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Body politics: otherness and the representation of bodies in late medieval writings Blum Fuller, Martín F. 1997

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BODY POLITICS: OTHERNESS AND THE REPRESENTATION OF BODIES IN LATE MEDIEVAL WRITINGS by MARTIN BLUM MA. TUBINGEN 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1997 © Martin Blum in presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) 11 BODY POLITICS: OTHERNESS AND THE REPRESENTATION OF BODIES IN L A T E MEDIEVAL WRITINGS" ABSTRACT This thesis examines the use and function of the human body as a surface that is inscribed with a number of socially significant meanings and how these inscriptions operate in the specific late medieval cultural production. Drawing on Jauss's notion of the social and political significance of medieval narrative, I seek to determine how specific texts contribute to a regulatory practice by thematizing bodies that are perceived as "other," that resist or defy an imagined social norm or stereotype. Each of the dissertation's four chapters treats a different set of notions about the human body. The first one examines Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale and The King of Tars as representations of ethnographic difference. I argue that the late Middle Ages did not have the notion of "race" as a signifier of ethnic difference: instead there is a highly unstable system of positions that place an individual in relation to Christian Salvation History. Robert Henryson's Testament ofCresseid is at the centre of chapter two that examines the moral issues surrounding leprosy as a stigmatized disease. Reading the text as a piece of medical historiography, I argue that one of the purposes of the narrative is to establish the link between Cresseid's sexual behaviour and her disease. A discussion of the homosocial underpinnings of late medieval feudal society, particularly in light of Duby's notion of "les jeunes," forms the basis of the final two chapters. Chapter three discusses Chaucer's Legend I l l ofLucrece and the narrative function of rape as a pedagogical instrument with the aim to ensure the availability of untouched female bodies for a "traffic in women" between noblemen. Chapter four examines transgressive sexual acts as the objects of jokes in fabliaux, such as Chaucer's Miller's Tale. B y using shame and ridicule as their main strategy, these texts, I argue, fulfil an exemplary function and act as a warning to young noblemen to maintain an erotic discipline as future heads of feudal houses and as an upcoming political elite. iv CONTENTS A B S T R A C T i i C O N T E N T S iv P A R T 1. I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 P A R T 2 . ' A L PIS W O R L D B I T W I X H E M D E L T ' : O T H E R B O D I E S 1 3 1. Ethnography and Otherness: Some Introductory Remarks 1 3 2 . The Story of Noah's Sons 1 8 2 . 1 . Bibl ical Exegesis and Scholiated Bible Histories, or Historienbibeln 2 1 2 . 1 . 1 . Bibl ical Paraphrase: The Wiener Genesis 2 2 2 .1 . 2 . Peter Comestor: Historia Scholastica 2 8 2 . 1 . 3 . The Middle English Genesis, the Cursor Mundi, and Trevisa's Translation of De proprietaribus rerum 3 5 2 . 1 . 4 . The Historienbibel 3 9 2 . 2 . The Chronicle: Rudolf von Ems Weltchronik 4 3 2 . 3 . The World of The Book of John Mandeville 4 9 3 . Infidels, Pagans, and W i l d Women: Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale and The King of Tars 6 0 P A R T 3 . ' W I C K I T L A N G A G E : L E P R O S Y A N D T H E S O C I A L C O N S T R U C T I O N O F B L A M E 9 4 1 .1 . The Social and Historical Significance of Leprosy 9 4 1.2. The Institutionalization of Leprosy in Historical Context 9 8 2 . Leprosy and Its Social Function 1 0 3 2 . 1 . The Cultural Context: Unclean, Unclean! 1 0 3 2 . 2 . Interpreting Disease 1 1 1 2 . 3 . Leprosy and its Diagnosis 1 1 5 2.4. The Diagnosis as Text 118 3. The Narrative of Leprosy 121 3.1. Robert Henryson's The Testament ofCresseid and the Question of Guilt 121 3.2. Cresseid's Case History: A Medical Narrative 140 3.3. The Other Story: Cures, Or the Cause Determines the Outcome 156 3.4. 'Thow Suffer sail, and as ane beggar die' The Disease and its Social Consequences 168 P A R T 4. N O T A P R E T T Y P I C T U R E : T H E B O D Y V I O L A T E D B Y R A P E 183 1.1. The Legal Background 184 1.2. Social Concerns 188 2.0. Lucretia's Two Bodies 192 2.1. The Body as res publica 192 3.0. The Medieval Context 204 3.1. Y o u Have Been Warned: Rules of Conduct For Young Women 204 3.2. 'Thy faire body, lat yt nat appere, ... Lucresse of Rome toun': Chaucer's Legend ofLucrece and the Pedagogy of Fear 214 3.2.1. 'Of clene maydens' and Other Good Women: The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women 217 3.2.2. 'The verray trewe Lucresse' 228 182 Part 5. ' O F W H I C H T H A T N O M A N U N N E T H E O G H T E S P E K E N E W R I T E ' : S E X U A L L Y D E V I A N T B O D I E S I N M O R A L T R E A T I S E S A N D F A B L I A U X 248 1.1. Unmentionable Vices 248 1.2. "Don't Ask, Don't Te l l : " Chaucer's Parson and Sins Against Nature 251 1.3. The Prohibition of the Word and Its Consequences: Hans Folz 's Die Mifiverstdndliche Beichte 257 2. Mentioning the Unmentionable: The Sexual Politics of the Fabliaux 265 VI 2 . 1 . Normative Subversion: The Authority of Laughter 2 6 5 2 . 2 . Historical Observations 2 6 9 3 . 1 . Dietrich von der Glezze: Der Borte 2 7 6 3 . 2 . The Narrative as Discipline: Chaucer's Miller's Tale 2 8 7 P A R T 6. C O N C L U S I O N 3 1 3 W O R K S C I T E D 3 1 8 PART 1 INTRODUCTION "It is a remarkable piece of apparatus."1 With these words the officer in Franz Kafka's narrative In the Penal Colony introduces an insidious piece of machinery. Its purpose, as the officer reveals to his visitor, is to execute legal sentences on prisoners. When pressed for more information the officer explains how the machine is used: "Whatever commandment the prisoner has disobeyed is written upon his body." 2 The machine communicates the sentence so efficiently that any form of human communication becomes gratuitous. A formal accusation, a trial and a verdict all become superfluous, and the suspect does not even know that he has been charged: '"He doesn't know the sentence that has been passed on him?' 'No', said the officer again, pausing a moment as if to let the explorer elaborate his question, and then said; 'There would be no point in telling him. He'l l learn it on his body'."3 What makes Kafka's tale so harrowing is that by taking the idea to its literal extreme it draws awareness to the fact that human bodies are constantly being used as surfaces for inscriptions. In the Penal Colony the notion of the human body as a social construct that can be inscribed with a number of norms, practices and values becomes a factual reality: the human skin becomes a vellum, and the social inscription of the prisoner's sentence becomes a text. The ingeniousness of Kafka's apparatus lies less in its mechanical perfection, for we 'Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony," tr. W i l l a and Edwin Muir , in The Complete Stories, ed. Nahum N . Glatzer (New York: Schocken Books, 1971, 140. 2 Kafka, "Colony," 144. 3 Kafka, "Colony," 145. 2 learn that the machine is somewhat worn out and requires constant attention to run smoothly, than in its purpose to render any interpretation unnecessary. The message's text is clear enough: "This prisoner, for instance' — the officer indicated the man — 'wi l l have written on his body: HONOR T H Y SUPERIORS'!" 4 B y the time the prisoner has deciphered the writing's meaning "with his wounds" he is close to death and the machine's purpose is fulfilled. The body is discarded, and an interpretation of the text is unnecessary: the writing on the prisoner's body collapses the signifier into the sign, the sentence's execution becomes synonymous with its meaning. The idea that bodies can be written on is, however, not Kafka's invention. Whi le Kafka can be credited with inventing an ingenious piece of technology to perform this horrible task, the notion of human bodies as inscribed surfaces is, in fact, much older. More than one thousand years ago the martyrologist Prudentius wrote a story to which Kafka's In the Penal Colony bears more than a passing resemblance. Prudentius's account of the martyrdom of St. Cassian (fourth century C.E.) marks the starting point for a long tradition of narratives that describe how the grammaticus Cassian is punished by the pagan authorities for his Christian faith.5 The actual punishment is meted out by his students who use their styles — with which they exercise their writing on wax tablets — to write on their teacher's body: So he is stripped of his garments and his hands are tied behind his back, and all the band are there, armed with their sharp styles . . . . "We like making 4 Kafka, "Colony," 144. 5 Rita Copeland, "Introduction: Dissenting Critical Practices," in Criticism and Dissent in the Middle Ages, ed. Rita Copeland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 5-14 gives an overview of the various versions of the tale of Prudentius. 3 pricks, twining scratch with scratch and linking curved strokes together. Y o u may examine and correct our lines in long array, in case an erring hand has made any mistake. Use your authority; you have power to punish a fault, if any of your pupils has written carelessly on you." Such sport the boys had on their master's body. 6 In Prudentius's account, the discipline of studying the correct use of the language as practised in late antiquity, and the students' resulting fear of their teacher's methods, are turned in on themselves and take the form of the fantasy of a student rebellion: the violence in the classroom is redirected and the students punish the teacher with his own teaching methods. However, despite the fact that violence in this saint's life is motivated differently and ultimately serves to vindicate the martyr, the specific kind of violence that the text resorts to is startlingly similar to the institutionalized act of punishment depicted by Kafka: it is again the body of the victim that is inscribed with his sentence in a very literal sense. The crucial difference is, of course, that in the life of St. Cassian the writing is performed by the executioners themselves, which gives the act a kind of immediacy that in Kafka's narrative is, at least partly, obscured by the officer's use of technology. Despite an historical gap of well over a thousand years both texts make a compelling statement that human bodies have been perceived as more than simple mortal shells, as more than mere containers of an immortal soul. The power with which the surface of the human body is and has been invested becomes clear if one reads these two narratives side by side. 6Prudentius, "The Passion of St. Cassian of Forum Cornelli ," trans. H.J . Thomson, vol . 2, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953), 225-27. 4 Despite some historical discontinuities, the prevailing notion is that the human body can be inscribed with a socially determined message. The sheer literal-mindedness of the extraordinary scribal savagery described by both narratives points to a deeper, more subtle and more pervasive understanding of the human body as an inscriptive surface: the body can be understood as the creation of sign systems that are expressed as texts and narratives. These texts then point to the signifying power with which human bodies are invested. What is foreclosed by the literal-minded inscriptions in both of the above-mentioned narratives is precisely the interpretative act which is usually necessary in order to "read" the body as a meaningful sign: in contrast to these two examples, the vast majority of texts dealing with the human body demand a particular interpretation to make such inscriptions visible. The objective of my work is to lay open some of these interpretative processes in late medieval texts as they shape, control and discipline bodies. Interpretations of this kind are not arbitrary processes, but reflect the social forces that have a vested interest in controlling individual human bodies so that they can form part of a larger social body, the body politic. 7 Michel Foucalut in his Discipline and Punish draws attention to the political investment of the individual body, which he perceives as part of a "political anatomy," that belongs to the 'body politic', as a set of material elements and techniques that serve as weapons, relays, communication routes, and supports for the power and knowledge regulations that invest human bodies and subjugate them by 7 O n the medieval understanding of the concept of the "body politic" see Jacques Le Goff, "Head or Heart? The Political Use of Body Metaphors in the Middle Ages," trans. Patricia Ranum, in Zone 5: Fragments for a History of the Human Body, ed. Jacques Le Goff (New York: Zone Books/Urzone, 1989), 12-27. 5 turning them into objects of knowledge. 8 Thus, the focus on the various techniques employed to situate bodies in specific social constructs is indicative of the political investments in the texts' production of cultural norms. Following Kate Millet , I use the term politics to refer not only "to the exclusive world of meetings, chairmen and parties," but to all kinds of "power-structured relationships, arrangements whereby one group of persons is controlled by another."9 The nexus of power and control that underlies these interpretations of human bodies becomes clear if one perceives these interpretations in their functions as evaluations that pass judgment and determine which bodies are considered desirable and which undesirable because they do not conform to a social norm. As Elizabeth Grosz points out, these decisions are conscious choices from a seemingly endless number of possibilities: There is no "natural" norm; there are only cultural forms of body, which do or do not conform to social norms. The problem is not the conformity to cultural patterns, models, or even stereotypes, but which particular ones are used and with what effects.1 0 Drawing on Grosz's notion of the conscious selection of models and stereotypes of socially acceptable bodies, I want to claim that specific narratives are instrumental to achieving this normalizing effect. In my understanding, narrative and its uses are not restricted to a specific 8 Miche l Foucault, The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 1984, 175-76. 9 Kate Millet , Sexual Politics (New York: Doubleday, 1970), 23. 1 0Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 143. 6 medium, nor to a particular historical period: narrative is found in everything from orally transmitted poems to electronically re/produced audio-visual images. What does historically change, however, are the parameters, defined by the specific societal and historical needs, that determine the selection of appropriate and inappropriate bodies, and thus in turn influence the selection of narrative themes that deal with these bodies. This process of regulating human bodies by interpreting and judging them in relation to certain cultural norms is pervasive and seems inconspicuous enough when the individual body in question conforms to the common expectations. However, when bodies start to resist or defy these norms, when they make trouble, these regulating processes become visible. Exceptional or unruly bodies then become the subjects of specific narratives themselves, which attempt to deal with these bodies as deviations from a social norm, thus providing one with the chance to unpack the narrative's social and political constraints. Since "other" bodies — bodies that in some way defy cultural norms or stereotypes — make this inconspicuous process of inscribing socially determined messages on bodies visible, I have chosen to focus my attention on these exceptions to the norm. M y goal is to explore first how narratives depict and define these different bodies, and, secondly, and more importantly, which rhetorical strategies the various texts use to place such bodies in relation to the culturally enforced grid of regulation, control, and "normality." To achieve these ends I have chosen to present readings of several late medieval texts, each of them dealing with a separate aspect of human Otherness." A crucial aspect of my reading is that I perceive these " M y understanding of Otherness is indebted to the anthropological use of the concept. See for instance Jean Paul Dumont, "Prologue to Ethnography or Prolegomena to Anthropography," Ethos 14 (1986): 344-67, Clifford Geertz, "History and Anthropology," 7 texts in their political dimension: each narrative wi l l be read in its function of inscribing a version of the attempt to contain abnormal, disturbing, and deviant or pleasurable bodies. In my approach I want to be a "resisting reader" in Judith Fetterley's sense: the objective of my analysis is to question some of the notions and assumptions which have informed the texts' depictions of their "Others" with the aim of representing a reality different from that which has been propagated by the narratives: Such questioning and exposure can, of course, be carried on only by a consciousness radically different from the one that informs the literature. Such a closed system cannot be opened from within but only from without. It must be entered into from a point of view which questions its values and assumptions and which has its investment in making available to consciousness precisely that which the literature wishes to keep hidden. 1 2 The works analyzed in this study have been selected because they variously treat different sets of notions about the human body. Although the separate parts of this project can be read on their own, without reference to the other parts, they are all connected in the sense that they reflect on each other by presenting a specific cross-section of notions and assumptions that determine late medieval perceptions of the human body. In a manner not unlike modern-day medical-photographic techniques that enable physicians to "slice" visually New Literary History 21 (1990): 321-41, and R.S. Khare, "The Other's Double - The Anthropologist's Bracketed Self: Notes on Cultural Representation and Privileged Discourse," New Literary History 23 (1992): 1-23. 1 2Judith Fetterley, "Introduction: On the Politics of Literature," in The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction (Bloomington, London: Indiana University Press, 1977), xx. through a biological body and examine its layers of skin, organs, bones, etc., I want to present in this study cross-sections through the body, albeit not in its material sense, but understood as an intellectual construct. 1 3 Although distinct from every other cross-cut, each "slice" can be fully understood only in relation to its corresponding sections, as a part of the whole body. In keeping with the metaphor from the medical photography I, too, start from the outside: the various parts of this project progress in descending order in terms of their visibility. Visibi l i ty in this context not only denotes the actual surface of the body, such as its dark complexion or its skin marked by leprosy, but it can also be understood as the position of an individual in relation to various spatial systems. Ranging from the outsider "without," the ethnic Other, who inhabits foreign countries, to social outsiders, such as the leper, who is part of the community and is yet excluded from it, to the outsider "within," such as Lucrece whose violation takes place in the domestic space of her house, to outsiders whose difference is restricted to one of the most private spaces, that of the bedroom, where unmentionable vices and pleasures are being committed. 'Racial' signifiers are, perhaps, some of the most easily identifiable traits that mark a body as different. A s the starting point of my investigation I examine in part 2 some medieval receptions of the biblical tale of Noah's sons as one of the master narratives of ethnographic diversity in the Middle Ages. The purpose of this first section is to lay the foundation for an interpretation of the following two literary texts: Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale and the anonymous romance King of Tars. Against the background of the various interpretations of l 3 For approaches that perceive the body in terms of a literal, material construct see Carolyn Walker Bynum's studies, especially her Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1995). 9 the biblical text I want to claim that the concept of "race" as it is used today did not exist in the Middle Ages. Instead I want to propose that ethnographic difference is a a highly unstable signifier of Otherness: Complexion, cultural habits, and religious practices in medieval representations, can, unlike in modern understanding be changed to mark, for instance, an individual's relative position within the framework of Christian Salvation History. Thus, these various traits represent a continuum of difference rather than an essentialist notion of a racial "identity." Moving the focus from ethnographic difference to the leprous body, I explore in part 3 some of the perceptions of the diseased body. The visible marks on the leper's skin are a clear indication of his or her altered physical condition. Leprosy, however, is not only a physical condition that it is visibly inscribed on the patient's body; it is also a social condition, as the long history of the stigmatization of lepers shows, a practice that can still be witnessed in third-world countries today. Taking Robert Henryson's Testament ofCresseid as the focal point of this part of my project, I examine the specifically late-medieval significance of leprosy. By drawing on a number of literary and non-literary sources I attempt to lay open the connection between the physical nature of leprosy and its specific moral interpretation in its medieval understanding. Reading the Testament ofCresseid as a literary piece of medical historiography allows me to uncover the sexual nature of Cresseid's offence as a primarily moral — but not necessarily physical - cause for her disease. The propagation of this causality, the use of what Henryson himself terms "wickit langage," is the narrative way of producing and reproducing the disease. The infectious nature of "wickit langage" inscribes the leper's deformed material body with another set of notions that mark it not only as 10 diseased, but also as morally corrupt and perverse. Moving then to less visible forms of "other" bodies, I examine in part 4 the violated body by concentrating on two versions of the tale of Lucretia. By comparing Livy's version of the tale as a narrative of political resistance with Chaucer's adaptation in the Legend of Good Women, I explore the medieval use of the raped body as an exemplum, warning young women to seek the protection of "good men," so as to avoid having the same fate as Chaucer's Lucrece. Cautionary tales, such as the Legend ofLucrece are examples of a pedagogy of fear that plays on the social weakness of its young female readers — or listeners — in order to make them complicit with the wish of their male relatives to remain under their control. Despite the Legend's focus on the female raped body, I see male relatives as the beneficiaries of the discipline since they are dependent on the availability of these untouched female bodies for the "traffic in women" that enables them to form homosocial bonds with other men. The actual rape of a woman signals the breakdown of this homosocial system, but the conceptualized acts of rape in these narratives are a pedagogic instrument that can be used to prevent precisely this breakdown and to ensure the smooth operating of this system of homosocial bonds. In part 5, my last section, I focus on bodies that are invisible in their Otherness: sexually deviant bodies. Their invisibility is due not only to the fact that sexual acts can be kept secret from society, but also to society's refusal to deal with — and thus thematize — transgressive sexualities. This unwillingness to conceptualize deviant sexual acts is the focus of the first part of this chapter. By examining Chaucer's Parson's Tale and its discussion of the sin of luxuria I want to uncover this process of silencing, and draw attention to its 11 inherent paradox: the Parson makes a great effort to monitor and restrict the discourse on unorthodox sexual practices, and yet this practice led to its exact opposite, namely a proliferation of injunctions not to talk about an uncomfortable topic and thus the Parson defies and defeats his own objective. Hans Folz's fabliau-like story The Ambiguous Confession (Die Mifiverstdndliche Beichte) gives a practical demonstration of this paradox to speak and not to speak about deviant sexual acts: due to a complete breakdown in communication a certain confessor suspects his parishioner of a number of deviant sexual acts, such as incest and bestiality. The "sinner's" revealing of the true and quite harmless nature of his "offences," exposes the confessor to ridicule since it is only due to his runaway imagination that he overinterpreted the suggestive, but still ambiguous words of his parishioner's confession. Ridicule, moral condemnation, and blackmail are key strategies used in the first of two fabliaux I present in the second section, Dietrich von der Glezze's Middle High German mare, The Belt (Der Borte). Drawing on Georges Duby's notion of "les jeunes," I see young knights in particular as the primary audience of this fabliau. I read the condemnation of the protagonist's consideration to commit an act of sodomy with another man as part of an erotic discipline to keep these young knights in line. The consequences of sexual misbehaviour wi l l be examined in my last example, Chaucer's Miller's Tale. In my reading of this tale I perceive all three male characters as deficient, as not fulfilling their expected roles as men. The cruel punishment each character experiences on his own body is part of this erotic discipline: it not merely ensures that each character wi l l stay in line and fulfill his proper gender role in the future, but the punishment also serves to mark their bodies as deficient or perverse so that they act as a warning example to the tale's readers. 12 M y primary concern in this enterprise, then, is with visibility. Bodies, it turns out, are never what they seem. In contrast to those in Kafka's In the Penal Colony and Prudentius's Life of St. Cassian, most inscriptions on bodies demand a careful reading in order to reveal the social constraints that govern these bodies. Making bodies and their messages visible is essentially a political process. As a critical reader of medieval texts I see an important part of my task in this aspect, in the effort to make visible the effaced pleasure and suffering inscribed on bodies. 13 PART 2 " A L I»IS WORLD BITWIXE HEM DELT": 'OTHER' BODIES He wolde, of his benigne curteisye, Make hem good chiere, and bisily espye Tidynges of sondry regnes.for to leere The wondres that they myghte seen or heere. {The Man of Law's Tale, CT, U, 179-82) 1. Ethnography and Otherness: Some Introductory Remarks "Ethnography,"-as Peter Mason argues in his Deconstructing America, "is an experience of the confrontation with the Other set down in writing, an act by which that Other is deprived of its specificity."' As a reader of ethnographic texts one always has to be aware of this transformation of the foreign culture from an external, worldly reality into an internal, discursive representation. Consequently, what one reads is a production of a reality, a creation of a foreign culture. This construction may well be of an imagined world beyond our experience. As such, this imaginary creation follows primarily the dictates of its creator, its auctor, rather than those of its human objects. A s the product of its author's imagination the representation of the foreign culture is subject to a number of cultural, social, and political as well as personal constraints and influences, including those of the circumstances that 'Peter Mason, Deconstructing America: Representations of the Other (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), 11. 14 motivated the author to write about his object in the first place. One common motivation is the search for one's own "identity," a psycho-social place of one's own, so to speak. A familiar practice in this search is the establishing of one's position by placing oneself in opposition to an Other, or, as in the case of the texts examined in this part, in opposition to a different culture. The practice of setting up a dichotomy between one's own culture and an imaginary Other has proved especially persistent. No doubt, historical developments, such as the European colonization of non-European territories, and the significant effects these often violent actions had on the colonized as well as the colonizers, could be conveniently expressed and even legitimized in this fashion. Despite the persistence of this binary view of the world, it is not the only way to explain and represent cultural differences and critics who assume that European writers themselves always assumed an inherent dichotomy between European and non-European cultures do not take into account the fact that different historical periods sometimes dealt in different — and even contradictory — ways with cultural difference. One of the best known proponents of the binary view of European views of the non-European world is Edward Said, whose notion of "Orientalism" claims that "European culture gained its strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self."2 According to Said this dichotomy was the defining factor in an emerging European Christian "identity," by setting up the the Islamic world of the Orient as its competitor and hence as its enemy. Said's assumption is that the cultural difference of the Orient — which is primarily based on its non-Christian religion, its economic, political, and military strength - served an 2 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 3. 15 important purpose in uniting a deeply divided Christendom. Whether or not Said's views on the construction of cultural difference are valid when applied to later historical periods, his notion of the universal, transhistorical nature of this dichotomy as the only way to describe and interpret cultural Otherness hardly works well for the medieval period, since it in effect imposes a relatively modern concept on the more distant past.3 The aim of this chapter is to examine the specific ways in which a range of medieval texts treated the various phenomena of cultural Otherness, and thus ultimately to contribute to an archeology of ethnographic writing by laying open some of the pre-modern mentalities which are reflected in the texts selected for this investigation. Before I begin, however, I want to outline two assumptions which have informed my reading. The first one, to which I have already briefly alluded, is of a more theoretical nature that I read texts dealing with ethnographic difference as specifically literary products which make use of certain rhetorical and discursive means and strategies. To perceive ethnographic texts as primarily literary creations allows me to concentrate on the specific modes in which their authors present their subject, in this case foreign cultures. The objective behind this approach is to redirect the critical focus away from the subject matter as such and towards its representation. M y concern here is not so much to find out "how it was," but rather "how and possibly why it was done." Applied to ethnographic and other writings this shift in 3Other examples of this kind of anachronism are studies that seek to establish a link between the racism of later periods and the "Judeo-Christian tradition." See for instance St Clair Drake, Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in Anthropology, vol.2 (Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, 1990), and Anthony Gerard Barthelmy, Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1987). 16 perspective entails investigating the specific literary strategies that underlie the various representations of other cultures in order to unpack some of the assumptions of their medieval authors. Consequently, while this approach tells us very little about the veracity of the representations of the texts' subjects, its cultural Others, it should reveal more than a little about the cultural mentalities that shaped these medieval perceptions of Otherness. I am here adopting a methodology that is currently being used by those anthropologists who have come to examine the discursive nature of both their own writings and those of their predecessors: A n interest in the discursive aspects of cultural representation draws attention not to the interpretation of cultural "texts" but to their relations of production . . . . It is enough to mention here the general trend toward a specification of discourses in ethnography: who speaks? who writes? when and where? with whom or to whom? under what institutional and historical constraints.4 The question about the specific modes of the production of an ethnographic text is a particularly salient one, as it helps us to understand how a medieval ethnographic text (any medieval text, in fact) might have been read, how it reached its audience, and what the ramifications of these conditions are for the representation of its subject matter. M y second assumption rests on the fundamental Otherness of medieval texts: the historically specific ways of producing texts in a manuscript culture result in a veritable diversity of witnesses, itself the consequence of the texts' constant rewriting as part of their 4James Clifford, "Introduction: Partial Truths," in Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, ed. James Clifford and George E . Marcus (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 6. 17 dissemination. For this reason it is helpful to historicize medieval ethnographic writings. The inherent instability of medieval texts as a result of both their material condition (i.e., their individual production by scribes) and their being an intellectual product that was freely available for other authors to use (i.e., the writers' freedom to alter their sources and rewrite previously written texts) finds its expression in the multiplicity of views that characterize medieval discourses on ethnic diversity: a diversity that is radically different from the binary view of cultural difference that is known from writings of later historical periods. In order to make the specific medieval mode of textual production and reproduction visible, I have selected one key-text in the medieval understanding of ethnic diversity, the biblical tale of Noah's sons, which I present in a selection of writings working from this source. M y aim is to demonstrate that medieval writers were led by a set of assumptions quite different from that of their successors in later times. Thus their writings reflect a way of depicting different cultures that is not merely dependent on establishing binary oppositions, but is also indebted to an alternative, but little known medieval system of thought that allows for a gradual view of the world, called "gradualism." Gradualism denotes a medieval philosophical concept of order that is complementary to the well-known medieval notion of "dualism." Based on a concept articulated by Thomas Aquinas, the Middle Ages perceived the entire creation as standing in relation to God. 5 The cosmos is seen as an infinite number of concentric circles that have God at their centre. The unity of this construct is grounded in the assumption that all parts of divine creation are united by their desire to imitate God, the 1 Summa Theologiae 1, 47.2. On this concept see G . Mii l ler , "Gradualismus," Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift fiir Lite rat ur und Geistesgeschichte 2 (1924): 681-720. 18 imitatio dei. Thus, the individual grades of this model reflect the relative distances the various individuals stand away from God, with the Saints, of course, being already very close to the centre, and non-Christians on the margins. The important feature of this model is that it allows for a considerable number of positions and these in turn allow for a more differentiated picture of the world than does a simple dualism. The multitude of positions described by this theological model finds its practical expression in the considerable leeway individual authors had when they worked with their sources. Thus, a comparison of texts using the same motif wi l l reveal that as a result of precisely this highly differentiated theological perspective of the world and the authors' latitude in the use of their sources, the notion of a fixed category of an ethnic Other is gratuitous: as the multiple interpretations of the same basic text wi l l show, ethnic diversity can be utilized to explain a host of different and seemingly unrelated social phenomena, which can range from the social diversification of medieval society to the legitimation of a particular royal house. In particular, I want to claim that these often contradictory arguments are all part of a theological view of the world as an infinite number of loci, all of them differentiated from one another by their relative position to the perfect imitation of God. 2. The Story of Noah's Sons One of the key narratives used by medieval authors to explain ethnic diversity is the biblical tale of Noah's sons. Genesis 9: 22-26 relates the story of Noah's drunkenness in which he inadvertently reveals his nakedness when he falls asleep. On waking up he curses Ham, his youngest son, for ridiculing him and extends this curse to the future generations of Ham's 19 line, as related in the Bible: A n d Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. A n d he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; a servant shall he be unto his brethren'. A n d he said 'Blessed be the lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant'. Read in connection with the genealogical list in Genesis 10, this text was used to place the different human races on the then three known continents: the descendants of Shem are located in Asia , those of Japhet in Europe, and Ham's descendants in Africa. This relatively simple division of the Earth into three parts and its association with the various descendants of Noah finds its pictorial expression in the so-called "Noachid mappae mundi," which add the names of Noah's sons to the respective continents.6 Most adaptations of the source are, however, more complex than this simple example. In the course of the text's reception two things occurred: first, the geographical positions of the non-European descendants of Noah, Shem and Ham, have proved quite unstable and have been changed by a number of texts. A n d secondly, the tale of Noah itself has been spliced with another biblical narrative, namely the Cain story. I want to take these two observations as the starting point in my discussion of medieval notions of ethnic diversity. With regard to the first observation I want to argue that the seeming instability of the texts is an indicator that ethnic properties and geographical location are not necessarily connected in the medieval world picture. I want to posit further 6 For maps representing the distribution of Noah's sons on the three continents see J. B . Harley and David Woodward, The History of Carthography, vol.1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 300-303. 20 that the term "race,"7 as it is familiar from its use in a postcolonial context, is a concept that was not known as such to medieval authors and their audience. Instead, the medieval sources list a number of individual properties, such as language, religion, cultural habits, appearance, and geographical location, to name just a few, which are, however, not necessarily connected to form a specific ethnic "identity."8 Each of these properties is, in fact, interpreted quite differently from our current understanding, which rests on the static notion of a racial identity. In contrast, I interpret the medieval understanding of all these individual properties against the background of the concept of gradualism, as outlined above, which in the case of the tale of Noah's sons can be specified as referring directly to an individual's relative position within Christian Salvation History. In contrast to the concept of secular history, a place within Salvation History indicates a particular spot on a scale of time which is determined by an individual's closeness to or remoteness from the final reign of God. When ethnic and cultural signifiers are placed on this scale they reflect relative rather than absolute positions in regard to the final salvation of humankind. Thus, the medieval understanding of cultural difference can be defined in terms of a continuum that allows for a much greater degree of interpretative freedom. Consequently, seemingly fixed categories, such as complexion, for example, which in the modern understanding is a primary racial signifier, 7 For an introduction to the contemporary understanding of the term see Kwame Anthony Appiah, "Race," in Critical Terms for Literary Study, ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 275-87. 8See also Benjamin Braude, "The Sons of Noah and the Construction of Ethno-Geographical Identity in the Medieval and Modern Periods," William and Mary Quarterly (forthcoming). 21 can be regarded as a temporal condition in its medieval sense, denoting an individual's position on the scale of Christian History. Certain events, such as the individual's conversion, for instance, can "move him on in time" and bring him closer to the position of the Christians, thus in some cases calling for an "altered" appearance of the same character to signify his new status. For medieval authors this radically different perception of ethnic diversity makes it possible to utilize its representations in order to express a host of other social phenomena which may have very little to do with what is nowadays perceived as ethnic Otherness, but which in the grand scheme of Christian Salvation History are nevertheless important events that justify the use of key narratives, such as the tale of Noah's sons, to define their relevance in this philosophical construct. As I demonstrate in my reading of the individual texts, these notions can range from the justification of the Israelites' appropriation of the land of the Canaanites, as in Genesis, to the explanation of the social inequality of medieval society, as in the Wiener Genesis, to the idea of a great Christian empire in Cathay, as put forward by the author of The Book of John Mandeville. 2.1. Biblical Exegesis and Scholiated Bible Histories, or Historienbibeln The literary place where the reception of anthropological knowledge from earlier times, including the Noah-story, has found its most immediate reflection is in medieval biblical paraphrases, in exegesis, and in the later versions, the historical bibles, or scholiated bible-histories. 22 2.1.1. Biblical Paraphrase: The Wiener Genesis One of the earliest forms of the post-Carolingian biblical paraphrase can be found in the early Middle High German text known as the Wiener Genesis, the manuscript of which can be dated around the end of the 11th century.9 The account of the German Genesis is based on the biblical model, but often supplemented with details, commentaries, and embellishments. In contrast to the Vulgate versions of the Bible, the vernacular version saw lay people as its primary audience. Since the biblical stories are told to those who did not have access to the Latin Vulgate, dogmatic and theological questions are of less importance than the historia, the narratives related in the book of Genesis. The German Genesis offers a particularly interesting example of the reception of older ethnographic knowledge, which is provided in the addition to the story of Cain. The cultural appropriation of the biblical material becomes particularly obvious in passages where European geographical and climatic conditions replace those of their model, and cattle breeding as well as regional agricultural products reflect the everyday life of the medieval European peasant, rather than that of his biblical counterpart.10 A particularly intriguing aspect of the German Genesis is its combination of biblical matter with antique knowledge: directly indebted to the Plinian account is the description of some of the descendants of Cain (1292-1306), who have the heads of dogs, large ears, which ^ o r further information on the Genesis see Ursula Henning, "Altdeutsche Genesis," in Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon, ed. Kurt Ruh, vol. 1 (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter), col. 279-84. 1 0Dieter Kartschoke. Geschichte der deutschen Literatur infruhen Mittelalter (Munich, deutscher taschenbuch verlag: 1990), 287-88. 23 they can use as blankets, have their mouths in their chests, and possess one large foot, which enables them to outpace even wild animals, or simply walk on all fours, "like cattle" (1306). Friedman points out that this passage alludes to St. Augustine's City of God (Book 16, 8), where he discusses the monstrous races; he ultimately subsumes them under God's creation and thus, if their status as human beings has been ascertained, are to be regarded as part of his divine w i l l : " But i f we assume that the subjects of those remarkable accounts are in fact men, it may be suggested that God decided to create some races in this way, so that we should not suppose that the wisdom with which he fashions the physical being of men has gone astray in the case of the monsters . . . for that would be to regard the works of God's wisdom as the product of an imperfectly skilled craftsman.1 2 However, the list of marvellous races goes on and the author of the Wiener Genesis suddenly changes his tone when he makes a significant alteration to the citation of conventional ethnographic knowledge and he adds the black races to these descendants of Cain. In contrast to Friedman, I would claim that in this instance the Genesis does not follow the spirit of St. Augustine's writings, but clearly draws a connection between the Ethiopians' outer appearance and the moral deficiencies of the race of Cain, which moves them into the realm of the non-human and infernal, a tradition which anti-Islamic texts, such as the Chanson de ' 'John Block Friedman, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), 90-93. l 2St. Augustine, The City of God, trans. Henry Bettenson (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1984, 663-64. 