'Ich meine su beidu.'
(33) The Exemplar, p. 269; Deutsche Schriften, p. 279, lines 27-28: 'Herr, was bedarf ich lere des liplichen todes? Er leret sich selber wol, so er nu kumt.'
(34) The Exemplar, p. 269; Deutsche Schriften, p. 280, line 4: 'Nu tu uf dine inren sinne und sihe und hore.'
(35) The Exemplar, pp. 270-71; Deutsche Schriften, p. 282, lines 7-8: 'Sihest du nit, ich bin doch als ser erschrocken, miner not ist doch als gar vil?'
(36) The Exemplar, p. 273; Deutsche Schriften, p. 285, lines 9-10 and 14-15: 'Mir tringet der kalt totsweis von angst dur den lib ... und da sihe ich in dem marterlande angst und not.'
(37) The Exemplar, p. 272; Deutsche Schriften, p. 284, lines 19-22: 'Sihe, emziger anblik des todes ... bringet dich schier dar zu, daz du nit allein ane vorht stast, mer daz du sin och beitest mit ganzer begirde dins herzen.'
(38) The Exemplar, p. 273; Deutsche Schriften, p. 286, lines 8-12: 'Wie bin ich so gar erschrocken! Ich enwiste doch nie, daz mir der tot als nach waz . Ich will lernen sterben.'
(39) The Exemplar, p. 274; Deutsche Schriften, p. 287, lines 6-7: 'Gehab dich wol! disu vorht ist ein anvang aller wisheit und ein weg ze aller selikeit.'
(40) A description of the differences between the two texts is outlined in The Exemplar, pp. 34-35; and Wisdom's Watch, pp. 14-15.
(41) Wisdom'sWatch, Bk II, Ch. 2, p. 242; Heinrich Seuses, Horologium sapientiae, ed. Pius Kunzle (Fribourg: Universitatsverlag, 1977) (hereafter Horologium sapientiae), p. 526, line 25--p. 527, line 2: 'Igitur exordium disciplinae salutaris a timore domini inchoantes, qui initium est sapientiae, docebo te haec per ordinem: Primo qualiter moriendum sit .' (italics in the original).
(42) Horologium sapientiae, p. 527, line 29-p. 528, line 3: 'Et ut ardentius te mea haec doctrina moveat et in corde tuo semper fixa permaneat, ideo sub exemplo sensibili doctrinae huius mysterium tibi tradam, quod tibi valde proderit ad salutis initium et ad cunctarum virtutum proficiet stabile fundamentum.'
(43) Cohen, The Modulated Scream, p. 258.
(44) Wisdom's Watch, p. 248; Horologium sapientiae, p. 531, lines 21-27: 'Ecce timore et horrore mortis tam vehementer perterritus sum ... sic omnis sensus a me recessit, nil cogitans nisi hoc, si quo modo evadere possem mortis discrimen.'
(45) Wisdom's Watch, p. 244; Horologium sapientiae, p. 528, lines 23-24: 'Vocem mortis horribilem audio, intonantem atque dicentem: "Filius mortis es tu".'
(46) Wisdom's Watch, p. 250; Horologium sapientiae, p. 534, lines 8-9: 'O amicorum omnium dilectissime, succurre miserae animae tuae.'
(47) Wisdom's Watch, p. 255; Horologium sapientiae, p. 537, lines 27-28: 'Ad hanc visionem discipulus valde ingemuit, et prae timore contremuerunt omnia ossa eius' (italics in the original); p. 538, line 5: 'Magno namque nimis perterritus sum timore.'
(48) Wisdom's Watch, p. 256; Horologium sapientiae, p. 539, lines 10-11: 'Iam vero timore nimio perterritus anima equior esto, sciens quia timor domini initium est sapientiae' (italics in the original).
(49) Wisdom's Watch, p. 251; Horologium sapientiae, p. 534, lines 15-18: 'Utilissima prorsus haec doctrina esset, si quis eam per experientiam haberet sicut tu. Sed licet verba tua motiva valde et acuta videantur, parum tamen apud multos proficiunt.'
