The Romance Of Abelard And Heloise

2042 words - 8 pages

The twelfth century was a period of revolutionary changes in religious, cultural, social, and intellectual life in Europe. The movement for the renewal of the marriage institution grew rapidly at that time. People awakened the question of the relevance of sexual and emotional aspects in marriage, and not only legal and religious views in the marital relationships. Peter Abelard was one of the greatest logicians and philosophers of the twelfth-century renaissance. Widely known to modern readers are his autobiographical Historia calamitatum ('History of my Misfortunes') and the exchange of letters which followed between him and his young student, Heloise, who became his lover, wife and sister in religion. Abelard focuses on the nature of human and divine love in his writings; also, he shows us problems in relationships that were present in a society at his time in an attempt to find the resolution of the personal tragedy of both characters that are described in Historia calamitatum and personal letters. In general, the relationship between Abelard and Heloise illustrates the urgency of the question of marital values within the society of the twelfth-century. What was more important at that time: marriage or real love? I would say that marriage was more important. As the characters had different views of life from most of the people at that time, their difference brought them to the fatal ending of their relationships. We can analyze the love affair between Abelard and Heloise looking at their writings between each other. Was the feeling that tied the heroes together a real love or lust?From the beginning of Abelard's Story of his Calamities he portrays himself as a strong individual. The oldest child in his family his life was intended for a military career, but as he tells us, he abandoned Mars for Minerva, denouncing the popular and glorious profession of arms for that of learning. In writing this he shows his clever and distinct way of thinking by referring to dialectic, the art of examining options or ideas logically, as a weapon of war. "I chose the weapons of dialectic to all the other teachings of philosophy, and armed with these I chose the conflicts of disputation instead of the trophies of war." (p. 58). So, he became the brilliant student of the liberal arts, and won a fearsome reputation as a debater. He was considered as the smartest philosopher in Paris at that time. He agreed with the public thought that he was brilliant, and his confidence didn't let him to admit any flaws. He was proud and confident, and that was a reason for a lot of his misfortunes. He thought he could show his disrespect to teachers whose views he did not share. He writes about on of his teachers: "He had a remarkable command of words but their meaning was worthless and devoid of all sense."(p.62) Abelard decided not to attend lectures regularly because he considered himself smarter than his instructor. As he tells us later, the whole world was at his feet. In...

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