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Si Vis Me Flere . . . On Preachers, Passions And Pathos In Eighteenth-Century Europe

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Chapter Summary

A sermon should be emotionally contagious, and it was only the preacher's emotions manifesting themselves through his body - through his voice, eyes, gestures and bearing - that could work such contagion. More than on their rational faculties, a preacher should work on the believers' emotional faculties, on their sentiments and sensibility. Indeed, to touch their hearts he should first cultivate an appropriate state of feeling. This chapter explores the sermo corporis of preachers, thus merging two of Jan Bremmer's long-standing research interests - religion and the body. It organizes the argument around Horace's well-known maxim, si vis me flere, dolendum est primum ipsi tibi ('if you want me to cry, mourn first yourself '). Other classical maxims, for instance by Demosthenes and Quintilian, will be touched on occasionally as well.

Keywords: Demosthenes; emotions; Jan Bremmer; passion; preacher; Quintilian; sermon; si vis me flere dolendum est primum ipsi tibi



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