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Truth And Instability In The Prosimetra

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Chapter Summary

Although the twelfth-century prosimetra adopt Boethiuss way of addressing philosophical questions, they hesitate to claim to solve them. This chapter shows that the writers use, abuse, and evaluation of other authors, and of myth, rhetorical ornament, and textual playfulness as vehicles for conveying some kind of true teaching, reflects a growing pessimism about the relationship of language to truth, and expresses ever-increasing doubts as to the suitability of texts to the task of making both mythical and moral sense of the self and the cosmos. The response of the bishop Hildebert, in Querimonia prose 3, to the accusations brought against him by his soul is a brief piece of prose that is, however, rich in appropriated texts. The myths of the ancient world, suitably manipulated by the author, also operate significantly in the De planctu Naturae, where Alan, too, assigns them shifting ethical values.

Keywords: bishop Hildebert; De planctu Naturae; historical truth; Querimonia; twelfth-century prosimetra



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