(50) Wisdom's Watch, p. 252; Horologium sapientiae, p. 535, lines 23-26: 'Hoc tantum facias, ut me cotidie profunde recogites; verba mea diligenter advertas, et ea in corde tuo conscribes. Ex visis in me doloribus et angustiis considera et pensa ea, quae tibi in proximo superventura sunt.'
(51) Wisdom's Watch, p. 250; Horologium sapientiae, p. 533, lines 26-27: 'Amice dilecte, video dolorem tuum vehementem esse nimis, et ideo ex corde tibi compatior.'
(52) Wisdom's Watch, p. 256; Horologium sapientiae, p. 539, lines 8-10: 'passionem meam inter te et iudicium meum interponas, ne iustitiam meam ultra quam necesse est pertimescens excidas a spe tua.' On the developing devotion to the Passion and the Crucified Christ in the later Middle Ages, see Sarah McNamer, Affective Meditation and the Invention of Medieval Compassion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
(53) Horologium sapientiae, p. 492, lines 8-9: 'Quam utile sit passionem Christi iugiter habere in memoria'; p. 499: 'Quomodo verus Christi discipulus debet se configurare passionibus ipsius.'
(54) Wisdom's Watch, p. 203; Horologium sapientiae, p. 495, lines 1-2: 'cum matura et morosa ac praecordiali rememoratione et flebili quadam compassione.'
(55) Wisdom's Watch, pp. 203-04; Horologium sapientiae, p. 495, lines 14-16: 'per extensionem manuum seu oculorum ad crucifixum sublevationem vel pectoris tunsionem aut genuflexiones devotas vel cetera similia pietatis officia, continuando, donec egrediantur aquae lacrimarum largissime.'
(56) Wisdom's Watch, p. 204; Horologium sapientiae, p. 495, lines 19-24: 'si forsan causaris te affectum hunc delectabilem et dulciorem super mel et favum rarius experiri ... multo virilius agis, si virtutem ipsam non pro delectatione quam experiaris, sed pro virtutibus ipsis et solo beneplacito Dei tota intentione, etsi non affectionem sectaris. Affectus enim beatitudinis est, exercitium vero virtutis.'
(57) Gilbert Ouy, ed., Gerson bilingue: Les deux redactions, latine et Jrangaise, de quelques wuvres du chancelier parisien (Paris: Honore Champion, 1998), p. liv. Ouy also finds it persuasive that the earliest of these manuscripts derives from the Celestine monastery in Paris where Gerson's youngest brother Jean had taken orders.
(58) De meditatione mortis, in Ouy, ed., Gerson bilingue, pp. 94-124 (p. 94).
(59) For the Latin and French versions of this text, see Ouy, ed., Gerson bilingue, pp. 84-93.
(60) See O'Connor, The Art of Dying Well, p. 23.
(61) Wisdom's Watch, p. 242; Horologium sapientiae, p. 527, lines 2-4: 'Primo qualiter moriendum sit; postea qualiter vivendum; deinde qualiter me debeas sacramentaliter recipere, et demum quomodo pura mente me debeas iugiter laudare.'
(62) De meditatione mortis, p. 94: 'recollige ad te sensum tuum, et memor esto diei mortis, quasi nunc videres corporis tui mortificationem.'
(63) De meditatione mortis, p. 94: 'Suscipe dolorem et te omnino existima esse in puncto mortis ita quod nullo modo effugere possis.'
(64) De meditatione mortis, p. 96.
(65) De meditatione mortis, p. 96: 'Verba tua nichil conferent, nec suspiria, nec lamenta, nec ploratus, nec ululatus.' Translations of the De meditatione mortis are the author's own.
(66) De meditatione mortis, p. 98: 'experiereris talia que oculus tuus non vidit nec auris tua percipere curavit nec cor tuum cogitare voluit.'
(67) Wisdom's Watch, p. 253; Horologium sapientiae, p. 536, lines 19-20: 'En manus invalidae incipient rigescere, facies pallescere, visus obumbrari, et oculi profundari ac transverti.'
(68) De meditatione mortis, p. 120: 'En manus incipient rigescere, pedes frigescere, ungues nigrescere, facies pallescere, visus obumbrari, oculi profundari, intuitus reversari, horribilis per omnia fieri.'