24 Roland also draw on 1 3 : SvmelTche flurn pegare we ir sconen uarwe, si wurten suarz unt egelTch: den ist nehein Hut gelich deT o[u]gen in sctnent, die zeni glizent. (1307-12) 1 4 [A good number of them completely lost their beautiful complexion: they became black and ugly. Nobody is like them: their eyes shine, and their teeth glisten.] Read against the above-mentioned account the "Plinian" descendants of Cain these few lines can almost surprise in their seeming factual nature. Without doubt, to a medieval audience the mere mention of the monstrous races probably had its own potential to shock or to entertain, and yet it is at the moment when the black races are being discussed that the text makes an explicit judgement by calling them "black and ugly." Not surprisingly, this judgment is qualified in the following lines, which provide one of the most revealing insights into medieval interpretations of ethnographic difference: swenne si si [die zeni] lazen plecchen, so mahten si io[u]ch den tiufel screchen. 1 3Friedman, Monstrous, 64-66. 14A11 quotations are from Katryn Smits, Die Fruhmittelhochdeutsche Wiener Genesis (Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1972). 25 die afterchomen an in zeigtun, waz ir uorderen garnet heten. alsoltch si waren innen, solich wurten dise uzzen. (1313-20) [When they showed [their teeth] they even scared the devil. The descendants displayed the punishment that had been inflected upon their ancestors. As they were within, so they became on the outside.] The explicit reference to the devil in connection with the appearance of these black descendants of Cain illuminates the larger moral issue that governs the ethnographic account in the Wiener Genesis. As the text explains, their inner qualities then become visible as their outer appearance. This appearance then becomes a mirror that reflects their position within the Christian moral discourse. Their black skin is only the ultimate sign of their forefathers' sins and thus their own questionable moral status, which then justifies their association with the descendants of Cain. It seems that the Middle High German Genesis in a way preempted the hermeneutic problem of anthropological difference by subsuming the black races under the myth of the descendants of Cain, a move which poses a logical problem: to place the racial differentiation at such an early point in Christian ethnography means that these black descendants of Cain would, together with many others, not have survived the Great Flood. I see this seeming incongruity as one indicator that Salvation History, and not human history, is the frame of reference in which one has to interpret this combination of the 26 two texts. Equally important is that at the time of the composition of the Genesis racial otherness obviously did not have the significance it would have later at the time of the crusades. To support this claim I want to draw attention to the Noah story as related in the Genesis. Contrary to the examples quoted above, this version is not primarily concerned with ethnic differentiation. As the text makes clear, the social stratification of medieval German society around 1060-1080 seems to have been the pressing issue. Otherness was primarily experienced in terms of social, not "racial" difference. Hence, the story of Noah is utilized by the text's compiler/author to explain precisely the phenomenon of social differentiation. As in the biblical model, one of the sons of Noah, Cham, is marked as seditious since he ridiculed his father's nakedness. The consequence of this disrespectful misbehaviour is that the descendants of Cham are marked as the future servants of the other tribes. While the German Genesis essentially follows the general outline of the Noah story, this event is not interpreted in ethnographic terms, but is exclusively quoted to explain and, probably more importantly, to justify the social differentiation of medieval society into nobles and serfs. From a socio-historical perspective this mention is significant since it represents to-date the earliest occurrence ever found in a German text of this type of argument justifying the social inequality of medieval European : 1 5 Do noe erwachete und uil rehte urescete, wie cham hete getan 15Dieter Kartschoke: Geschichte der deutschen Literatur, 288. 27 do er in sach plekchen, ich weiz, er in ueruluchete mit aller siner afterchunste. (1505-10) [When Noah woke up, he was quite enraged about what Cham had done when he saw him naked; I know that he cursed him with all his descendants.] The text then goes on to note that the only kind of people known before this incident were free, and in an invocation of the Edenic garden and fruit trees ("garten unde obezpume," 1527), states that the earth yielded enough for everyone, horses and cattle included. The specific reference to cattlebreeding and fruit trees provides a localized, German version of the Garden of Eden. The social differentiation of the peoples is now described as being a direct consequence of Noah's curse; while the descendants of Shem and Japhet are described as free, those of Cham are clearly designated as their servants: Von chames sculde wurden aller erist scalche. e waren si alle ebenburi unde edele. chames huhes unde spottes uile manige inkulten des. (1533-38) [Thus, from Cham's guilt resulted the first serfs. Before, everyone was equal and free. Cham's pride and insult had to be paid for many times over.] The Genesis follows this account with another exemplum of human pride and presumption, namely the building of the Tower of Babel. Apart from the obvious erasure of the issue of 28 ethnic diversity in the biblical account, the Genesis here rewrites the text to address a more immediate and pressing problem, that of social inequality. Despite this move, however, the text's basic strategy has been retained: in both cases a form of inequality is being addressed, and, more importantly, justified. 2.1.2. Petrus Comestor: Historia Scholastica Another type of the historical continuations of the biblical paraphrase is the Historienbibel, or scholiated Bible history, examples of which were most widely disseminated in the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries, before they were superseded by the increasingly uniform text of the printed Bible. The German name was coined in the middle of the nineteenth century,16 whereas the medieval designation usually was "bibel," or "wibel," which gives an indication, not only of their reception as biblical writings, but also of their intended place as companions to, or even replacements of, the Vulgate, rather than as worldly writings, such as for instance the chronicle, discussed below in section 2.2. The modern nomenclature attempts to reflect the nature of the genre, in which the biblical stories are augmented by historical material most typically found in "historical" writings. Peter Comestor's Historia scholastica (second half of the twelfth century) was one of the most commonly used sources for both genres, the Historienbibel, as well as the chronicle.17 Since (secular) history was commonly perceived in 16Reu6, "Historienbibel," Herzogs Realencyclopaedie, vol. 6, 1856, 157. Quoted in J.F.L. Theodor Merzdorff, Die Deutschen Historienbibeln des Mittelalters (Stuttgart: Bibliothek des Literarischen Vereins, 1870), 2. 17Joachim Bumke, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im hohen Mittelalter (Munich: detscher taschenbuch verlag, 1990), 347. 29 the larger context of Salvation History, the generic differences between both kinds of writings are more a question of emphasis than of their individual reception and interpretation. The text printed in 1473 by Giinther Zaimer relates the following version of the tale of Noah: Sed cum chayn patris verenda vidisset nudata irridens nunciauit hec fratribus. sed i l l i pallium imponentes in humeris. & euntes retrorsum. ne viderent. operuerunt patris verenda . . . Evigilans Noe. cum didicissest que [quid?] fecerat ei filius suus minor ait: maledictus Chanan puer. servus erit fratribus suis. Si quereitur quomodo Chayn dicitus minor filius. cum esset medius natu. Potest dici minor i.e. indignior vel forte minor statura. . . . Maledixit autem non filio sed filio. sed filio f i l i i , quia sciebat in spiritu filium ipsum non serviturum fratribus suis. sed semen eius. nec omnis de semine eius. sed eos qui de chanaan peccata quidem patrum sepe vindicantur in filios temporaliter. . . . prophecia est: quia previdit in filiis sem. cultum & nome[n] unius dei permansurum.' 8 [But when Cham (Chayn) saw his father's private parts, he laughed at his nakedness, and announced it to his brothers. But those placed a coat over his limbs and went behind him so as not to see their father's uncovered nakedness Peter Comestor, Historia Scholastica, (Augsburg: Giinther Zaimer, 1473; University of Uppsala Copy, C o l l . jn no. 1180, microfilm version), f. 1 l r . The following marginalium is added to the passage where the "pallium" used to cover Noah's nakedness is mentioned: "Semiramis fuit mulier qui primo inuenit bracas. & vsus earum" [Semiramis was the woman who first invented trousers and their use], probably in an attempt to show off the voracious reader's knowledge about the history of dress. 30 . . .Upon his awakening Noah learned what his youngest son had done, and said: 'the cursed boy Chanaan wi l l be a servant to his brothers'. If one asks why Cham (Chayn) is called the youngest son, even though he is born in the middle, it can be said that he is called the youngest because he is inferior in strength, and more so in h e i g h t . . . . He not only cursed the son, but his son's sons, since he knew that not only his son, but also his son's offspring would be servants. But not all his offspring, only those who were from Chanaan. Often the sins of the fathers are punished in their sons . . . . The prophecy is: for this reason in the sons of Shem is shown the belief and the name of the one and eternal God. This part of the Noah story follows the tradition which sees in Cham's trespass the reason why he and his offspring were cursed. In his interpretation of the passage Peter makes explicit reference to the inhabitants of Canaan, who are singled out from the other descendants (whether of Noah or of Cham is not clear). Peter next attempts to clear up some inconsistencies, such as the description of Cham as Noah's youngest son, and goes on to explain how Noah's curse of Cham lives on in his offspring, a fact which he points out as a quite common occurrence. The account closes with the prophecy of Shem's descendants as the future nation of the coming God, who not only gives his belief, but also his name to the future religion. This is, however, not the only time Peter touches upon the topic of Noah's descendants. In the following chapter, "De dispersione filiorum noe," he discusses the various regions which are inhabited by the sons of Noah and their descendants. Following Alcuin he 31 places each genealogical line on one of the three continents: H i i tres disseminatu sunt in tribus partis orbis. secundum alquinum. Sem arsiam [sic] Cham affricam. Iaphet Europium sortius est.1 9 [These three are dispersed in the three parts of the earth. According to Alquin: Shem is placed in Asia, Cham in Africa, and Japhet in Europe.] . Immediately after this Noachid division of the earth, however, Peter upsets his own neatly established ethnographic boundaries and cites a second authority: Ve l expressius dicitur secundum Josephum: F i l i i Japhet tenerunt septentrionalem regionem, a Tauro & a monomontibus cicilie & syrie. vsque ad fluuium. chanaim in europa uero usque ad gadira. ffili i vero Cham a provincia siria et amano & libano montibus cunctas terras obtinuerunt. . . F i l i i uero Semusque ad oceanum . . . habitant Asiam, ab euphrate facientes in i t . . . Chus dicitur filius Cham filius Chus Nemrod, qui coepit primus potens est terra. [Or another opinion, according to Josephus: The sons of Japhet took the northern regions from the Alps to the mountains of Sicily and Syria unto the river of Chanaan. In Europe as far as to Gadira [?]. The sons of Cham hold the province of Syria and all the land of the hills of Lebanon. And the sons of Sem inhabit Asia to the ocean, . . . they inhabit Asia from the boundary of Euphrates . . . Chus is said to be the son of Cham; the Son of Chus is Nemrod, who reigned supreme on earth.] 1 9Comestor, Historia, f. 11 r. 32 This rather muddled passage introduces a far less clear division of the earth; conventional ethnic and geographical boundaries, based on a simple tripartite division of the earth, are obviously dissolved, as, for instance, in the example of the "Europeans," who inhabit a stretch of land, ranging from the central European alpine regions to the island of Sicily, and even stretching into Syria, geographically considered part of Asia . B y offering this competing viewpoint, perhaps influenced by crusading ideology, to supplement his previously stated observation, Peter not only demonstrates that the conventional geographical division was of little consequence for the ethnographic perception of his medieval readers, but moreover that ethnographic properties as such are far from the fixed signifiers of Otherness they were later to become. Ethnographic difference, one can conclude from this example, was obviously seen as independent from firmly associated geographical positions. Part of the instability of these ethnographic positions is also due to the transmission of Josephus Flavius's complicated genealogies,2 0 which found their way into works of Jerome's Questions on Genesis, and Isidore of Seville's (5607-636) Etymologies.21 For example, in 2 0See Josephus: Complete Works, tr. Wil l iam Whiston (London: Pickering and Inglis, 1960), 30-31, who discusses the line of Ham, Chus and Nemrod, and also includes the Ethiopians in this line: "Now that it was Nimrod who excited them to such affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah . . . . But Nimrod, the son of Chus, stayed and tyrannised at Babylon." And: ". . . time has not hurt at all the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cusites." 2 lSee for instance, Isidore of Seville. Ethymologiarum sive originum, ed. W . M . Lindsay, vol . 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971, 7: 6, which gives the usual explanation for Channan's condemnation due to Cham's deed. Isidore then lists the genealogies of the sons, particularly the descendants of Chus, who are linked to the Aethiopians, a line from which the tyrant of Nimrod is descended: "Chus Hebraice Aethiops interpretatur; a posteritate sui generis nomen sortius. A b ipso enim sunt progeniti Aethiopes. Nembroth interpretatur tyrannus." [Chus is translated into Hebrew 'Aethiops'; in posterity his kind wil l be found under this name. From the same are 33 Ethymologies, liber X I V , cap. 1, titled de terra and de orbe, Isidore discusses the significance of the earth and its parts, and explicitly refers to the unstable boundaries of the continents, as well as to the disproportionate size of Asia , which is described as being twice the size of Europe and Africa: [Orbis] divisus est est autem trifarie: e quibus una pars Asia, altera Europa, tertia Africa nuncupatur. Quas tres partes orbis veteres non aequaliter diviserunt. Nam Asia a meridie per orientem usque ad septentrionem pervenit; Europa vero a septentrione usque ad occidentem; atque inde Africa ab occidente usque ad meridiem. Vnde evidenter orbem dimidum duae tenent, Europa et Africa, alium vero dimidum sola Asia . . . Quapropter si in duas partes orientis et occidentis orbem dividas, As ia erit in una, in altera vero Europa et Africa. [The earth is divided into three parts: of these one part is called Asia , the other Europe, the third Africa. These three parts our elders have divided in unequal parts. For Asia stretches from the south and the east to the north; Europe from the north to the west; and Africa from the west to the south. From this it is clear that the earth has two parts, Europe and Africa, the other half Asia alone . . . For this reason, if you divide it into two parts, orient and Occident, Asia would be in one part, Europe and Africa in the other. ] Essentially this division of the earth reflects the tripartite mappamundi, but in Isidore's description the remarkable fact is not so much the precise definition of the three continents in specific geographical terms, but their relative position to each other, as well as their relative descended the Aethiopians. Nemroth means tyrant.] 34 sizes. In addition, this description, in a way competing with the ethnographic account based on the descendants of Noah, does not mention any inhabitants of the continents at all . The textual separation of the two topics (the continents are described in book X I V , while the peoples of the earth are mentioned in book V U ) , reflects, in my opinion, very neatly the etymologist's intellectual division of the two issues. While geography seems to be particularly a question of arithmetic, ethnography is once more subsumed under Christian History. This division may be hard to accept for a modern reader, but these two issues do not necessarily have much to do with each other. The notion of the division of the world into the three continents, coupled with the neatly assigned three ethnic groups, is probably due to Alcuin (735-804), who provides a simplified version of the account, as offered in his lnterrogation.es et responsiones in Genesim. According to Braude, Alcuin in turn probably drew on a simplified version of the works of Jerome and Isidore, which he cites as further proof that the actual geographical distribution of the descendants of Noah was not considered an important issue. 2 2 Having first answered the question about Cham's being cursed Alcuin asks: Quomodo divisus est orbis a filiis ei nepotibus Noe? Resp. Sem, ut aestimatur, Asiam. Cham Africam, [et] Japhet Europam sortitus est.2 3 [In which way is the earth divided between the sons and nephews of Noah? The answer is: "Shem, as is thought, gets Asia, Cham Africa, and Japhet Europe.] 2 2Braude, "Sons," 10-11. 2 3 Migne , PL 100: col. 532. 35 However, this simple division of the earth is then supplemented by a more elaborate discussion of the various genealogical lines, including, of course, the notorious Nimrod. Again one can observe here the relative value of the citing of geographical locations in relation to their inhabitants. 2.1.3. The Middle English Genesis, the Cursor Mundi, and Trevisa's Translation of De proprietaribus rerum This fact is borne out by the Middle English Genesis (ca. 1250), which is based on Comestor's Historia Scholastica and completely dispenses with the geographical locations and simply makes a wholesale statement about the descendants of Noah's three sons inhabiting the earth: 0[f] noe siSen an is 5re sunen Ben boren alle de in werlde wunnen, And or he was on werlde led His kinde was wel wide spred. (647-50) 2 4 Of the genealogy, only Nimrod is mentioned here because of his particular capability to construct a tower out of brick and tar due to his fear of water (659-62). The single reference to human diversity is the text's mention of the linguistic chaos that resulted from the construction of the tower: A l was on speche dor-bi-foren: -4The Middle English Genesis and Exodus, ed. Olof Arngart (Lund: C . W . K . Gleerup, 1968). 36 Do woren sundri speches boren. Sexti lond-speches and .x i i . mo Weren delt Sane in werlde do. (665-66, 669-70) In contrast, the Middle English encyclopaedic work, the Cursor Mundi (ca. 1300), provides more information and follows the standard description by Alcu in . It differs, however, in the explanation of the consequences of Ham's curse, which draws the connection between Ham (Cam) and Cain, but does not identify Ham with the inhabitants of Canaan. As such the passage in the Cursor Mundi conflates the social emphasis, as for instance expressed in the Wiener Genesis, with the Cain story: Noe wip bis mantel awoke His sones scoren he vndirtoke His malisoun on hym he leyde A n d sib to him penne he seide Cam wibouten any doute Vndir bi breberen bou shalt loute Vndir hem to be as bral J>ou and byn ospring al To cam he seide foule feloun £>ou hast be kynde of bat natioun Of caym curside moost of obere 37 J?at wip tresoun slou3e his brobere. (2050-57, 2069-72) 2 5 In this genealogy the crime of Cain becomes the determining focus; everything is seen from this perspective, even though this requires projecting the trespass of Cam backwards and drawing a connection to the biblical Cain. More interesting, however, is the categorization of Ham and his precursors and descendants as a "natioun," obviously an ethnographic designation of sorts. In this case, though, neither geography nor language is the determinant of this group, but the crimes of two of its most prominent members. One can see here that this term is not primarily defined by a geographical location, but rather by the "natioun's" position on the scale of Christian Salvation History, which in turn determines this ethnic group's Otherness. In the following passage, where the continental distribution is discussed, no more mention is made of this distinction and the three brothers, hence the three ethnic groups are once more presented as equal. In this passage the Cursor clearly follows Isidore's comparison of the relative sizes of all three continents. The curse of Cam's nation is irrelevant, and the ethnic groups are only distinguished by their relative position to each other, as well as the size of land the descendants of each son inhabit: His sones bat I beforn of melt A l bis world bitwixe hem delt To seem asye. to cam aufryk To iapheth europe pat wilful wyk 25The Southern Version of the Cursor Mundi, ed. Sarah M . Horall (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1978). 38 A l l e pese [pre] were ful ryche But seem part was noon opere lyche For pe world was as we here Dalt in pre partyes sere In pre partyes pryncipal But pei were not paringal For asye is wipouten hope A s myche as aufryk & europe. (2087-98) This passage is followed by a description of the marvels of As ia and an enumeration of the countries which are found on the Asian continent. Once again, one can observe in this section, as well as in the following account of As ia with its brief mention of the "holy londe" and "paradys," the absence of any ethnographic information concerning the inhabitants of these countries. John Trevisa's translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus's encyclopaedic compilation De proprietaribus rerum offers only a condensed account of the geographical information, discussed by Isidore in book X I V (book X V in Trevisa's numbering), locating the continents in relation to each other, and quoting their relative sizes. The brevity of Trevisa's account, however, makes it also its most remarkable feature: while the distribution of the continents, and the location of the various countries were obviously thought to be worth mentioning, the ethnographic information is dealt with in the most perfunctory way: A n d so Noes sonys departid and deled pe worlde aftir pe floode among hem. Sem with his ofspring hadde Asiam, Iaphet Europam, Cam Affricam, as pe 39 glose seip super Genesim x°. 2.1.4. The Historienbibel Not surprisingly, then, the Historienbibel uses the Noah-Sfo/f in a way quite similar to the biblical paraphrase. The Historienbibel 127 relates the incident of the youngest son seeing Noah's nakedness, and, like the Wiener Genesis, interprets the incident in its social consequences: Do nun Noe erwachet do erkant er von dem willen gotz das Cham der junger sun sin gespott hett. Do was im zorn. Do sprach er: "verflucht seyst du Cham min sun. Er wird ain Knecht siner bruder." 2 8 [When Noah woke up, he realized by the wil l of God that Cham his young son had ridiculed him. Then Noah became angry. Then he said: 'cursed be you, Cham my son. He wil l become a servant to his brothers'.] In the second major recension, the Historienbibel II, this account is linked to the story of Cain and Abel , the phonetic closeness between "Chaim" and "Cain" probably providing the link between both accounts, with Noah's youngest son becoming "Kayn." In addition, this recension also makes a projection into the future, explaining that this Kayn wi l l have a son 260n the Properties of Things. John Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus 'De proprietaribus re rum', vol. 1, ed. Michael C. Seymour (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), 726. 2 7Theodor J. F. L . Merzdorf, Die deutschen Historienbibeln des Mittelalters (Stuttgart: Bibliothek des Literarischen Vereins, 1870), differentiates between several textual families, according to the incipits of the M S S . -• 2 8Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 131. 40 called Chanaan, himself the founder of the nation of the Canaanites. Although the text establishes the descent of the original non-Israelite population of Canaan by linking the Noah story with the Cain story, it does not exploit the moral issue behind this link by exposing the curse of the Canaanites: the Historienbibel II does not mention the inferior status of the Canaanites, as, for instance Josephus does. The text merely starts with the remark that the Canaanites are a well-known people on whom much has been written. Not very much later, however, in connection with the Noah - story the significance of this construction becomes apparent. In contrast to the Historienbibel I, this version begins the episode with a commenatry on how the story is to be read, and explains its consequences for human history: Nu wi l ich in dem namen gottes anevohen und in der lere siner heilgen gebotten zu sagende von der ander welt, wie die wart uffgepflanzet also uns die geschrift dut bekant, und wie die lant wurdent zu dienste broht und alle musten zinsen dem riche und wer die worent den got den hohen gewalt gap und die herschaft.29 [Now I shall begin in the name of God and according to the teachings of his holy commandments and speak about the other world [after the paradise], which was cultivated as the scripture makes known, and how the lands had been pressed into service, and [how] all had to pay tribute to the empire, and who those were whom God gave might and supreme power.] In this synopsis the redactor not merely gives a brief account of the events that follow the 2 9 Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 605. 41 expulsion from paradise, but also provides an interpretative framework of sorts. Again, it is the topic of social differentiation which finds its way into the text; this time, however, the fact is given a much wider significance. Not merely content to base social differentiation on a single incident, as does the Wiener Genesis, the Historienbibel II invokes the course of history as the context in which it places the singular incident so as to give it the appropriate significance, and, one might add, not only to reaffirm the social injustice as the consequence of God's wi l l , but also to stress it as unchangeable. This logical connection is exposed once more when the redactor of the Historienbibel II steps in front of his audience and announces the continuation of his story: Daz wi l ich kiirtzlich sagen von Noe wie sin Kayn spottet... Wie es ime [Kayn] donoch ging daz werdent ir wol hernoch horen." 3 0 [Shortly I shall talk about how Cain ridicules Noah . . . . How Cain then fared you shall hear now.] The account of Noah's drunkenness then follows the established pattern: Do segnete Noe die andern alle und sunderlich Sem and Japhet und sprach uch musse gottes segen bi sin." 3 1 [Then Noah blessed all the others, in particular Sem and Japhet and said: 'May God's blessing be with you.'] The redactor of this version, however, does not leave the matter alone with this statement; once more he takes on a position of authority and addresses his audience: 3 0Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 605. 3 1Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 606. 42 . . . so wi l ich uch bescheiden wie es darnoch erging. Es seit die glose der redinge fur die gancze worheit: alles das da Kaym waz underton das kam allesamt Sem han ich gelesen.3 2 [. . . I want to tell you what happened then. The gloss says the whole truth of the speech: everything that once belonged to Cham became Shem's, as I have read.] This text makes a fine distinction between the account in Genesis and its interpretation through the gloss. However, as the redactor assures his audience, this gloss relates the truth. In itself, this statement follows the usual line of argument, ending with an explanation of the social differences between the various descendants of Noah. In the following paragraph, however, the redactor reads the whole account in the light of Christian History: he attempts an explanation of how Christendom came from Jerusalem. With a considerable amount of logical "juggling" this text claims that all nations descended from Japhet, and that Christ's descent from Shem can thus be traced back to Japheth. This argument, which goes against everything the text tried to establish before, shows the extent to which various authors could use this passage to make political claims. Faced with the problem that Christianity has its origin in the descendants of Shem, the author here struggles to persuade his audience that despite Christianity's roots in the centre of the Jewish world, it has always been associated with the European nations. Although hardly convincing, this argument echoes Josephus's use of his source by establishing the fiction of a religion's origin. The motivation of the redactor for this manipulation wi l l probably never be fully known; a 3 2 Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 605. 43 virulent anti-Jewishness, after all, cannot be found in his matter-of-fact account about the diversity of human languages, following the construction of the Tower of Babel, which again represents the world picture of the Noachid mappamundi: Sem kam mit sinen xvii geslechten in das lant Asia gensite des meres by der sonnenuffgang. Do fur Kaym in Affrica das ist gegen der sunnen mittentage. Do fur Japhet mit xxiii geslechten in das lant Europa darynne ist nu die cristenheit.33 [Shem came with his 17 descendants into the country of Asia, opposite the sea where the sun rises. Then Cham went to Africa, which is where the sun is at noon. Then Japhet went with his 23 descendants into the country of Europe, where Christendom now is.] Apart from his observation about the geographical location of Christendom, this account lacks all attempts at Christian propaganda, and gives only a sober description of the tripartite world picture. One can only assume that the redactor of this version of the Historienbibel felt the need to put the account of Noah's sons into a decidedly Christian perspective, although, as evident from the discussion of the various peoples on Earth, one can not assume any overt propagandistic intention. 2.2. The Chronicle: Rudolfs von Ems Weltchronik As already noted above, a genre very closely related to the Historienbibel is that of the chronicle, which was also a version of Salvation History. The author's task was to document 33Merzdorf, Historienbibeln, 611. 4 4 and interpret the workings of God throughout human history. Its difference from the Historienbibel is that the material is drawn from secular history, rather than from scripture. One other significant difference between the biblical adaptations and Rudolph's chronicle is, however, that the latter has also a second and very worldly aim, namely to establish a genealogy which traces the lineage of a particular noble house to some divine incident, usually the creation of Adam and Eve. For this purpose Rudolf attempts to document the divine origin of the house of Hohenstauffen, and in particular to justify the claim of Konrad IV to the throne. In his perception of history Rudolf follows the dichotomy of civitas dei and civitas terrena, divine and profane communities, a concept made popular by St. Augustine's notion of the community of God and the community of the world, which in turn found its way into Isidore of Seville's Etymologies.34 Of specific interest for Rudolfs use of the Noah story is the Augustinian concept of the succession of Empires, which combines the biblical genealogy (essentially a genealogy of Christ) with a worldly genealogy, including such worthies as Aristotle and Alexander the Great. Konrad IV, who commissioned the chronicle, is introduced together with his Stauffish ancestors, representing the fifth Augustinian age. As part of Christian Salvation History these German-Sicilian emperors are then traced directly back to Noah: . . . du mere her sint komen, darnach als ir si hapt virnomen zem ersten von Adame, 3 4 0n the specific perception of history in Rudolfs Weltchronik as well as its foundation see Ingrid von Tippelskirch, Die Weltchronik des Rudolf von Ems: Studien zur Geschichtsaujfassung und politischen Intention (Goppingen: Kiimmerle Verlag, 1979), 79-130. Noe und Abrahame bei der iegilichem geschach ein dine des man fur nuwe jach. (21532-37)35 [. . . the knowledge has come down to us as you have heard, first from Adam, Noah, and Abraham; with each of them something occurred which one considered novel.] A little further on, Rudolfs patron is introduced, and his specific wishes on how the chronicle was to be made offer a glimpse into the ideological underpinnings of the Weltchronik. The emperor insisted on a universal history, which was to immortalize him together with his imagined precursors, and thus was to expose him as one of the best worldly rulers: Das ist der kiinig Churat, des keisirs kint, der mir bat durh in du mere tihte, von anegenge berichte wie Got nah ir werde geschuf himil und erde, und darzu von der hohin kraft irdinischer herschaft. (21663-64, 21667-72) •3Rudolf von Ems,-Weltchronik, ed. Gustav Ehrismann (1915; rpt. Dublin and Zurich: Weidmann, 1967); all further quotations of the Weltchronik are from this edition. 46 [It was K i n g Konrad, the son of an emperor who asked me . . . to compose for him the story/history from the beginning of the world, how God created after their worth heaven and earth, and of the supreme power of worldly dominion.] This passage not merely serves to introduce Rudolfs task of presenting Konrad as part of the succession of worldly and religious precursors, but also, and in an almost underhanded way, makes it clear that an apologia for worldly power is also required of the chronicler. bat er mih allis bringen in tiitsche getichte . . . swa man von im du mere verneme unde horte lesin, das si im Temir musten wesin ein ewiclich memorial wie du dine in dien landen sint an tins her gestanden mit maneges wundirs undirscheit, des keiserlicher werdekeit. (21686-87, 21694-97, 21701-06) [He asked me to write everything in a German poem . . . so that whenever one heard or listened to his story being read, it became an eternal monument to him . . . how the things in these lands have come to pass with many miracles of his imperial dignity.] 47 The legitimation of Konrad's rule is thus one of the objectives for the list of genealogies, spiritual and worldly. To return to Rudolfs use of the Noah story it is significant that precisely at this point where the succession of empires begins, not only the social, but also the political consequences of Cham's sin against his father become the focus of the chronicle. A t the outset the account is conventional enough, following the Vulgate and Peter Comestor (957-966), but Rudolf is not content merely to record the extent of the biblical story; he adds an interpretation to the account, here introduced as the "gloss," which he credits with the same veracity as the Vulgate itself: als mit gelicher warheit du glose der tutunge seit, mit der du mere bescheidin sint: du lant du Israhelis kint besazen sit, du waren davor in allin jaren Canaanes kindin undertan. [As with the same truth the gloss of the interpretation that relates the account says: the land which the children of Israel have since held had been subject in the years before the children of Canaan.] The gloss here referred to by Rudolf can be easily identified as Josephus Flavius's politically intended interpretation of the passage, which explains the claim the Israelites lay to the land 48 of the indigenous Cananites, 3 6 or more likely a commentator following Flavius's story. Again, the reason why Rudolf chose to interpret the Noah - story in political terms is not immediately clear; it seems likely that the intention of the chronicle is to legitimize and celebrate a certain ruler might have influenced the author to adopt this perspective for its interpretation. However, these claims cannot be substantiated in the immediate environment of the passage. In the same way as the redactor of the Historienbibel II, Rudolf goes on to describe the distribution of peoples after the Tower of Babel had been attempted and in a far less confused version clearly asserts the descent of Christ from Shem as well as Japhet as the ancestor of those nations, who are later identified with the Christian nations: Sem was, als ih gelesin han, vater des kunnes von der art von dem Israhel den stam mit geburt und urhap nam, darnach Got unsir herre Krist wart sidir nach der menschheit geborn . . . von Japhete, als ich han virnomin, Rudolph seems to use Josephus's list of the progenitors of the three sons of Noah, as becomes apparent in his citing Nimrod as the son of Chus. For a discussion of the extent to which Rudolf followed Peter Comestor's Historia Scholastica and Josephus Flavius's Antiquities of the Jews, see Tippelskirch, Weltchronik, 38-48. 49 sint al die diet der lute komin von der die kristenheit erst kam. (982-83, 985-86, 988-90, 993-95) [Shem was, as I have read, the father of the people from whom Israel took its birth and its origins, afterwards God our lord Christ, was born to humanity. From Japhet, as I have heard, have since originated the kind of people where Christendom first came.] This brief ethnographic account is the standard one and differs in no significant way from the other texts which make use of this passage. It also sheds no light on the question why Rudolf followed Josephus and not for instance Peter Comestor, whose work was available to him. As hinted before, one could venture here that the overtly imperialistic nature of Josephus's "tutunge" might have appealed to his colleague, who was equally concerned to document and justify a specific ruler's dominion over large parts of a foreign country, in this case the Stauffish empire, reaching from Germany to Sicily. 2.3. The World of The Book of John Mandeville In the Book of John Mandeville the reader is invited to join the author on his imaginary journey around the world, visiting many known, but also unknown and truly remarkable places. Being an accomplished armchair-traveller and a voracious reader, the Mandeville author can offer many stories which are certain to please his audience, craving a truly 'exotic' reading matter. Some of the stories can of course, be found elsewhere, and thus it might come as a small surprise that the German chronicler Rudolfs account of "inden lant" makes another appearance in the Mandeville account of "Ynde." The Mandeville author's thorough reading 50 becomes particularly obvious in his own rather ingenious use of the Noah story, which reveals not merely his knowledge of the Stoff, but more importantly his awareness of the tale as an ideological tool that can be utilized to prove any number of claims. In this case the thing to be documented is the Great Khan's place in the Book's ethnographic scheme, and, more precisely, the Khan and his people's relationship to Christendom. 3 7 In contrast to Odoric's Relatio, one of his main sources, the Mandeville author seems particularly concerned to 'fit' the Khan and his people into Salvation History so as to "conjure up the dream of a vastly expanded Christendom." 3 8 To assert his credibility the English knight assures his readers that he himself has spent some time at the Khan's court and thus is an eye-witness. Giv ing credit to the audience's scepticism, the text insists on the veracity of the marvels to be seen at the foreign court, here quoted in the English translation known as the Cotton Version: For I wot wel 3 i f ony man hath ben in bo contrees be3onde, bough he haue not ben in the place where the grete Chane duel le th , . . . he schall not trowe it lightly; And treuly no more did I myself til I saugh it. A n d bo pat han ben in bo contrees & in the gret Canes houshold knowen wel pat I seye soth. 3 9 The question of credibility is of particular importance in this instance since the vision Iain Macleod Higgins, Writing East: The "Travels" of Sir John Mandeville (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), 160-62, discusses the Mandeville author's presentation of the Chan's beliefs and their relation to Christian faith, particularly in respect of the changes made to his principal source, Odoric's Relatio. 3 8Higgirts, Writing, 160. 39Mandeville's Travels, ed. P. Hamelius, E E T S 153 (London: Kegan Paul, 1919), 145. 51 of a great Christian empire must have held considerable attractiveness to his contemporaries. As the discussion wi l l show, the Mandeville-author uses not one, but two narratives to construct this connection between the Great Khan and the notion of a great Christian empire. Instead of using the story to explain the sort of phenomena already discussed, he employs it to authenticate the name of the great Khan according to phonetic similarities, a technique which he may have learned from his sources, emphasizing a connection between C/ham and On the conflation of "Khan," "Cham" and "Cain" in the French mss. see also Friedman, Monstrous, 103. 52 In order to accomplish this, however, the Mandeville author has to do some clever re-arranging of the parts of the earth to Noah's sons, changing the respective positions of Ham and Shem. The consequence of this rewriting of the biblical source and most of its commentaries is that Ham becomes the forefather of the Asian peoples and Shem of the Africans: Noe had i i i . sones Sem, Cham & Iapheth. This Cam was he pat saugh his fadres preuy membres naked whan he slepte & scorned hem & schewed hem with his finger to his brethren in scornynge wise & berfore he was cursed to god, . . . and this Cham for his crueltee toke the the gretter & the beste partie toward the est, pat is clept Asye And Sem toke Affryk And Iapheth toke Europe. 4 1 This switching of the positions of Cham and Shem has caused modern as well as medieval editors of this passage some considerable uneasiness since, as Braude shows, a number of them "corrected" this inconsistency.4 2 One such example is the Egerton Version of the text where Shem in his position as Noah's oldest son and not as the cruellest is rewarded with Asia , the largest and richest continent. It should be noted here that the unique manuscript itself reflects this inconsistency Ax Mandeville's Travels, ed. P. Hamelius, 145. For the Paris text see, Mandeville's Travels: Texts and Translations, ed. Malcolm Letts, vol. 2 (London: the Hakluyt Society, 1953), 354: "Si vous diray premierement pour quoy on lappelle Grant Cham . . . . Ce Cham fu celui qui vit le membre naturel de son pere entreulx quil dormoit descouuert, et se moquoit de lui et le monstroit au doy; et pour ce fu l i maudit. ... Ycelui Cham pour sa grande cruaute prist la plus grant partie chumenciel, qui est appellee Asye; Sem si prist Affrique; et Iaphet si prist Europe." 4 2Braude, "Sons," 16-17. 53 as the names of "Seem" and "Cham" have been written over erasures in order to place them according to the orthodox view". 4 3 Thus this passage reads: "Seem, by cause he was be eldest brober, chose be best party and be grettest, whilk es toward be este, and it es called Asy. Cham tuke Affryk." 4 4 The logical conclusion of this passage is presented further on in the text: "And for this Cham this Emperour clepeth him Cham & souereyn of all the world." 4 5 The Mandeville author continues his attempt to trace the lineage of the Great Khan by splicing the genealogical exposition which usually follows the Noah story together with his own version of the geographical diversification of the sons' descendants. Cham's descendants are then presented, starting with Chus as his son and the powerful Nimrod, builder of the Tower of Babel: Cham was the grettest & the most myghty & of him camen mo generaciouns ban of the opere And of his sone Chuse was engendred Membroyh the geaunt bat was the firste kyng fiat euer was in the world & he began the fundacioun of 4 3 Higgins, Writing, 172. '"Ibid. For an example of how this interference has made its way into the present see the translation of this passage by Moseley, 145: "Shem, because he was the eldest, chose the best and largest part, which is towards the East, and is called Asia. Ham took Africa, and Japhet took Europe." ^ Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 146. The attempt of the texts' editors to correct the source reflects, in my opinion, the very same assumption of a stable relationship between geography and genealogy which led to the misconception of medieval ethnography in some of the works of the African historians quoted above. The consequence of this "correction" is that the explanation of the name of the Great Khan which the Mandeville author puts forward, becomes nonsensical, since Moseley places his carefully transcribed "Cham [Ham]" in Africa, and not the Khan's Asia, just to conclude a few sentences further on: "And therefore some men say that the Emperor of Tartary had himself called Ham [Khan], for he is considered the most excellent lord in the world and occupies the same land that Ham was lord of." 5 4 the tour of Babylone. 