By Scott E. Pincikowski
First released in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Additional resources for Bodies of Pain: Suffering in the Works of Hartmann von Aue
PAIN IN THE MIDDLE AGES All things presenting themselves to the mind in violent contrasts and impressive forms, lent a tone of excitement and of passion to everyday life and tended to produce that perpetual oscillation between despair and distracted joy, between cruelty and pious tenderness which characterize life in the Middle Ages. -J. Huizinga 12 When approaching pain in the Middle Ages, one is immediately confronted with the problem of overcoming the popular but reductive image of the "Dark Ages": a period that had yet to benefit from the illuminating power of knowledge as found in the Renaissance; an era characterized by uncivilized peasants cowering in fear of the wrath of God and the coming of the apocalypse; a time of unbridled and barbaric violence, as well as a society plagued by indescribable and incurable diseases.
The imitatio Christi, "imitation of Christ," has a long tradition within medieval asceticism. The profound influence of this tradition is reflected in the extreme forms of pain that the holy person inflicted upon himself or herself. Stories of the miraculous appearance of stigmata upon the bodies of holy women and the self-infliction of wounds in order to imitate and venerate the five wounds of Christ are common to hagiography. Pain and suffering were considered positive phenomena because they enabled the holy person to share the redemptive and glorifying experience of Christ's suffering.
The two terms differ depending upon the contexts in which they appear. " It is mainly used to refer to the appearance of the body's skin. For example, Iwein marvels at the beauty of Laudine's beautiful skin: "da was ir har und ir lich I so gar dem wunsche gelich" [Her hair and her body were so beautifulV Furthermore, it is the outer surface of the body that provides clues to an individual's past. Two examples will suffice to demonstrate this for now. 5 Iwein's black lich serves to indicate his madness (Iw: 3595).
Bodies of Pain: Suffering in the Works of Hartmann von Aue by Scott E. Pincikowski