(69) An example is Thomas More's The Last Things, written in around 1522 and discussed further below, where More reminds his readers that
even the 'easiest' of deaths, that is, dying at home in one's own bed, involves unbearable suffering. He invites each reader to imagine 'thy hed shooting, thy backe akyng, thy vaynes beating, thine heart panting, thy throte ratelyng, thy fleshe trembling, thy mouth gaping, thy nose sharping, thy legges coling, thy fingers fimbling, thy breath shorting, all thy strength fainting, thy lyfe vanishing, and thy death drawing on'. See Thomas More, 'A Treatyce (vnfynyshed) vppon these words of holye Scrypture, Memorare nouissima, & in eternum non peccabis, Remember the last thynges, and thou shalt neuer synne', in The Complete Works of St Thomas More, 15 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963-97), I, eds Anthony S. G. Edwards, Katherine Gardiner Rodgers, and Clarence H. Miller (1997), p. 140, lines 2-7.
(70) De meditatione mortis, p. 108: 'timore et terrore Mortis prostratus sum ... anxietatibus nimiis mens mea premitur. ... Timor et ebetudo mentis alienaverunt sensum a me.'
(71) De meditatione mortis, p. 108: 'Penitentiam facere vellem, sed non possum pre dolore Mortis.'
(72) De meditatione mortis, p. 108: 'de salute sua dubis et incertus erit quia nescit utrum vere vel ficte peniteat, timore vel amore.'
(73) De meditatione mortis, p. 124: 'Valete, bene vivere et bene mori in Domino discite.'
(74) See, for instance, Neil Kenny, The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 4; Barbara M. Benedict, Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); and Peter Harrison, 'Curiosity, Forbidden Knowledge, and the Reformation of Natural Philosophy in Early-Modern England', Isis, 92 (2001), 265-90.
(75) Wisdom's Watch, p. 247; Horologium sapientiae, p. 530, line 28: 'Quare studui vanitati, et quare non tota vita mea didici mori?'
(76) De meditatione mortis, pp. 102-04: 'Quam vanissime expendi tempus meum! Scire volui astrorum cursus, celorum motus, rerum etiam naturalium causas, herbarum vires, hominum mores, entium rationes, et alia multa curiosissime et vanissime studui ... multa scivi et meipsum ignoravi ... Quare in tota vita mea non didici scire bene vivere et bene mori?'
(77) See Bernard of Clairvaux, De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae, in Sancti Bernardi opera, Ill (1963), 39, Bk X. 29; and Jean Gerson, 'Contra curiositatem studentium' (1402), in Huvres completes, ed. Glorieux, III (1962), 224-49, 'Traite des diverses tentations de l Ennemi' (1400-01), in ibid., vii.1 (1966), 343-60 (pp. 352-53), and 'De quatuor virtutibus cardinalibus', in ibid., ix, 144, where he connects curiosity with experientiality: 'est enim curiositas vitium quo quis inclinatur apponere studium vehemens ad res superfluas aut minus utiles, utilioribus praetermissis. Alio modo describitur quod est vitium quo quis libidinose inclinatur vetita vel ignota experiri.'
(78) On Hoccleves precise exemplar, see Christina von Nolcken, '"O, why ne had y lerned for to die?": Lerne for to Dye and the Authors Death in Thomas Hoccleves Series', Essays in Medieval Studies, 10 (1993), 27-51 (p. 29; pp. 44-45, nn. 11-16).
(79) Thomas Hoccleve, 'A Dialoge', in Thomas Hoccleve, 'My Compleinte' and Other Poems, ed. Roger Ellis (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001), pp. 131-59 (p. 137, lines 20506, 211).
(80) Hoccleve, 'A Dialoge', p. 138, lines 245-47. See also von Nolcken, p. 33.
(81) Hoccleve, 'A Dialoge', p. 139, lines 288-89.
(82) Hoccleve, 'A Dialoge', pp. 139-40, lines 295-308.
(83) Hoccleve, 'Ars vtillissima sciendi mori', in Hoccleve, 'My Compleinte' and Other Poems, ed. Ellis, pp. 196-233 (p. 211, lines 540-41); this is drawn from Wisdom's Watch, p. 251: 'So these friends of his body make themselves his soul's enemies'; Horologium sapientiae, p. 534, line 27: 'Sic amici corporis inimici animae fiunt et miserum neglegunt.' See also von Nolcken, p. 37.