4 6 Having followed the conventional Noah story up to this point, the Mandeville-author immediately afterwards disappoints a knowledgeable reader's expectation once more in order to make a truly bold claim: And at pat tyme the fendes of helle camen many tymes & leyen with the wommen of his generacioun & engendered on hem dyuerse folk as monstres & folk disfigured, Summe withouten hedes, summe with grete eres, summe with on eye, summe geaunte, sum with hors feet & many ober of dyuerse schapp a3enst kynde. And of pat generacoiun of Cham ben comen the paynemes & dyuerse folk bat ben in yles of the see be all ynde. 4 7 Instead of citing the multitude of languages resulted from Nimrod's building the Tower of Babel, the Mandeville author breaks with tradition 4 8 and claims that the multitude of peoples in this part of the earth are Hell's progeny. To a reader used to the Book's relative tolerance (except, that is for its rampant anti-Jewishness), this rather crude mode of explaining ethnic difference must come as a shock: according to this passage, then, human diversity on earth is due to intercourse contra naturam, or "a3enst kynde," as it is explicitly called in the Cotton Version. The Mandeville author, of course, was not the first to put forward this notion; but the novel way in which he uses this is startling. As an attempt to explain this stance I would 46Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 145-46. 4''Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 146. 4 8 Higgins , Writing, 162-63, stresses the uniqueness of this claim. 55 claim here that the Mandeville author drew on a long tradition of injunctions that attempted to regulate human sexual desire by declaring that all sexual acts outside the bonds of marriage and not for the purpose of procreation were acts against nature, and thus mortal sins. 4 9 This claim then would make all eastern races the product of a common denominator: unnatural and abnormal procreative practices. Clearly, this charge would have had serious implications for the perception of ethnographic difference, and in particular for the status of the inhabitants of "Ynde," whose negative portrait here is only matched by that of the Jews. This semi-theological argument, however, is not followed any further, and the text soon returns to the usual distribution of the races, taking the changed position of Ham and Shem into account. The question of what prompted the Mandeville author to insert this passage, which could have been lifted straight from a typical anti-Islamic propagandistic text such as the King of Tars (discussed below), is difficult to answer. The immediate context, in fact, does not justify reading this passage as a simple piece of religious propaganda since the Mandeville author's final purpose is to portray the Tartars as part of a potential great Christian Empire, reaching from "Denmark to India," to quote the Wife of Bath's summary of the world's extent. I would claim that the obvious intolerance shown in this passage is not so much directed against human diversity per se as against the diversity of human desire. The creatures which are "against nature" represent a mixture of existing races and cultures, as well as more fantastic beings. Since there is no binding logical connection between a specific On this see Jeffrey Richards, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages (New York and London: Routledge, 1991), 22-41. 56 ethnic group and its geographical location and linguistic properties, I would claim that the Mandeville author inserted an obscure piece of instruction on unorthodox modes of procreation, a discussion which is disjunct from the races ethnographic properties. "But I found it operwise" says Sir John, baffling his audience, immediately after he has made this bold claim that the Asian peoples are Hell's progeny. He then offers a competing version of the Chan/Cham story that is just as fantastic as the previously discredited one, although he introduces it with the declaration "the sothe is this." 5 0 In this version it is the dream of Chaanguys (Genghis Khan) which serves as an explanation: as an old man he dreams about a white knight, a kind of prophet who declares that it is God's wi l l that Chaanngys be the leader of the seven Tartar tribes: This man [Chaanguys] layy vpon a night in his bed & he sawgh in avisioun bat bere cam before him a knyght Armed all in white & he satt vpon a white hors & seyde to him: Can, slepest pou? the Inmortall god hath sent me to pe & it is in his wille pat pou go to the .vij. lynages & seye to hem bat pou schalt bene here Emperour. For pou schalt conquere the londes & the contrees pat ben abouten.5 1 This form of prophecy, which has decidedly Christian overtones, is then, as a second strategy to establish the veracity of his claim, added to the Mandeville author's very own and unique version of the Noah story. In this passage there is even a genealogy of sorts, which is reminiscent of the list of the descendants of Nimrod. By quoting this dream vision Sir John 50Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 146. 5XMandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 147. 57 sets up the ruler of the vast Asian Empire as a proto-Christian and, in fact, the Tartars as a form of early or potential Christians, not unlike the Jews of the Old Testament. This rhetorical move becomes most obvious from his use of several elements of the Christian tradition, which surface in various parts of the account. The foremost example is, of course, the Khan's institution of monotheism: The firste statute was bat pei scholde beleeuen & obeyen in god Inmortall bat is allmyghty, bat wolde casten hem out of seruage & at all tymes clepe to him for help in tyme of nede.5 2 Further examples are the Khan's demand that his nobles behead their first-born sons as a sign of allegiance, a submissive gesture which shows a strong parallel with Abraham's sacrifice of his son. The most obvious parallel comes in the part relating the Khan's passage past Mount Belyan, a passage which sounds suspiciously like the Israelites' passage through the Dead Sea: And for bou scalt fynde no gode passage for to go toward pat contree, go [to] the mount Belyan pat is vpon the see & knele bere .ix. tymes toward the est in the worschipe of god Inmortall & he schal schewe be weye to passe by, And the Chane dide so. And anon the see bat touched & was fast to the mount began to withdrawe him & schewed fair weye of .ix. fote brede large & so he passed with his folk & wan the lond of Cathay bat is the grettest kyngdom of 'Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 147. 58 the world. 5 3 A further example of the Khan's resemblance to a Christian monarch are the Latin inscriptions on his seals, such as "Chan filius dei," as well as the assertion that despite their lack of baptism, the Khan and his people embrace some of the most important tenets of the Christian faith: "And all be it bat bei be not cristned, 3it natheles the Emperour & all the Tartareyenes beleeuen in god Inmortall." 5 4 The likeliest explanation for the Mandeville author's attempts to erase as many traces as possible of the Tartars' Otherness is that he wants to set them up as future targets for an Asian mission. Time and again the text makes more than a passing reference to the Khan's general tolerance towards Christians; one such example is the mention of the number of physicians he has in his household, with the Christians the preferred ones: A n d of leches & Phisicyens cristene he hath .cc. & .x. A n d of leches & Phisicyens pat ben sarrazines .xx. But he trusteth more in the cristene leches ban in the Sarazines. In addition to these "professionals," there are already a number of converted Christians living there in relative peace, an indication that a mission to Cathay would be a relatively easy and probably successful undertaking: A n d he hath in his Court many Barouns as Seruytoures bat ben cristene & conuerted to gode feyth be the prechinge of Religiouse cristenmen bat dwellen ^Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 149. Compare also the account in Exodus 15: 16: "But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." i A Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 151-52. 59 with him; But pere ben manye mo bat wi l not bat men knowen bat bei ben cristene.5 5 The final hint for anyone who still has doubts is dropped towards the end of the account of the Khan and his household; the emperor's greatness is once more asserted; in fact, it is said that he surpasses all other potentates, including the Sultan of Babylon, and Prester John: A l l peise ne ben not in comparisoun to the grete Chane nouper of myght ne of noblesse ne of ryaltee ne of ricchesse. For in all peise he passeth all erthely princes Wherfore it is gret harm pat he belueueth not feithfully in god. And natheless he wil l gladly here speke of god A n d he suffreth wel pat cristene men dwell in his lordschippe & pat men of his feith ben made cristene men, 3 i f bei wile, borghout all his contree, For he defendeth noman to holde no lawe other ban him lyketh. 5 6 It seems all that is needed is someone wil l ing and able to make the journey to Cathay, and the Khan's conversion would be as good as made. 5 7 The prospect of a vast, rich, and powerful empire, and thus a Christian ally at the other end of the world, must have been an alluring vision for the English Knight's contemporaries. Not only did they see their own countries waging war against each other, and observed the Holy Land in the hands of Islam, but also Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 157. 5i'Mandeville's Travels, ed. Hamelius, 162. 5 7Higgins, Writing, 172, points out that the Egerton version adds the last sentence to the Khan's portrait for maximum effect, "an invitation to missionary activity, if there ever was one." 60 they were well aware of the threat of the well-organized and successful Muslims who were slowly pushing closer and closer to the boundaries of Christendom. The Mandeville author followed in his ethnography an established model; as I have attempted to demonstrate in my discussion of the various adaptations of the story of Noah's sons, ethnographic difference was perceived in the Middle Ages in far less dogmatic terms than in later times. The medieval perception of the Self and its Other is far less indebted to an exclusive view of Self and Other; in the medieval understanding these two categories can become mutually inclusive. It is quite possible to move between these opposites, a fact which reveals them as entirely arbitrary. Geographical location, language, religion, and appearance were all perceived as signs which had their own frames of reference and which could signify any number of meanings, often contradictory ones. Black skin may have been taken as the colour of the devil, but this seemingly unalterable trait could also be changed into a completely different 'identity', as I want to demonstrate in the following discussion of Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale and The King of Tars. 3. Infidels, Pagans, and Wild Women: Otherness in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale and The King of Tars "A thrifty tale for the nones (CT, II, 1165)!"58 This is how Harry Bailly, the Canterbury Tales' first critic, and host to the other pilgrims, judges Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale. In contrast, few later critics have found the tale as rewarding or even as worthy of their attention. "The All citations of Chaucer are from The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd. ed., gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). 61 religious tales infuriate some, puzzle many others, and are tactfully ignored by most" - such is C. David Benson's assessment of the scant critical attention which the whole group of religious tales, and in particular the Man of Law's Tale, has received. 5 9 The tale indeed reveals a number of problems, ranging from an i l l fitting narrative frame and the rather idiosyncratic literary tastes of its teller to problems of genre and the somewhat unconnected moral preamble. 6 0 As a consequence the tale itself has often been overlooked in favour of its teller or its frame.6 1 In the actual tale, a version of the tale of Constance, 6 2 it is the highly problematic message which makes it hard for most readers to agree with the host's positive assessment. A major reason for this difficulty lies in the extreme polarizations which provide much of the tale's structure and momentum: binary oppositions based on gender and culture characterize much of the plot. 6 3 5 9 C . David Benson, "Poetic Variety in the Man of Law's and the Clerk's Tales," in Chaucer's Religious Tales, ed. C. David Benson and Elizabeth Robertson, Chaucer Studies 12 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1990), 137. 6 0 For a survey of the scholarship on these topics, see A . S . G . Edwards, "Critical Approaches to the Man of Law's Tale," in Chaucer's Religious Tales, ed. Benson and Robertson, 85-94. 6 1Edwards, "Approaches," 90. 6 2 For an overview of versions of the tale of Constance, see Margaret Schlauch, Chaucer's Constance and Accused Queens (New York: New York University Press, 1927), 62-78. 6 3 0 n the question of gender in the Man of Law's Tale see for instance Sheila Delany, "Womanliness in the 'Man of Law's Tale,'" Chaucer Review 9 (1974): 63-71; Carolyn Dinshaw, "The Law of Man and Its 'Abhomynacions,'" Exemplaria 1 (1989): 117-148; rpt. in her Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 156-84; Melissa M . Furrow, "The Man of Law's St. Custance: Sex and the Saeculum," Chaucer Review 24 (1990): 223-35. On the issue of cultural difference see Sheila Delany, The Naked Text: Chaucer's Legend of Good Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 177-78: "The polarities of Occident versus Orient and Christian law versus pagan law make up the basic structural principle 62 In the following pages I want to explore the issue of Otherness in the Man of Law's Tale mainly in the light of these two basic oppositions: the confrontation between Christians and non-Christians and between male and female characters. These dichotomies are inscribed in the text by its narrator, who describes Constance's "mission" as the "destruccioun of mawmettrie, / A n d . . . [the] encrees of Cristes lawe deere" (II, 236-37), as well as by the privileging of the voices of Christian characters over those belonging to the "Barbre nacioun" (U, 281). In contrast to most approaches to the Man of Law's Tale, which are generally centred on the main character, I want to investigate some of the problematic notions expressed in the tale by focusing my attention on the minor and marginal characters. A t the centre of this approach is the question of the way in which Otherness is conceptualized in the Man of Law's Tale and the investigation of the mentalities which speak through these representations. As mentioned above, one of the underlying principles of the Man of Law's Tale is that it creates identities by establishing culturally accepted binary oppositions. I define this term not as the parallel existence of two independent categories of thought, but as a system of power relations, where the dominant part always defines itself through the absence of its desired qualities in the opposite. The opposite is subsequently perceived in its supposed "deficit" in respect to this dominant part.6 4 By applying the concept of Otherness to the Man of Law's Tale, I want to examine how this dichotomy works in the tale and in particular how in the Man of Law's Tale." ^This concept has found its application in gender criticism; see for instance Nancy Jay, "Gender and Dichotomy," in A Reader in Feminist Knowledge, ed. Sneja Gunew (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), 89-106. 63 the minor characters provide a viewpoint different from that of the protagonist and her message. B y including these minor characters in the discussion and in effect giving them a voice, I plan to show that the tale of Constance can be retold both so as to counter the privileging of the protagonist's view and in order to open up a space for an exploration of the world of the non-Christian Others in the tale. Chaucer, of course, did not write an explicitly ethnographic text, yet his treatment of the tale of Constance offers evidence of one way in which medieval authors constructed representations of their Others. Chaucer puts himself into a tradition of writers who help shape perceptions of the culturally different. The political implications, as outlined by Johannes Fabian, indicate power-relations, the power being exerted by the describing culture over the described culture: Othering, in my view, is cut short when awareness of the political dimension of writing remains limited to insights about the political character of aesthetic standards and rhetorical devices. In such critical discourse, anthropology's Other is said to be dominated by ethnography. But to be a victim the Other must be written at (as in "shot at") with literacy serving as a weapon of subjugation and discipline. 6 5 As in the previous examples discussed already Otherness in the Man of Law's Tale is not a fixed category, but rather a variable in the mathematical sense, something which can take on different values according to the "equation" in which it appears. By "equation" I mean here systems of differing narrative or political requirements, which demand different 6 5Fabian, "Presence," 760. 64 representations of Otherness, depending on whether a particular character is to be portrayed as "positive" or "negative." Among the predominant markers of Otherness in the Man of Law's Tale are complexion, religion, and customs; these are markers which signify difference. Depending on the political - and thus contextual - requirements of the tale two diametrically opposed rhetorical strategies are employed in the representation of Otherness. Differences in what are perceived as positive characters tend to be minimized, whereas those regarded as negative are enhanced. The Sultan of Damascus and his merchants are among those infidels who have a positive function in the tale, a fact which consequently has a bearing on their representation. The Man of Law's Tale does not begin with a description of the protagonist, Constance, or her family, but instead with the "chapmen" from Syria, who are doing business in Rome. Unlike the opening of the tale in Nicholas Trevet's Anglo-Norman Chronicles66 or John Gower's Confessio Amantis (U, 587 ff),67 for example, Chaucer's beginning immediately refers to a world beyond the familiar space of Rome, The Orient is evoked here by the description of the Arabic merchants and in particular through the brief catalogue of their goods: "spicerye, / clothes of gold, and satyns riche of hewe" (JJ, 136-37). Apart from the name of their country, expensive cloths and spices are the actual markers of the merchants' different origin. Other possibilities, such as customs, clothing, language, or appearance, are For Trevet's version of the tale of Constance see Originals and Analogues of Some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ed. F.J. Furnivall, Edmund Brock, and W.A. Clouston, Chaucer Society, 2nd Series, vol. 7 (London: N. Triibner, 1888), 1-84. 61The English Works of John Gower, ed. G.C. Macaulay, vol. 1, EETS ES 81 (1900; rpt., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 146-47. 65 not mentioned. The merchants themselves are described as "riche, and therto sadde and trewe" (II, 135). A reason for this obvious endorsement might be that Chaucer wanted to portray them as sober and reliable witnesses whose accounts of Constance reflect their seriousness in business and who also point to the positive characteristics of the Sultan. 6 8 Similarities with their Christian counterparts, like the merchant of St. Denys in the Shipman's Tale are obvious; in the way he does business and in his general conduct the merchant of St. Denys is no different from his Arabic counterparts: "Now gooth this marchant faste and bisily / Aboute his nede, and byeth and creaunceth. / He neither pleyeth at the dees ne daunceth ..." (VII, 302-04). It is particularly the objects of the Syrian merchants' trade which define their Otherness; spices and foreign cloths represent expensive and highly desirable status objects which are difficult to obtain. The domestic space of Rome, the home of Constance, is enlarged and desire is awakened by showing the availability of otherwise unavailable goods. These merchants, on their return to Syria, become an important source of information for the Sultan, who — with his interest in both the commercial aspects and the marvels and wonders of the foreign country — is presented as a medieval collector of ethnographic details. His questions reflect the type of unplanned, unprogrammatic inquisitiveness that is quite different from the purposeful interest of later explorers: 6 9 6 8 I disagree with Robert B . Dawson, "Custance in Context: Rethinking the Protagonist of the 'Man of Law's Tale'," Chaucer Review 26 (1992): 305, who claims that the description of the Syrian merchants is made in the same ironic tone as Chaucer's statement on husbands (II, 272-73) or the description of Constance's wedding-night (II, 704-14). 6 9See the description of the latter by Bernard McGrane, Beyond Anthropology: Society and the Other (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), 23-24. 66 He wolde, of his benigne curteisye , Make hem good chiere, and bisily espye Tidynges of sondry regnes, for to leere The wondres that they myghte seen or heere. (11,179-82) To the Sultan, these merchants also represent a bridge to another culture, and not the goods they trade, but their reports awaken his desire; his interests are, at least in this passage, focused primarily on the Christian woman, Constance. The Other and the implied Self in this first passage of the Man of Law's Tale are represented not so much in terms of different appearance as through different agents of interest. The European desire for exotic goods is contrasted with an imagined desire of the Other for a human representative of the foreign culture. According to Dinshaw these similarities suggest that Constance becomes an object of exchange, not much different from the exotic goods traded by the merchants: "the parallel narration of loading their ships with merchandise and loading their eyes with Constance underscores her position as a thing — a tale, a commodity — that the merchants trade".7 0 Although there are similarities between the treatment of Constance and the merchants' goods as representatives of a foreign culture, the narrative does not reduce the position of Constance to the level of a mere commodity. The complex issue of an intermarriage between a Christian and a Moslem, discussed below, is evidence for the political nature and the far-reaching consequences of this union, which gives it rather more significance than the mere exchange 7 0 Dinshaw, 124-25. Dinshaw's approach is based on Levi-Strauss' sanalysis of kinship systems; see for example Structural Anthropology (New York: Basic Books, 1963), 61: "The mediating factor, in this case [between kinship groups], should be the women of the group, who are circulated between clans, lineages, or families, in place of the words of the group, which are circulated between individuals ..." (Levis-Strauss' emphasis). 67 of exotic goods. The Sultan falls in love with Constance because he has listened to the merchants' reports about her high moral perfection and her beauty. The Musl im ruler is described here as the typical medieval lover pining for the lady he has never set his eyes upon, a lover familiar from courtly love poetry in the tradition of the amour-de-long. If it were not known that he was a Sultan from Syria, there would be no difference between from him and a Christian courtly lover: Thise marchantz han hym toold of dame Custance So greet noblesse in ernest, ceriously, That this Sowdan hath caught so greet plesance To han hir figure in his remembrance, That al his lust and al his bisy cure Was for to love hire while his lyf may dure. (U, 184-89) Amour-de-long was frequently employed in vernacular courtly love poetry and symbolizes love in its highest perfection since the emphasis is usually on moral standards rather than physical beauty as the basis of emotional attachment.71 The protagonist of the Middle High German epic poem Reinfried von Braunschweig, for example, has an experience which closely resembles that of the Sultan: diu siieze minneclTche 7 1 Riidiger Schnell, Causa Amoris: Liebeskonzeption und Liebesdarstellung in der mittelalterlichen Literatur (Bern, Miinchen: Francke Verlag, 1985), 275. On Reinfried von Braunschweig see Alfred Ebenbauer, "Reinfried von Braunschweig," in Die deutsch Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon, vol. V U (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1989), 1171-76. 68 im nie kam uz den sinnen. sin herze muose minnen die doch sin ouge nie gesach. [the sweet lovely one / never left his mind, / his heart had to love / someone he had never set his eyes upon] 7 2 Chaucer's use of a rhetorical device which was well known from the Continental tradition of courtly love, but was rarely used outside this context, 7 3 makes the significance of this relationship obvious. Without doubt, the intention is to portray Constance as a paragon of moral perfection, but the Sultan's moral standing is equally important in this picture. By portraying both characters in an equally positive light, Chaucer, of course, faces a dilemma: while his heroine is the model of a Christian princess, her prospective husband is a powerful Mus l im ruler. Taking into account the proliferation of propagandist writings against Muslims, such as for instance the Charlemagne romances, the negative implications of this choice are obvious. Chaucer's way out of this dilemma is, as already implied above, to make the heathen no different from the Christian, except in name. Difference in this instance is created mainly by denoting a particular character as Other by assigning him a specific name or title or geographical location. These designations serve as markers and merely operate on a superficial level, as is apparent in the case of the Sultan and his merchants.7 4 In their 7 2 Reinfried von Braunschweig, lines 281-84, cited in Schnell, Causa Amoris, 276, my translation. "Schnell , Ibid. 7 4Chaucer's positively portrayed Saracen ruler who marries a Christian and is wil l ing to convert, seems to be based on a widely-used motif as, for instance, the eleventh-century 69 Otherness they mirror the Christians to the point of being copies of them; the Mus l im merchants might as well be represented by the Christian merchant of St. Denys, the Sultan himself by a Christian courtly lover, such as Reinfried von Braunschweig. Chaucer defused this potential conflict by stripping these representatives of the Other of everything that would set them apart from the Christians. Notably absent are any descriptions of religious or cultural practices, as well as any physical traits that would denote the Sultan as Other. 7 5 It was in this instance obviously unsuitable to portray a positive representative of another culture and at the same time emphasize cultural difference. The prevailing strategy is to erase the features of difference, everything that might be unfamiliar and replace them with familiar ones, namely those known from the describing culture. Thus, othering in this context means inscribing similarities into those that are dissimilar. The most visible instance of this reduction of difference is the Muslims' conversion, which signifies the end of their Otherness. Since these characters were already very similar to their Christian counterparts, the conversion here is merely changing of labels. As the absence Byzantine epic Digenes Akrites, shows. The powerful emir, who falls in love with a Christian princess readily agrees to his conversion to Christianity as he assures her brothers: If you deign have me as your sister's husband, For the sweet beauty of your own dear sister I wi l l become a Christian in Romania. (ed. and trans. John Mavrogordato (Oxford: Clarendon, 1959), 21, b k . l , 304-07). 7 5Compare the description of the emir in Digenes Akrites (Mavrogordato, 5): Was an Emir of breed, exceeding rich, Of wisdom seized and bravery to top, Not black as Aethiopians are, but fair and lovely, Already bloomed with comely curly beard ( B k . l , 30-33). 70 of ethnographic differences shows, the real conversion has begun much earlier. The figures of the Sultan and the merchants are now, according to the internal logic of the tale, positive characters and as such become reproductions of the Self, thus being hardly distinguishable from typical lovers or merchants in the medieval Christian context. Furthermore, the liaison between the Syrian ruler and the Roman princess is portrayed as an orderly, political process, "a legitimate and celebrated betrothal, spanning East and West and absorbing barbarians into the fold." 7 6 This process is furthermore described as a complex and lengthy one, involving diplomatic and legal efforts: "tretys and embassadrie" and the "popes mediacioun" (11,233-The canon law of disparitas cultus, the disparity of worship, distinguishes between the baptized and the unbaptized, a fact which is of importance for the validity of a marriage between two partners of different faith. 7 8 This law draws a distinction between Christians on Dinshaw, "Man," 130. Dinshaw's use of the term "barbarian" in this context is a misnomer since one is dealing here with a highly developed culture, heavily competing with western Christianity. A more appropriate term would be "infidel" if one wants to avoid following Constance's pattern of thought by designating everything outside Christianity as "barbre nacioun." 7 7It is interesting to note in this context that Chaucer actually shortened the description of this diplomatic process as compared to Trevet's or Gower's versions; see for instance Edward A . Block, "Originality, Controlling Purpose, and Craftmanship in Chaucers's Man of Law's Tale," PMLA 68 (1953): 576. There is less need for Chaucer to represent the diplomatic exchanges since right from the beginning of the tale he emphasizes the Sultan's similarity with conventional Christian courtly lovers, as opposed to Gower and Trevet, who see the Sultan and his merchants as the typical infidels. Against this background Chaucer could well reduce the legalistic procedures to a minimum. 7 8 Paul Beichner, C.S.C. , "Chaucer's Man of Law and Disparitas Cultus," Speculum 23 (1948): 72n: "During the 12th century marriages with anyone (heretics included) outside of the church came to be regarded as invalid. Thereafter a distinction was made on the basis of the presence or absence of baptism, and the term disparitas cultus was frequently qualified. In its 71 the one side and Jews and pagans on the other, whereby the non-Christian is defined primarily by the absence of certain rituals. 7 9 This problem is recognized by the Sultan's counsellors when the preliminaries to the wedding are discussed: By cause that there was swich diversitee Bitwene hir bothe lawes, that they sayn They trowe that no "Cristen prince wolde fayn Wedden his child under oure lawe sweete That us was taught by Mahoun, oure prophete." (LT, 220-24) This discussion reflects the basic tenets of canon law; a marriage outside this legal framework is not possible, hence the only solution is the conversion of one of the partners. The question concerning which of the partners is to renounce his or her religion gives a clear indication of the power relations depicted in the text. In The King of Tars, for instance, the reverse of the situation in the Man of Law's Tale is described: a Mus l im ruler forces the daughter of a Christian king to marry him and to convert to Islam: E>ou most bileue opon mi lay & knele now here adoun; & forsake pi fals lay Pat pou hast leued on mani a day, & anour seyn Mahoun. strict sense disparitas cultus was a direct impediment invalidating the attempted marriage of a member of the Church to a pagan, or a Jew, or an infidel, or a Mohammedan." 7 9Beichner, "Disparitas," 73. 72 & certes, bot pou wilt anon £>i fader y schal wip wer slon. (470 -76) 8 0 The "false lay" in this case is Christianity and the Sultan in this romance has power over the Christian woman by threatening to ki l l her father and is thus in a position to force her to convert to Islam. In essence, the practice described in the King of Tars mirrors the Sultan's conversion to Christianity in the Man of Law's Tale; in both instances a mutual acceptance of the Other's faith is not possible and the question of who has to convert is solved on the basis of who has power over whom. Even though both texts depict the same process the assumptions behind each conversion scene are radically different: conversions to Christianity are interpreted as a victory over false beliefs, while conversions to other religions are by necessity seen as acts of violence, betraying the inhumanity of the other faith, as the example in the King of Tars shows. Even though the legal basis is the same, the conversion to Islam represents everything the conversion to Christianity does not: submission, violence, and destruction. A further characteristic of the converted, both Christian and infidel, is that they lose their voices and give themselves up to their fate; Chaucer's Sultan, stricken by love-sickness, admits that he has no other choice: "Rather than I lese / Custance, I wole be cristned, doutelees" (U, 225-26); when the King of Tars' daughter is in a similar situation, unable to resist the pressure exerted on her, she says: Sir, y nil pe nou3t greue. The King of Tars: Edited From the Auchinleck MS, Advocates 19.2.1 , ed. Judith Perryman (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1980), 86. A l l further citations are from this edition. 73 Teche me now & lat me here Hou y schal make mi preiere When ich on hem bileue. (483-86) Unlike Chaucer's Sultan, the king's daughter does not give up her faith and exercising her religion becomes an act of conspiracy: "For when sche was bi hirselue on / To Ihesu sche made hir mon" (514-15). Even though she still practices her faith, in public she has to follow the new religion and is mute; in this repect she is no different from the Sultan after his voluntary conversion. A different rhetorical strategy is used when negative examples of Otherness are described; if the positive representation of the Other requires a minimization of differences between the describer and the described, the reverse is the case when primarily negative traits of the Other are inscribed. In the case of those who do not convert or are not to be in opposition to the Christian Self, representations are anchored on an amplification of perceived differences between Christians and non-Christians. These differences are not based on ostensibly clear-cut categories, such as religion, culture or "race," but rather on a cross-section through all these categories. A n example of this strategy is found in the description of the Sultan of Damascus in the King of Tars. Everything about this character — his behaviour, his religious practices, and his complexion — denotes his Otherness. The construction of this character relies on such features as violent behaviour ("soudan fers," 74; "tirant," 63), his closeness to or even identification with animals ("heben hounde," 93; " lyoun," or "wylde lyon" (Vernon and Simeon M S S ) , 105) and the dark colour of his skin ("blac", "so blak" (V, S MSS.) , 799). These turn him into a character radically different from the Sultan, whose 74 portrayal as a courtly lover we have seen in the Man of Law's Tale. A close comparison with Chaucer's Sultan reveals that the Sultan of Damascus' Otherness is primarily interpreted in the text as a set of deficits. The courtly lover is replaced by an unfeeling tyrant, the humane character by a beast-like creature, the "fairness" of the Self gives way to the "blackness" of the Other. Instead of being a firm category, Otherness, inscribed in this mode, can be read as a variable in the mathematical sense, a symbol which takes its value according to the religious position of its object. Before the beginning of the seventeenth century, the fundamental understanding of the order of knowledge, according to Michel Foucault, was based on similitude and resemblance, rather than on difference and comparison: "Resemblance, which had for long been the fundamental category of knowledge — both the form and the content of what we know - became dissociated in an analysis based on terms of identity and difference."8 1 Foucault describes the pre-Enlightenment world as one of a "complex of kinships, resemblances, and affinities, and in which language and things were endlessly interwoven." 8 2 If one accepts Foucault's thesis that resemblance is the key concept behind the medieval organization of knowledge, then the seemingly contradictory representations of what are essentially two very similar figures can be explained by the fact that they represent two essentially different concepts. Chaucer's Sultan is portrayed as a positive character and hence he resembles a Christian courtly lover like Reinfried von Braunschweig, whereas the Sultan 8 1 Miche l Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), 54. • 8 2Foucault, Order, 54. 75 in the King of Tars is perceived as a negative character resembling a typical infidel and having as few similarities as possible to a Christian of the same rank. By regarding Otherness as a variable, medieval writers had the means to react to the requirements of different and changing resemblances, which Foucault perceives as endless: "the interplay of similitudes was . . . infinite: it was always possible to discover new ones, and the only limitation came from the fundamental ordering of things, from the finitude of a world firmly between the macrocosm and the microcosm." 8 3 In contrast to later modes of classifications with their relatively firm boundaries between various categories, this process of organizing knowledge on the basis of similarities and resemblances is inherently fluid and unstable, and it is this nature that consequently accounts for radical changes even within one and the same category. In the case of the Sultan of Damascus in the King of Tars his eventual conversion to Christianity demands that a new set of ethnographic signs make his conversion visible: 8 4 His hide, bat blac & lobely was A l white bicom, burth Godes gras & clere wibouten blame. (928-30) As these examples indicate, the category of the Other, in terms of ethnographic descriptions based on complexion and religious customs, is essentially an open category which can be interpreted according to its perceived or desired proximity to the Self. "Ethnographic" interest is predominantly defined by an imaginary position, which places the 8 3Foucault, Order, 55. 8 4Friedman, Monstrous, 65, traces the motif of the change of complexion to Fulgentius of Ruspe who "spoke of baptizing an Ethiopian whom he saw as 'one not yet whitened by the grace of Christ shining on him'." 76 Other in perspective to the Self. The seemingly contradictory descriptions of the Muslims in both texts illustrate the extent to which political and contextual considerations can influence the construction of a character and how a different evaluation of such a character requires a different ethnographic identity, thus establishing the desired similarity. This discontinuity lays bare how these texts construct their Other according to their own particular ideological requirements; since these requirements can vary — the narrative logic in the Man of Law's Tale calls for a positive character for instance, whereas the King of Tars demands the opposite — the subsequent representations reflect these narrative constraints. A further aspect of the relationship between Self and Other can be seen in the case of Constance and her two female opponents, the Sultan's mother and Donegild. In their resistance to Constance these two characters represent the oppositional forces to Christianity; the fact that they are both female shows that in this text cultural opposition and female gender are closely linked. Stephen Manning has commented on the opposition between Constance and her two main antagonists and suggests a dependence between these female characters: Of the three significant women in the tale, two hate her and attempt to dispose of her (although the means they use is indirect: do they instinctively recognize an aspect of themselves in her and realize they cannot really destroy her and what she represents?), and they are both slain. 8 5 Manning poses a crucial question about the recognition of certain traits by the mothers-in-law in the figure of Constance; reversing this question, one may ask whether these two 8 5Stephen Manning, "Chaucer's Constance, Pale and Passive," in Chaucerian Problems and Perspectives: Essays Presented to Paul Beichner C.S.C., ed. E . Vasta and Z.P. Thundy (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978), 15. 77 "significant women" represent characteristics which were incompatible with a patiently suffering, passive Christian heroine. Being diametrically opposed to Constance they are constructed out of what were perceived as negative traits, thus providing a definition of the heroine by the mere absence of such traits in her. 8 6 In the council scene the Sultanness refuses to accept her son's conversion and asserts her own identity: "Lordes," quod she, "ye knowen everichon, How that my sone in point is for to lete The hooly lawes of our Alkaron, Yeven by Goddes message Makomete. But oon avow to grete God I heete, The lyf shal rather out of my body sterte Or makometes lawe out of myn herte!" (II, 330-36) In her resistance and assertiveness, the Sultanness is the counter-image of her son. 8 7 In contrast to her son, the mother represents the Other as negative presence, rather than as positive absence. She insists on her autonomy and actively seeks and defends her power. 8 8 8 6Delany, "Womanliness," 67 . 8 7 Elaine Tuttle Hansen, "The Feminization of Men in Chaucer's 'Legend of Good Women'," in Seeking the Woman in Late Medieval and Renaissance Writings: Essays in Feminist Contextual Criticism, ed. Sheila Fisher and Janet E . Halley (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1989), 51-70, argues that male characters are frequently prone to "feminization" when they fall in love with a female character, a fact which also applies to the Sultan who stands powerless between Constance and his mother. 8 8Delany, "Womanliness," 67. 78 Her identity as a person is mainly inscribed in terms denoting a different religion. The implicit pairing of opposite terms "Alkoran" - "Bible", "Makomete" - "Christ" is apparent enough and, as in the case of the male characters, does not show any real ethnographic knowledge of the Other. The Sultanness values her independence and identity in the same absolute terms as her son desires Constance. In contrast to her future daughter-in-law, she insists on using her voice and her power. This voice not only expresses her dissent but also assures her activity by demanding a "verbal act of fealty from her followers." 8 9 The key issue is that a refusal of the "newe lawe," of conversion, saves her from spiritual and physical submission: What sholde us tyden of this newe lawe But thraldom to oure bodies and penance, And afterward in helle to be drawe, For we reneyed Mahoun oure creance? (II, 337-40) The Sultanness denies what Constance proclaims to be woman's fate, repeating her earlier words: Wommen are born to thraldom and penance, And to been under mannes governance. (II, 286-87) Submission and suffering are seen as the essential characteristics of a medieval Christian wife. This "newe lawe," which is rejected by the Sultanness, translates as the acceptance of submission and suffering by Christian women. By becoming a Christian, the Sultanness would have had to consent to the reduction of her status as well as give up her own personal 8 9 Dinshaw, "Man," 132. 79 freedom.90 In the council scene she reacts to this threat posed by her son's marriage. I see the primary motivation for her actions in her concern for her own physical safety and her assertion of her right to practice her religion: "I shal make us sauf for everemoore" (U, 343) is her concluding remark in her speech to her followers. Her opposition to Constance's declaration of "thraldom" and "penance" under the domination of men, in short, her attempt to remain an autonomous Other and not be brought within the fold of Christianity, voices a legitimate concern. The Sultanness's words are also to be understood as a reaction against the violent changes proposed by her son's marriage, which would result in the overthrow of established social relations and the end of her self-determination. After the announcement of her son's conversion and marriage, the Sultanness does not accept the a fate of: "thraldom and penance"; instead, she reacts in the only way open to her; she has to recognize that she has no other choice than to counter violence with violence herself. Even though the degree of violence she resorts to is excessive, one still has to bear in mind that she does not initiate this cycle of violence but rather that her deed is a reaction against the violation of her status. Her plan to have all the guests at the wedding killed is the only answer she can give, short of passively accepting her fate, and not a malicious act motivated primarily by her "selfishness."91 90Gower emphasizes the aspect of economic independence when the Sultanness comments on the consequences of the marriage: "If it so is / Mi Sone him wedde in this manere, / Than have I lost my joies hiere, / For myn astat schal so be lasses" (II, 646-49). 