March 16: “Disputacioun”

It is mentioned in the poem that the recipient of this dream vision is a pilgrim fleeing the plague. The plague, despite now being treatable with simple antibiotics, was one of the most virulent and deadly epidemics to ever sweep Europe. With this backdrop in mind, how do you think a medieval reader would receive this poem? Would they find it comforting to know that the body is only temporary but the soul may live on? Or would the admittedly grim image of the body being devoured by worms be repulsive? Or could it possibly be both?

March 14: Steel “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky”

Steel quotes from Metamorphoses on page 20. Given this quotation, what religious implications do you think surround the concept of a “wild child” in the Medieval context? Is it paradoxical that one can be closer to nature but farther from God when nature is often characterized as one of God’s methods of operation in Medieval literature? Or does a human with animal qualities defy nature?

March 2: History and Topography pt. 2

Gerald of Wales describes a “big lake, that had a marvellous origin” on page 64. Based off of his description of the origin of this lake, what do you think is Gerald’s opinion of the people of Ireland? Is there a greater meaning behind the abundant fish that now inhabit this lake? What biblical imagery does this passage evoke or parallel?

Feb 28: History and Topography of Ireland

In the first part of Gerald of Wales’ History and Topography of Ireland, he describes various animals native to Ireland and their characteristics. He often follows these descriptions with comparisons to humans and the Christian faith. What purpose do these comparisons serve? Is Gerald attempting to create an association between nature and Christianity? Is he bringing a Christian touch to “heathen” lands? Or is he simply moralizing for the sake of moralizing?