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Envy In The Intellectual Discourse Of The High Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

This chapter sketches some of the implications of envy among the learned in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and investigates its appearance as the most feared sin and the one most often disclaimed by writers of Latin from ca. 1050 until ca. 1200. The writings of the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, read widely in the Middle Ages, conveyed the Stoic teaching that envy was a powerful and harmful passion. In the eleventh century, however, envy gains a new textual prominence, most notably in works that were written by clerics and others associated with the cathedral schools in northwestern France. With the thirteenth-century promulgation of the Seven Deadly Sins, Envy personied takes on recognizable traits and becomes an enforcer of social norms in both literature and art.

Keywords: cathedral schools; envy; high middle ages; seven deadly sins



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