91I disagree with Manning and Clasby who both echo the medieval position which fails to see the violence done to the victims in the first place. Manning, "Constance," 18, in his interpretation of the mothers-in-laws' resistance to their sons' plans perceives these figures as the 80 B y kil l ing her own son she makes a horrifying and powerful statement; in its final consequence this murder shows the inhumanity of Christian thinking as it is propagated in the tale. Dinshaw remarks on the number of dead bodies which mark Constance's way 9 2 and which are the direct result of this ideology: the idea of the Christian communitas, as expressed by Constance, does not permit the possibility of an extra communal existence. The Sultanness's kil l ing of her son is the ultimate means for the mother to assert herself. She reacts to her son's conversion and proposed marriage in the same way in which she duplicated her son's council scene. In essence, she reverses the Christian meaning of baptism and gives her own interpretation of the significance of the ritus to those who do not accept it and its significance: Coold water shal nat greve us but a lite! For thogh his wyf be cristned never so white, She shal have nede to wasshe awey the rede, Thogh she a font-ful water with hire lede. (II, 352, 355-57) Apart from the Sultanness's rejection of the sacrament, her comment highlights the negative side of baptism, which as a ritual of acceptance into the Christian community is also constructed as an instrument of exclusion against those who seek an existence outside the disruptive elements, the "destructive side of the Feminine," which is primarily motivated by a "connection of egotism and selfishness to uncontrolled instinct." Clasby, 224, takes up Constance's position and interprets the Sultanness as the aggressor and Constance as the victim: "when exiled from Syria, she does not express submission to the wi l l of her tormentor, the Sultaness." 9 2 Dinshaw, "Man," 139. 81 Christian faith. Provided with no other choice, the Sultanness demonstrates how the water of the font can turn into blood. The acceptance of Christianity is an absolute process; an acceptance of the Other is not possible in this particular mode of thinking. Non-acceptance, as the tale shows, results in the Other's physical annihilation. 9 3 The attributes which Chaucer bestows upon the Sultanness are common enough in the antifeminist tradition and place her outside the community of her gender as well as outside the human community altogether.94 The tale's various definitions of her — as "virago" and "semyrame the secounde" (U, 359), "serpent under femynynytee" (U, 360), instrument of Satan, "scorpioun" and "wikked goost" (II, 404) — denote various forms of Otherness by removing her from the community of women, 9 5 and assigning her to the realm of the non-human, the world of animals, and the sphere of the non-divine, of demons and the Antichrist. It is particularly the Sultanness's association with the devil which points to this dark side of Christianity. This side serves as a collective locus for all those who do not conform to the The dichotomous relationship between life and death, signifying the essence of baptism, can be read literally in the tale. See for instance V . A . Kolve, Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative: The First Five Canterbury Tales (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984), 320: "The sacrament is a rite of birth and initiation — the birth of the 'new man,' the spiritual man — but it is also a ritual of struggle and death: the death of the 'old man,' the carnal nature in which we descend from Adam." 9 4 Delany, "Womanliness," 68. 9 5 Delany, The Naked Text, 177, draws attention to the tradition of Semiramis, who "formerly a much-honored military leader, becomes a prototype of feminine erotic evil: usurping man's prerogative to rule, murdering her husband to do so, committing incest with her son, and, in some texts, inventing trousers as female attire." (On this last claim see also above on the marginalium in Comestor's Historia Scolastica, 15n). Dinshaw, 135, interprets the Sultanness' removal from womanhood and humanity as such to mean that "'femynynytee' itself is thus kept free of evil , free, in fact, of independent desire or action." 82 Christian ideal. 9 6 Her rejection of baptism and her open declaration that she does not intend to give up her faith are reasons to remove the Sultanness from society and place her in the realm of the infernal. Otherness, in one of the most drastic of Christian images, is made the negation and final annihilation of the Other's existence. This is made clear later on when the Roman emperor sends his troops On Surryens to taken heigh vengeance. They brennen, sleen, and brynge hem to meschance Ful many a day. (II, 963-65) Ultimately, the Other is defined as absence. In the case of the Sultanness this process can be traced as a movement, beginning after her exclusion from society (the absence of baptism), passing through her degradation (the status of the sub-human), and arriving at the position of absence and negation (personified in the ghost and Satan) and her final ki l l ing. Constance's second opponent, Donegild, is also placed outside the Christian pale. One important distinction between her and the Sultanness is that there is not the same ethnic difference between Constance and the pagan inhabitants of Northumberland as there was between Constance and the Saracens. This is exemplified in Constance's first encounter on Northumbrian soil when she meets the constable of a local castle and their different languages indicate their cultural difference, a difference which, however, is easily overcome since they find a language in common: " A maner Latyn corrupt was hir speche, / But algates For the connection between the demonization of Muslims, Jews, and other members of non-Christian religions see Jeffrey Burton-Russell, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984), 83-84. 83 therby was she understonde" (II, 519-20). 9 7 Donegild, like her Musl im counterpart, opposes her son's marriage. Despite many parallels with the Sultanness, Donegild's primary motivation does not seem to be based on religious grounds, but rather on a question of gender, which certainly also played a role in the representation of the Sultanness, but not, I would argue, as exclusively as in Donegild's case. Like the issue of cultural identity, the question of gender is also a question of power: "Gender," according to Joan W . Scott, "is a constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes, and ... is a primary way of signifying relationships of power." 9 8 For the Man of Law's Tale this means that Donegild knows that Alla's marriage wi l l deprive her of her status and power as queen and subsequently relegate her to the status of mother-in-law, while her former position would be taken over by Constance, a change which she resists — and an action described by Chaucer as "tirannye" (II, 696). In contrast to the Sultanness, who uses her political power in order to gather forces to fight the Christian intruders, Donegild uses the only means available to her, her writing. Making use of what Chaucer terms a forgery, Donegild in fact rewrites the story of her son's marriage and thus gives herself a voice: And stolen were his lettres pryvely J. Burrow, " A Maner Latyn Corrupt," Medium Aevum 30 (1961): 36-37, traces this expression back to Isidore of Seville's classification, which defines it as a late stage of Latin, "a lingua franca current in mercantile and maritime districts" with the advantage of being "understood by foreigners in strange lands." 9 SJoan W . Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," The American Historical Review 91 (1986): 1067. 84 And countrefeted was ful subtilly Another letter, wroght ful synfully, Unto the kyng direct of this mateere. (II, 744, 746-48) For Donegild the marriage of Alia and Constance and the birth of the son mean the end of her status as the highest ranking female in her son's court. Donegild is repeatedly described as the "kynges mooder" (U, 696, 730, 786), and is clearly placed in rank beneath Constance, who is referred to as "queene" (II, 693). The previous balance of power between Alia and Donegild has been upset by the arrival of Constance and the birth of the son further relegates the king's mother to a secondary position. Donegild perceives both Constance and Mauricius as representatives of the supernatural and the demonic; she describes Constance as "an elf" (II, 754) and the child as a "feendly creature" (U, 751). Both are perceived as intruders into her own sphere and Donegild's denial of their human existence reflects their threatening nature as well as her inability to accept them as her kin. This is the first step in Donegild's strategy to have both "intruders" removed from her realm. The measures Donegild takes to rid herself of the intruders are far less drastic than those employed by the Sultanness; in order to regain her independence it is enough for her to have Constance and Maurice removed from her court. In her rebellion, Donegild makes "gender trouble," to borrow Judith Butler's phrase." Donegild's behaviour is criticised since she falls out of her assigned female role of mother and mother-in-law, a fact obvious from Chaucer's commentary: Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1990). O Donegild, I ne have noon Englissh digne Unto thy malice and thy tirannye! And therfore to the feend I thee resigne; Lat hym enditen of thy traitorie! Fy, mannysh, fy! -- o nay, by God, I lye — Fy, feendlych spirit, for I dar wel telle, Thogh thou heere walke, thy spirit is in helle! (II, 778-84) Donegild's activity as well as her aggressiveness seem incompatible with the gender role assigned to her. Chaucer uses the term "mannysh" to indicate that she has transgressed a boundary set by the accepted gender expectations: The cultural matrix through which gender identity has become intelligible requires that certain kinds of "identities" cannot "exist" — that is, those in which gender does not follow from sex and in which the practices of desire do not "follow" from either sex or gender. 1 0 0 Donegild's rejection of her subordinate role and her destructive actions violate the constructed gender identity of women as it is depicted in the text; Chaucer attempts a possible explanation, namely that of a male gender identity, which is obviously at odds with the character's sexual identity. Donegild epitomizes the aggressive and active woman, an image which troubles Chaucer, a fact which he clearly states when he refers in his full description of her to the fiend. In Butler's terms she represents a gender identity which was not permitted to exist; hence the poet's refusal to conceptualize her in his writing. 1 0 0Butler, Trouble, 17. 86 A n idea of what was considered appropriate and inappropriate female behaviour is outlined by the Knight of L a Tour-Landry in his book of instructions, devoted to his daughters, "to the entent that thei might lerne and see bothe good and euelle." 1 0 1 Chapter 103 makes use of the exemplum of the women who wept for Jesus in order to formulate a definition of a permissible female gender identity and its counterpart: "And, therfor, it is saide, a woman that is not humble and pitous she is mannisshe and not womanly, which is a vice in womanhode to be rude or of hautigne courage." 1 0 2 Pity and humbleness denote a desired female gender identity, whereas rough, w i l d ' 0 3 and courageous behaviour, which is considered male behaviour, is not sanctioned. This crossing of gender boundaries is not only described as contrary to the accepted norm of female behaviour in the Christian Middle Ages, but it is also marked as a vice and hence it is related to punishment and Hel l , as expressed in the exchanging of the term "mannysh" for "feendlich." In this particular instance the vice is specifically bound to the female gender, and is disciplined by its exclusion from the Christian community. B y assuming traits reserved for males, the female character oversteps a boundary, trespasses on male territory, and is consequently termed "mannysshe;" not only is she denied her own gender identity, but the classification of her behaviour as a vice also assigns her to the abnormal. In the Man of Law's Tale this crossing of gender boundaries is expressed in the poet's inability to conceptualize Donegild in his own words and the mThe Book of the Knight of La Tour Landry, Compiled For the Instruction of His Daughters, ed. Thomas Wright, E E T S 33 (London: Trubner, 1868), 3. 102 Knight, 136. 1 0 3 The MED offers translations, such as "lacking in refinement," or "barbarous, uncivilized." 87 subsequent denial that she has a soul. Butler's description of the gender identities which "cannot exist" is taken literally in the tale; the spiritual death of Donegild is followed later on by her physical death. As in the case of the Sultanness, the Other has no place and its destruction is the only answer the Self has to this challenge. A radical change in Chaucer's attitude towards Otherness can be observed in his description of the Anglo-Saxon pagans inhabiting Northumberland. In contrast to the Muslims, nothing specific is known about their religious or cultural habits, other than that they are "payens"; the country, we learn, had once been inhabited by Christians but they had been driven south, to Wales. Very much as the explorers of the "New World" in the sixteenth century viewed the indigenous peoples, Chaucer regards the earlier, pagan state of his own culture as a "blank canvas" on which the image of Christianity could be painted. 1 0 4 These Anglo-Saxon pagans are depicted right from the outset as potential Christians, and are in effect no different from the Christians they are later going to be; they are not "in possession of a competing reality." 1 0 5 The pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons exist in a kind of limbo, in a "neutral space of potentiality, having no possible 'religion' of their own." 1 0 6 This idea of the "blank canvas" is usually applied to the way in which the Europeans encountered exotic, previously unknown people, as mentioned above in the case of the discovery of the See Bernard McGrane, Beyond Anthropology: Society and the Other (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), 15. As pointed out earlier, this observation also holds true to a certain degree for the Saracens, since the text constructs them according to its own requirements. In the case of the Anglo-Saxons, however, this fact is much more pronounced. 1 0 5 McGrane, Anthropology, 15. 1 0 6 M c Grane, Anthropology, 16. 88 Americas: "the exotic is always empty, it is characterized by lack, and this incompleteness calls forth and justifies attempts to fi l l in this gap in iconographical, textual, sexual and military terms." 1 0 7 As I pointed out in the representation of the pagan stage of the Anglo-Saxons, their identity is also non-existent. To modify Mason's thesis one could posit that it is not the previous state of the Other which is pivotal in its treatment as a non-entity but rather that the decisive factor here is the projection of the wish to make the Other the Same. The pagan Anglo-Saxons are certainly not perceived as exotic in the sense in which the peoples of the Americas have been, and yet their treatment is similar. Despite these differences, however, both have in common that from the viewpoint of the European Christians they are suitable for conversion. Like the narrator in the Man of Law's Tale, the missionaries were primarily interested in spreading their own faith rather than in understanding the indigenous culture of the peoples they encountered: "The religious were not interested in studying native society for its own sake, but only as a means of incorporating it as quickly and as completely as possible into what Oviedo called 'the Christian Republic. '" 1 0 8 The earlier, pagan stage of the Northumbrians exists mainly through the absence of Christianity, denoted by their description as "payens" (EL, 534, 542), as opposed to the "Cristene Britons" (EI, 547). The few Christians who live there serve later on as a bridge to lead the pagan population to Christianity. Even though the pagans in Northumberland are as 1 0 7Peter Mason, Deconstructing America: Representations of the Other (London, New York: Routledge, 1990), 110. 1 0 8 J . H . Ell iot , The Old World and The New: 1492 - 1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 34. 89 much outside the Christian communitas as the Syrians, there seems to be an underlying notion which associates them with the Christian Self even before their conversion. Specific signs of this proximity are the three Christians who live in the vicinity of Hermengild's castle and, more importantly, the trial scene of Constance before K i n g A l i a , which eventually leads to the conversion of the whole population: And for this miracle, in conclusioun, A n d by Custances mediacioun, The kyng -- and many another in that place — Converted was .... (U, 683-86) This anticipation of the Anglo-Saxons' conversion is mirrored in the trial of Constance; even though A l i a and his people are still pagans when they start the trial, the procedures of this trial are already described as those of a later Christian, Anglo-Saxon, or Anglo-Norman culture, 1 0 9 a fact which contradicts the time-sequence of the events. This sequence of events is significant here; the references to Christian Celts, who formerly inhabited the region, the remaining pockets of Christians, the "Britoun book, written with Evaungiles" (II, 666) and the trial scene itself not only anticipate the conversion, but also help to create a link between the Anglo-Saxons' phase of paganism and their conversion to Christianity. Their Otherness is 1 0 9 Marie P. Hamilton, "The Dramatic Suitability of the 'Man of Law's Tale'," in Studies in Language and Literature in Honor of Margaret Schlauch, ed. Mieczyslaw Brahmer, Stanislaw Helsztynski and Julian Krzyzanowski (Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers, 1966), 158, remarks on this fact, but omits to mention the sequence of events: "In developing the judgment scene, therefore, Chaucer had in mind the only judicial procedure that was consonant with his plot, or historically appropriate to the setting of the episode, in a household which included Christian converts in the Anglo-Saxon domain of A l i a . " Joseph Allen Hornsby, Chaucer and the Law (Norman, Ok.: Pilgrim Books, 1988), 147-48, claims details of the judicial procedure reveal that the trial scene does not represent Anglo-Saxon law, but is the much later Anglo-Norman law. 90 presented as merely a phase they have to pass through and is at no point an issue. The consequence of this portrayal of the Anglo-Saxons' past as a blank page is that their conversion is irreversible; unlike the Muslims described at the beginning of the tale, the Anglo-Saxons do not have the possibility of returning to their former Self, since it never existed. As a result, cultural or religious differences are hardly mentioned and the narrative centres on Constance's miracles. The strategy in this case is to stress the accomplishment of the transition to Christianity rather than to create binary oppositions between the old and the new religion. The miracles (the healing of the blind and Constance's defence in court) act as catalysts to bring about the conversion first of Hermengyld and the constable and later of King A l i a himself. In contrast to the Syrians, these European pagans can be described as "proto-Christians," who almost seem to have been waiting for an appropriate signal to convert. Even though those Syrians who consented to their conversion become in effect almost identical with the Christians, as pointed out above, there is still an underlying difference which distinguishes them from the pagan Anglo-Saxons. The law of disparitas cultus, mentioned in connection with Constance's first marriage, emphasizes only a disparity of religion and does not stress ethnic difference. Consequently, discussion of such differences, or at least its mention, would have been as appropriate in the second instance as it was in the first. The wedding with King A l i a , and the resulting conversion, however, are treated only in a cursory way. Chaucer, who in the first case gave some space to explaining the marriage partners' "diversitee" in faith and the efforts to overcome this difficulty, hardly comments on the formal aspect of Constance's marriage with A l i a . He even stresses the normality of the union by refusing to give a fuller account of it: 91 Me list nat of the chaf, ne of the stree, Maken so long a tale as of the corn. What sholde I tellen of the roialtee A t m a r i a g e . . . (H, 701-04) Chaucer's reluctance to tell more about Constance's marriage with A l i a is symptomatic of the mentalite according to which the European Other is represented in the tale. With his refusal to relate any particular details of the marriage's formal aspects, Chaucer creates an image of the normal and the usual; according to him it is just another, typical marriage of the aristocracy: cultural difference is a non-topic in this context. If one contrasts this description with that of the Syrians, where complex legal and diplomatic efforts are necessary in order to make the marriage possible, the topic of the Anglo-Saxons' Otherness exists merely in the text's silence. The moment A l i a and his people convert to Christianity the last trace of their previous difference disappears; they have become an integral part of the Self and are henceforth no longer distinguishable from their former opponents. The two different mentalities displayed in connection with two radically different ethnic groups become most apparent i f one compares the reaction of the Christians when finally confronted with their former opponents. A new structure of binary opposition is created; the old dichotomy of Christian - non-Christian has been superseded by the opposition between assimilation and independence." 0 As already mentioned, the Syrians 1 1 0 I disagree with Kolve , Imagery, 321-24, who explains the different treatment of the former Syrian Christians and the Anglo-Saxon Christians by pointing to the Syrians' inappropriate motivation: they have a personal reason for the conversion (the Sultan's love for Constance) as opposed to A l i a , who is moved by the miracle. Since amour-de-long was considered one of the highest forms of the expression of love it would not likely have been used 92 become victims of a punitive expedition by the Christians; no difference is made between those who converted and those who kept their old faith. The Sultanness's ki l l ing is answered by even greater bloodshed. Alla 's kil l ing of his mother, Donegild, however, results in an enthusiastic welcome in Rome, "as to doon any kyng a reverence" (II, 1001). The Pope absolves him of his responsibility for his mother's death and after the recognition of his wife and his son he is firmly integrated into a genealogy of European rulers. The Sultanness and her followers are killed by the Romans, whereas Alla's son is made a Christian emperor. The most visible symbol of the extension of the Self is the integration of Maurice, Constance's and Alla's son, into the succession of Christian, European rulers: This child Maurice was sithen Emperour Maad by the Pope, and lyved cristenly; To Cristes chirche he dide greet honour. (II, 1121-23) The inclusion of Maurice into the succession of Christian emperors transcends the eventual death of the Self, symbolized in Constance and Al i a . It ensures that the Self is extended beyond the physical limits of its agents. In direct contrast stands the conclusion of the tale, where the dichotomy between the Self and the Other is represented in its ultimate terms; the independent Other is relegated to the realm of the non-being. To the mentality displayed in the tale a continuous existence of the Other outside the control of the Self is not tolerable. In Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale two strategies of its elimination are apparent. One possibility is to associate the Other with the infernal, the negative side of Christianity. From in order to describe a morally inferior motivation as suggested by Kolve. What is interesting in Kolve's argument is that he, like his medieval precursors, turns the question of Otherness into an issue of morality, or rather the lack of it. 93 there the exclusion of the Other is taken further and the negation of the soul is extended to the body. The tale translates spiritual death in the Christian sense into physical death; on this dark side of Christianity the water of the font turns into blood. The second way to deal with the Other is exemplified in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. Like the merchants and the Sultan in the beginning of the tale, the Anglo-Saxons are absorbed into Christianity. In the case of the Northumbrians the transformation is total: a "lapse" into the other culture is not possible since by their very construction any part of their identity before their conversion is suppressed. Despite the variety of Christian and non-Christian Others appearing in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale, the strategies used in their literary constructions are remarkably similar. One over-riding principle is that Otherness, be it based on religion, gender, or culture, is not permitted to exist next to the Christian Self. In every instance the Other is purged from the text, although again the specific textual strategies for doing so vary. Those who are "unrelenting" and unwilling to be subdued face physical extinction, while in other cases all former traits of Otherness are virtually erased and are replaced by those of the Christian culture. 94 P A R T 3 "WICKIT L A N G AGE": LEPROSY AND T H E SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF B L A M E Concepts are not spontaneously created but are determined by their "ancestors." Ludwik Fleck, 1935. He pat ys yn dedly synne / Gostely he ys a mesyl with-ynne. Robert Mannyng of Brunne, Handlyng Synne. Lepra comep ofdiuers causes. Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietaribus rerum. And the leper in whom the plague is his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. Leviticus 14, 45. 1.1. The Social and Historical Significance of Leprosy In his Madness and Civilization Michel Foucault comments on the social space the lepers inhabited in late medieval society, and the lasting impact this social position had long after the waning of the actual disease: 95 What doubtless remained longer than leprosy, and would persist when the lazar houses had been empty for years, were the values and images attached to the figure of the leper as well as the meaning of his exclusion, the social importance of that insistent and fearful figure which was not driven off without first being inscribed within a sacred circle.' Foucault's work is, of course, not primarily concerned with the medieval leper but it could not be achieved without him. The figure of the medieval leper does not merely stand for a sick person, it also embodies a whole range of notions and reactions to this particular kind of a diseased body. Unlike other diseases, however, leprosy represents more than just another sickness: the strict rules of segregation and stigmatization, which can be traced back to the injunctions in Leviticus, assign the leper a special place in relation to the rest of society. The unanimous and strong reaction of society towards lepers cannot be satisfactorily explained by the seemingly logical reason of protecting the healthy from the diseased. One might ask here what exactly is it that the rest of society is so afraid of that great pains are taken to segregate those unfortunates? Why are the rules regulating contact between lepers and the rest of society almost identical in geographically highly diverse areas? Considering all the attempts to contain lepers, a logical question is, what kind of power do these sick bodies have in order to provoke such adverse reactions? Foucault notes that there are certain societal reactions which can be delineated from the time of .the Middle Ages and which for centuries to come regulate the way in which 'Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, tr. Richard Howard (New York: Vintage Books 1988), 6. 96 society dealt, and to some extent still deals, with its misfits: Leprosy disappeared, the leper vanished, or almost, from memory; these structures remained. Often, in these same places, the formulas of exclusion would be repeated, strangely similar two or three centuries later. Poor vagabonds, criminals, and "deranged minds" would take the part played by the leper, and we shall see what salvation was expected from this exclusion, for them and for those who excluded tham as well. With an altogether new meaning and in a very different culture, the forms would remain — essentially that major form of a rigorous division which is social exclusion but spiritual reintegration.2 Using Foucault's analysis as a point of departure in my examination of the phenomenon of leprosy, I want to redirect the critical focus primarily onto the medieval period and examine several particular issues, such as the inscription of the disease on the human body, the social strategies of stigmatization and, most importantly, the textual strategies of the construction of blame. The underlying assumption of my argument is that there is a co-dependence between the lepers and the rest of society, albeit an uneasy one, since even those who are stigmatized and largely excluded from society are yet very much a part of the social makeup. One of Foucault's observations that is productive in this context is his drawing attention to the double-bind that exists between the leper and society: on the one hand, everyimaginable attempt is made to exclude the lepers from a shared physical space, whereas on the other hand there seems to exist an equally strong need within society for some 2Foucault, Madness, 7. 97 perception of an outsider, who, despite all attempts of exclusion, is nevertheless included in the social and discursive space shared by both society and outcast. In my argument here I am building on the assumption of the socio-hygienic role of the leper, which allows for a discursive identification of a particular group of outsiders, whose visible Otherness sets them apart from the mainstream of society. One consequence of this position, apart from their forming a distinct social group, is that lepers can be used to explain, condemn, or regulate certain social phenomena which do not necessarily have to do with the primary cause of their difference, namely their disease. In this position the leper represents a social locus for certain traits which are seen as standing in opposition to social norms and values, and the leper thus fulfills the function of supplying a negative foil or more precisely of a scapegoat against or through which certain values of the dominant late medieval culture can be defined. In this part of the dissertation I want to explore two aspects of the phenomenon of medieval leprosy. The first is the discussion of the disease from a transhistorical perspective: certain notions and anxieties which surrounded the medieval discourse of leprosy have proved astonishingly long-lived and are clear indications that some diseases are not purely medical phenomena, neatly contained in and by scientific discourse, but are also social phenomena that shape and define social behaviour. The second aspect concerns the rhetorical strategies employed by medieval narratives which mirror the social implications of leprosy, the most important of them being the ascription of blame. A s part of this investigation I want to conduct an experiment and read the literary representations of leprosy as medical case histories since both genres, the narrative text as well as the medical texts are accounts that offer some form of description of the disease's etiology and both attempt to explain the 98 reasons that have led up to the patient's condition. The reason for this enterprise is that I see texts of both genres essentially as narratives, which can be interpreted as fictions and as specific literary creations since both rely on a number of shared rhetorical strategies. Robert Henryson's Testament of Cresseid is the centre of my investigation, and is supplemented with examples drawn from Beroul's Roman de Tristan, as well as Konrad von Wiirzburg's Engelhard, the latter two highlighting certain issues which are not or only briefly discussed by Henryson. Before taking up this investigation, though, I want to sketch briefly the history of leprosy and its institution from the twelfth to the fifteenth century. 1.2. The Institutionalization of Leprosy in Historical Context B y the eleventh century documented cases of leprosy become more frequent and it is possible to distinguish a pattern of social reactions to the disease, the most remarkable of which is the creation of hospitals and lazar houses in western Europe. The fact of an increasing number of foundations of leper hospitals is, however, as Peter Richards remarks, not directly indicative of a rise in the number of cases of leprosy. Richards sees motives other than acts of pure charity in this significant increase: The mushrooming of leper hospitals in the early Middle Ages indicates that the disease was widespread, but it does not prove that leprosy was either common or increasing. Before inferring an explosive outburst of the disease it would be wise to ask why the hospitals were founded. Were they established to combat an epidemic or was there another reason? If these hospitals were primarily dedicated to the public health, why were the resources so curiously 99 dedicated: St. Giles' leper hospital at Norwich, to take an extreme case, had an establishment of a master, 8 chaplains, 2 clerks-in-holy-orders, 7 choristers, 2 sisters, and 8 lepers; why not a master, a chaplain, 2 sisters, and many poor lepers?3 Richard's comment on the apparently rather more self-serving than charitable nature of many of these foundations permits the (probably conservative) conclusion that leper hospitals served the society which created them as much as those for whose benefit they were claimed to exist. Several benefactors make no secret of their intentions when founding leper hospitals, as for instance in the case of Robert de Roos, who in 1225 founded a house in Bolton "for the health of my soul and for all my predecessors and successors." In a similar way the foundation of the hospital at Cardiff during the reign of Richard II was motivated "for the good state of the King , the Earl of Gloucester, and the burgesses and commonalty, and for their souls after death, and to maintain 24 beds in the hospital for leprous, poor and feeble persons . . . ." 4 These examples illustrate that concern for the public, or even for the lepers themselves, was not necessarily a primary motivation to make large endowments to leper hospitals; it was rather the founders' own interests that were put first and foremost, or in Richard's words, "in short, medieval leper hospitals were essentially the expression of charity engendered by a heavenly bandwagon, not a spirited defence of the national health."5 3Peter Richards, The Medieval Leper and His Northern Heirs (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1977), 11. 4Richards, Medieval Leper, 12. 5Richards, Medieval Leper, 12. 100 Apart from the rather selfish motivation to donate money for a good cause, what these examples demonstrate is the almost mutual dependence of the lepers on society to create the necessary institutions and thus spaces for them, but also the need of society for some group of outcasts on whom these works of charity could be performed. In this sense, the double bind between leper and society goes beyond the previously mentioned scapegoat function and even enables members of society with money to raise their social status by making an endowment, as well as ensuring the spiritual care of their souls, a fact that is not to be underestimated. I take this ambivalent relationship between society and its outcasts as symptomatic of this mutual dependence, a relationship which goes beyond the more materialistic or directly spiritual concerns outlined in the quotes above. A further factor, which I think is unique for the way in which medieval society dealt with the phenomenon of leprosy, is the universality with which it was recognized throughout medieval Europe. R. I. Moore stresses the uniqueness of the phenomenon as "one which represents a remarkable effort of organization and expenditure."6 Despite a high degree of decentralization and a strong emphasis on local structures, the establishment of institutions devoted to lepers occurred at roughly the same time and was to be observed almost universally all over western Europe. 7 Significant in this context is that this development in its somewhat anomalous uniformity points to a common perception of the threat posed by 6 R.I . Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 (Oxford: Basil BJackwell, 1987), 51. 7See the table by Moore, Formation, 52, which traces the development of leprosaria in England/Wales, the Pas de Calais region, and Paris between 1075 and 1300. 101 leprosy, or more precisely, by the lepers themselves.8 Although charitable motives certainly played a significant role in the foundations of these institutions, it cannot be overlooked that all this happened in an increasingly hostile environment for lepers. Moore makes the point that the threat of exclusion from a leper house as a sanction of a repeated breaking of the house's rules does not necessarily mean that the prime purpose of these houses was not the lepers' segregation, but merely means that life outside was even worse: In other words, the anxiety of the leper to be admitted to the lazar house, or not to be expelled from it, and the degree of charitable achievement which its foundation and maintenance represented, must be very largely a measure both of the rigour with which segregation was being insisted on and the horrors which attended it.9 In accordance with this observation is John Boswell's thesis, which claims that from the second half of the twelfth century on a dramatically rising intolerance affected a number of disadvantaged, but highly heterogenous social groups, such as Jews, homosexuals, "and lepers all over France [who were] imprisoned and prosecuted on charges of poisoning wells and being in league with Jews and witches."10 While part of a general movement towards the persecution of minorities, the almost uniform attempts to single out lepers and to segregate 8Peter Richards, Medieval Leper, 5: " Attitudes towards lepers in medieval Europe shared a uniformity imposed by one Church. Only by understanding the reason behind these attitudes can the full impact of the disease upon those who suffered from it be uncovered." 9Richards, Medieval Leper, 55. 10John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe From the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 272. 102 them make this group distinct from, say, the Jews, who, although universally persecuted had to suffer more from localized incidents. These were often triggered by a specific event, such as for example the discovery of a boy's body in a well at Lincoln in 1255, an event that achieved a sad notoriety in the tale of "Little Hugh of Lincoln," and had gruesome consequences for the Jewish community; nineteen Jews were hanged and a further ninety barely escaped the same fate." A specific paradox, which is characteristic of the ambiguous relation society had to the lepers, was that they were frequently made responsible for their own suffering, and in the sense outlined by Boswell, also accused of other crimes, a fact which seems to stand at odds with the immense fear of contagion. Theological and medical opinions frequently agree that moral transgressions are the reason for the outbreak of the disease. The Middle Ages did not solve this paradox, but at least it spared the lepers the universal condemnation of other marginal groups, as described by Belker: While scripture had nothing to say to "exonerate" Jews, "witches," and sodomites, the lepers could at least be respected as having a future of a residence in heaven, as the successors of patient lob and could be included into the canon of Christian works of charity. 1 2 This ambiguous status of the leper is another indication of the mutual dependence of lepers and society outlined above: while the lepers needed society to survive, society in turn needed "Moore , Formation, 37-39. 1 2Jiirgen Belker, "Aussatzige: 'Tuckischer Feind' und 'Armer Lazarus,'" Randgruppen der Spatmittelalterlichen Gesellschaft, ed. Bernd-Ulrich Hergemoller (Warendorf: Fahlbusch Verlag, 1990), 201, my translation. 103 its lepers not only as "God's poor people" on whom works of charity could be performed, but also as agents of sickness, deformity, and uncleanness against which society could define its own notions of selfhood, and purity, and thus establish a paradigm of 'normality.' 2. Leprosy and its Social Functions 2.1. The Cultural Context: "Unclean, unclean!" The difference between the leper and the healthy person is more than simply one which separates the sick from the healthy person; the measures taken to identify, as well as to contain, lepers suggest that this dialectic entails a signification process which points to a social mechanism that affects society at large and not merely those afflicted by the disease. It is not so much the presence of the disease, but rather the deviation from a certain norm which accounts for the presence of the social 'dis-ease.' Although diseases have without doubt serious consequences for the lives of the individual patient and can entail a great deal of very real pain and individual suffering, the presence of a disease is nevertheless also a social condition, which can be subject to change as society's attitudes change.13 Diseases do not exist, and have never existed, in a social vacuum. Human bodies, it follows, are never the private entity one assumes or wishes they were, but are always part of a public and political system, a body politic in the true sense of the word. In a state of health this relationship 13Jeffrey Weeks, Against Nature: Essays on History, Sexuality, and Identity (London: Rivers Oram Press, 1991), 104, explains the rejection of homosexuality from the list of clinical conditions in 1973: "The decision of the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to withdraw homosexuality from its list of diseases was not a result of careful scientific reassessment. It was transparently a result of careful lobbying and mobilisation, which reflected a new willingness on the part of homosexual people to break with hostile categorisation." 104 between the private body and the social system is hardly noticeable, since the former functions and looks in accordance with the expectations of the latter. It is only when this 'contract of normality' is disrupted that these constraints become visible: Any given human body may be a discrete physical object, but conceptually the human body participates in the collective architecture of a larger social body. This larger body cannot be cordoned off from ideological forces. It cannot be understood to be apolitical or to stand outside the vicissitudes of historical social systems and beliefs. Hence, efforts to understand and to control any given human body in its interactions with other bodies — the task of public — health policy, for example - participate as well in the inevitably political nature of bodies. 1 4 Epstein explains the nature of the phenomenon of disease as a threat to a culturally constructed normality which only indirectly takes into account the consequences for the patient. One consequence of this violation of normality and normativity by the patient is that it sets a process in motion which seeks to identify a guilty party, be it of a particular heresy, a deadly sin, a specific virus, or a deemed risk-behaviour. The violation of social norms is seldom without consequences, and in the case of diseased bodies one important consequence is the blaming of something or someone for the state of abnormality. This double-bind becomes particularly obvious in the case of highly emotional discussions of diseases, as for instance, in the case of H I V / A I D S since the early 1980s : AIDS also represents a threat to the human body, but this threat derives from 1 4 Julia Epstein, Altered Conditions: Disease, Medicine, and Storytelling (New York: Routledge, 1995), 20. 105 deviations from the norm in the social expectations it has spawned, rather than in resulting in such deviations. In all these cases ... one crucial issue concerns the ascription of blame. 1 5 The case of H I V / A I D S is by no means singular in history; it merely represents the latest manifestation of a number of clinical conditions which have elicited rather violent reactions from society. This violence becomes particularly visible in the rhetoric that surrounds certain stigmatized diseases and their transmission, for which culprits have to be found. In this sense, despite all the achievements made in today's medicine, certain mechanisms of constructing blame can be traced back to a long tradition of judging outsider groups of a particular society or to certain behaviours, considered deviant: AIDS is by no means the first disease to elicit a rhetoric of blame, pollution, and stigma, or the first epidemic that has infringed on human and civi l rights. Jews were accused of spreading bubonic plague in Rome, just as African-Americans were held responsible for syphilis in the United States in the 1930s . . . . We could find the same doling out of blame to the disenfranchised in other outbreaks of these and other diseases — leprosy, yellow fever, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, influenza. 1 6 In the Middle Ages, the connection between diseases and social groups was rather more obvious, but many of the strategies, such as the naming of culprits, and the shifting of blame onto.outsider groups, are social reactions to the disease which are by no means 1 5Epstein, Conditions,2\. 1 6Epstein, Conditions, 169. 