(84) Ouy, ed., Gerson bilingue, p. 84: 'Si veraces fidelesque amici cuiuspiam egroti curam diligentius agant pro ipsius vita corporali fragili et defectabili conservanda, exigent a nobis multo fortius Deus et caritas pro salute sua spirituali sollicitudinem gerere specialem: in hac enim extrema mortis necessitate fidelis probatur amicus'; p. 92: 'Non detur infirmo nimia spes corporalis salutis consequende ... sepe namque per unam talem inanem et falsam consolationem et incertam sanitatis corporee confidentiam certam incurrit homo dampnationem.'
(85) More, The Last Things, p. 141, lines 25-27.
(86) The Exemplar, p. 271; Deutsche Schriften, p. 283, lines 4-13; Wisdom's Watch, p. 249; Horologium sapientiae, p. 533, lines 9-14.
(87) Ouy, ed., Gerson bilingue, p. 90: 'Nullatenus aut minime, si fieri possit, morienti amici carnales, uxor, liberi vel divitie ad memoriam reducantur.' The medieval ars moriendi genre overwhelmingly assumes a male moriens and few of these texts explicitly address or even make allowance for the possibility of a female reader. An exception is Richard Whitfords A dayly exercyse and experyence of dethe, discussed below, which was written for the nuns of Syon Abbey.
(88) Wisdom's Watch, p. 256.
(89) Hoccleve, 'Ars vtillissima', p. 220, lines 832-33.
(90) Hoccleve, 'Ars vtillissima', p. 220, lines 837-38.
(91) Katherine Gardiner Rodgers, 'The Last Things', in Complete Works of St Thomas More, I, pp. lx--cix (p. lxvii).
(92) Rodgers, p. lxxi.
(93) Rodgers, pp. lxxvi, cix.
(94) See Paul D. Green, 'Suicide, Martyrdom, and Thomas More', Studies in the Renaissance, 19 (1972), 135-55 (pp. 135-36); Green notes (p. 145) that More again dealt with the relationship between fear and suicide in his A Dialogue of Comfort (1534).
(95) More, The Last Things, p. 137, line 34; p. 138, lines 4 and 9-10. In his ars moriendi, Thomas Lupset recounts the story of the Roman philosopher Canius who, about to be put to death by Caligula, declared: 'I haue determynedde with my selfe to marke wel whether in this short pange of death my soule shal perceyue and feele that he goeth oute of my body.' See Thomas Lupset, The Waye of Dyenge Well (1538), in Atkinson, The English 'ars moriendi', pp. 69-86 (p. 71).
(96) More, The LastThings, p. 139, lines 19-20, 23-24.
(97) More, The LastThings, p. 151, lines 4-5.
(98) Dale B. Billingsley, '"Imagination" in A Dialogue of Comfort', Moreana, 74 (1982), 57-63 (pp. 59-60), citing A Dialogue of Comfort, III, 18, 20.
(99) More, The Last Things, p. 140, lines 27-34.
(100) More, The Last Things, p. 141, lines 7-8.
(101) More, The LastThings, p. 140, lines 23-26.
(102) See Billingsley, p. 62: 'imagination gives us the fear, but it also frees us from the fear. Without imagination, we cannot prepare ourselves for reality', referencing A Dialogue, III. 27.
(103) I reference here the second edition: Richard Whitford, A dayly exercyse and experyence of dethe (London, 1537).
(104) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Aiir. Original punctuation has been preserved in the quotations.
(105) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. [Avii]r.
(106) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Aiiiv, citing Aristotle, Physics, V.
(107) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. [Avi]r.
(108) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Ciiiv.
(109) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Ciiiir, citing Aristotle, Metaphysics, I.
(110) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Ciiiir.
(111) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Dir.
(112) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Diiiiv.
(113) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Diiiir.
(114) Whitford, A dayly exercyse, sig. Eiiiir.
(115) See Natasha Glaisyer and Sara Pennell, 'Introduction', in Didactic Literature in England 1500-1800: Expertise Constructed, eds Glaisyer and Pennell (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 1-18 (p. 9).
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|Author:||Ruys, Juanita Feros|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2014|
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