348Re: [eldil] definition of virtue?
- Apr 10 11:21 AMOn 10 Apr 2013 at 10:44, Dan Drake wrote:
>No, I think it's an interesting point.
> On Apr 9, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
> > That, I suspect, reflects the pagan notion of heroic virtue, or virtuous
> > heroism, untempered by any Christian notions of mercy.
> > In effect, it is a glorification of armed robbery, which, in the eyes of the
> > narrator of the poem at least, is virtuous.
> It's useful to be reminded of that poem, which I have always found loathsome
> since I first heard any of it beyond the first two lines, with their clever,
> jolly-rogue quality. ("What? The guy is SERIOUS?" Sheeesh!" IMHO.)
> But there seems to be another thread to this matter, which hasn't been touched
> on. It's an account that I picked up a number of years ago, from a couple of
> sources, though I can't recall which, and it also seems to be just in the air
> to some extent.
> In this account the whole Chivalric Ideal is a more or less conscious attempt
> to get at the ruffians, bold in battle and highly skilled, who dominated
> Europe in the early Middle Ages, and civilize them by imbuing them with
> Christian virtue. If this is accurate, the effort certainly succeeded on a
> literary level, and probably on a practical one as well. As to at least the
> part of the ideal that constituted romanic love, I recall something of the
> sort from C. S. Lewis; but I don't remember whether he said much of the matter
> of valor, which concerns us here.
> Am I missing the obvious, or stating the too obvious, or maybe both?
If you read Charles Williams's book on "Witchcraft" you can see how the pagan
Germans used to burn suspected witches because they thought they were
incorrigible. Christianising them inculcated a more merciful attitude, and
punished witchcraft accusations as much as the deed. That lasted about 5
centuries, just about until the height of the age of chivalry, perhaps. Then
it suddenly broke down in the Great European Witch Hunt which really got
going in the 15th century -- wasn't that about the time Malory et al were
writing about chivalry?
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