106 singular events, as the instance of the plague shows: At the psychological and cultural level European reactions were obvious and v a r i e d . . . . In time, rituals arose to discharge anxiety in socially acceptable ways; but in the fourteenth century itself, local panic often provoked bizarre behavior. The first important effort at ritualizing responses to the plague took extreme and ugly forms. In Germany and some adjacent parts of Europe companies of Flagellants aimed at propitiating God's wrath by beating each other bloody and attacking Jews, who were commonly accused of spreading pestilence.1 7 These two examples have been selected to reveal an historical continuity which points to an underlying concept of disease, and which shows surprising similarities no matter if the diseases occur in today's Europe and North America or in fourteenth-century Europe. One fundamental observation is that disease has never existed in a vacuum, and, hence that societal evaluation plays an important role in how diseases are perceived. This evaluation also influences discussions about their supposed causes, and ultimately about the nature of conditions, which are considered diseases to begin with. A particularly forceful association is that of the disease with the perception of the unclean, which in turn permits us to explore some of the social mechanisms employed to construct positions of normality, as well as the intricate ways societies have of laying blame on particular groups and individuals. Mary Douglas in her study Purity and Danger Wil l i am H . M c N e i l l , Plagues and Peoples (Garden City, N . Y . : Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976), 161. 107 emphasizes the social significance of "dirt" for definitions of defilement and purity. As a cultural signifier, dirt represents resistance to some kind of order. This violation of order can be expressed in the jargon of our contemporary science of hygiene, or that of other systems of ritual pollution: If we abstract pathogenicity and hygiene from our notion of dirt, we are left with the old definition of dirt as matter out of place. This is a very suggestive approach. It implies two conditions: a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Dirt is never a unique, isolated event. Where there is dirt, there is a system. 1 8 The shouts "unclean, unclean!" uttered by the priest in Leviticus after having examined a person suspected of having contracted leprosy echo this system of ritual division of cleanness and defilement. The priest's diagnosis can be interpreted as the awareness that a system of (ritual) purity has been violated. His words are the beginning of an attempted reconstruction of order by pointing out those individuals who are considered polluted, and thus as standing in opposition to the system. The reaction of the priest is to single out inappropriate elements, which might have the potential to disrupt this system: "In short, our pollution behaviour is the reaction which condemns any object or idea likely to confuse or contradict cherished classifications." 1 9 The body of the leper represents precisely this threat to a society which can not accept 1 8 Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 35.1 want to add here that I interpret 'dirt' not as a moral category, but rather as a discursive signifier, which can take on any number of culturally defined meanings. "This idea of dirt takes us into the field of symbolism and promises a link-up with more obviously symbolic systems of purity" (ibid). 1 9Douglas, Purity, 36. 108 its deformed surface. As Douglas puts it, "the body is a model which can stand for any bounded system. Its boundaries can represent any boundaries which are threatened or precarious." 2 0 The leprous body is at once defying the boundaries set up by the community of the 'healthy,' and at the same time delineating the boundaries of this very community. Douglas further argues that the reason bodily margins and surfaces are so invested with power and danger is that they symbolize vulnerable areas, 'points-of-entry' into the body, so to speak. Although different cultures interpret these dangers in radically different ways, they all have in common some preconception of intrusiveness, which could alter the body's state.21 Clearly, the presence of the leper violates these carefully guarded bodily boundaries, and thus creates a great deal of anxiety: the disease and its disfigurements on the leper's skin defy any system of carefully guarded entrances, while the inflamed skin and its lesions make the leper's body 'fluid', that is boundaries between the body's surface and the environment become hard to define. As a consequence intrusions in both directions are possible: the "leaking bodies" are difficult to contain in the sense that the lesion's discharge can contaminate areas outside the infected body, as well as matter from the outside world can enter the sick body via these infected areas. Douglas locates one of the bodily danger zones at the very margins of the body, since at this point bodies can alter their shape and appearance, 2 0Douglas, Purity, 115. 2 1Douglas, Purity, 121-26. Douglas highlights the arbitrariness of this system by referring to the Hindu caste system, where women who have sexual intercourse with a man of a lower caste are brutally punished, but those who commit adultery with a man from a higher caste are introduced into his lineage. 109 and can be transformed into unfamiliar, altered bodies. 2 2 Furthermore, any bodily discharge emanating from these openings is treated as highly suspicious substances: Matter issuing from them is marginal stuff of the most obvious kind. Spittle, blood, milk, urine, faeces or tears by simply issuing forth have traversed the boundary of the body. 2 3 If bodily fluids, which are the sign of a healthy, normally functioning body, can cause a great deal of anxiety, how much more powerful must be the discharge of the diseased body, one might ask at this point. Douglas concludes her discussion of the significance of the body's margins with the observation that its investment with power is dependent on the specific culture and its shared beliefs: "Each culture has its own special risks and problems. To which particular bodily margins its beliefs attribute power depends on what situation the body is mirroring." 2 4 The situation which is present in the leprous body is that of a state of sickness, that of a malfunctioning body. One of the most crucial measures taken to differentiate between the healthy and the sick is that of a diagnosis, however crude and simple it may be. This could mean nothing more than simply to find out if an item or a person for that matter violates 2 2 A contemporary example would be the practice of body piercing, which is frequently found among young people in their late teens and twenties. This practise creates clearly visible symbols on the body that express their wearers' belonging to a specific group; in addition it also serves to differentiate them from older, more established members of society. There is, of course, also the "shock value," since the practise alters the appearance of the body by penetrating its surface in parts which are expected to be closed to the environment and unadorned. 2 3Douglas, Purity, 121. 2 4Douglas, Purity, 121. 110 'cherished institutions' by being 'out of place.' A very simple model of a diagnosis would be Douglas's example of such seemingly trivial incidents, such as shoes being put on the dining table, or cooking implements in the bedroom, to illustrate violations of order. 2 5 To determine, however, that shoes do not belong on the dining table, we first have to make the observation that they are out of place, thus to diagnose their inapproproriate location in order to pronounce an irregularity and remedy the situation by putting the shoes where they belong. In a similar way the medical diagnosis seeks to establish certainty about the health of a particular individual; for this purpose referring to pre-existing case histories is instrumental in establishing an etiology. These case histories can then be perceived as a form of "clinical storytelling," 2 6 which lends itself to methods of interpretations no different from those of other literary genres: The process of producing differential diagnosis, therefore, comes to mimic in a variety of ways the process of interpreting other kinds of narrative stories. In other words, clinicians seeking to locate the causes of particular disruptions to the body bring to their task a set of intellectual operations conceptually similar to those used by literary critics, philosophers, ethnographers, and others whose job it is to interpret nonmedical narratives.2 7 The basic purpose of these 'clinical narratives' is to establish whether a specific condition of order has been violated, that is, whether the body can be designated as sick or healthy. 2 5Douglas, Purity,35-36. 2 6Epstein, Conditions^. 2 7Epstein, Conditions,25. I l l 2.2. Interpreting Disease One of the underlying notions of diseases as expressions of a disturbed social order is that they signify conditions of living bodies, which defy an ordering principle, namely that of the healthy, and in a clinical sense, largely 'invisible' body. The 'visibility' of the body means that in a state of health it does not draw any undue attention to its functioning. This clinical visibility is mainly determined by the nature and severity which vary according to the disease, but which alter a body's "natural" state. A diagnosis, consequently is an Erkenntnisvorgang, a process of recognition, which in this context involves the 'reading' and interpretation of certain symptoms in order to determine whether a body is to be classified as violating a system of order (commonly referred to as 'a state of health') or whether these symptoms are to be disregarded. Ludwik Fleck, who in 1935 published the account of his investigation of the development of the modern understanding of concept of syphilis as a venereal disease,28 can in my opinion be credited as one of the first theoreticians of science to acknowledge the importance of the various perceptions and explanations of the disease-entity throughout their history, as well as their influence on its present etiology. One of the valuable tools devised by Fleck is his separation of the disease as a discursive entity from the 'causes' attributed to it during the course of its history. Characteristic of Fleck's work is the importance which he 28Ludwik Fleck, Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache: Einfiihrung in die Lehre vom Denkstil und Denkkollektiv (Basel: Benno Schwabe und Co, 1935). I will be quoting from the English translation: Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, trans, and ed. Thaddeus J. Trenn, Robert K. Merton, and Fred Bradley (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979). I am indebted to Penelope Ironstone-Cotterall for drawing my attention to Fleck's work. 112 then attaches to the social forces that shape the discourses on disease: Furthermore, whether we like it or not, we can never sever our links with the past, complete with all its errors. It survives in accepted concepts, in the preservation of problems, in the syllabus of formal education, in everyday life, as well as in language and institutions. 2 9 For the epistemology of a particular concept of what is commonly referred to as a 'disease', Fleck advocates the inclusion of its history, since current concepts are not simply spontaneous creations, existing in an ahistorical vacuum, but are always determined by their historical predecessors, as unlikely and 'unscientific' as these predecessors may appear if viewed from a later period. Fleck exemplifies this by referring to the concept of syphilis, . which is not to be formulated as 'the disease caused by Spirochaeta pallida.' On the contrary, Spirochaeta pallida must be designated 'the microorganism related to syphilis.' Any other definition of this microbe is hopeless, and further, because of the question of germ carriers, cannot serve to define the disease unambiguously. 3 0 For an appropriate understanding of the disease and all its ramifications Fleck devises the concept of what he terms a "thought collective," or "Denkkollektiv," which "provides the special 'carrier' for the historical development of any field of thought, as well as for the given 'Fleck, Genesis, 20. 'Fleck, Genesis, 21. 113 stock of knowledge and level of culture." 3 1 The practical application of the role of the thought collective and the dependence on it of any scientific inquiry into the disease's historical predecessors, is readily apparent from Fleck's brief sketch of syphilology: Disease as a punishment for fornication is the collective notion of a society that is religious. Disease caused by the influence of the stars is a view characteristic of the astrological fraternity. Speculations of medical practitioners about therapy with metals spawned the mercury idea. The blood idea was derived by medical theoreticians from the vox populi, 'Blood is a humor with distinctive virtues'. 3 2 This brief outline of various historical responses to the phenomenon of syphilis, as well as the attempts to explain the disease's origins and to find cures do not merely illustrate the nature of the disease as a social construct, but as a consequence are also indicative of the disease as a discursive concept. Expanding on the wider category of thought, Fleck emphasizes the nature of the community, which shares certain mental concepts: Cognition is the most socially-conditioned activity of man, and knowledge is the paramount social creation [Gebilde]. The very structure of language presents a compelling philosophy characteristic of that community, and even a single word can represent a complex theory. To whom do these philosophies and theories belong? 3 3 3 l Fleck, Genesis, 39. 3 2 Fleck, Genesis, 41. 3 3 Fleck, Genesis, 42. 114 Fleck's question about the property of ideas and notions is crucial in the discussion of the significance of the historically unstable place of concepts such as diseases. To take up this thought I want to add another and yet I think related question, which wi l l guide my own inquiry into the nature of the late medieval phenomenon of leprosy, namely the question, to whom does the disease belong? The easy part of the answer to this question is that it very rarely 'belongs' to the patients themselves, as wi l l be relatively clear to anyone who is aware of the objectification of the patient in modern clinical discourses.3 4 Rather more complex is the second part of the answer, which touches upon the relationship between those governing the discourses of disease (today's medical, scientific, and political professionals) and those who are the objects of the discourse, the patientes. The thought collective, as indicated in Fleck's brief historical overview, can also account for the intrinsic power relations in this kind of discourse. As in all situations where power is distributed unevenly, the question is whom do these discourses serve? Who stands to gain from the injunctions, recommendations, regulations, sanctions, segregations ...? To illustrate this with a brief and by no means meant to be exhaustive example, I want to invoke the situation of the sick as well as the healthy body in today's society as embattled loci, claimed by the medical establishment, rather aptly called in German Schulmedizin, that 3 4 A rare and courageous example of resistance to the dehumanizing effects of the modern discourse of institutionalized psychiatry is, in my opinion, Hanna Green's narrative / Never Promised You a Rose Garden (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964). The fact that the author had to resort to using a pseudonym is a sad testimony to the inherent violence of clinical system and particular its mental institutions, which in itself negate the possibility of a 'cure' and its complicity with the social stigmatization associated with particular kinds of diseases, such as schizophrenia. 115 is trying to assert its own legitimacy in a sphere of economic and political power. The political system, which grants the medical profession its financial as well as its social prestige, in turn receives at least some its legitimation from this profession, 3 5 as do the pharmaceutical companies which are first and foremost responsible to their shareholders. In addition, a not-to-be underestimated power is exerted by the media which shape the perceptions and opinions of the public. For the Middle Ages I want to argue that the sick body presents an equally embattled space, but one claimed, this time, by the prime moral institution of the church and its c iv i l authorities. 2.3. Leprosy and its Diagnosis To enforce this system of control over sick and healthy bodies the authorities have to rely upon the readiness of members of the community to denounce the suspect. No different from the morally justifiable handing over of a criminal, the first stage of the diagnosis of the leper is ususally as Brody states, the sick person being suspected of being a disease carrier and his denunciation, typically by neighbours; following the denunciation is the examination: The initiation of a victim into his hell was usually undertaken in an atmosphere of castigation. The law often required the leper to report himself to those entrusted with diagnosing leprosy, but voluntary admission of the disease must have been infrequent, 3 5 For an example of the interdependence between the medical profession and political forces, see Epstein, Conditions, 158-59, and her explanation of the effect of the double-bind on the body of the HIV positive person: "In addition to being jammed with what Stephen S. Morse calls 'viral traffic', the body infected by H I V has also been penetrated by a set of politically and socially hostile notions of contagion, pollution, and threatening communicability." 116 and usually the separation of the leper began with public accusation by neighbors. 3 6 The oldest evidence of this practice and the ensuing examination is found in Leviticus 13:2, 42-45. The aim of the procedure, which, as outlined in the passage, is to arrive at a diagnosis, is incidentally also the most obvious link between religion and disease: When a man shall have the skin of his flesh rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then shall he be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: . . . And i f there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead. Then the priest shall look upon it: and behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head ... as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh; he is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head. This diagnosis is a straightforward narrative process, which verifies certain physical symptoms, in this case inflamed lesions of the skin, and pronounces the verdict "clean" or "unclean." Depending on the diagnosis, the patient is then either released or segregated from the community. For the duration of the disease the leper is removed from the community and is forced to reside outside its boundaries, as outlined in the following verse: " A l l the days wherin the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." Only the priest then can decide whether someone once diagnosed is considered 'cured' and allowed to re-enter the society of the healthy. As 3 6 Brody, Disease, 61, and Ricards, Sex, Dissidence, 151. 117 already discussed above, the verdict "unclean" denotes more than simply the presence of unclean objects: it rather signifies in this context that the system of social order, which regulates the early Jewish community, has been upset by one of its members. For the Middle Ages the examination of the leper, the examen leprosorum, or Lepraschau, was the basis for the social exclusion of the diseased. The suspected leper is thoroughly examined, and depending on the outcome, the sick person is then asked to leave the community as a living dead, to take up residence beyond the boundaries of the town or settlement, most likely in a lazar house.37 Of particular importance in this context is that the early Jewish community perceived leprosy as a punishment for sins: Hebrew commentators on Leviticus give a variety of causes for leprosy: idol worship, gross unchastity, bloodshed, profanity, blasphemy, robbing the public, illegally usurping a dignity, overweening pride, evil speech, the evil eye. . . . The Hebrew tradition carried over into Christianity and when the Bible was translated into Greek and Latin, the words for 'unclean' - akathartos and immundus - did have moral TO connotations. Belker, "Feind," 207 also remarks on the social mechanisms of the lepers' exclusion from society: "The theoretically emphasized moments of labelling, segregation, and ghettoization, which in the case of other marginal groups can often only be documented in their most rudimentary shape, are to be observed in the case of the lepers almost in their purest form. (My translation.) 38Jeffrey Richards, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages (New York: Routledge, 1991), 159. 118 2.4. The Diagnosis as Text Medical texts give an outline of a multitude of symptoms and attempt to provide a catalogue of the various manifestations of the disease.3 9 To illustrate the medieval thought community's ways of 'writing leprosy', I have selected John Trevisa's Middle English translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus's encyclopedia De proprietaribus rerum. Chapter 64 of book VII deals with leprosy and lists four principal forms of the disease: "In foure maner wise lepra is diuers, as pe foure humours bep passingliche and diuersliche imedeled." 4 0 Bartholomy's text here shows its indebtedness to the theory of humours as an explanation for the etiology of the disease. Based on the teachings of Hippocrates, the theory was most notably propagated by Galen and applied to explain numerous medical conditions: a balanced distribution of humours signifies good health, whereas an excess or deficiency is a sign of sickness. 4 1 According to this theory, there are four common types of leprosy as the chapter in Trevisa shows: lepra elephancia, lepra tiria or serpentina, lepra vulpina, and lepra leonina, each Saul Nathaniel Brody, The Disease of the Soul: Leprosy in Medieval Literature (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1974), 21, notes the remarkable similarity between literary descriptions of leprosy and its representations in contemporary medical texts, and the equally striking dissimilarity between medieval and contemporary manifestations of the disease. He offers the plausible explanation that "the disease has probably altered its form since the Middle Ages, and [that] medieval doctors could not always distinguish leprosy from other skin diseases; at the same time, there is evidence that medieval authors were describing not what they saw but what they ought to see and what their readers expected them to see." 4 0Bartholomaeus Anglicus, On the Properties of Things, trans. John Trevisa, ed. M . C. Seymour (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1975), 432. A l l further quotations refer to this edition by page number. 4 1 O n this concept see for instance Brody, Disease, 36-37, and epecially Francoise Beriac, Histoire des lepreux au moyen age: un societe d'exclus (Paris: Edition Imago, 1988), 17-20. 119 primarily depending on the excess of a particular humour, as for instance in the case of lepra vulpina: Pe pridde maner lepra comep of melancolye infectinge of blood, and hatte alopicia and vulpina 'foxissh': alopos in grewe, vulpes in latyn, 'fox' in englissh. I>e fox hap a propirte pat his here fallip in be somer for hete of blood in be ly[uour]; so ofte his here bat hap pis euel falleb of browes and of obir place. (424) This passage explains the particular stages of reasoning used in the late medieval thought community to construct this particular variant of the disease. The primary reason for the affliction is the patient's infection of his blood with melancholy, a symbol of the earth and associated with black bile, which in turn has the qualities of cold and dry matter, and which then leads to the loss of hair, one of the symptoms of the disease. The complexity of this thought system becomes apparent from its linguistic as well as its allegorical extension to animal qualities: the reference to the fox and its properties invokes a causality which goes beyond the mere explanation of symptoms and offers, in my understanding, a second, competing explication of the disease, which is on a moral level. Medieval bestiaries, most notably the Physiologus, have little good to say about the fox. Drawing on a rich tradition from antiquity, the fox is variously described as sly, harmful, and generally an ally of the devil with a particular propensity to fornication, manslaughter, and avarice and whoredom. By giving one particular manifestation of leprosy the name of the fox, the thought community almost automatically sets an associative interpretive process in motion, which in its multiple layers provides an etiology of the disease and at the same time a possible explanation of its 120 causes. A n important part of my interpretation of leprosy in literary texts rests on this combination of outer, or 'environmental' causes, and the moral statement the particular text explicitly or implicitly makes. Trevisa's relatively unemotional enumeration of the possible ways of contracting leprosy are witnesses of this conflation of causes: Lepra comep of diuers causes, oupir of be forseid humours, as of dwellynge and wonynge and companye and ofte ta[l]kynge wip leprous men; for pe yuel is contagious and infectip opir men. Also it comep of fleischly lygynge by a woman sone aftir bat a leprous man hap ilaye by here. A n d som[ty]me it comep [of] fadir and modir, and so bis contagioun passip into pe childe as it were by lawe of heritage . . . whanne a child is conceyued in menstruel tyme . . . an som[tyme] it comep of outward cause. . . . (426) These diverse causes contain any number of possibilities of contagion, ranging from the 'outward' causes, such as bad air or bad meat, the prolonged use of pepper and garlic, the bite of a poisonous worm, to more complex ways of infection by another human, as outlined above. Of particular interest in this list of causes is, again, the mention of some morally highly sensitive issues, such as the disease's sexual transmission. While the list devotes equal space to environmental causes and the consequences of sexual intercourse, it is nevertheless that sexual activity forms one of the subtexts to the discourse of the disease. Richards, for instance, quotes a decree issued by King Edward m in 1346 in order to expel lepers from London, which specifically stresses the danger of sexual contagion posed to the healthy population: many persons being smitten with the blemish of leprosy . . . endeavouring to 121 contaminate others with that abominable blemish . . . by carnal intercourse with women in stews and other secret places, detestably frequenting the same, do so taint persons who are sound, both male and female . . . 4 2 The point I want to stress here is that the very etiology of the disease conveys a notion of corrupt morality and sexual licence, often hidden among lists of 'harmless' causes, which right from the moment of diagnosis relegate the disease to the field of moral transgressions. The admittedly somewhat provocative question, asked earlier, to whom the disease belongs, can, at least partially, be answered by saying that it belongs to those who have an interest in the control of human sexuality. The notion of uncleanness, already present in the examples in Leviticus and commented on by Jewish writers, seems to have lived on in the European Middle Ages. As the discussion of Mary Douglas's notions of purity and danger shows, the assumptions behind the leper's threat and the assumed contagiousness of the disease have their foundation in the leper's violation of the community's system of order, not least of its moral framework; in addition Epstein's analysis of medical narratives in revealing the social constructedness of these accounts and suggesting their generic relationship to narrative texts, justifies reading literary accounts in the same manner as the scientific. 3. The Narrative of Leprosy 3.1. Robert Henryson's The Testament ofCresseid and the Question of Guilt In my reading of Henryson's Testament ofCresseid I want to ask of it some of the questions discussed above. Of particular relevance in this investigation is what I perceive as the text's 4 2Richards, Sex, Dissidence,\58. 122 conceptualization of the leprous body in order to make a moral judgment. Its aim is to use Cresseid's transformed body as a negative exemplum in order to warn the text's female readers not to follow her example of having more than one sexual partner. One of the underlying strategies the text uses to achieve this end, I would claim, is the construction of blame: Cresseid has failed, and thus there are certain modes of behaviour which bring about her fate. To make Henryson's manner of construction clear I want to contrast the Testament of Cresseid with several other narratives thematizing leprosy: Konrad von Wiirzburg's Middle High German Engelhard, Beroul's Old French Roman de Tristan, and the Middle English version of the tale of Amis and Amilyoun. The principal difference between Henryson's text and the latter texts is, of course, that they all describe a cure for the disease. This cure stands in sharp contrast to 'scientific' views of the disease, which clearly governed the descriptions of its etiology. The point I want to make here is that the availability of a cure to certain characters, and its unavailability others, like Henryson's Cresseid, signifies one of the clearest literary instances of moral reasoning and its subsequent construction of blame. I want to posit here that it is the overtly sexual nature of Cresseid's trespass which precludes her recovery, and which is the reason for the harsh condemnation of her character, while the disease (even with almost identical symptoms) is treated in a rather less condemning way in at least two of the other texts. The disease may be the physical manifestation of the character's changed state of health, but the reason for this change is found before the disease's onset; the perceived degree of 'guilt' of the individual determines the societal judgement of this individual, and 123 thus ultimately of the disease itself. 4 3 In my reading of The Testament ofCresseid I want to attempt to delineate these two aspects of cure and moral judgment and demonstrate their interdependence. Whi le the reader is confronted with a whole set of medical notions about leprosy and its symptoms, he is also at the same time provided with an interpretative tool, which suggests a reading of the disease in its moral dimension and thus supplements the medical case-history with a socio-moral narrative. Using the interpretative approach suggested by the text, one can see that Cresseid's 'real' disease started much earlier than the outbreak of its symptoms; in the eyes of society, Cresseid has been diseased long before. Robert Henryson's Testament of Cresseid opens with the usual invocation of nature, but in this case with spring, described as a "doolie sessoun," in contrast to the ususal happy picture of the April 's "shoures soote," as one finds in Chaucer's General Prologue. Henryson's framing imagery offers a symbolic analogue to his poet-persona's troubles, which are caused by old age.4 4 The poet-persona is unable to fall asleep and takes solace in "ane quair," which is, of course, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. Of consequence for my reading Epstein, Conditions, 17, for instance investigates the social consequences of H I V / A I D S and unpacks the notion of this interdependence between what she calls 'moralization' and 'medicalization': "Social fears about HIV transmission, indeed, have constructed a powerful story that delegates people with AIDS to a premorbid status as abnormal. Unless you can prove that you are an 'innocent victim', something must have been wrong with you from the start for you to have contracted this disease." ^Douglas Gray, Robert Henryson (Leyden: Br i l l , 1979),165, interprets this passage as reflecting on the narrator-persona, as well as foreshadowing the events to unfold in the poem: "Perhaps some of its contrasts here are mysterious premonitions of what is to come. The reader may pause later in the poem to reflect that the contrast of temperatures presages the heat and cold of love and of lovers, in the persons both, of the narrator and of Cresseid." 124 of Henryson's poem, and especially in view of Henryson's narrative use of the disease, is the poet's own, personal situation, briefly mentioned at the beginning. The speaker is obviously not a young man anymore and he makes it clear that he has experienced both the youthful fire of love and its dying in old age, as well as the means to remedy it: Thoht lufe be hait, yit in ane man of age It kendillis noht sa sone as in youthheid, Of whome the blude is flowing in ane rage; And in the auld the curage doif and deid, Of whild the fire outward is best remeid: To helpe pe phisike whair that nature faillit, I am expert, for baith I have assailit. 4 5 Henryson, here in the persona of the poet-narrator, sets himself up as an authority on the issue of love; and his advanced age, as well as his experience in this matter, doubtless qualifies him in the eyes of his late medieval readers. His invocation of the goddess Venus, whose servant he once has been, to renew his ability to love once more ("my faidid hart of lufe sho wald mak grene," 24) shows his personal involvement in the subject matter. Although his position as the seasoned "hand" of the goddess of love suggests some detachment, it is nevertheless clear that he is by no means a disinterested party. His reference to his own physical shortcomings, due to old age and necessitating the aid of "physike," puts the poet in a curious relationship with his subject: in contrast to the young lovers whose blood is thin and liable to 45The Testament of Cresseid, in The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Denton Fox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 111-131, lines 29-35. A l l further quotations are from this edition; line numbers wi l l be given directly following the citation. 1 2 5 boil up easily, he himself suffers from an excess of cold and dry humours, which hamper his sexual power and make him unfit for love. Perhaps as a self-ironic aside, 4 6 the poet recommends "the fyre outward" to remedy this condition, which at best can only give some comfort, but cannot restore the powers of love. Despite this obvious irony, the poet's own diagnosis of his inner coldness stands in sharp contrast to Cresseid's condition, described later. In addition, Henryson deliberately sets himself up as an authority in cases like these since he knows the phenomenon of love from both angles, as an active participant and as the distanced spectator. The poet's self declared position as "expert," here justifying his position as a moral authority, is crucial to my understanding of the way in which the narrative of Cresseid's leprous body is inscribed as a moral lesson, and the manner in which it is used for his didactic purpose to blame her for her own fate. Henryson's reference to his two sources, the one "written be worthy Chaucer glorious, / Of fair Cresseid and lusty Troilus" (41-42), as well as the fictitious "vther quair" (61) indicate that the Scottish poet, specifically to tidy up the unfinished business of Chaucer's version, sets out in his continuation of Chaucer's poem to attempt a re-reading of the Troilus and Criseyde story, as homage and critique at once. The question of authority is important to Henryson and in order to validate his continuation he questions Chaucer's own authority on this matter: "Wha wait gif all that Chauceir wrait was trew?" (64). By calling into question the truth of his English predecessor's version, Henryson manages, at least to a certain degree, to validate his own account: 4 Douglas Gray, Robert Henryson, 168-69, emphasizes the comic potential of this scene and sees it as indicative of the whole poem. 126 Nor I wait noht gif this narratioun Be authoreist, or feynit of the new Be sum poeit, throu his inventioun. (65-67) His position as a moral authority becomes obvious when he shows sympathy for Troilus's sorrows and, indeed, takes his side. Henryson's remark that Cresseid "was his [Troylus's] only paramour" (53) is a hint at his own coming evaluation of the female figure, as it is clear, particularly against the background of Chaucer's poem, that Cresseid stands for fickleness in love. In his assessment of Troilus, Henryson refers the reader to Chaucer, who "in gudlie termis and in ioly veirs, / Compylit her his cairis quha wi l l luik" (59-60). What is missing is obviously Cresseid's ultimate fate, and it is in the fictitional "vther quair" (61) where her fate is to be found. This reference to Chaucer's Troilus warrants some closer examination; since Henryson's account is to supplement Chaucer's, a comparison of both texts can shed some light on how the continuation deals with the problem of morality and guilt. "It is also," as Fox remarks, "about Chaucer's poem: it offers, by implication, a remarkably accurate and penetrating analysis of Troilus. But as well, . . . it is also a serious moral poem in its own right, and one which takes up some of the questions that Chaucer deals with." 4 7 At the conclusion of Chaucer's story, Troilus, whose feeling of betrayal has led him to become a fierce avenger, is finally killed by Achilles and surveys the dealings of the humans from his celestial sphere and gives his own evaluation of what has happened: And in hymself he logh right at the wo 4 7 Fox , Henryson, lxxx i i i . 127 Of hem that wepten for his deth so faste, A n d dampned al oure werk that folweth so The blynde lust, the which that may nat laste, A n d sholden al oure herte on heven caste. (V, 1821-25) Troilus here clearly transcends mere earthly concerns and admonishes those still among the living to concentrate on life's spiritual dimension. In his criticism of worldly affairs Troilus is rather unspecific in the ascription of blame and merit, and instead points out that the world is governed by instability: and fully gan despise This wrecched world, and held al vanite To respect of the pleyn felicite That is in hevene above. . . . (V, 1816-19) The religious significance of this passage becomes obvious if compared with a similar sounding commentary on Isaiah 40, found in The Book of Vices and Virtues, the English translation of Frere Lorens's Somme le roi: the soul is ravesshed up to hevene, sche loketh agen to the erthe from feer. . . . and seeth it so lite as to regard to that gret fairnesse ... than despiseth al the world l i t e l . . . . 4 8 To return to Henryson, it becomes clear from this comparison that he is more concerned with the characters' fate on earth. This attitude also corresponds with his elaboration of Troilus's The Book of Vices and Virtues, ed. Nelson Francis, E E T S 217 (London: Kegan Paul, and Triibner, 1942), 141. 128 sorrows after Cresseid's departure. In contrast to Chaucer, who problematizes the question of individual guilt rather than accepting it as a given, I would argue that Henryson tries to take a decidedly moral stand and for this purpose adds to the poem his own didactic ending, directed to those who still very much live on this earth.4 9 In his comparison of both narratorial positions, Gray attributes to Henryson's poet-persona a more personal investment in the issue of love and faithfulness than Chaucer's: "He has certainly a good deal in common with the narrator of Troilus and Criseyde, though perhaps since he admits to having once served Venus, we should not expect the quite 'detached' view which Chaucer sometimes affects,"50 while Kindrick attributes a more central role to the narrator: "Yet Henryson's narrator differs remarkably from Chaucer's. He is a more central character and is more important in setting the tone and foreshadowing events in the major part of the poem." 5 1 One of the text's first critics, Kynaston, remarks on this lack of moral judgment in Chaucer's text, which he sees remedied by his Scottish colleague: This M r . Henderson [sic] wittily observing, that Chaucer in his 5th booke had related the death of Troilus, but made no mention what became of Creseid, he learnedly takes uppon him in fine poeticall way to express the punishment and end due to a false unconstant whore, which commonly terminates in extreme J . A . W . Bennett, "Henryson's Testament: A Flawed Masterpiece," Scottish Literary Journal 1 (1974): 5-16, goes even further and claims that Henryson has misread Chaucer. 5 0 Gray, Robert Henryson, 169. 5 1Robert L . Kindrick, Robert Henryson (Boston: Twayne, 1979), 123. 129 misery. 5 2 This view, however crudely expressed, not only is characteristic of the lack of sympathy on the part of the early readers of the Cresseida story, but it also asserts the necessity of a moral framework for the tale. 5 3 After this setting up of the narrator as a moral authority, Henryson goes on to give a brief summary of the quair he has unearthed; his intention is to: . . . report the lamentatioun And wofull end of this lustie Creisseid, And quhat distres sho thoillit, and quhat deid. (68-70) This brief synopsis can be seen as programmatic for the whole poem; it is particularly the juxtaposition of the terms "wofull end" and "lustie Creisseid" which brackets/charts the moral space the text intends to cover. The adjective "lustie," is glossed by Kurath and Kuhn as denoting, among other more neutral meanings, sexual lust, which would give some indication of the causality of Cresseid's end as a leper. As a direct result of the end of her relationship with her other lover "Quhen Diomeid had all his appetyte, / And mair, fulfillit of this fair ladie" (71 -72) she treads on dubious moral grounds: she might have had several sexual partners after him but as the poet says, this is not certain: "Than desolait scho walkit vp and doun, / And sum men sayis, into the court, commoun" (76-77). The expression, "into the 5 2Quoted by Kindrick, Robert Henryson, 163. " F o r the early reception of the tale see Hyder E . Rollins, "The Troilus-Cressida Story from Chaucer to Shakespeare," PMLA 32 (1971): 383-429. Gretchen Mieszkowski, "The Reputation of Criseyde 1155-1500," Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 43 (1971): 71-153, argues that Chaucer's treatment of the Criseyde character is exceptionally positive, and thus the main exception of the tradition. 130 court commoun" denotes, as has been commented on, 5 4 Cresseid's supposed promiscuity or can even be interpreted as a more or less veiled allusion to prostitution. In contrast to our contemporary understanding of prostitution, which is centred exclusively on commercial sex, the medieval meaning of the term is far less clear cut and can equally refer to promiscuous behaviour, as Ruth Mazo Karras argues: The recognition of the existence of commercial prostitutes, whose sin, however, was formally defined as their promiscuity rather than their selling of their bodies, allowed the conflation of all deviant feminine sexuality with venality and the assimilation of all disorderly women with prostitutes.5 5 To underscore this point and to put the poem's terminology into context, a brief look at the fifth book of John Gower's Confessio Amantis,56 wi l l be useful. In a passage concerned with the beliefs of various pre-Christian cultures John Gower discusses and comments on the customs of the Greeks, in particular on their concepts of love. As a negative example, which is indicative of the Greeks' beliefs, he cites the regiment of Venus: Se nou the foule mescreance Of Grekis in thilke time tho, There was no cause under the mone See for instance Fox, Poems of Robert Henryson, 345. 5 5 Ruth Mazo Karras, "Sex, Money, and Prostitution in Medieval English Culture," Desire and Discipline: Sex and Sexuality in the Premodern West, ed. Jacqueline Murray and Konrad Eisenbichler (Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 201. 56The English Works of John Gower, ed. G . C . Macaulay, E E T S 81 (London: Oxford University Press, 1900). 131 That thei ne token in that cas A god to helpe or a goddesse. (V, 1444-47, 1450-51) To give a particularly drastic example, Gower mentions the association of the goddess Venus with loose sexual behaviour: Sche made comoun that desport, And sette a lawe of such a port, That every woman mihte take What man hire liste, and noght forsake To ben als comun also sche wolde. Sche was the ferste also which tolde That wommen scholde here bodi selle. (V, 1425-31) From this passage it becomes obvious that Gower's disapproving of Venus as being "comoun" does not primarily refer to her activity as a commercial prostitute, but rather to the visibility of her sexual licentiousness, which then in turn sets a bad example for other women to engage in commercial sex. Against the background of Gower's condemnation of the type of sexual behaviour openly displayed by Venus, Henryson's reference to Criseyde's walking "into the court commoun" is a clear indication of the poet's disapproval of the sort of demeanour that is likened to scandalous conduct: "Any woman who made her sexuality public by making a public scandal of herself could also be considered under the category of 'prostitute', and was classified with the venal women who sold their bodies." 5 7 Thus, the 5 7Karras, "Prostitution," 211. 132 allusion to prostitution can be read as another instance of "wickit langage" since Cresseid's trespass is twofold: not only has she left Troilus for Diomeid, but her changing sides from the Trojans to the Greeks almost by necessity makes this change in her partners common knowledge. The nature of this scandal leads the poet to dissociate himself from this type of knowledge since he does not want to go as far as to warrant for the precise nature of her moral trespass: he rather reports what he claims to have heard from other, unspecified sources, merely acknowledged as "sum men sayis." What Henryson does here is in itself morally somewhat questionable, since he relates the scandal as a slanderous rumour, as an unsubstantiated piece of information for the veracity of which he denies any responsibility. What further discredits his intention is that he neither acknowledges his source (it can't be Chaucer, after all), nor that he actually sticks to his accusation. A few lines later he more or less retracts his condemnation and declares that Cresseid is, in fact, not responsible for what has happened to her: 3it neuertheless, quhat euer men deme or say In scornfull langage of thy brukkilnes, I sail excuse als far furth as I may ... (85-87) Again, the poet distances himself again from his sources, and states that whatever "men" say, he wil l excuse her, a move, which, to give him credit, is intended to remove blame from the victim. Henryson tries in this passage to do two things at the same time: on the one hand, he does not want to join in the universal condemnation ofCresseid; on the other hand, however, it seems justifiable to read his own excuse as another rhetorical strategy to question his 133 protagonist's moral character. This said, however, the problem is that the damage has been done, and retracting the accusation cannot undo its possible effects. In addition, the poet's attempt to excuse Cresseid reveals that he still has the same moral authority he already had when he condemned the woman in the first place. This strategy amounts to blaming the victim for her fate merely in order to exonerate her immediately on the grounds that she was not responsible for her acts. Henryson's explanation is that a force outside and more powerful than Criseyde, namely Fortune, is chiefly responsible for her distress:5 8 Thy womanheid, thy wisdome and fairness, The quik fortoun hes put to sic distress As hir plesit, and nathing throw the gilt Of the — throw wickit langage to be spilt! (88-90) In excusing Cresseid, Henryson follows Chaucer's tactic by blaming the inherently fickle deity of Fortune; in his explanation that "wickit langage," or slander, is the chief instigator of his heroine's violation, one has to ask whether the poet himself is not complicit with this act of verbal violence, since he himself takes part in spreading the rumour. The question is, indeed, whether he is not now part of those "men" who propagate her story by retelling the E . Duncan Aswel l , "The Role of Fortune in The Testament of Cresseid," Philological Quarterly 46 (1967): 472, argues that a change of perspective takes place from fortune as the party responsible for the protagonist's suffering, to the character herself whose choice of destiny is expressed in active verbs, like "go among the Greikis" and "takand foull plesance." 134 negative preconception of his protagonist.5 9 B y alluding to the leper's intrinsic moral guilt as the cause of the disease, Henryson stands in a particular morif-tradition of identifying leprosy with sexual deviance. 6 0 In particular one can observe a number of moral treatises, such as Robert of Brunne's Middle English translation Handlyng Synne, which draw a direct connection between prostitution or loose sexual behaviour and leprosy: Pe predde ys be werste wem; Meseles, men seye, vsem hem; And , who takep hem yn bat hete, clennesse of body he may sone lete. Moche wo pan, ys swyche to take, For pese pre lakkes sake; A n d moche may be bat wommans mone, For she schal answere for hem echone E>at haue ydo any synne wyb hyre, For a different view see Gray, Robert Henryson, 172-73, who claims that the image of Cresseid's fate invokes in the poet a mixture of emotions, "a struggle between knowledge and love, between horror and compassion." For a general discussion of leprosy as divine punishment for a sinful life see Brody, Disease of the Soul, 107-46. In particular Richard of St. Victor's commentary on Chirst's healing of the leper, Matthew 8: 1-4, quoted by Brody, 127, illustrates this causality and the emphasis on sexual misbehaviour: "fornicators, concubines, the incestuous, the avaricious, usurers,. . . those likewise who say to a brother, fool, and who look upon a woman concupiscently (who though not evil in deed are nonetheless evil in inclination): all, I say, such as these, who through guilt are cut off from God, all are judged to be leprous by the priests . . . ." 6 0 Moore , Persecuting Society, 62, points to this close connection between leprosy and sexual misconduct, which often led to its confusions with sexually transmitted diseases. 135 At domes day, be day of Ire. (7437-56)61 Like Henryson, Robert of Brunne is very careful when it comes to drawing the connection between sexual behaviour and leprosy. Again, first-hand knowledge is denied: instead, a rumour, "men seye," is quoted to make the point. Although Henryson is very careful in his argumentation, his insinuations provide justification enough to place The Testament in close proximity to texts, such as Handlyng Synne, which more explicitly condemn the insatiable sexual cravings of the lepers. Although one could argue that these unnaturally violent sexual desires are the result of leprosy instead of its cause, I would still maintain that consequence and reason are part and parcel of the same thought construct, which in the sense of Fleck's epistemology provides a moral framework to the entire issue. To substantiate this claim I want to examine the fate of another infamous female companion of Cresseid: the Yseut of Beroul's French version of The Romance ofTristran, who shares this self-same reputation for sexual licentiousness. In contrast to Henryson, Beroul is far more explicit in his condemnation of uncontrolled sexuality; he exposes the moral dimension of the disease, which he interprets as a punishemnet for sexual licentiousness. In his Tristran, Beroul makes this interdependence of disease and punishment brutally clear when King Mark is in serarch of an appropriate way of punishing Yseut for her infidelity, and is prepared to reward the proponent with the most cruel suggestion. In reply to 61Robert of Brunne's 'Handlyng Synne,' ed. Frederick J. Furnivall EETS 123 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Triibner, 1901), 237-38. 136 Mark's demand, a leper with the name of Yvain, who is present with his people at the scene, makes a terrible suggestion: U n malade out en Lanci'en, Par non fu apele Yvain; A mervelle par fu desfait. Yvain respont: "Si con je pens Je te dirai, asez briment. Veez, j 'a i ci conpaignons cent: Yseut nos done, s'ert conmune. Paior fin dame n'ot mais une: Sire, en nos a si grant ardor! Soz ciel n'a dame qui un jor Peiist soufrir nostre convers. 6 2 [There was a leper in Lantyan; his name was Yvain , and he was horribly deformed. . . . Yvain answered: "I wi l l tell you briefly what I think. Y o u see that I have a hundred companions here; give us Iseut to be our common property. N o lady ever had a worse fate: Sir, our lust is so strong! No lady in the world could tolerate a single day of relations with us!] The text's strategy of selecting leprosy as the worst possible punishment for inappropriate Beroul, The Romance ofTristran, ed. and trans. Norris J. Lacy (New York and London: Garland, 1989), 1155-58, 1190-1197. A l l further quotations are from this edition. 137 behaviour, sexual misbehaviour, that is, allows the conclusion that the sufferer of the disease himself must be guilty of some kind of offence, and secondly, this selection spells out the acute danger the medieval thought collective associated with the contact with infected individuals. These individuals, here the group of Yvain's lepers, represent something akin to the twentieth-century 'risk groups' whose members can threaten those who come too close to them: by delineating the outsider group, or 'risk group', King Mark in Beroul's text plays on similar fears of contamination by this social group and its associated infected status. As historically removed from each other as these two exemplary reactions to a serious disease might seem, the culturally defined delimitations between the members of both groups are founded on the evocation of fear. If one visualizes the two groups facing each other, king Mark's court on the one side, and the courtly society's deformed counter image, here represented by Yvain's band of lepers, on the other, this contrast becomes more than apparent. Beroul gives a very precise idea of the disgust, fear, and threat evoked by their disfigured, leaking bodies: Bien out o lui cent conpaignons O lor puioz, o lor bastons: Ainz ne ve'i'stes tant si lait Ne si bocu ne si desfait; Chacun tenoit sa tartarie. (1159-63) [With him were a good hundred of his companions, with their crutches and their staffs: Never have you seen people so ugly, tumourous, and deformed! Each one carried his clapper.] 138 These outcasts are perceived as the appropriate company for an obvious misfit, such as Yseut, an observation which is here put into the mouth of Yvain , the lepers' leader: Por eel seignor qui maint lasus, Quant or verra la nostre cort, Adonc verra si desconfort. Done voudroit mieux morir que vivre; Done savra bien Yseut la givre Que malement avra ovre; Mex voudroit estre arse en un re. (1210-16) [And this man who was a leper [said]: 'When she sees our "court" and all its discomforts, she wil l rather be dead than alive. Then that viper Iseut wi l l know that she has sinned, and she wi l l wish she had been burned to death.'] This verdict, uttered in the characteristically shrill voice of the leper, makes obvious the connection between sexual behaviour that runs afoul of social conventions and the disease as its punishment. This statement is of particular importance since it outlines the social mechanism of (re)producing the disease for society's own maintenance of its particular perception of normality and order: Yvain's group of lepers offer a convenient social space to which misfits and undesirables can be banished, thus keeping the community uncontaminated, in a physical as well as a moral sense, and thus in a condition of health. Sick bodies have no place in the courtly society of King Mark's court, and neither has the sinful body of Ysuet, hence both are removed to a group of outsiders which keep the others uncontaminated. 139 The threat to expose Yseut to the lepers' sexual desire gives an additional insight into the question about the disease's origin. There seems to me a strong argument that Yseut's disease as in Cresseid's case, has been present long before the actual — or in this case threatened — onset of its symptoms, even prior to her contracting it: "there must have been something wrong with her all along," to echo Epstein's words. The question about where the disease 'comes from' is gratuitous in this context since the disease's (re)production occurs more or less itself by its mere presence in the sick persons; in addition, however, there also seems to exist a culturally defined notion which designates those who disturb the social order as 'sick,' although the individual may not (yet) show any physical symptoms. The onset of these symptoms is essentially a confirmation of the patient's true state, a fact that has to 'leak out' at some point, be it from the body of the diseased or through her narrative. To clarify this somewhat opaque thought process, I want to quote Paul Morrison's discussion of Choderlos de Laclos's 1784 novel Les liaisons dangereuses63 where Madame Merteuil contracts smallpox, which is described by the novelist as "the disease [that] has turned her inside out," with the result that "now the soul is visible on her face." Morrison explains the significance of this event as the becoming visible of something that has been present within the protagonist all along: "One's past, one's 'case history', finds its teleological fulfilment in the somatic outing . . . that renders exogenous the secrets of the perverse soul." 6 4 This is a point I also want to make in the case-history of Henryson's Cresseid. The Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses, tr. P. W . K . Stone (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1961). M P a u l Morrison, "End Pleasure," GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 1 (1993): 54. 140 onset of the symptoms outs her as the misfit she really is: her promiscuous sexual life, her previously hidden 'dark secret' is revealed the moment the marks of the disease appear on her body. Her subsequent presence in a 'risk-group,' only further underscores the fact that she is unfit to be among the society of the healthy. The disease is not the prime reason for her status as an outcast; it only serves to make her visible as one. 3.2. Cresseid's Case History: A Medical Narrative The doubts raised above about the true motives behind Cresseid's moral condemnation can be substantiated i f one reads as a "case History" the stanza in which Henryson gives a synopsis of the 'patient's' earlier history. The medical case history lists events which have led up to the patient's present condition and thus describes a process starting with a healthy body and ending with a sick body: 0 fair Creisseid, the flour and A per se O f Troy and Grece, how was thow fortunait To change in filth all thy feminite, A n d be with fleschlie lust sa maculait, A n d go amang the Greikis air and lait, Sa gigotlike tankand thy foull plesance! 1 haue pietie thow suld fall sic mischance! (78-84) In this stanza Henryson unfolds a scenario which is supposed to explain Cresseid's crisis. Her former status as a paragon of beauty is contrasted with her condition as a sick person, with the sickness destroying her former identity, her very femininity. Apart from the poet's moral 141 disapproval, he builds up a very clear picture of causality: her "fleschlie lust," her behaviour as a wanton woman, described as "gigotlike," and her "foull plesance" are all cited as causes for her changed state of health. 6 5 Significantly, Henryson resorts to metaphors of dirt and contamination in order to inscribe the sickness as a violation of order, a fulfilment of the process as discussed by Mary Douglas. If one compares Henryson's stanza with other narratives on disease, the closeness to the case history becomes obvious. Epstein cites a particular case history from the twentieth century which has been deemed a good example of good medical historiography 6 6 in order to demonstrate the kind of information conveyed by these narratives. Among the medical data, there is also usually some information about the patient's biography, as well as certain circumstances, such as his/her lifestyle, which might have influenced the history of his/her pattern of sickness. "But a patient's case history is a social document in addition to being a record-keeping device embedded in the development of medicolegal institutions."6 7 Read as a medical case history, the previously quoted stanza relates the following information: A n unmarried woman, previously of good health led a life of promiscuity, and subsequently 6 5 0 n the interpretation of leprosy as a venereal disease see Beriac, Les Lepreux, 51 -56. Much of the historical evidence seems anecdotal, such as the story related by Bernard de Gourdon in his Lilium medicine: " A leprous countess came to Montpellier, and she was entrusted to my care. A medical student waited on her, slept with her, impregnated her, and became instantly leprous himself." (My translation). 6 6See for instance the example quoted by Epstein, Conditions, 27: "Mr. Jones is a 47-yr-old white, Catholic, Irish-born, alcoholic, unemployed lense grinder with diabetes since the age of 12, married, with two teen-age daughters, but separated from his wife and family and living alone on welfare." 6 7Epstein, Conditions, 27. 142 contracted leprosy. The crucial information which is related in a case history like this are certain facts which locate the patient together with his medical history in his social context. 6 8 In Cresseid's example Henryson has supplied some of the facts which a modern case history would also cite. In making this point I am essentially reversing a procedure commonly used by the medical profession; the establishment of a patient's case-history is an attempt to extrapolate some relevant information about of the narrative of a person's life and then to transform it into an ahistorical collection of data, which in all likelihood have contributed to the patient's condition. What is often forgotten about medical case histories is that in the attempt to present the personal narrative as an objective collection of facts, much of the very subjectivity of the patient's narrative remains as a 'residue' at the bottom of the scientific account. In her critique of the process of clinical judgment Eugenie Gatens-Robinson addresses this imbalance and the propensity of the medical professionals to suppress the very fact that what they base their judgment on is, in fact, an act of interpretation: This personal residue is both morally and cognitively troubling because the result, refusing the status of pure "fact," requires us to recognize a kind of moral ownership. Thus, a genuine tension exists between the received view of scientific rationality and those activities . . . that seem to require imaginative freedom and interpretative ownership . . . . We tend to refer to such activities On the connection of clinical statement and social context in modern examples see George L . Engel, "The Deficiencies of the Case Presentation as a Method of Cl inical Teaching," New England Journal of Medicine 284 (1971): 22. 143 as art and to deny their cognitive authority.6 9 Turning this process upside down, and doing what Gatens-Robinson proposes, one can read Cresseid's narrative as a case-history and interpret the literary account against the background of the medieval interpretation of the diseased body. In its account of causality the brief report on Cresseid's health quite clearly cites parts of her life as explanations for the change in her condition. While the example quoted from the twentieth century attempts to give an impartial view, as far as this is possible in the circumstances described, Henryson quite candidly gives his statement a moral slant, and thus offers an interpretation of what befell his protagonist from his own contemporary perspective. Of course, the Testament of Cresseid is more than a terse account of a few facts of a sick person's life, and yet for the purpose of my argument, I want to place this particular passage in the tradition of case histories as narratives. The purpose of this enterprise is to highlight some of the strategies used by the medieval poet who, not unlike the writer of a medical report, establishes causalities between an altered bodily condition and his search for possible explanations or certain factors which caused this very condition to change, or to recall Fleck's term, the thought construct which is behind this description. This brings the literary account in close proximity to the prose of the medical report: In its broadest sense, then, medical case histories engage the conventional features of historical and literary writing, that is, of narrative. As a consequence, a case report's success or failure as an authoritative account of the etiology and progress of disease Eugenie Gatens-Robinson, "Clinical Judgment and the Rationality of the Human Sciences," The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 11 (1986): 169. 144 constitutes a general paradigm for narratives of the human body. 7 0 Instrumental to my argument about the connection between moral reasoning and the description of the disease is the tenuous relationship of both literary genres, the medical case history and the literary text, each rooted in its own historical period, but in a way united by their shared "locus in life," 7 ' since texts of both genres tell their readers about the historical understanding of the causes and consequences of the disease. In this respect Henryson's retraction is symptomatic of this tangential connection between disease and blame: instead of shifting blame away from the patient and attributing it to a force of beyond human control, as the poet probably intended, his retraction does, in fact, reveal the very mechanism through which the social construction of blame operates. The consequence of naming the guilty party is exactly as outlined: she suffers not merely from the physical symptoms of the disease, but also from its verbal manifestation, which, as in the case of the H I V infected person mentioned above, enters her body though "wickit langage." In order to describe the actual onset of Cresseid's disease Henryson uses the device of the court of gods 7 2 who sit in judgment on the culprit. The whole scene is triggered off by Cresseid's lament to the gods when she is in her father's "secreit orature:" Vpon Venus and Cupide angerly Epstein, Conditions, 31. 7 ' I am following here H.R. Jauss's structural and functional definition of literary genres. See in particular "The Theory of Genres and Medieval Literature," Toward an Aesthetics of Reception, ed. Hans Robert Jauss (Brighton: Harvester, 1982), 76-109. 7 2 0 n this see for instance Priscilla Bawcutt, The Shorter Poems of Gavin Douglas (Edinburgh: The Scottish Text Society, 1957), xxxi i i . 145 Scho cryit out, and said on this same wyse, 'Allace, that euer I maid 3ow sacrifice! 3e gaue me anis ane deuine responsaill That I suld be the flour of luif in Troy; Now am I maid ane vnworthie outwaill, And all in cair translatit is my ioy. (124-130) Cresseid's lament reflects in a rather accurate way the accusations the poet himself has levelled against her. The most prominent part of this lament is Cresseid's anger that the gods have destroyed her future prospects as a model of love and instead reduced her to the status of an unworthy outcast. Again one has to bear in mind that she makes this complaint before the outbreak of the disease, and reflects her social, but not her physical condition. The term "outwaill" is here clearly indicative of the effects of her public shaming by the 'wicked langage', as described above. The consequences of this loss of Cresseid's reputation is that she is now considered polluted, and untouchable, which becomes clear from her question: "Sen I fra Diomeid and nobill Troylus / Am clene excludit, as abject odious?" (132-33). There seems little hope that her damaged reputation can ever be put right again, and that loneliness is the consequence of her failure: "Quha sail me gyde? Quha sail me now conuoy . . . ?" (131). These considerations of her loss and disappointment then lead to Cresseid's angry reproach of Venus and Cupid: O fals Cupide, is nane to wyte bot thow And thy mother, of lufe tha blind goddes! 146 In the following lines she compares her past expectations as a popular and desired woman to her present solitary state and attempts to shift the blame onto those gods, whom she thinks responsible for not holding up their end of the bargain, so to speak. In her opinion, these gods have given her the right to expect a perfect life and subsequently failed on their promise: 3e causit me alwayis vnderstand and trow The seid of lufe was sawin in my face, A n d ay grew grene throw 3our supplie and grace. But now, allace, that seid with froist is slane, A n d I fra luifferis left, and all forlane. (136-40) The way Cresseid blames the gods echoes the causality established by Henryson in the beginning of the poem: the reference to Fortune, as well as her cursing of Venus and Cupid as the chief source of Cresseid's suffering, essentially points to the same external authority which governs the human fate. This act of blasphemy has frequently been identified as the true cause of Cresseid's leprosy, 7 3 which, against the background of previous allegations of her misconduct seems to offer only a part of the explanation. It is rather that the blaspheming against the gods is a cypher which indicates her misbehaviour in her previous life. A t this point it seems as if the poet, so careful to distance himself from slander, found a somewhat more uncompromising linguistic medium through which to construct blame. A significant 7 3 Kindr ick , Robert Henryson, 127, for instance states that "her tone is disrespectful and presumptious" and that "her complaint is unfounded and her accusations are unjust." E . M . W . Tillyard, "The Testament of Cresseid 1470?," Five Poems 1470-1870, ed. E . M . W . Tillyard (London: Chatto and Windus, 1947), 16-17, establishes a taxonomy of her sins, as unfaithfulness, pride, and anger. Gray, Robert Henryson, 178-79, emphasizes her self-pity, but also stresses the ambiguous aspect of ascribing guilt in this context: "yet there is a genuine sense of betrayal and hopelessness." 147 detail in this context is the poem's reference to love's seed growing in the protagonist's face, here still meant to denote Cresseid's extraordinary beauty, but which in light of the immediate onset of the symptoms is a clear foreshadowing of the kind of punishment that is being meted out to the sinner. The destruction of her beautiful face by Saturn, as discussed below, echoes Cresseid's own complaint to the gods. This indictment is probably the clearest, and in a way the most honest, representation of guilt, trespass and recrimination. B y using the planetary gods, Henryson gains access to a complex terminology which allows him to incorporate at the same time a convenient medical terminology and moral evaluation, and thus provides a hint to the thought community's specific interpretation of medical case-histories.7 4 Immediately after her accusation Cresseid falls into a swoon: nemesis takes the shape of the court of planet-gods who exercise their moral judgment. Henryson introduces his court of gods with short portraits of each deity, which give an idea of their symbolic qualities. 7 5 O f particular interest in this connection are Saturn and Cynthia since by their associated cold and moist qualities they quite clearly point to a combination of humours, which are opportunistic of leprosy. 7 6 In contrast, Jupiter and Phoebus are described as harmless; Jupiter as a handsome male deity presents the absolute opposite to his father, the malevolent Saturn: 7 4 0 n the medieval understanding of astrology see for instance Chauncey Wood, "Chaucer and Astrology," Companion to Chaucer Studies, ed. Beryl Rowland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 202-20. 7 5 Gray, Robert Henryson, 181. 7 6 0 n this see especially Johnstone Parr, "Cresseid's Leprosy Again," MLN 60 (1945): 487-91, who points out that the description of Cresseid's leprosy almost follows a text-book discussion of the disease. 148 His voice was cleir, as cristall wer his ene As goldin wyre sa glitterand was his hair His garmond and his gyte full of gay grene With goldin listis on euerie gair. (176-79) This description of flourishing health, down to the particular details of his physical appearance, provides an almost perfect foil against which the etiology of Cresseid's leprosy can be studied; this connection becomes even more significant since as Saturn's son he exhibits all those outward qualities his father set out to destroy in Cresseid. In a similar vein is the depiction of Phoebus, the "tender nureis, and banisher of nicht" (199), the other benevolent planet-god. Significantly for the poem, however, neither have much to say in the trial scene. Different are the vengeful deities described: first, Saturn, "quhilk gaue Cupide l i t i l l reuerence bot as ane busteous churle on his maneir/ . . . . with auter luik and cheir' (152-54). His introduction presents him in a rather unfavourable light, and his main outward characteristics denote someone permanently cold: his face, as grey as lead, the chattereing teeth, runny nose, blue lips and icicles hanging down from his hair, could all be counted as symptoms of cold and essentially dry conditions, which are the typical etiology of conditions, such as an excess of melancholy, itself equated with hard and firm conditions, and which ultimately triggers off conditions, such as leprosy. The other, hostile deity, Cynthia, the moon, with her main characteristics of darkness ("for all hir licht scho borrowis at hir brother Titan" (258-59)), and again, with a complexion the colour of lead, as well as a general absence of bright colours, can also be associated in the cosmology with the qualities of the 149 earth and the conditions of cold and dryness. The two planetary gods are associated with the metals lead and silver respectively. This connection becomes clear in Gower's discussion of Alchemy: "The mone of Selver hath his part, / . . . The Led after Satorne groweth" (V, 2470-72). Gower is particularly explicit on the properties of the planet Saturn and in book VII of the Confessio he gives an outline of his character, which he links to specific 'national' characteristics among humans: The hyeste and aboven alle Stant that planete which men calle Saturnus, whos complexion Is cold, and his condicion Causeth malice and crualte To him the whos nativite Is set under his governance And enemy to mannes hele, In what degre that he shal dele His climat is in Orient, Wher that he is most violent. (Bk, VII, 935-46) These characteristics are quite similar to those reported by Henryson, and reflect the thought community's multi-layered model of explaining the causes and effects, which can range from very general observations of human behaviour, to specific causes of diseases. In the verdict of the gods as related by Henryson, these same qualities are cited and form the interpretative background against which the disease is understood and its causes outlined. 150 The first to raise their voices in this tribunal are Cupid and Venus, who make the case that Cresseid's blaspheming cannot go unpunished. Their accusation, however, is almost immediately followed by a second statement which exonerates the gods and puts the blame entirely on the accused: "Thus hir leuing vnclene and lecherous / Sho wald retorte in me and my mother" (285-86). According to Cupid's arguments, Cresseid's crime lies in her refusal to accept the responsibility for her own decisions and their consequences and her subsequent attempt to shift this responsibility onto the gods. The question of moral guilt and its ensuing blame are discussed much more candidly by this tribunal than by Henryson's poet-persona. The gods, appearing in the dream scene outside the course of events can easily disregard sensibilities, such as the reprehensible use of 'wickit langage', and exercise their judgment as appropriate to autonomous bodies who are not affected by the judgment of humans. Following the accusation by Cupid, Mercurius, the gods' arbiter, decides that Saturn and Cynthia, the highest and lowest of the deities, are to pronounce the sentence on the culprit. After some deliberation both come to the conclusion to punish Cresseid according to the nature of her trespas:" And torment sair with seiknes incurabill, / And to all louers be abhominabill" (307-08). The actual transmission of the disease, in modern terminology its contagion, is here described as the act of Saturn, imposing it in its literal sense on Cresseid: And on hir heid he laid ane frostie wand; Than lawfullie on this wyse can he say, 'Thy greit fairnes and all thy bewtie gay, Thy wantoun blude, and eik thy goldin hair, Heir I exclude fra the for euermair. (311-15) 151 The "frostie wand" waved over Cresseid's head is in the medical theory of the humours an expression for the excess of coldness and dryness, which replaces the moisture of her face.77 These qualities cause her to experience an excess of black bile, which in turn is responsible for her "melancholy,"78 here clearly denoting a mental composition: I change thy mirth into melancholy, Quhilk is the mother of all pensiuenes; Thy moisture and thy heit in cald and dry. (316-18) In his description of the disturbed balance of humours, Henryson follows the standard medical practice, and as outlined by Bartholomaeus, also provides its reason: E>erfore Constantinus seip pat lepra is coolde euel, and drye, and comeb of blake colera. . . . And it comeb of foure rotid humours bat were strong, and beb corrupt and chaungid into blake colera, as he seib ibidem. Humours wib be whiche melancholia is imedled may nou3t rote at be fulle in be veynes, and bat for melancolye is coolde and drye and so contrarye to rotinge. And so be humours imedled berwib may nou3t roten fully ar be malencholy be incorporat and haue abidinge in be membres in be whiche is ful rotynge, and of bat rotinge comeb lepra 'meselrye'.79 Lanfranc's Middle English manual for physicians, his Science of Chirurgie, gives a very vivid 77 Kindrick, Robert Henryson, 135. 7 80n medieval views of melancholy and its significance as a literary topic see for instance Carol Falvo Heffernan, The Melancholy Muse: Chaucer, Shakespeare and Early Medicine (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1995), 5-21. 79Bartholomaeus, On the Properties of Things, 423. 152 description of the excess production of black bile and the ways it 'leaks out' through the skin: For whanne malancolie multipliep, & a mannes guttis ben not strong for to putte it out, & be weies bitwixe be splene ben stoppid & pe poris of pe skin closid, pan malancolious blood wole rote wibinne, & rotib complexiouns of pe lymes . . . whanne pe mater is fulfild it is malancolie corrupt. 8 0 Complementary to Saturn's punishment of Creseid, Cynthia adds some further manifestations of the disease that correspond to her own appearance: Thy cristall ene mingit with blude I mak Thy voice sa cleir vnplesand hoir and hace Thy lustie lyre ouirsped with spottis blak, And lumpis haw appeirand in thy face. (337-40) These last symptoms constitute some of the definite signs, as for instance described by Bartholomy. Among these symptoms common, for all four types of leprosy, he lists a general corruption of the flesh, accompanied by lesions of the skin of various types: Vniversalliche pis iuel hap soche tokenes and signes: in hem pe fleisch [is] notabliche corrupt, pe shap is ichaunged, panne pe i3en ben rounde, be i3eliddes ben reueled, pe si3t spranglep, pe voys is hoos . . . swellinges growip in be body. Also in be body beb diuers speckes, now red, now blak, now wanne, now pale.81 Lanfranc's 'Science of Cirurgie', ed. Robert von Fleischhacker, EETS 102 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner, 1894), 196. 'Lanfranc, Chirurgie, 424. 153 Apart from these general symptoms, Bartholomy also quotes a number of specific symptoms that allow the diagnosis of a particular manifestation of leprosy. The emphasis on the infection of the eyes, as well as the general swellings of the skin, points to lepra allopucia, or leprosy of the fox: In hem bat haueb be lepra bat hatte allopucia al be here of be i3eliddes and of be browis falleb, and be i3en swelleb hugeliche and beb ful rede. In be face rede pymples and whelkes, out of be which ofte renneb blode and quyttir. 8 2 This manifestation of the disease can be classified in modern terminology as "lepromatus leprosy," with one of its earliest symptoms being the appearance of macules of the skin; "they tend to be scattered symmetrically over the body, are smooth, shiny, small, and numerous, lack clear borders between the normal and abnormal skin, and do not differ in texture from normal skin." 8 3 Brody's summary confirms the likely presence of lepra allopecia in the case of Cresseid, as signalled by the blood-shot eyes, and the way her "goldin hair" is affected: "Ulceration of the nodules may follow, lesions of the nose and eyes (possibly leading to disfigurement and blindness) tend to develop, and more or less complete loss of hair - the disfigurement known as allopecia - may occur." 8 4 Bartholomaeus, On the Properties of Things, 425. See also Lanfranc's Chirurgie, 197, for a similar description: " Also in summe pe face wexip reed & swellib & is sumwhat ledi . . . Also her vois is row3 ouper sumtyme it is wonderli scharp, & pe whit of her i3en bicomeb al derk, & pe heeris goon awei of her browis." On the symptoms of lepra allopecia see also the thirteenth century Compendium medicinae by Arnaud de Villennuve, bk. U , chap. 46, quoted in Beriac, Des lepreux, 36-37. 8 3 Brody, Disease of the Soul, 27. 8 4 Brody, Disease of the Soul, 27. 154 Cynthia confirms Saturn's verdict and claims that she too wants to reduce the moisture in Cresseid's body, and thus to contribute to the disease: Fra heit of bodie here I the depryue, And to thy seiknes sail be na recure Bot in dolour thy dayis to indure. (334-36) The most significant piece of information conveyed in Cynthia's sentence is the irreversible nature of the disease, which corresponds to the above description of the course of the disease. Although Lanfranc in his Science of Chirurgie makes reference to certain methods of treating leprosy "pat ben profitable for a cirurgian to kunne, & also curis bat comeb ofte to a cirurgian handis," 8 5 he is nevertheless rather pessimistic about their possibility to effect a cure as such. Towards the end of the treatise on leprosy, however, Lanfranc at least goes so far as to admit that he cannot prescribe a definite cure for leprosy apart from those treatments which are mainly administered to stabilize the patient's condition. Due to the severity of the disease, Lanfranc admits, it is usually very difficult to find any kind of remedy. The surgeon is also cautioned about the appropriate dosage and the specific kind of remedy to be administered, since strong ones are likely to put the patient's life in danger, and weak ones fail due to their lack of purging powers: E>e cure of lepre is not sett in pis book, for bis book is of cirurgie, saf ber ben in bis solempne medicynis & apreued for to kepe a man, pat bei schulen not wexe, & for to make it priuy, & cauterijs perfore / For alle pese pingis fallip for a cirurgian / f>is pou schalt knowe: i f be siknes be strong, it is hard for to 8 5Lanfranc, Chirurgie, 196-97. 155 do ony medicyne berto; fforwhi, i f be sijknes be strong, banne he muste haue strong medicyns, & bat were greet perel, & also be medicyn muste be ofte rehersid. Saue bou schalt chese a li3t medicyn pat wole falle for to purge pe humour l i 3 t l i . 8 6 As warned by Lanfranc, the remedies described in his treatise, such as the administering of goat whey, or blood letting, or simply the feeding of nourishing meals, all aim to stabilize the patient's condition, or at least to strengthen him, but a definite cure, such as would be effected by the feeding of a preparation made from the flesh of a black adder, seems rather doubtful. The author himself recommends repeating the treatment until it shows the desired effect, which in fact could be for an indefinite period. For the majority of medieval lepers, however, the social reality of the disease meant that they in all likelihood never experienced the kind, and above all sensible and compassionate care recommended by a socially conscientious physician. 8 7 Brody cites the testimonies of Jean Bodel and Baude Fastoul, a pair of French lepers, who in their Conges write about their lives as lepers from first-hand experience and express the hopelessness of their situation; Bodel comments on the impossibility of finding a cure, even among the best of physicians of Salerno: " A l l the physicians of Salerno / Cannot find relief for this Lanfranc, Chirurgie, 197-98. 8 7Lanfranc's sensitive approach to his patients, and social conscience are apparent in his guidelines for the professional conduct of surgeons, outlined in his preface, 9: "ne chide [he] not wip pe sike man ne wib noon of hise meyne, but curteisli speke to pe sijk man, and in almaner sijknes bihote him hele, bou3 bou be of him dispeirid; but neuer be lattre seie to hise freendis be caas as it stant/ . . . Pore men helpe he bi his my3t, and of be riche men axe he good reward." 156 suffering." 8 8 Fastoul comments similarly on the disease, "of which everyone says that nobody gets cured." The next step in the progress of the disease is the actual diagnosis of Cresseid's condition, here performed by her father Calchas, who takes the position of a physician. 8 9 Henryson's use of a priest may evoke older practices, harking as far back as the precepts in Leviticus. The examen leprosorum in the Testament of Cresseid is rather brief, and mainly serves to confirm the finality of the gods' punishment: He luikit on hir vglye lipper face The quhylk befor was quhite as l i l l ie flour; Wringand his handis, oftymes said allace That he knew weill that was na succour To hir seiknes, and that dowblit his pane (372-76) This relatively brief scene merely confirms Cresseid's status as a leper; all that is necessary is one look at her disfigured face and Calchas knows the hopelessness of her condition. 3.3. The Other Story: Cures, Or the Cause Determines the Outcome The Gesta Romanorum, a popular medieval exempla collection, relates a shocking tale about the brother of the emperor Manalaus, who tried to abuse a position of trust and forced the emperor's wife to commit adultery with him; when she refused he vented his frustration by 8 8Quted in Brody, Disease of the Soul, 88: "tuit l i mire de Salerne / N'abaisseroient cheste lime," and "Dont cascuns dist que nus ne same." 8 9 0 n the use of a medical jury to determine cases of leprosy see for instance Beriac, Des lepreux, 58-65. 157 grabbing her by the hair and hanging her from a tree in a nearby forest: His brothir wex prout, and depressid riche and poor, And 3it stirid the Emperesse to synne; but she, as a goode woman shulde do, seide bat she wolde not by no way assent to synne, as long as hire husbond livid . . . . Thenne saide he, 'forsoth and but bou assent to me, I shall hong be by the heir vp on a tre here in be forest,... and so bou shalt haue a fowle ende.90 After she has lived through a number of adventures, the empress is confronted with her husband's brother once more: And thenne be Emperour saide to hire, 'faire lady, can ye heele my brothir of lepr? . . . The Empresse lokid abowte hire, and she perceyvid that be brothir of be Emperour stood per a foul lepr, and wormys spronge out at pe visage on ech syde; And for pe Emperour was per with his sike brothir, all syke peple that was per abowte com thedir to be heelid.91 Rather surprisingly, in face of the brother's serious condition, the Empress agrees to help him, and claims that she can heal him, provided he confesses his deeds: "Then cryde the Emperesse with an hye vois, and saide, '3e ben all cleene confessid, and berfore I woll nowe medecynis put to you.' And so she heelid hem all."92 Despite the leper's hopeless condition and his grave offence, there seems to be a possibility for him to obtain a cure for his disease. The Gesta Romanorum, ed. Sidney Heritage, EETS ES 33 (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Triibner, 1898), 312-13. 91 Gesta, 318. 92Gesta, 319. 158 One may ask at this point, what makes this leper different from Cresseid and all those others who live with no hope of ever being healed? I want to venture the thesis that an examination of the nature of the individual patient's offence can provide the answer to this question. The major difference between the emperour Manalaus' brother and Cresseid is that the former, although of lecherous intent, did not in fact commit adultery, and thus was spared the end met by Henryson's protagonist. The key issue here seems to be that his offence is not of an overtly sexual nature; he can solve his problem by confessing his sins and is thus able to resume his former life. To substantiate this claim, and to give a contrastive perspective of how leprosy can be conceptualized to signify a different causality, which in turn represents a different literary use of the motif, I want to draw attention to several narratives which outline the possibility of a cure for leprosy, and explore the circumstances under which a cure is deemed possible. In this context I want to refer to the tradition of tales and exempla which use the disease to emphasize the exceptional nature of friendship. 9 3 Perhaps surprisingly, in the examples following this tradition, the symptoms of the disease match those given in the cases considered incurable in other accounts. One of the most precise depictions of the complete symptoms of leprosy are found in Konrad von Wiirzburg's Middle High German Engelhard, which in one episode relates the fate of the previously successful duke Dietrich, who for some unspecified reason contracts the disease. One day the sickness descends upon him: im wurden har unde bart 9 3 The most well-known version of this tale of Amis and Amiloun. For its various versions see Amis and Amiloun, ed. MacEdward Leach , E E T S 203 (London: Humphrey Milford, 1937), x iv-xxxi i . 159 diinn unde seltsseme. sin ougen, als ich waene, begunden sich do gilwen. als ob si aszen milwen, so vielen uz die brawen drobe. sin varwe, diu da vor ze lobe liutsaeclelich was unde guot, diu wart noch rceter danne ein bluot und gap vi i egebaeren schin. diu lutersiieze stimme sin wart unmazen heiser.9 4 [His hair and beard became thin and [looked] strange. His eyes, I think, turned yellow, and his brows shed their hair, as if they were being consumed by mites. His complexion, which previously was praiseworthy and friendly and good, became redder than blood and started to shine in a strange way. His sweet voice became immeasurably hoarse.] This list of symptoms is almost identical with those presented by Henryson, i f one takes the different complexion into account. This remarkable similarity in symptoms shows not only the authors' familiarity with the disease, but also makes obvious the universality of the disease as a discursive construction when it is used to explain causalities. While it served Konrad von Wiirzburg, Engelhard, ed. Ingo Reiffenstein (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1982), 5150-61. (My translation.) 160 to signify Cresseid's trespass in a moral-sexual sphere, exactly the same disease can be used in Dietrich's case to test the extraordinary friendship between himself and Engelhard. Apart from a change in circumstances, the most significant difference in both instances is, in my opinion, that in the latter case leprosy does indeed have a cure, a fact vehemently denied in the example of Cresseid. As already mentioned, on the discursive level of the narrative the disease is used to highlight the extraordinary nature of the friendship between the two men since Engelhard is prepared to go so far as to sacrifice his infant children for the cure of his friend's leprosy: mich vuorte an sinen zoumen Unheil unmazen starke, so ich ze Tenemarke in dem sinne kerte daz Engelhart verrerte durch mich siner kinde bluot daz er mit sines libes fruht mich lcese von der miselsuht. (5502-10) [This overwhelming misery led me by the bridle to Denmark with the intention that Engelhard with his children's blood, would relieve me from leprosy, [a deed] which nobody else on earth would do.] In the 'romantic' versions of the tale, 9 5 leprosy is used as a means of testing the patient's faith, I am following here Leach's distinction between "romantic" and "hagiographic" versions of the tales belonging to this group. (See also note 93, above). 161 and as in the case of Dietrich his trust in the friendship of Engelhard. Apart from the consequences for the relationship between the friends, the significant aspect of the disease in this text is that it is seemingly unmotivated; all we know is that Dietrich's fortune changed after a long period of success: do der getriuwe Dietrich kam von dem strite wider heim und im der saelden honicseim nach wunsche lange zuo gefloz, do wart in ungemiiete groz verkeret al sin wunne gar.9 6 [Now listen well how Dietrich returned home from the fight, and the honey-like sweetness of success, which came to him as he wished was turned into bad luck and entirely changed his fortune.] There is no ascription of blame in this context, and the outbreak of leprosy is interpreted as a misfortune, which can neither be explained, nor avoided. (This, of course, harks back to Henryson's own attempt to exonerate himself from the claim that he blamed his protagonist.) The more relevant issue about the narrative function of the disease, however, lets the whole question of guilt and blame appear in a new light: evidently, no causality between human behaviour and the disease is established; it is an act of God in the true sense of the word. Consequently, the sick person can be presented as a victim, who bears none of the blame. Highly significant in this context I would claim, that to those who show no (or forgivable) 96Engelhard, 5135-41. 162 failures as humans, a cure is available, albeit at a cost. Not surprisingly, however, there is usually someone -- in most cases the good friend — who is wil l ing to pay this price, and this ultimately effects a cure. Compared to Konrad's Engelhard, a slightly different scenario is unfolded in the Middle English version of Amis and Amiloun. Amiloun, one of the two friends, passes as his friend Amis in a judicial combat, since the latter has (somewhat against his will) dishonoured Belisaunt, his duke's daughter. When the duke's steward betrays Amis , he challenges him, and the parties agree on a judicial combat. In fact, however, Amis is guilty of dishonouring his duke's daughter, and thus calls upon his friend Amiloun, who looks exactly identical, to fight the combat in his stead. In a legal sense the combat works out to the friend's satisfaction since the one who entered the combat did not commit the offence. At this moment, however, God intervenes and threatens Amiloun with leprosy for his deception: 9 7 As he com prikand out of toun, Com a voice fram heuen adoun, f>at noman her bot he, & sayd, "t>ou kni3t, sir Amiloun, God, bat suffred passioun, Sent pe bode bi me; 3 i f pou bis bataile vnderfong, 9 7 I am following here the argument of Brody, Disease of the Soul, 165-66, who states that the reason for Amiloun's punishment is his deception: "The clear implication is that Amiloun wil l become leprous if he poses as Amis at the trial combat; the fact that there may be no other character in medieval literature who is punished for practicing deception at a judicial ordeal does not alter the fact that Amiloun is punished for his deception." 163 Pou schalt haue an euentour strong Wi|)-in bis 3eres pre; & or pis pre 3ere be al gon, Fouler mesel nas neuer non In pe world, ban bou schal be! (1249-60) The connection between Amiloun's deception and the divine interference is obvious from God's warning to him. However, the situation Amiloun finds himself in is a difficult one: on the one hand he has been clearly warned not to pass as his friend and thus to incur God's revenge, but on the other hand he also feels his obligation to Amis: He nist what him was best to don, To flen, ober to fi3ting gon; In hert him liked ille. He bou3t, '3if y beknowe mi name, Pan schal mi brober go to shame, Wib sorwe b>ai schul him spille. Certes,' he seyd, 'for drede of care To hold mi treupe schal y nou3t spare, Lete god don alle his wille.' (1276-84) Amiloun is the one who has to make a choice, and decides to take the risk of contracting leprosy as a punishment for helping his friend. Although his decision to help his friend and the ensuing deception at the judicial combat is certainly morally somewhat problematic, one could argue here that Amiloun's transgression, essentially an act of 164 unselfishness, is less severe, and is thus certain to incur the audience's sympathy, and hence his punishment lacks some of the severity of Cresseid's trespass. A s in the case of Konrad von Wiirzburg's Engelhard, the text directs the audience's compassion in such a way that the protagonist's healing can easily be interpreted as 'poetic justice'. The leper in these texts, after all, acted in the best of intentions, and cannot help that special circumstances sometimes put the individual in a dilemma which allows for no ethically clear solution. In Amis and Amylioun, the disease itself is only briefly described, and seems to follow the usual course, as outlined above: . . . Sir Amiloun, Wib sorwe & care was driuen adoun, Pat ere was hende & fre; As so bat angel hadde him told, Fouler messel bar nas non hold In world ban was he. (1540-45) Fortunately for Amyloun, this state is not permanent, and a cure can restore him to health, and more importantly, remove the mark of shame and make the disease only a passing stage of his life, instead of his final destination, as in Cresseid's case. Amis is ready to help, kills his children, proceeds with the treatment and bathes his friend in their blood: He took bat blode, bat was so bri3t, & alied bat gentil kni3t, Pat er was hend in hale, & sebben in bed him di3t 165 & wrei3e him wel warm, apli3t, W i p elopes riche & fale. This treatment has, of course, ritualistic overtones, with those outlined in the discussion of Mary Douglas's treatment of magic and miracle. Since the leprous body is in a state of contamination, it is subjected to a magic ritual, which she would interpret as enacting a reversal to a former state that is more in accordance with the law of order than the present one. One of the characteristics of the ritual is that it has a framing function, which shapes and changes the ways events and objects are perceived: "it enlivens the memory and links the present with the relevant past."98 Douglas uses the example of incest to demonstrate this cultural mechanism: The object of the ritual is not to deceive God but to reformulate past experience. B y ritual and speech what has passed is restated so that what ought to have been prevails over what was, permanent good intention prevails over temporary aberration.9 9 The healing of the Amyloun represents a ritual cleansing, which essentially consists of bathing in the blood of innocent children and has strong reminiscences of baptism, thus echoing the notion of rebirth. In the text this rebirth is signified by the almost instantaneous removal of the marks of shame: the lesions, boils, and wounds disappear from the leprous body and signal that the 'aberration' is rendered only temporary, and the body restored to its former healthy state. The healing process itself is only briefly mentioned and mainly consists 9 8Douglas, Purity, 64. "Douglas, Purity, 67. 166 in restoring his former physical power, and his appearance: . . . sir Amylioun was hool & fere And wax was strong of powere Bop to goo and ryde . . . (2425-27) Amyloun thus has the chance to shed his identity as a leper, and to emerge from this process as a healthy person and once more to fit into the order of society. Cures, even though they seem to be possible in some instances, are, however, not available to everyone; a similar scenario, albeit with a rather different moral 'slant' is described in the Occitan romance of Jaufre. Here the motif of the lepers' cure is taken up once more, but presents the lepers' quest for health as a crime, and hence as ultimately unsuccessful and, in contrast to the above cited examples, as deeply reprehensible. This text is remarkable in that it reveals the direct connection between the lepers' sexual deviance and the resulting impossibility of healing the disease. Needless to say this text builds on all the usual negative stereotypes associated with lepers and lacks the sympathetic portrait of the former examples. Exactly for these reasons it presents the chance to uncover some of the most widely held assumptions about the lepers' sexual depravity and the resulting inability to find an effective cure. In one episode of the romance, Jaufre, a young knight on his quest for adventure encounters a mother, who pleads for his help since her child has been abducted: "She came straight to Jaufre: 'My lord, by Almighty God, mercy! Help me! Bring me back my child alive 167 — the leper carried him off from my very door.'"100 The reason for the leper's abduction of the child is not revealed, however, until the end of the episode; it turns out that the abductor acted on behalf of his master, a more powerful leper, who ordered him to steal several children to obtain their blood for his own cure. "There he found the leper, with a huge knife in his hand; he had already killed eight children. There were twenty-five or thirty more of them there, big and small, and they were all wailing and crying."101 Under the threat of death he admits his complicity in the crime: "I was being forced to kill these eight children and all the others, in sadness and despair. My master made me do it, completely against my will, to collect their blood. By the faith I owe to God, I am not lying! He was going to bathe in it to cure his leprosy."102 For this leper, however, there is no cure, and in the course of a fight he is killed by Jaufre for his crimes. By resorting to this violent end the text effectively forecloses any discussion of whether the bathing in children's blood would really have had the desired effect. One could venture here, however, that the killing of the leper signals that the cure is not available to him, and thus that its effectiveness is not an issue. In this connection it is significant to note that Jaufre actually prevents this leper from raping a young woman, a fact, which makes the inherent combination of leprosy and unrestrained sexuality quite obvious: Another leper was there, wild and strange, lying in bed with a maiden — I don't believe there is one more beautiful in all the world . . . her dress was ripped to Jaufre: An Occitan Arthurian Romance, trans. Ross G. Arthur (New York and London: Garland, 1992), 44. 101Jaufre, 51. 102'Jaufre, 51. 168 below her breasts, which were whiter than flour. She was wailing and lamenting in great despair, and both her eyes were much larger than normal from crying.103 Jaufre's leper shows the same unrestrained desire which was apparent in Beroul's Yvain when he asked Mark to give Yseut to his band of lepers as her appropriate punishment.104 Even Lanfranc the surgeon in his sober account lists the lepers' propensity for frequent sexual intercourse as one of the symptoms of the disease: "Also bei wilneb myche to com<u>ne with wommen."105 Like the lecherous leper depicted in the Roman de Jaufre, Cresseid has no chance even to be considered for a cure; she has no chance to rid herself of the symptoms, and thus of the disease. Henryson obviously felt that the serious nature of her trespass could not warrant a return to a former innocent state, thus leaving her with a corrupt soul. Having lost this chance forever, her diseased inner self remains, to use de Laclos's words, "turned inside out." 3.4. "Thow suffer sail, and as ane beggar die": The Disease and its Social Consequences To bear testimony to the infectious power of "wickit langage," the first step in the description of Cresseid is not the outbreak of the actual physical symptoms of leprosy; the onset of the m Jaufre, 45 . 104Brody, Disease of the Soul, 182. 105Lanfranc, Chirurgie, 197. 169 social symptoms that pre-empt the actual disease. One can suppose that rumours about Cresseid's life would be enough to trigger a whole register of reactions of public shunning and shaming, which are the reason for her attempt to hide from the public gaze. The most obvious expression of Cresseid's shame is signified by her trying to 'pass' as someone else when she secretly slips out of town to get to Calchas's house: This fair lady, in this wyse destitute Of all comfort and consolatioun, Richt priuelie, but fellowship or refute, Disagysit 1 0 6 passit far out of the toun . . . (92-95) That Cresseid has to hide from the public can be attributed to her trying to avoid public shame since the notorious facts about her life, related earlier, seem to be common knowledge. It is, however, also possible to see this brief scene as a foreshadowing of her later trip to the leper house, which is described in quite similar terms. Again, shame is her overwhelming emotion when she asks for the last act of kindness her father can do for her: . . . 'Father, I weld not be kend; Thairfoir in secreit wyse 3e let me gang To 3one hospitall at the tounis end.' (380-82) 1 0 6 The textual situation concerning the term "Disagysit" is unclear; Fox in his commentary, 347, cites another witness which reads "Dissheuelde". Despite the lexical differences both readings give a clear indication of Cresseid's attempts to remain unrecognized, "since Cresseid is both secretive and distraught." For my own reading I prefer the term "disagysit" since it denotes Cresseid's conscious attempt to remain anonymous, whereas the second term "dissheuelde" could merely relate her distraught state. However, both manuscript versions in a way relate Cresseid's attempt to draw attention away from her person, the first by hiding her body behind some disguise, the second by hiding her beauty behind an unkempt appearance. 170 This desparate attempt to conceal herself from the community of the healthy is further illustrated by her disguise with coat and beaver hat,107 as well as the cup and rattle, signs of her new status as a social outcast:108 Than in ane mantill and ane bawer hat, With cop and clapper, wonder priuely, He opnit ane secreit 3et and out thair at Conuoyit hir, that na man suld espy. (386-89) Although her clothing and rattle make her immediately recognizable as a leper, Cresseid seems to prefer this disguise since at least it draws attention away from her as an individual by assigning her to a group, thus erasing her individuality. The frequent use of terms denoting secrecy is a clear indication of the way shame is not only experienced and related in the text, but also of the mode of its production. The emotionally charged parting scene between Cresseid and her father stands in sharp contrast to society's disapproval of the sick person; the difference between both scenes is, of course, that by the time Cresseid leaves her father's temple she shows visible symptoms of the disease; she desperately tries to dissociate herself from her person, and yet she acts in almost the same way when she makes her first trip since there is no necessity to hide herself. This parallel construction of both situations can be cited as further proof that the text operates on an implicit logical connection between the protagonist's (sexual) behaviour and the disease as its 107See Fox, Henryson, 369, on the somewhat baffling presence of an expensive piece of clothing in these circumstances. 1 0 8On the discussion of stigmatization through signs, see below, 168-71. 171 necessary consequence. Despite these rather clear accusations, the interesting aspect of this scene is Cresseid's father, who in his compassion for his daughter resists the urge to sit in judgment on the patient. This brief glimpse of sympathy can be read as an insight into the patient's own situation, as it is related in Jean Bodel's previously quoted conge where he reports his words of departure to his friends and relatives: A Dieu vous vueil tous commander Ensemble, sans chascun nommer car n'i a nul dont je me plaigne Ains m'en lo molt et doi loer De vous me convient eschiver Comment que le cuers m'en destraigne. 1 0 9 [To God you want to commend all together, without naming a single one, because there is nothing I complain about. In this way I am highly praised and have to be content with separating myself from you: however this pulls at my heart.] From now on the leper is dead to the world, and his friends and family can no longer be of any help to him. Although Cresseid's father promises to send her his alms, there is little else he can do for her. One of the most immediate social consequences of the disease is the loss of the individual's status, as well as his framework of social relationships, a fact which becomes apprent from the speech of the avenging Saturn: I change thy mirth into melancholy, 109, Quoted by Beriac, Des lepreux, 213. 172 Thyne insolence; thy play and wantones To greit diseis; thy pomp and thy riches In mortall neid; and greit penuritie Thow suffer sal 1, and as ane beggar die. (316,319-22) This condemnation clearly outlines the physical, as well as the social and economic implications of his punishment. Cresseid's presumption to consider herself beyond the judgment of the gods, as well as her economic status, which previously allowed her some degree of independence and respect from society, are all cited as part of the reason why the disease came over her, and why these privileges are subsequently lost. The reduction to the state of the beggar is the usual, although not universal fate of the afflicted. Brody cites various legislative rulings, concerning the lepers' right to property, but nevertheless Cresseid's fate of ending up as a beggar is perceived as a very real possibility.110 The second part of Cynthia's judgment serves to highlight this social aspect, which incidentally has nothing to do with the physical consequences of the disease, and yet is so much a part of leprosy that it cannot be imagined without this effect of stigmatization: Quhair thow cummis, ilk man sail fie the place. This sail thow go begging fra hous to hous With cop and clapper lyke ane lazarous. (341-43) "°Brody, Disease of the Soul, 86: "In brief, the law could place a person outside of society by depriving him of his rights to marry or to stay married, and to own and transmit property. It could simply and effectively deprive the leper of the right to have a home, and that being so, it could compel him to depend upon the very society which, out of loathing and fear, wrote those laws." 173 In this brief passage Cynthia addresses two significant issues, which are complementary to the social ramifications of the disease; these are society's exclusion of the lepers and the loss of their economic basis, as well as their stigmatization, most commonly symbolized by the cup and rattle. Brody refers to the sense of moral punishment, as well as to society's fear of contagion which are at the bottom of this social mechanism: The demand that the leper abase himself is the expression of a moral judgment, of a need to exclude the leper, of fear. The leper was a threat to society, the carrier of contagion, and society did what it could to protect itself . . . [The leper] could not easily practice a trade, for few would deal with him . . . What often happened was that he became a beggar totally reliant upon the care and goodwill of other men." 1 The complaint of Cresseid, which follows the scene of her admission to the leprosarium, is the literary expression of the loss of social and economic position the leper experiences with his disease. Following the ubi sunt tradition, Cresseid's lament contrasts her former happy life with her present hopeless situation. To express this sense of loss the poet draws up two lists of items: one of them consisting of what she has lost, and another, admittedly brief, of its replacements. The literary function of the ubi sunt formula is to redirect the reader's attention away from worldly gains, such as social status or possessions, to a religious and spiritual dimension in life and ultimately to make him renounce worldly ambition. The use of this tradition also enables Henryson to "conventionalize" Cresseid's punishment, who can thus rely on an established '"Brody, Disease of the Soul, 7 9 . 174 literary tradition to relate this emotional scene. After the introductory stanza, the first two of the following stanzas thematize the loss of specific amenities she took for granted before her disease. Most notable is the radical change in her material possessions and the creature comforts which they afforded her: her bower, richly decorated, good food and drink, her expensive clothing, and a garden for herself to entertain the company of other ladies (417-33). The subsequent two stanzas treat Cresseid's fall from fortune, and the impact the disease has on her personal situation. Again, her loss of material goods and of her comfortable life are the most obvious outward symbols of the social consequences of the disease: Thy hie estait is turnit in darknes dour; This Upper ludge tak for thy burelie bour, A n d for thy bed tak now ane bunch of stro, Tak mowlit breid, perrie and ceder sour; Bot cop and clapper now is all ago. (437-42) The following stanza relates those consequences which have a much more immediate impact on her, and which are essentially the physical manifestations of leprosy, as discussed above. In this passage these are repeated once more and put into direct contrast to Cresseid's former state of health: M y cleir voice and courtlie carrolling, Quhair I was wont with ladyis for to sing, Is rawk as ruik, full hiddeous, hoir and hace; M y plesand port, all vtheris precelling, 175 O f lustines I was hald maist conding. (443-47) The effect of her marked face is that everybody is repelled by its deformity and flees her presence, with the result that the other lepers become her only company: Now deformit is the figor of my face; To luik on it na leid now lyking hes. Sowpit in syte, I say with sair siching, Ludegit amang the lipper leid, "Allace!" (448-51) This enumeration of the disease's consequences for Cresseid shows the close connection between its physical symptoms and the social effects: while deformity and pain are inevitable, the loss of social standing, and the patient's economic basis are the socially determined results of leprosy. A further, although less obvious, aspect of Cresseid's suffering is, of course, her grief about the loss of her former, happy life. Her complaint could also be read as an account of her attempt to confront the psychological implications of her loss and her efforts to find a way either to rebel or to accept her new situation." 2 Her sighing "allace" is indicative of a somewhat resigned attitude, which changes with moments of despair and hopelessness, such as the scene described after her complaint: " 2 I do not want to stress this point since a medieval author can not be expected to have the insight into the psychological makeup of his protagonist, as for instance a contemporary author does. And yet the similarity with modern accounts of severe losses is remarkable. Compare for instance the account in T. Keitlen's Farewell to Fear (New York: Avon , 1962), 37-38, where a newly blind girl is confronted with life in an institution for the blind: "I was expected to join this world. To give up my profession and to earn my living making mops. The Lighthouse would be happy to teach me to make mops. I was to spend the rest of my life making mops with other blind people . . . I became nauseated with fear, as the picture grew in my mind. Never had I come upon such destructive segregation." 176 Thus chydand with hir dreirie destenye, Weiping sche woik the nicht fra end to end; Bot all in vane; hir dule, hir cairful cry, Micht not remeid, nor 3it hir murning mend. To make Cresseid's changed condition obvious, she is given certain objects which are not only functional devices to facilitate her life, but also universally understood symbols, signifying the wearer's Otherness. Medieval pictorial"3 as well as literary sources are unusually unanimous in their representations of the outward signs which distinguish the leper from the rest of society: apart from certain physical deformities, these are his clothing, his rattle or bell, and his cup,"4 and thus testify to the accuracy of Henryson's description. This need to attach some mark of recognition to the leprous body in order to warn the healthy is also documented in legal precepts, regulating almost all of the lepers' movements and their contact with society. The following edict, issued in 1368 by the council at Lavour in the south of France, illustrates the legal aspect of segregation by making the lepers visible through universally recognizable symbols: because this illness is contagious, wishing to prevent danger, we command that lepers be sequestered from the rest of the faithful; . . . that their clothing be uniform, their beards and hair shaved;... and [that they] shall always carry "3For medieval illustrations of lepers see for instance Brody, Disease of the Soul, following page 64, and Richards, The Medieval Leper, 52, 55, 103. "4For local variations of these outward signs see Brody, Disease of the Soul, 67-68, and Beriac Des lepreux, 186-88. 177 a signal by which one can recognize them.115 Stigmatization means first and foremost a process of labelling, which serves to affirm the otherness of a certain group, with the aim of distinguishing its members from the rest of society.116 For the medieval leper this means that the legal precepts regulating his new status also demand that he be instantly recognizable as a member of this social outsider group. The most obvious purpose of this legislative measure is, of course, as already mentioned, to make the leper highly visible in order to warn the healthy of his presence, and thus to minimize their risk of infection. Richards points out that the imposition of a 'dress code' on the lepers brings them "into line with Jews, prostitutes, and reformed heretics." Richards then draws the conclusion that measures such as these serve to symbolize "the leper as a member of a distinctive minority group, a person apart."117 The universality of these symbols, as well as their relatively strict enforcement, however, suggests that there might be a reason for this practice which lies beyond its merely symbolic function to make these groups visible. As a universally understood sign, warning of an approaching unclean body, the rattle, or bell, of course, is directed towards the community of the healthy, warning them of someone who is different, deformed, and thus poses a threat to them. While acknowledging the 115Brody, Disease of the Soul, 65. "6Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes On the Management of Spoiled Identity (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1963), 2-3, provides the following explanation of the social concept of stigma: "While a stranger is present before us, evidence can arise of his possessing an attribute that makes him different from others . . . and of a less desirable kind . . . He is thus reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one. Such an attribute is a stigma, especially when its discrediting effect is very extensive." "7Richards, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation, 155, 178 validity of all these issues, I would, however, also claim that these signs exercise a second kind of power, which is directed against their wearer, since as tokens of shame they invoke feelings of lack of value and as a consequence lead to self-loathing within the labelled individual. While they deny the stigmatized individual the chance to 'pass' unrecognized,"81 would also claim that by their own potential to create shame, they make the victim complicit with society's attempt to control and curtail his freedom."9 In this sense I interpret the lepers' rattles and bells as symbols of oppression, which are merely the visible signifiers of the various discursive, that is, legal and religious, medical, or ritualistic tools to ascertain that the outsiders are continuously reminded of their place in, or for that matter, on the margins of society. By making their detection obvious, the lepers thus have little opportunity to intrude into forbidden spaces, and by internalizing these injunctions, at the same time internalize a part of the societal policing function. I would venture here that the leper's clapper serves as much to alert the healthy of his presence, as well as to constantly remind the leper himself of his own place. This process of mutual abjection is also visible in the legal discourse, defining the leper's position in relationship to the rest of society, such as the rules of conduct promulgated in 1146 and revised in 1344 for the leper house of St. Julian near St. Albans; among the general rules of conduct is the following proscription: "8Among the most notorious practices in the twentieth century is, of course, the German Nazi Government's use of yellow stars, pink, red, and black, etc., triangles to label various groups, considered detrimental to the health of the 'national body'. "9Goffman, Stigma, 7, describes the disparity between what is expected of an individual and his own perceived shortcomings as one of the reasons for shame and self-hatred: "Shame becomes a central possibility, arising from the individual's perception of one of his own attributes as being a defiling thing to possess, and one can readily see himself as not possessing." 179 Since amongst all infirmities the disease of leprosy is held in contempt, those who are struck down with such a disease ought to show themselves only at special times and places, and in their manner and dress more contemptible and humble than other men. 1 2 0 Although the leper has very little power in this process of stigmatization, one can still argue that the victim's enforced complicity is an instrumental factor in the smooth running of this mechanism of control. Being thought of little or no value in comparison to the rest of society, being held in contempt and disrespect, are societal strategies which for their effectiveness also in part depend on the victim's cooperation and willingness to play this very role. To return to Cresseid's case, her exhortation to the women of Troy and Greece echoes this notion of abjection and resignation. By interpreting her fate in an exemplary way she perpetuates the socially sanctioned perception of her disease as punishment for her sexual behaviour. When, as in this case, the victim condemns herself, "wickit langage" has achieved its ultimate goal by making the victim concur with the accusation: O ladyis fair of Troy and Greece, attend M y miserye, quhilk nane may comprehend, M y friuoll fortoun, my infelicitie, M y greit mischief, quhilk na man can amend. (452-55) By exposing herself and her disease as an example of the consequences of sexual licentiousness, Cresseid in her own way furthers the linguistic conception of the disease and its causes, as well as its consequences. Her disease is clearly interpreted in Christian moral 1 2 0Quoted from Richards, The Medieval Leper, 131. 180 terms, as one of the tribulations faced by the sinful humans while they are on earth.121 In its understanding as an exemplum Cresseid's case serves to prevent others from committing the same offences. In addition, Cresseid's exemplum can also be read as a prescriptive text on how to prevent the disease: Be war in tyme, approchis neir the end, And in 3our mynd ane mirrour mak of me: As I am now, peradventure that 3e For all 3our micht may cum to that same end, Or ellis war, gif ony war may be. (456-60) By referring to the tradition of the "mirrour" or speculum,122 Cresseid places her complaint in the tradition of the exemplum and morally didactic texts which recommend or proscribe a certain behaviour, or as in Cresseid's case warn the audience not to follow her example. Having provided this negative example, Henryson then goes on to outline an alternative way of behaviour, which is considered appropriate in this situation. In the so-called recognition scene between the sick Cresseid and Troilus, a different paradigm of behaviour is demonstrated, and, needless to say, is presented as the sanctioned alternative to 121See for instance Henryson's poem Ane Prayer for the Pest, ed. Fox, 167-69, which takes up the motif of the sinfulness of humankind, and consequently blames one's life for being visited by the deadly disease: Sen for our vice, that iustice mon correct; O king most he, now pacifie thy feid; Our sin is huge, refuge we nocht suspect; And thow be iuge, dislug ws of this steid. (81-84) 122The authoritative study on medieval mirror-literature is Herbert Grabes, Speculum, Mirror und Looking-Glass (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1973). 181 Cresseid's own morally reprehensible way of acting. Troilus's magnaminity, symbolized by his donation of precious articles and a sum of money, stands in sharp contrast to Cresseid's self-absorption. Henryson emphasizes this opposition by making his protagonist repeat the line "O fals Cresseid and trew knicht Troylus!" (546, 553), and end with the final declaration "Fy, fal Cresseid; O trew knicht Troylus!' (560). Henryson then employs a very effective technique of making Cresseid pronounce the admission of her guilt, and thus on the narrative level prove the validity of the text's moralitas. By addressing Cresseid's final words to all lovers, Henryson turns the specific case into a statement of universal truth: Traisting in uther als greit unfaithfulnes, Als unconstant, and als untrew of fay — Thoht sum be trew, I wait riht few ar thay; Wha findis treuth, lat him his lady ruse. (570-73) This explanation is then deflected back onto Cresseid herself and her failure to forsake the true love of Troilus for Diomeid. Cresseid's last words reflect the insight that everything was her fault, and the protagonist has nothing more to say than to repeat the verdict that has been pronounced long ago: "Nane but myself as now I wi l l accuse" (570). After this pronouncement Cresseid then draws up her testament and prepares to leave her possessions after her death to the community of lepers. Her body is left to return to the earth and in the contemptus mundi tradition she invokes images of physical decay and corruption which ultimately write her leprous body out of the text, leaving only her material objects which she bequeaths to the lepers and her soul which she leaves to Diana, the goddess of the woods. 182 The news of Cresseid's death is then related to Troilus, who merely repeats the verdict she herself has pronounced before: "I can no moir; / She was untrew, and wo is me thairfoir" (601-02). The writing on her headstone summarizes in a few terse words the causality between her behaviour and her disease which Henryson has established throughout the poem: Lo, fair ladyis, Cresseid of Troyes town, Sumtime countit the flour of womanheid, Under this stane, lait lipper, lyis deid. (607-09) Equally important in this inscription is, however, its function and its intended audience. The "lo" at the beginning of the sentence is an indication that the following statement is an exhortation that demands attention since its purpose on the headstone is not merely to remember the deceased, but to admonish its living readers. The carving on the stone is a metonymic representation of what has been inscribed into the text, namely its moral and didactic intention. The audience, the women of Troy and of Henryson's time are to learn from Cresseid's fate. The pedagogic means that is being used here is the invocation of fear. By portraying Cresseid's case-history as an expected, and above all 'natural', sequence of cause and effect, the carved words put the narrative into perspective: this is what can be expected to happen if a woman does not play according to the rules. In this causality the established religious, moral, social, and medical thought constructs are instrumental in fulfilling this didactic function. Their establishment is a necessary prerequisite to create a credible causality between a specific form of behaviour and its consequences. In this sense, the narrative becomes an instance of discipline itself. 183 P A R T 4 N O T A PRETTY PICTURE: T H E BODY VIOLATED BY RAPE 1 A female definition of rape can be contained in a single sentence. If a woman chooses not to have intercourse with a specific man and the man chooses to proceed against her will, that is a criminal act of rape. Susan Brownmiller 2 Rape itself should not be regarded as a transhistorical mechanism of women's oppression but one that acquires specific political or economic meanings at different moments in history. Hazel Carby 3 This part of my project focuses on the violated body. Violations of the body can occur for all sorts of reasons, ranging from unfortunate accidents to deliberate acts of assault. I have chosen to examine the raped body for this section since it proves to be one of the most 'I have borrowed the term "not a pretty picture" from John J. Winkler, "The Education of Chloe: Erotic Protocols and Prior Violence," Rape and Representation, ed. Lynn A . Higgins and Brenda A . Silver (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 15- 34, whose discussion of rape in the myth of Daphnis and Chloe informed my reading of representations of violations of the body in medieval versions of the Lucretia/Lucrece story. 2Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (Toronto, London, New York: Bantam Books, 1976), 8. ^Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 18. 184 consistently recorded violations of the human body and spirit in Western history. From an historical and legal perspective, rape and abduction are two closely related crimes against women 4 that occur in a surprising number of medieval narratives and thus provide one of the most consistent instances to examine the Otherness of bodies harmed in this particular way. As one might expect from this consistency, rape is no 'ordinary' crime, in so far as any crime can be called ordinary. The specific features of rape are the extreme power imbalance between assailant and victim, and the terrible damage done to the victim's bodily and mental integrity. It is certainly this horrifying combination of traits which has made the crime of rape a singularly memorable occurrence in classical and medieval history. Society's response to this crime can shed light on the specific ways in which it attempts to ensure the individual's right to an unharmed body (and also by implication the proper uses of this body) as well as the mechanisms that ensure that this body remains available to society in its unharmed form. Among these early European narratives the rape of Lucretia stands out since it is one of the founding narratives, or Grundungslegenden, of the classical Roman state. The narrative, no doubt because of its significant historical function became one of the most popular motifs in medieval literature. The aim of this project is to explore some of the social 4The restriction of this discussion to the female body as the subject of rape does not imply that rapes of males did not occur. Since representations of male-male rapes exist, however, mainly in propagandistic texts, dealing with Muslims, Jews, or heretics, their inclusion in this chapter would not do justice to this difficult and frequently avoided issue. On narratives of sexual violence committed against men by heretics and infidels see John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 277-82. On the specific use of male-male rape as an instrument of difamation in the Old Norse tradition see Kari Ellen Gade, "Homosexuality and Rape of Males in Old Norse Law and Literature," Scandinavian Studies 58 (1986): 124-41. 184 <JU reactions to the crime of rape and, more importantly, the 'place' the raped and vilolated body has in the text and thus by implications in society. 1.1. The Legal Background In medieval society the legal issue of rape was regulated by Canon Law, which itself draws heavily on Roman law. In the course of its history, the medieval understanding of the legal term raptus mulieris is subject to a number of changes. In Roman law raptus denoted primarily the abduction of a woman, not necessarily her sexual violation: The specific malice of the offense consisted not in the sexual ravishment of the woman, but in stealing her away from her parents, guardian, or husband. Raptus might also be used to describe theft of property as well as of a person, so long as violence was employed in the act. In the ancient law, moreover, raptus was not a public crime; rather, it was a wrong against the man who had legal power over the woman or property violently seized. 5 Despite the gradually changing emphasis in medieval Canon law, from abduction to forced intercourse, the later legal discourse still remains relatively unanimous in the treatment of the victim. Her status is defined as that of a man's or her family's property. For the legal understanding of rape in the classical, as well as for part of its medieval interpretation, the definition of the woman's status is crucial: the violation, be it abduction or forced intercourse, is not primarily done to the woman since in a legal sense she is not considered a person but 5James A . Brundage, "Rape and Seduction in the Medieval Canon Law," Sexual Practices and the Medieval Church (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1982), 141-42. 185 rather an object, belonging to a third party. Since women are regarded men's property this understanding of the law places the relationship between men and women on the level of material possessions. Thus, a violation of a woman is treated in a way similar to a crime against property. Like an animal or an inanimate object the woman can not be the victim of crime: it is rather the object's owner who is the victim in the legal sense. Thus the law interprets the harm done to a woman as a crime committed against a man. This legal interpretation of rape was first challenged by Justinian's (527-565) revision of the law, who defined raptus "as a sexual crime against unmarried women, widows, or nuns,"6 thus giving women the standing of persons, but with the notable exception of married women. According to this definition rape was no longer a crime against property but a crime against a person. In the course of the Germanic invasions of Rome the more primitive notions of Germanic law were reinstated and continued to influence the legal discourse until Gratian in his mid-thirteenth-century Decretum attempted a systematic codification of the legal issues of raptus. The most important aspect of Gratian's understanding is that he views the crime as inclusive, committed against both the woman and her family. Canonists then further refined this definition and worked out four elements which are constitutive of the crime: "Rape must involve the use of violence, it must involve abduction, it must involve coitus, and it must be accomplished without the free consent of one partner."7 In contrast to the preceding notions of raptus as a crime against property in this argumentation the crime becomes one against persons, since the question of consent gained a prominent position: although acknowledging 6Brundage, "Rape," 142. 7Brundage, "Rape," 143. 186 the problem of forced consent, the law does not distinguish between the rights of the violated woman and her family since both are equally instrumental in giving their consent to have intercourse with the victim. Technically speaking, this could mean that a woman's refusal to consent could be overridden by her family's consent. The motivation behind this stipulation might have been the importance placed on the family's right to marry off their daughters. A further narrowing of the legal understanding of raptus is its restriction to women of a certain class and matrimonial status: married women could not refuse to have intercourse with their spouses. Equally important, since it represents a clear indication of the limitation of the notion of consent, the commentators state "the victim of rape must be an 'honest' woman, that is she must be of good legal standing. One could not rape a harlot."8 While these attempts at regulating the legal interpretation of rape provide a firm basis on which individual cases can be argued, thus providing a modicum of legal security for at least some women, the main point I want to raise here is that a law in this form shows two major weaknesses which no doubt rendered it largely ineffective in many cases. The legal move endows the woman with some degree of legal autonomy since it regards her as a person instead of part of her husband's or family's property. Despite this recognition of a woman's standing as a person this law has historically proved to have the opposite effect of what one would commonly expect, namely that it became actually more lenient in regard of the 8Brundage, "Rape," 144. See also Jeffrey Richards, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages (New York and London: Routledge, 1991), 128-29, and his discussion of the legal standing of prostitutes: "As with lepers, the Church sought to deprive prostitutes of their civil rights. Canon law debarred prostitutes from accusing others of crimes except simony and from appearing in court. They were incapable of being victims of rape. Sex with a prostitute against her will, therefore was not punishable by canon law." 187 offender, thus further reducing the rights of the victim as compared to the early medieval type of legislation. Kathryn Gravdahl in her feminist analysis points to the surprising effect that despite a better codification of rape law in the medieval period, particularly as a consequence of Gratian's efforts, the penalties actually imposed were much more lenient than the draconian measures imposed in the earlier period, which saw castration and the death sentence as fit forms of punishment: But the church, preaching Christian love abhorred death and mutilation in principle. In the mid-twelfth century,. . . Gratian and other canonists established a variety of penalties for rape: excommunication, pillory, imprisonment, whipping, monetary fines, or marriage to the victims as penance. The new leniency was to the advantage of the accused rapist and scarcely protected the rights of women.9 Gravdahl's seemingly polemical statement about the medieval Church's leniency has to be read in light of her examination of legal sources in northern France, which reveals two things: crimes other than rape, such as property crimes, even obviously trivial ones, were punished with utmost brutality,10 whereas rapists often experienced the leniency of the canon law, and, secondly, that a law biased against women of lower classes could hardly be effective against a crime based on gender difference." 9Kathryn Gravdal, "The Poetics of Rape Law in Medieval France," Rape and Representation, ed. Lynn A. Higgins and Brenda Silver (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 210-11. 10See for instance Gravdal, "Poetics," 215-16 where she cites several cases of women being buried alive for stealing pieces of clothing. "Kathryn Gravdal, "Camouflaging Rape: The Rhetoric of Sexual Violence in the Medieval Pastourelle," Romanic Review 76 (1985): 361-73. 188 For my own investigation two aspects of the legal discourse are of importance: I want to draw attention to the ambiguous legal status of the raped woman, which makes it possible to perceive her female body as either her husband's or her family's property, or to view her as a person, as an almost autonomous legal body who can refuse to give her consent. The implication of this legal "muddle" is that the woman often experiences the negative consequences of both legal interpretations: First, she has no say in what has happened to her since as the property of someone else she could not consent or withhold her consent, thus making the crime committed against herself the concern of others, namely of other men. Secondly, given that she is granted some degree of legal autonomy and thus the power to consent, the woman is put in the position that she has to prove that she did not consent to the sexual act, thus the onus is once more placed on her to prove her 'innocence.' And thirdly, in addition to the problem of having to 'prove' her innocence the woman also has to make sure that the law applies to her at all, that she is an 'honest' woman, as outlined above. In my interpretation I will focus on the continuities and discontinuities of this legal situation, first by providing a reading of Livy's account of the Lucretia story, and then by examining Chaucer's adaptation of the motiv in his Legend of Good Women against the background of exemplary narratives for young women, such as the ones found in Book of the Knight of the Tower. 1.2. Social Concerns While rape violates the body, this crime arguably has its most serious impact on the victim's mind. This mental impact was recognized long before modern psychology, as becomes 189 obvious from Chaucer's comments on Tereus: And, as to me, so grisely was his dede That, whan that I his foule storye rede, Myne eyen wexe foule and sore also. (F, 2238-40) What causes Chaucer pain when he reads the Legend of Philomela, which he then included in his Legend of Good Women, is the violence and the suffering inflicted on the protagonist by Tereus. The pain related in the tale translates into the pain experienced by Chaucer, who as a reader of the tale himself subsequently shares it with his audience. The story of Philomela, transmitted from the Greek and adapted into the vernacular in the Middle Ages, shows a most disturbing pattern of sexual violence. Throughout history this form of violence has retained its virulence, the result of which is that it poisons the relationship between the genders and shapes gendered identities. Chaucer in his opening lines to the Legend of Philomela explicitly refers to this virulence of the act of rape, which has lost nothing of its terror over the course of history: Yit last the venym of so long ago, That it enfecteth hym that wol beholde The storye of Tereus, . . . (F, 2241 -43) Chaucer remarks here in his own words on the universality of the extreme abuse of power which characterizes sexual violence. No matter in which historical period the crime occurs, in all cases significant patterns become obvious: Not the least of these is an obsessive inscription - and an obsessive erasure - of sexual violence against women (and against those placed in the position of 190 "woman"). The striking repetition of inscription and erasure raises questions not only of why this trope but even more, of what it means and who it benefits.12 The issues raised here, the silencing, the obsessive inscription, and the obsessive erasure of the harm done to the body, and most importantly, the issue of agency (who inflicts and profits from this violence), are all features, which determine the act of rape. In this investigation these issues shall act as the underlying notions which have influenced the perspective from which I want to investigate literary representations of bodies violated by rape. I read these texts primarily as literary documents, utilizing certain rhetorical techniques which in turn were shaped by their historical, legal, and social environments. Although rape has been a reality for a very long time in our history, I think the phenomenon benefits from historicising so as to explore the cultural mentalities that shaped the social perceptions of the crime, its perpetrators and victims. At the centre of this investigation is the body as the object of sexual violation and its function as a cultural signifier, both a site of the condemnation of this violence, but also as the site which makes rape "thinkable" as Higgins and Silver phrase it,13 in this context meaning the specific legal and political ramifications of the crime. Susan Brownmiller in what has become a "classic text" on rape establishes a simple and yet effective paradigm, which highlights the historical significance of rape and its dependence on a cultural l2Lynne A. Higgins and Brenda Silver, "Introduction: Rereading Rape," Rape and Representation, 2. 13Higgins and Silver, "Introduction," 4. 191 environment, according to which rape is "read": The human sex act accomplishes its historic purpose of generation of the species and it also affords some intimacy and pleasure . . . But nonetheless, we cannot work around the fact that in terms of human anatomy the possibility of forcible intercourse incontrovertibly exists. This single factor may have been sufficient to have caused the creation of a male ideology of rape. When men discovered that they could rape, they proceeded to do it. Later, much later, under certain circumstances they even came to consider rape a crime.14 One of the most crucial axioms of the representation of rape is that it inscribes an extreme imbalance of power: on the one hand, the masculine perspective of an aggressively outspoken appropriation and domination of female sexuality, with the female body (or bodies of those in positions of little or no power) the object of male desire (much in the same way as the spoils of war) and, on the other hand, the victims' violated bodies whose voices are, as in the case of Philomela, literally silenced, or, as in Lucrece's case, "voluntarily" silenced by shame and suicide. Teresa de Lauretis draws the connection between politics and poetics, with the text as a site of violence itself, which she perceives as characteristic of modern western society, but which reflects a development, that draws on a long history of representing or not representing rape: " . . . the development of sophisticated technologies of the individual and its Others . . . have turned the violence of representation into [an] ubiquitous form of 14Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (Toronto, London, New York: Bantam Books, 1975), 4. 192 power."15 Drawing on this notion of the politically charged nature of the representation of sexual violations, I want to examine the texts representing bodies violated by rape from two perspectives: first, as to their assumptions shared by society about violators and victims, where bodies reflect their social position as men or women, and secondly, focussing on the aspects of speaking and silencing, which I perceive again on two levels. First, I want to focus on the distribution of voice, on who speaks, and who is silent or silenced; and secondly I want to focus my attention on the textual politics, which deal with the topic of rape and violence in a specific cultural and historical context and how this relates to a wider discourse of patriarchal institutions, which in turn are often dependant on a decidedly unequal distribution of power and voice. 2.0. Lucretia's Two Bodies 2.1. The Body as res publico Chaucer's Legend of Good Women contains the story of Lucrece,16 which tells the foundation myth of the Roman Republic and constitutes one of the urtexts of western civilization. As recorded in Livy's history (3. 44-50, 56-58) and Ovid's Fasti (2. 721- 852), the tale of Lucretia enjoyed a wide currency in the Middles Ages, most notably as an exemplum, with versions appearing in the Roman de la Rose (5589-658), Boccaccio's De Claris mulieribus, 15Teresa de Lauretis, "The Violence of Rhetoric: Considerations on Representation and Gender," The Violence of Representation: Literature and the History of Violence, ed. Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse (New York: Routledge, 1989), 9. 16To differentiate between Livy's and Chaucer's versions of the tale I use the names "Lucretia" and "Lucrece" when referring to the respective texts. 193 and John Gower's Confessio Amantis (7, 5131-306). For the classical Roman version of this story I want to posit that Lucretia's body acts as a signifier of two fundamentally different spheres, namely the public and the private, whereas in the medieval versions of the tale, the body of Lucrece has been stripped of its overtly public and political function, and is reduced to its private sphere as an exemplum of the virtue of chastity. Stephanie Jed in her examination of the impact of the narrative of Lucretia on the Renaissance construction of a classical past remarks on the dependence of this particular narrative of freedom on rape, a phenomenon which she perceives in Renaissance humanism, as well as in present day liberal humanism: Just as the Florentines nostalgically constructed the descent of their own liberty from the liberty of Republican Rome, so modern humanists tend to reconstruct fifteenth-century Florence as a place uncontaminated by present-day corruption of free thought. In both cases, however, the nostalgia for past freedoms is dependent upon the representation of rape.'7 As an interpretative tool for her approach Jed has created the term "chaste thinking," which she applies to both the narrative and its reception.18 Regarding the tradition of the narrative of Lucretia, Jed posits that its transmission "has produced discriminations in interpretative 17Stephanie H Jed, Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989), 14. l8Chaste Thinking, 8:"As a metacritical expression, chaste thinking refers not only to the rhetorical mechanisms by which the meaning of the rape of Lucretia is construed, but also to the material means by which her legend is transmitted and circulates in culture. Finally, the figure of chaste thinking is nowhere explicitly articulated in humanistic texts, because, as I will argue, humanism itself is an effect of chaste thinking." 194 practice from the codification of this legend in Livy's Early History of Rome to the jury selection process in United States Superior Courts."19 In my own reading of narratives, both concerned with the rape of Lucretia, I want to attempt to fill the historical gap, as it is left by Jed, who moves straight from Livy's account to the Florentine Humanists, thereby surpassing the medieval reception of the narrative. By contrasting in particular Chaucer's treatments of the Lucretia motif I want to address some of its medieval uses, which I perceive as rather different from classical and Renaissance narratives of liberation. One of the major paradigm shifts from classical/humanist to the medieval, exemplary treatments of the motif is that of its political interpretation: the Roman reading of the Lucretia story emphasizes its importance for the state politics of the Roman republic — Lucretia's body becomes the site of power politics, which overshadow her personal tragedy -- whereas the medieval versions emphasize the aspect of sexual politics by using Lucrece's body as an exemplum of chastity. The classical version of the Lucretia story, as related by Livy, becomes a trajectory for the legitimation of political power; Lucretia's body, her violation and her subsequent death represent the touchstone for the legitimacy of two competing political systems: the institution of the Roman monarchy as opposed to the concept of the res publica, the idea of the state as the concern of all Roman citizens, with the exclusion, of course, of all those whose citizenship and gender marks them as non-Roman cives. Coppelia Kahn remarks on the public, political nature of Lucrece's body and its implications for the legitimation of political authority: "Rape authorizes revenge; revenge comprises revolution; revolution 15'Chaste Thinking, 14. 195 establishes legitimate government. In Lucrece's story, the personal is surely the political."20 In the case of Livy's version, the body of Lucretia becomes a highly contested sphere: in fact, it becomes a site on which various battles are fought. Incidentally, these battles have nothing to do with Lucretia herself, but everything with the power-positions of the males surrounding her. The first of these incidents is sparked by a drunken bet among certain young knights, who wager whose wife is the most faithful. In this most typical scene of homosocial male bonding 2 1 the bodies of the young knights' wives become the currency in the economy of their bets; the most virtuous one determining the leader's position in this group of young male rivals: It chanced, as they were drinking . . . that the subject of wives came up. Every man fell to praising his own wife with enthusiasm, and as the rivalry grew hot, Collatinus said that there was no need to talk about it, for it was in their power to know in a few hours' time, how far the rest were excelled by his own Lucretia.22 The situation of the convivium, an occasion where the young men are among themselves, provokes a contest, mainly in order to establish the position of a leader within this particular group, but it is also an expression of their community. The women are effectively barred Coppelia Kahn, "Lucrece: The Sexual Politics of Subjectivity," Rape and Representation, 141. 2 1I am referring here to the concept of homosociality as developed by Eve Kosowski Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 1-27. 22Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita, tr. B. O. Foster, Cambridge, Mass. and London: Heinemann, 1976), 1: 57, 199. All further quotations from Livy will be indicated by page number in the text. 196 from this all-male community: their absence indicates their identification with the other men in the group, as well as their desire for other women,23 hinted at by the bet, which has the wives' potential unfaithfulness as a subtext. The men's own desire for someone else's wife becomes the content of the bet and thus potential female unfaithfulness replaces the male desire for extramarital sexual "conquests" as a measure of their standing among their fellows. The question of virtue and leadership is displaced from the male bodies and transferred onto the bodies of the females, as becomes apparent from the husband's words, who, in keeping with the Roman tradition of the paterfamilias, sees his wife as an extension of himself, evident by his use of the expression "Lucretia sua," his Lucretia. As subsequently related by Livy, the winner of the contest is Collatinus since his wife Lucretia, unlike the other women, is found at home, engaging in some innocent domestic activity when the young knights make their surprise visit: . . . Lucretia, though it was late at night, was busily engaged upon her wool, while her maidens toiled about her in the lamplight as she sat in the hall of her house. The prize of this contest of womanly virtues fell to Lucretia (199). Apart from her physical beauty, it is of course precisely this scene of domestic innocence, with Lucretia and her maidens working under the light of the oil lamp, which sparks Tarquin's desire: "Sextus Tarquinius was seized with a wicked desire to debauch Lucretia by force; not only her beauty, but her proved chastity as well provoked him" (201). Livy uses the term "forma" to indicate Lucretia's physical beauty, a term, which can denote both beauty, 23See also: Eve Kosowski Segwick, The Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 60-62. and the body itself. In this scene, her body becomes the place where her beauty and her virtue are situated, both qualities which Tarquin obviously cannot accept in a woman. The ensuing rape scene then gives a very clear indication that Tarquin not only subconsciously reacts to these qualities, but also plays with them in order to have his way with his victim. Female beauty and virtue are translated into a mixture of male violence and pleading. Livy's candid depiction of the act oscillates between these two positions: Holding the woman down with his left hand on her breast, he said, 'Be still, Lucretia! I am Sextus Tarquinius. My sword is in my hand. Utter a sound and you die!' In affright the woman started out of her sleep. No help was in sight, but only imminent death. Then Tarquinius began to plead, to mingle threats with prayers, to bring every resource to bear upon the woman's heart. When he found her obdurate and not not to be moved even by fear of death, he went farther and threatened her with disgrace, saying that when she was dead he would kill his slave and lay him naked by her side, that she might be said to have been put to death in adultery with a man of base condition. At this dreadful prospect her resolute modesty was overcome, as if with force, by his victorious lust; and Tarquinius departed, exulting in his conquest of a woman's honour (201). Lucrece's body becomes the battlefield on which Tarquin wants to inscribe his own Self over that of the female Other: he attempts to destroy her virtue, which is essentially what her body stands for, and defiles it by inscribing his own, sexually violent behaviour on it. After the failure of his pleading/threatening strategy, he very consciously uses Lucretia's virtue and her fear of losing it to intimidate her. Lucretia's fear of death translates into her 198 fear of losing her virtue and dignity, an interpretation, which, I think, is justified by the outcome of the account. Of particular importance in this context is Tarquin's 'framing' of Lucretia by staging her adultery with his slave. That the victim's body and her virtue are synonymous becomes clear from the fact that Tarquin's second plan is effective and force and violence are no longer needed: the strategy of intimidating the victim proves to be successful and she submits to him, "as if with force." For Lucretia, there is no way out of this dilemma, which could be described as a precursor to the so-called 'Catch 22 situation': if she resists, she will be 'framed' and killed, if she submits, she loses her one quality, which unlike any other embodies her Self. I want to take this expression literally here and describe Tarquin's deed as a 'dis-embodying' of his victim. The framing, or its threat, is done by means of a narrative, which constructs Lucretia as worse than all the other women, mentioned in the beginning of the contest. Tarquin's rape is primarily an act of narrative violence, which displaces the truth about Lucretia's chaste body and replaces it with his own narrative of unbridled, violent desire. This narrative displacement then destroys Lucretia's body together with her reputation and results in her 'disembodiment' in the sense that her physical existence ends with her violation, albeit at her own hands. Tarquin's violation of the sanctity of unity between body and spirit, effectively obliterates Lucretia's Self, and superimposes his own Self over that of his victim; the narrative of virtue is replaced by the narrative of violence, which is expressed in her defeat, much like that of an opponent in a military battle. Livy uses the term "expugnare," borrowed from the sphere of military campaigns, to describe Tarquin's 'conquest' of Lucretia and to denote the violence of the verbal violence done to her. Lucretia's own view of the crime indicates that she dissociates her animus, her mind, 199 translated here as "heart" from what has been done to her body: "Yet, my body has been violated; my heart is guiltless, as death shall be my witness" (203). The result of Tarquin's crime is this dissociation of body and mind, which in her view of the events makes her a guilty party in the same way as her rapist. The men, trying to console her, actually reinforce this dissociation: "They tell her it is the mind that sins, not the body; and that where purpose has been wanting, there is no guilt" (203). The violation is followed by Lucretia's suicide, which she explains as the punishment for a crime she did not commit: ". . . for my own part, though I acquit myself of the sin, I do not absolve myself from punishment; not in time to come shall ever unchaste woman live through the example of Lucretia" (203). Her body, now a public symbol, bears the mark of sin, the peccatum, which makes it impossible for her to live with. The agency of the sin has become unimportant, Lucretia's body has taken on an entirely new character: it has ceased to be her own, private body, and instead has been transformed by the crime into a public body. Lucretia's suicide terminates the private existence of her body which is then put on display and shared by everyone in the forum: They carried out Lucretia's corpse from the house and bore it to the market-place, where men crowded about them, attracted, as they were bound to be, by the amazing character of the strange event and its heinousness. Every man had his own complaint to make of the prince's crime and violence. (205) The woman's violated body becomes the focus of the attention of all the other men, it becomes a public affair and now it is the men who make the appropriate accusations against Tarquin; after the twofold violation of her body, first by Tarquin's crime and then by her 200 suicide it is transformed into a res publico. To explain the public and private nature of Lucrece's body, I want to invoke Marie Axton's model of the Queen's two bodies, which she applies to representations of the persona of Elizabeth Tudor. A particularly salient point in this model is that both its private and public functions are inextricably linked in the natural, physical body of the Queen: . . . it was found necessary by 1561 to endow the Queen with two bodies: a body natural and a body politic. (This body politic should not be confused with the old metaphor of the realm as a great body composed of many with the king as a head. The ideas are related but distinct.) The body politic was supposed to be contained within the natural body of the queen.24 The logical consequence of Tarquin's rape of Lucrece is that he has not only harmed the physical body of Lucrece, but also at the same time attacked the state, the whole of the Roman civitas. As such Tarquin has become a public menace, and the rebellion against the rex is justified by the common aim of preserving the state from further violation. The consequences of this line of argument are that the significance of Lucrece's public body is given priority over that of her private body. Her body is read as synecdoche, a logical continuation of the things that are wrong in the Roman monarchy. To follow Axton's argument, however, one has to bear in mind that the public body is always enclosed in the private. The question now, of course, is the relationship in which Lucretia's physical, private body stands to her political, public body. And, furthermore, what 4Marie Axton, The Queen's Two Bodies: Drama and the Elizabethan Succession (London: Royal Historical Society, 1977), 12. 201 is the significance of her death? In her placement as the king's object of desire it is her personal body which is subjected to Tarquin's lust, and it is this self-same body which he violates, which feels the pain and suffers the humiliation. This body, however, is taken out of the currency of the public dialogue and the importance of the political body takes over that of her private one. Although on a surface level, the private body as synecdoche points to the political, it is yet on a deeper level that Tarquin's crime against Lucretia's body is duplicated in the act of appropriating her for the benefit of the state. The refusal to see her two bodies as one perpetuates the actual act of rape in the violence of the metaphor, which appropriates Lucrece's body for the purposes of the state in a similar way as its appropriation through Tarquin. First, the battlefield of Tarquin's desire and her resistance, now her body becomes the battlefield of the forces of Roman citizens against their monarch. In Lucretia's own words this transformation becomes obvious when she equates the violation of her body with its pollution: "Yet my body only has been violated; my heart is guiltless, as death shall be my witness" (203). This statement draws attention to the division between Lucretia's animus and her actual body; this private body ceases to exist and it is merely her spirit, which comes to stand for her private Self, whereas her physical body becomes public property and thus part of the political scene: "They tell her it is the mind that sins, not the body" (203). The significant observation about this division of Lucretia's body is that the question of guilt and agency seems to become of secondary importance: the private body becomes the site of pollution and sin and thus is tarnished, and although it is acknowledged that she has no guilt, her body becomes subject to punishment. It is impossible for Lucrece to further inhabit this violated body and thus it is beyond her power to state her case: "It is for you to determine . . . 202 what is due to him; for my own part I though I acquit myself of the sin, I do not absolve myself from punishment. . ." (203). By handing over her body to the (male) world of Roman politics Lucretia at the same time relinquishes her right to seek justice and demand the punishment of the rapist. This loss of action is accompanied by the loss of her voice: together with her private body she also hands over the decision regarding the fate of Tarquin. Her subsequent suicide becomes the manifestation of both, the final division of her body, as well as the silencing of her voice. It is Brutus's performative which announces the proper course of justice and Lucretia's concern becomes subsumed under his notion of justice as well as his political aims: By this blood, most chaste until a prince wronged it, I swear, and I take you, gods, to witness, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his wicked wife and children, with sword, with fire ... and that I will suffer neither them nor any other king in Rome. (205) One should note the irony in Brutus's call for resistance: the violence of the revolutionaries is not only to be directed against the body of the hated rex but also against his wife and children who are as innocent as his wife Lucretia. However, viewed from the perspective of the institution of monarchy as the controlled genealogical succession of a ruling family Brutus's call can be understood as an attempt to make sure that this succession is once and forever terminated. The most visible instance of Lucrece's body becoming public property occurs when after her suicide her dead body is carried through the streets of Rome, thus having completely ceased being Lucretia's private body and instead becoming a symbol for the state of Rome 203 and a site of political resistance. With her death the personal violation of Lucretia's body ceases to be of any importance and together with her corpse becomes a public affair, where everyone gives voice to his anger, save the silenced woman: They carried out Lucretia's corpse from the house and bore it to the market-place, where men crowded about them, attracted, as they were bound to be, by the amazing character of the strange event and its heinousness. Every man had his own complaint to make of the prince's crime and his violence. (205) The rape of Lucretia, as related by Livy, demonstrates to the ultimate degree the violation of the sanctity of a person's private Self, here exemplified by a female body. The first act of violence perpetrated by Tarquin is duplicated by the Roman society who appropriates Lucretia's public body with little regard for her private body. Even though her body becomes the prime site of resistance against the rex, it nevertheless also becomes the tool of patriarchy, which comprises both the king and the republican rebels. Susan Brownmiller draws attention to the fact that rape and laws against it are both results of a developing patriarchal society: It seems eminently sensible to hypothesize that man's violent capture and rape of the female led first to the establishment of a rudimentary mate-protectorate and then sometime later to the full-blown male solidification of power, the patriarchy. As the first permanent acquisition of man, his first piece of real property, woman was, in fact, the original building block, the cornerstone, of the "house of the father." Man's forcible extension of his boundaries to his mate and later to their offspring was the beginning of his concept of 204 ownership.25 The struggle, which is finally credited with historical significance, is that between a group of Roman viri against their king and the establishment of a new form of government, enshrining in its laws the right of every Roman man the right to have a word in the affairs of state, and equally, the sanctity of his domus, his household with all its contents, animate and inanimate. 3.0. The Medieval Context 3.1. You Have Been Warned: Rules Of Conduct For Young Women In the medieval context the story of rape ceases to be a primarily public, political issue and instead becomes one of domestic concern. This does not mean, however, that the issue of rape or its threat can ever be depoliticised; rather it means that the social sphere is that of the home, as opposed to the forum. Politics in this sense denotes a much more private issue, namely the regulation of personal behaviour. Although having an entirely different focus, the medieval adaptations of the classical rape story of Lucretia which I will analyse are still very much part of a political discourse. Focusing on the personal instead of the public they are still eminently political in their message. It is certainly not without coincidence that after 1200 didactic texts for women became increasingly popular. Two relatively well known texts, the Menagier de Paris and The Book of the Knight of the Tower offer advice to women on a number of issues. An important part of these writings are the rules governing the kind of relationships the wife can have with other men: 25Brownmiller, Against, 7-8. 205 In the Menagier's 'Quint article' (fifth article) we discover a hierarchy of intimacy, a series of concentric circles centred on the husband: "You should be very loving and private with your husband,.. . moderately loving and private with your good and close blood relatives, very distantly private from other men, and completely distant from presumptuous and idle young men.26 The Menagier's proscriptions are a clear indication of the social anxieties surrounding the position of women in late medieval society. The taxonomy of threatening men can be read as the reflection of those social groups who posed the most serious threat to marriage, and thus to the social and property alliances based on marriage. A specific warning is issued against "presumptious and idle young men," in short unmarried young noblemen. As Georges Duby in his seminal essay on "les 'jeunes',"27 explains, the phenomenon of the rise of a new social group, precisely of these unmarried, landless "young" knights made the availability of young, unmarried heiresses a precious commodity on the marriage market. In addition the wives married to established noblemen were another prime target if they wanted to challenge the seigneur's privileged position. The rise of this social group of landless young men is reflected Danielle Regnier-Bohler, "Imagining the Self: Exploring Literature," in Georges Duby, ed., A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1988), 349-50. 27Georges Duby, "Au Xfle siecle: les 'jeunes' dans la societe aristocratique dans la France du nord-ouest," Annates: Economie, societe, civilisation 5 (1964), here quoted in the English translation by Cynthia Postan "Youth in Aristocratic Society: Northwestern France in the Twelfth Century," The Chivalrous Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 112-22. 206 in a number of writings, as diverse as courtly love poems and fabliaux,28 all of which started in the twelfth century and are testimony to their aggressive behaviour: Always on the lookout for adventure from which 'honour' and 'reward' could be gained and aiming, if possible, 'to come back rich', they were mobile and ready for action with their emotions at a pitch of warlike frenzy.29 What distinguishes this specific group from knights in earlier times is their highly aggressive and violent behaviour, the reason for which Duby locates in the strengthening of individual noble houses, at the expense of the central figure of the monarch.30 One of the most significant consequences of this shift in political power is that the head of each noble house became an important political figure, dominating with other seigneurs the politics of the country. This development had two important consequences for the social stratification of feudal society from the twelfth century on: marriage was to become an important means to consolidate political power by creating alliances between several ruling families, and secondly, the rising importance of primogeniture, which had its reason in the succession of the eldest son as the head of the household. The "youths," whom Duby described are younger brothers to a seigneur's successor, usually landless knights who had ample opportunity to make their fortune in the world, but preciously little to expect at home. 28For a discussion of fabliaux as texts regulating the sexual practices of young males see below. 29Duby, "Youth", 115. 3 0On this historical development see in particular Georges Duby, Medieval Marriage: Two Models from Twelfth-Century France, trans. Elborg Forster (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, 11-20, and Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages, trans. Jeanne Dunnett (Chicago: Polity Press, 1994). 207 As a means of compensation these young knights turned to dangerous pursuits in order to gain enough money to buy themselves back into their fathers' rank and thus to gain a wife, an heiress, in order to establish their future position as heads of households themselves. For women this situation meant that marriage to a nobleman was more than merely a private affair: it became one of the key elements of politics. Thus it was of utmost importance to ensure that the daughters of noble families were given to an appropriate and carefully selected party since bands of young knights tried to "win" brides on their own terms. For the fathers the primary aim was to safeguard their daughters and to facilitate their marriage to an appropriate man. For this reason it was of crucial importance that the daughters remained under the close control of their families, and thus safe from attacks of other men, who could otherwise abduct a woman and even negotiate the terms of a marriage her parents had not intended. In the worst case for whatever reasons, a "dishonoured" daughter would be impossible to place on the marriage market or would have to be married off to a man well below her own social rank. The reason for the woman's loss of her honour was of little consequence; to maintain it was the prime issue. I want to claim that this development prompted the writing of a number of instructional texts for women, mentioned above. Women are warned of the dangers in this climate of an aggressive competition for wives and status. The advice given in these texts was certainly motivated in part by the families' concern for their daughters' safety. In addition, however, they also achieved that by keeping their daughters away from potentially dangerous situations, they had their daughters were available for politically advantageous liaisons. One such example is the advice that Knight of the Tower gives to his daughters, 208 which is among other things to ensure that they not only make good women, but also good daughters. In the preface to Caxton's English translation the Knight of the Tower draws explicitly on his own experiences as a member of a band of roving young noblemen and mentions the dangers they posed for young women. He uses this experience to provide good and bad examples of female behaviour to ensure that his daughters, the imagined readers of his book, are kept from evil: I remembryd me of the tyme when I was yong and roode with my felauship and companyes in poytou / and in other places / And I remembre me moche wel of the fayttes and sayenges / that they told of suche thynges / as they fond with .the ladyes and damoyselles / that they requyred and prayd of loue / And yf one wold not entende to theyr prayer / yet another wold requyre withoute abydyng / And though so were that they had good or euyll answers / of al that they rought not / For they had neyther drede ne shame /.3 1 The Knight's warning to his daughters, and by implication, of course, to other young women reading his collection of exempla, is that the world is a dangerous place, peopled with men trying to gain their sexual favours, either by means of seduction or if necessary by violence. The position of the Knight himself is a curiously ambiguous one since he has knowledge of both sides, that of the concerned father, but also that of a member of a band of youths, probably quite similar to those described by Duby. The Book, however, is clearly written from the perspective of one of the seniores, who wants to see his estate in the hands 3iThe Book of the Knight of the Tower, trans. William Caxton, ed. M. Y. Offord EETS Supplementary Series 2 (London, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1971), 12. All further citations from The Book of the Knight of the Tower will be indicated by page numbers of this. 209 of an appropriate successor, and thus has to make sure that his daughters are available on the marriage market as "undamaged goods." What transpires from his advice, however, is the Knight's own homosocial desire, the first indication of which is his membership in a group of young knights, sharing their verbal exploits concerning women, which finds its logical continuation in his own wish to become the member of another group, namely that of fathers and husbands. Instead of sharing stories about women, this time he shares his daughters with his male peers. Read from this perspective, the Knight's desire to protect his daughters from falling victim to some undesirable men is then at least partially motivated by his own desire to find himself in a worthy succession of men, and thus by his own care about his position within the group of his fellow knights. To achieve and secure this position he has to make sure that his daughters, his only currency in this homosocial exchange have their highest possible value on the marriage market. Thus, his advice to his daughters also serves to safeguard his own position as a nobleman, since the honour and status of his own good name are largely dependent on the honour and reputation of his daughters as desirable future wives. The Knight's fear of his daughters being raped is inseparable from his own fear of being the victim of another man's crime, since rape can also be in effect a crime committed by one man against another man. Drawing on the importance of the exchange of women for the proper transmission of power within feudal society, I want to claim that specific narratives are used to regulate this patriarchal exchange ensuing, so that it might run as smoothly as possible. The underlying (and unquestioned) notion behind this assumption is that rape seems omnipresent, much in the way of a natural disaster (the Knight's recollection is a testimony of his fellows' 210 "determination"), and that it seems easier to place the responsibility for the crime on the (potential) victim than to change the behaviour of the men.32 In order to achieve this goal, exempla and other narratives, such as Chaucer's Legend of Lucrece, operate on the pedagogical principle of instilling fear in their readers. The intention is, of course, to ensure that women's behaviour does not expose them to any "unnecessary" risk, and thus to make clear that if something happens the woman shares at least some of the blame for not having heeded the advice given to her. The conceptualization of the threat of rape is an ever present and seemingly convenient tool to ensure the appropriate behaviour of "good women." Although the occurrence of rape signals the breakdown of the system of homosocial bonds, the narrative tactics of invoking fear and putting part of the blame on the victim are all part of a strategy to avoid precisely this sort of breakdown. In addition, the focus on women serves at least partly to obscure men's anxieties surrounding the uncontrolled sexual power of other 3 20n this notion see also Ingrid Bennewitz , "Lukretia, oder: fiber die literarische Projektion von der Macht der Manner und der Ohnmacht der Frauen. Darstellung und Bewertung von Vergewaltigung in der Kaiserchronik und im Ritter vom Thurn, in Der frawen buoch: Versuche zu einer feministischen Medidvistik,ed. Ingrid Bennewitz (Goppingen: Kiimmerle Verlag, 1989), 123. In her examination of the tale of Lucretia in Marquardt von Stein's Middle High German translation of the Book of Geoffrey de la Tour Landry Bennewitz comes to the conclusion that the book's primary indebtedness to preserve the status quo precludes any true concern about the fate of women since this would demand social change: "Der Gedanke, daB Frauen sich selbst... gegen die Manner erfolgreich zur Wehr setzen konnten, ist ebenso undenkbar wie eine Veranderung der gesellschaftlichen Ordnung, d.h. des Grundsatzes, daB Manner vergewaltigen, wenn sie dazu auch nur die kleinste Chance erblicken. Wer sich daher zu andern und unter standiger Selbstdisziplin zu leben hat, um erst gar keine Gelegenheit zu derartigen Ubergriffen zu bieten, sind die Frauen." [The idea that women successfully resist men is equally deemed impossible as is the notion of changing the social order, i.e. of the maxim that men rape if they have only the slightest chance. It is the women who have to change and live under constant self-discipline in order to make sure that this possibility does not arise in the first place.] 211 men. Elizabeth Robertson's seemingly provocative question whether "rape [was] not as aberrant, but rather as fundamental to the smooth operations of patriarchy"33 seems to point exactly in this direction. While I would still argue that the rape of a (noble) woman is essentially an accident that threatens the system of social relations in feudal society, the discipline that is achieved by these cautionary tales can be utilized to keep all women firmly under the control of "their" men. To give an example of how this rhetorical process works in practice I want to examine chapter seven of The Book of the Knight of the Tower where the Knight introduces the topic of fasting as a means of self-control for young women: "How good doughters ought to fast / till they be maryed." Again, the concern of this chapter is to ensure that young women are urged to "clean living" in order to enter their marriages in a state of virtue. The remarkable fact about this piece of advice is that the danger of corruption is located within the female body and is seen as no different from the danger in the outside world posed by reckless young men. This chapter recommends regular fasting "thre or foure dayes in the weke" and first states the usual religious reasons to support this claim. In addition, however, the Knight also brings up the argument that regular fasting fortifies the body against all manner of temptations: And also my faire doughters / it is moche good to faste the saterday / in thoghte of oure lady and of her hooly vyrgynyte / to thende that she gete grace for yow for to kepe clene youre vyrgynyte and youre chastyte in grace of god. 3 Elizabeth Robertson, "Comprehending Rape in Medieval England," Medieval Feminist Newsletter 21 (1996): 14. 212 and in the loue of youre frendes / that none euyll temptacions ouer maystrye yow not / And hit is a gret vyctory ageynst the flesshe / and a moche hooly thyng /. (20) This passage is very clear about the dangers surrounding the uncontrolled female body, and thus recommends a regimen of discipline to keep these potentially unruly bodies under control until they can be turned over to the control of their husbands. Obviously this passage does not mention rape, but rather its opposite, so to speak. And yet I would claim, what one is looking at is the same issue, albeit from a different perspective: no matter what the reason, unrestrained bodies mean trouble, and the outcome of such trouble, whether caused by rape or by "temptaciouns," means that the woman will not be available to a desirable future husband: "Clene liuing" is a metaphor for keeping bodies untouched, to make sure that the woman retains her value as an object of exchange on the marriage market. To put his theory into practice the Knight recounts in Chapter 61 the exemplum of Tamar and Amnon. This text is quite explicit and demonstrates how easily a woman's virginity can be lost if she has the opportunity to be around men. The really astonishing aspect of the Knight's adaptation of this exemplum, however, is not that he should have chosen an incest story, but that he does not mention